The Wanderers From Ys SAV is one of those unforgettable classic Falcom albums that offers something beyond what one may have expected. I'll start by just coming forth and saying that I think this album surpasses almost any arrangement on Ys III's Perfect Collection. There, I said it.
Not that this album doesn't have its flaws. There are three tracks on here that are just outright disappointing. The first two tracks, labeled "Super Mix Versions", are totally lacking in the "live instrument" department, and are not much better than what you would expect to hear on a JDK Special. They're alright tracks, but they really don't belong on this album.
The third "bad" track is Departure at Sunrise. This song has seen myriad arrangements, and this one is particularly uninspired. The attempt is to make it sound like a symphonic arrangement, rather than a rock or jazz arrangement. Other than some interesting counterpoint that takes place in the last minute or so, the arrangement is really not the sort of quality required of this song. Better arrangements include the vocal from Special Box '96 (entitled, strangely enough, "Departure at Sunrise '95") or the Wanderers From Ys Symphony version found on Special Box '92. This version just doesn't make the cut.
The rest of the album is pure Falcom genius. The softer songs (such as Redmont) are treated to classy latin jazz sounds, whereas the harder songs (Varestine, Strongest Foe) are given the full-on rock arrangement expected from Falcom. The arrangement of "The Boy's Got Wings" on this album is also better than any other arrangement I've heard: I would suggest that this is the version that belongs on the Perfect Collection. "Searing Struggle" has one of the most erratic piano solos I've ever heard in it: nothing technically impresive, but shocking enough that they'd even throw it in there (the provided audio sample includes this solo).
The orchestral attempt made at Departure (which failed) is outdone by the orchestral attempt at "Wanderers From Ys", the glorious seven minute track that nicely rounds out this hard-hitting album. From beginning to end, this is one of the better arrangements Falcom has put out on this lovely song. I was not disappointed.
And, if you're a fan of the music found in Ys III, this album won't disappoint you either. Honestly, I think it's the best single Ys III album you can own to really enjoy superb arrangements of the music. If you're trying to boost your Falcom collection, or maybe even just start one, picking up this album (on eBay, various message boards) is a good way to do so.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann