You know you all love Mario and Zelda music. You know it’s not because they’re impressive or stirring melodies. You know it’s not because they break new ground in the genre (although I guess they did back in the old days). The reason you like these tunes is because they’re fun, they’re catchy, and they’re part of your childhood. The Super Mario Bros. and Zelda themes exist in the collective consciousness of our generation as Rock Around the Clock to that of half a century ago. Bad college bands do covers of them, so you know it must be hip.
So when I saw there was a CD that mixed the upbeat, catchy genre of Big Band with the classic tunes of videogame legend, I figured there could be no forces on Earth to make this album suck. I was right, but I didn’t get quite what I expected.
I mean, when I think big band I think Glenn Miller, Swing, Swing, Swing, and that should show you how much I still have to learn. This album features mambo-inspired renditions, such as Go Go Mario, complete with Betty Boop vocals, bluegrass versions of Epona’s Theme from Zelda and Theme of Athletic from Yoshi’s Island featuring smooth country fiddlin’, and even the scat singing rendition of the Super Mario Sunshine theme found in the “running on balsa wood” bonus stages.
And then there’s the Celtic version of the Zelda: Wind Waker main theme, which comes out of left field and feels completely at home on the album, right next to the bluegrass. To go fully in-depth on this album is beyond my capabilities, but the bottom line is that this album is fantastic. You can really tell that the performers, The Band of Rogues, were trying to convey their love of these tunes by the reaction the fans were having, most evident in the final piece, Super Mario 64 Encore: Slider, which has the audience clapping its hands in time with the music.
There is no reason NOT to get this album. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and it belongs in any game music – scratch that, in any music lovers’ library. I ordered my copy through VGM World, and it came with a translation of the liner notes and lyric for the two vocal songs, courtesy of VGM World owner, Kahori Ezaki, so that’s just extra icing on an already delectable audio cake. Get it now, and have fun.