I’m not quite sure how Square does it. They seem to be able to make us buy soundtracks that are just compilations of songs from previously released soundtracks. Oh wait, that’s right, they succeed because they pick some of the best tracks from an extensive selection of great tracks and put THOSE into the compilation CD. Silly me.
Square Vocal Collection is a compilation of some of the best vocal tracks from Square’s copious lineup of titles, including The Bouncer, Xenogears, Final Fantasy 8 and 9, Legend of Mana, and various other tidbits of which you may or may not have heard. All of the tracks have been picked for one reason: they contain vocals.
The problem here is that Square doesn’t have an extensive listing of video games that contain vocal songs in them, as opposed to the list they have of games which have spawned arranged tracks. The result is that only about 3/4 of these tracks appeal to me. The argument can be made that rarely does a CD have 100% great tracks, but then again, the other Square compilation I have, Potion, achieves that 100% perfection rate.
For those of you not familiar with the vocal tracks in question on the CD, here are some of the highlights of each track. “Forevermore” from The Bouncer is an excellent modern-day ballad, sung soulfully and emotionally in its original Japanese, while “Small of Two Pieces” is the classic Xenogears ending song, sung by Joanne Hogg, and is perfectly heroic and epic, though the lyrics have been accused of being corny.
“Treasure Chest of the Heart,” is a calming lullaby from Chocobo Racing and is quite pleasant, as is the Japanese version of “Melodies of Life,” the ending song to Final Fantasy IX, which has been accused of being too laid back (and I have to agree to a certain extent).
“9 Times,” from Punk This Town – Generation XX – is a rousing rock song that would fit anywhere from Tony Hawk to Ridge Racer, though with terribly pronounced English lyrics, courtesy of SOBUT. Fortunately, “Song of Mana” from Legend of Mana, and sung by ANNIKA, has excellent non-English lyrics: they’re Swedish to be precise. Still, it’s a thrilling ride while it lasts.
“Somnia Memorias” is from Parasite Eve, and is a jungle sound-laden, Spanish mystery, sung by the slightly raspy Shani Rigsby, while “Lovely Strains,” from Soukaigi is a echo-laden, Japanese dirge, though it is quite beautiful.
“Radical Dreamers,” from Chrono Cross, is as excellent as it was on the Chrono Cross OST: a beautiful acoustical guitar ballad, and sung by Mito Sanoriko. Unfortunately, “Eyes on Me” does NOT get as good a treatment; SVC uses a version I’m not fond of, namely the orchestrated one, and it does not do Fei Wong justice. But while we’re on the subject of bad choices, I’d have to go with “Stars of Tears,” the other Xenogears piece on this CD, sung once again by our friend Joanne. I was never a fan of this song, but those who were will be happy that this upbeat yet lyrically sad song remains intact in its original form.
I have to devote an entire paragraph to Dice de Chocobo’s “Tiny Wings,” however. This is an incredibly deceptive addition to this CD: it’s too damn cute for its own good. Still, it’s excellently done and is really a beautiful lullaby. Seems like Chocobo songs have a common, calming theme to them.
In the final analysis, I recommend this CD to all Square junkies out there, and those who enjoy vocals songs. Most of the tracks are excellent, with the exception of a select few, which I don’t like out of pure personal preference. However, only a few of these songs will appeal to the audiophile alone, IMO, so if you’re not much on vocals, steer clear. However, if you are, it’s worth the money.