Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2Hailed by many gamers as a big improvement over Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Red Alert 2 refined the 3-D graphics engine introduced in its predecessor – and it rocked out the music. If there’s one thing that makes the Red Alert 2 soundtrack – which was available from Westwood Studios for a limited time around the game’s release – stand out from the rest, it’s a refreshing blast of heavy metal guitar. The real standout here is the blistering, fast-paced “Destroy”, though there are close runners-up: “Grinder” and “Industrofunk”. The six-string pyrotechnics are a nice addition to the by-now-familiar C&C style of techno music, but the old style isn’t completely lost – tracks 4 out of 4such as “Probing” and “Fortification” are pure old-school C&C cues that wouldn’t have been out of place in the original game.

This may actually be my favorite soundtrack from the Command & Conquer games, simply because it’s so different from the others, while still keeping the “feel” of what came before it.

Order this CD

  1. HM2 (3:44)
  2. Industrofunk (3:12)
  3. Ready The Army (4:57)
  4. Grinder (2:27)
  5. In Deep (3:24)
  6. Motorized (4:02)
  7. Power (3:56)
  8. 200 Meters (4:12)
  9. Destroy (4:38)
  10. Burn (4:37)
  11. Probing (4:19)
  12. Blow It Up (3:11)
  13. Eagle Hunter (4:16)
  14. Fortification (4:02)
  15. Jank (3:46)
  16. C&C In The House (4:06)

Released by: Westwood Studios / Electronic Arts
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 62:49

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Command & Conquer: Red Alert Another blast of raw energy from the other C&C music factory, Frank Klepacki’s music from the immensely popular Red Alert PC strategy game brings into sharp focus the elements that made his music from Command & Conquer such a compelling listen even away from the computer. Gone are most of the soundbytes within the music (the chilling refrain of film-footage “sieg heil” samples in “Hell March” being an exception), Klepacki brings in da funk in full force. “Mud” is perhaps the best example of what he achieves with the music from this game: funky, atmospheric, moody, and rhythmic, without relying on a hit-you-over-the-head-with-it, four-beats-to-the-measure techno beat at all times. 4 out of 4Though further games (and soundtracks) in the Command & Conquer series were released, their music seldom got better than this.

Though it was offered on Westwood Studios’ site for a long time, The Music Of Command & Conquer: Red Alert is now out of print.

Order this CD

  1. Hell March (6:24)
  2. Radio (4:05)
  3. Crush (3:49)
  4. Roll Out (3:54)
  5. Mud (4:48)
  6. Twin Cannon (3:55)
  7. Face The Enemy (5:36)
  8. Run (5:13)
  9. Terminate (5:20)
  10. Big Foot (5:15)
  11. Workmen (4:44)
  12. Militant Force (1:50)
  13. Dense (5:02)
  14. Vector (4:18)
  15. Smash (8:07)

Released by: Westwood Studios / Electronic Arts
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 72:20

Namco Classic Collection Volume 1

Namco Classic Collection Volume 1Think of it as the Star Trek sound effects CD for computer game fanatics; Namco Classics Collection Vol. 1 (no relation to the Namco Classics remix CD by Techno Maniax reviewed here earlier) is the soundtrack – such as it is – to a multi-game coin-op which includes three of the company’s vintage video game chestnuts, Galaga, Mappy and Xevious, each in both their original and updated “Arrangement” versions. The Arrangement tracks tend to rehash the music of the original games with a more modern sound (though not too modern), and are actually neat; and having heard it many a time while playing one of the 4 out of 4bonus games on Xevious 3-D/G+, I can vouch for the unmatched low-key cool of Xevious Arrangement‘s level 1 background music.

Nice stuff, and flawlessly captured on disc, but really only for the faithful and devoted fans of “the oldies.”

Order this CD

  1. Classics Starting Over (0:06)
  2. Classics Opening (0:35)

    from Galaga

  3. Kurejitto Oto (0:05)
  4. Geimu Staato Myuujikku (0:09)
  5. Ekusutendo Oto (0:05)
  6. Charenjingu Steiji Staato Myuujikku (0:05)
  7. Charenjingu Steiji Paafekuto Myuujikku (0:09)
  8. Charenjingu Steiji Nonpaafekuto Myuujikku (0:10)
  9. Maishippu Tsurasarare Oto (0:15)
  10. Maishippu Torikaeshi Oto (0:05)
  11. Kyaputibu Gosha Oto (0:15)
  12. Haiscoa Neimu Ire Myuujikku (0:27)
  13. Neimu Ire Myuujikku (0:21)
  14. Insert Coin! (0:06)
  15. Game Start (0:10)
  16. Stage Indication (0:04)
  17. BGM: Stage 1 (1:04)
  18. BGM: Stage 2 (1:08)
  19. BGM: Stage 3 (1:02)
  20. BGM: Stage 4 (1:10)
  21. BGM: Stage 5 (1:15)
  22. BGM: Stage 6 (1:05)
  23. BGM: Challenging Stage (0:47)
  24. BGM: Challenging Stage Clear! (0:09)
  25. BGM: Final Stage (1:15)
  26. BGM: Indicating Your Score (0:10)
  27. BGM: Hi Score Name Entry (0:20)
  28. BGM: Name Entry (0:22)
  29. BGM: Continue (0:25)
  30. BGM: Game Over (0:20)
  31. BGM: Ending (1:18)

    from Xevious

  32. Kurejitto Oto (0:05)
  33. Staato Myuujikku (0:07)
  34. Geimu BGM (0:24)
  35. Ekustendo Oto (0:05)
  36. Ikurai Neimu Ire Myuujikku (0:19)
  37. Ikurai Neimu Ire Myuujikku (0:28)
  38. BGM 1 (4:35)
  39. BGM 2 (4:25)
  40. BGM 3 (3:50)
  41. BGM 4 (1:34)
  42. Staato Mae Manga BGM (0:07)
  43. Kurejitto Oto (0:04)
  44. Mein BGM (1:11)
  45. Ekusutendo Myuujikku (0:05)
  46. Mein BGM (Hurry Up!) (0:54)
  47. Raundo Kuria Myuujikku (0:06)
  48. Boonasu Raundo Staato Myuujikku (0:06)
  49. Boonasu Raundo BGM (0:40)
  50. Boonasu Raundo Oobaa Myuujikku (0:13)
  51. Misu Oto (0:05)
  52. Neimu Ire Myuujikku (0:36)
  53. Neimu Ire Shuuryou Myuujikku (0:14)
  54. Geimu Oobaa Myuujikku (0:12)
  55. Insert Coin! (0:04)
  56. Game Start! (0:08)
  57. BGM: Area 1 (1:42)
  58. Round Clear! – Area 1 (0:05)
  59. BGM: Area 2 (2:06)
  60. Round Clear! – Area 2 (0:06)
  61. BGM: Area 3 (1:54)
  62. Round Clear! – Area 3 (0:06)
  63. BGM: Area 4 (2:01)
  64. Round Clear! – Area 4 (0:05)
  65. BGM: Area 5 (2:27)
  66. Round Clear! – Area 5 (0:05)
  67. BGM: Area 6 (2:11)
  68. Round Clear! – Area 6 (0:06)
  69. Opening Fanfare! – Bonus Round (0:04)
  70. BGM: Bonus Round (0:43)
  71. Result – Bonus Round (0:14)
  72. Winner’s Fanfare – Bonus Round (0:04)
  73. BGM: Boss Round (1:24)
  74. BGM Hurry Up! Boss Round (0:33)
  75. Round Clear! Boss Round (0:06)
  76. BGM: Oops! I Missed! (0:06)
  77. BGM: Game Over (0:11)
  78. BGM: Continue (0:35)
  79. BGM: Name Entry (1:36)
  80. BGM: Name Entry Over (0:14)
  81. BGM: Ending (1:25)

Released by: Wonder Spirits
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 56:18

Command & Conquer – music by Frank Klepacki

Command & ConquerIt may have been a little ahead of its time, but the soundtrack from Westwood’s acclaimed real-time strategy computer game Command & Conquer could almost earn the subtitle “music that could have been, but wasn’t, in The Matrix.” Frank Klepacki’s richly textured pieces rely heavily on techno, primarily because it’s easy to loop seamlessly (which is a requirement when scoring a video game). But while he could’ve just set the war machine on autopilot for these tracks, Klepacki made a real effort to vary the sound of each individual piece. Standouts include “Radio”, “Drone”, “Rain In The Night” and “Target”, all notable for a nice, uneasy but not overbearingly bombastic atmosphere, just the sort of doom-laden tension you need for a war game.

Klepacki leans very heavily on speech samples throughout the soundtrack, which is something I probably could have lived without; in a few tracks, such as “Just Do It Up” and “Act On Instinct”, the constant bits of movie dialogue, news clips and whatnot become a distraction against the music.

3 out of 4Westwood sold copies of the Command & Conquer soundtrack through their web site for several years, and copies have also been known to be included with bundled versions of the game with its expansion packs (and, most recently, included in a music bundle at Best Buy stores with Red Alert 2). However, the C&C score is now out of print. It’s worth the effort to find, however, if you have a taste for this particular genre of music.

Order this CD

  1. Act On Instinct (2:52)
  2. No Mercy (3:21)
  3. Industrial (2:53)
  4. Iron Fist (3:30)
  5. We Will Stop Them (3:09)
  6. Radio (3:01)
  7. On The Prowl (3:02)
  8. Re-Con (4:22)
  9. Drone (4:32)
  10. In The Line Of Fire (2:04)
  11. Prepare For Battle (3:29)
  12. Depth Charge (4:15)
  13. Rain In The Night (2:34)
  14. Creeping Upon (3:37)
  15. Target (2:52)
  16. Just Do It Up (2:22)
  17. C&C Thang (3:12)
  18. To Be Feared (2:45)
  19. Drill (4:27)
  20. Full Stop (3:01)
  21. In Trouble (3:32)
  22. Airstrike (3:17)

Released by: Westwood Studios / Electronic Arts
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 72:09

Taito Game Music

Taito Game MusicWhen I first heard about this one, I was eager to get my hands on it, hoping it’d turn out to be something like the Namco Classic Collection remix album.

Nope. This is just the game sound. And nothing more.

While that works for some games – Elevator Action had a jaunty tune or two, to say nothing of Bubble Bobble – who wants to sit and listen to an audio track of someone playing Space Invaders? Because that’s what you’ll hear on this disc – the unaltered, un-remixed sounds of the games themselves. And nothing more.

I can see classifying this as more of a sound effects CD than anything; might come in handy if they ever get around to turning “Joystick Nation” into that PBS miniseries they’ve been promising forever, or it might come in handy for any movies where a scene takes place in an arcade. But as a pure listening experience, it’s 2 out of 4daunting to look at a list of 69 tracks, knowing that there’s many a bleep and a boop in each one, and in some cases precious little music.

Now, on the other hand, if a DJ wanted to take some of this stuff and sample it for their own remix…well, this CD would suddenly be beyond merely useful.

Order this CD

  1. The Legend Of Kage – BGM1 (2:20)
  2. The Legend Of Kage – BGM2 (0:49)
  3. The Legend Of Kage – Track 3 (0:58)
  4. Space Invaders – Playing Sound (0:17)
  5. Elevator Action – Track 1 (0:08)
  6. Elevator Action – Track 2 (1:28)
  7. Elevator Action – Track 3 (0:19)
  8. Super Dead Heat II – Track 1 (0:24)
  9. Super Dead Heat II – Track 2 (0:24)
  10. Super Dead Heat II – Track 3 (0:12)
  11. Super Dead Heat II – Level 1 (0:34)
  12. Super Dead Heat II – Level 2 (0:33)
  13. Super Dead Heat II – Level 3 (0:22)
  14. Super Dead Heat II – Level 4 (0:19)
  15. Super Dead Heat II – Level 5 (0:19)
  16. Super Dead Heat II – Level 6 (0:21)
  17. Super Dead Heat II – Level 7 (0:51)
  18. Super Dead Heat II – Level 8 (1:08)
  19. Super Dead Heat II – Track 12 (0:09)
  20. Super Dead Heat II – Track 13 (0:04)
  21. Super Dead Heat II – Track 14 (0:44)
  22. Wyvern F-0 – BGM: Codename Zero – Type I (1:11)
  23. Wyvern F-0 – BGM: Codename Zero – Type II (0:39)
  24. Wyvern F-0 – BGM: Count Zero (0:08)
  25. The Fairyland Story – Track 1 (0:04)
  26. The Fairyland Story – Track 2 (BGM) (1:26)
  27. The Fairyland Story – Track 3 (BGM) (0:32)
  28. The Fairyland Story – Track 4 (0:05)
  29. The Fairyland Story – Track 5 (0:05)
  30. The Fairyland Story – Track 6 (BGM) (0:40)
  31. The Fairyland Story – Track 7 (0:09)
  32. Gladiator – Playing Music (1:56)
  33. Kikikaikai – BGM1 (1:36)
  34. Kikikaikai – Boss (0:22)
  35. Kikikaikai – Track 3 (0:05)
  36. Kikikaikai – Track 4 (0:10)
  37. Kikikaikai – Track 5 (0:04)
  38. Kikikaikai – Track 6 (0:42)
  39. Kikikaikai – Track 7 (0:34)
  40. Scramble Formation – BGM1: Flying Alive (1:02)
  41. Scramble Formation – BGM2: Avoid Muzik (0:55)
  42. Scramble Formation – BGM: Dot Shooter (1:13)
  43. Scramble Formation – BGM3: Finale (0:32)
  44. Arkanoid – Track 1 (0:11)
  45. Arkanoid – Playing Sound (0:33)
  46. Arkanoid – Track 3 (0:14)
  47. Arkanoid – Track 4 (0:47)
  48. Chack’n Pop – Playing Sound (1:29)
  49. Chack’n Pop – Track 2 (0:30)
  50. Empire City 1931 – BGM1 (1:59)
  51. Empire City 1931 – BGM2 (1:06)
  52. Empire City 1931 – BGM3 (0:44)
  53. Empire City 1931 – BGM4 (0:51)
  54. Empire City 1931 – BGM5 (0:45)
  55. Empire City 1931 – BGM6 (0:08)
  56. Empire City 1931 – BGM7 (0:08)
  57. Empire City 1931 – BGM8 (0:35)
  58. Bubble Bobble – Track 1 (0:11)
  59. Bubble Bobble – Track 2 (0:49)
  60. Bubble Bobble – Track 3 (0:25)
  61. Bubble Bobble – Track 4 (0:29)
  62. Bubble Bobble – Track 5 (0:25)
  63. Bubble Bobble – Track 6 (0:04)
  64. Bubble Bobble – Track 7 (0:36)
  65. Halley’s Comet – Ed1986 (1:12)
  66. Halley’s Comet – Contact (0:32)
  67. Halley’s Comet – Mechanical Brains (1:13)
  68. Halley’s Comet – Track 4 (0:51)
  69. The Outer Zone – Outer Zone (2:33)

Released by: Sci-Tron Digital Content
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 46:46

Emperor: The Battle For Dune

Emperor: The Battle For DuneWhen you see a quarter of a dozen screenwriters on a project, run screaming. Sometimes the same applies to composers, but not always – some of my all-time favorite soundtracks are the products of triumvirates of musicians. Take, for example, the soundtrack from 1996’s Doctor Who movie, or the soundtrack from Alien Nation. But I’ve never before encountered a computer game whose music was cooked up by committee – however, in the case of Emperor, it works.

Before any screams about the lack of availability information on this, I’ll go ahead and point out right now that the Emperor soundtrack is a limited edition item which was only available with some pre-orders of the game. And I have to complain bitterly about the lack of neat packaging, or, for that matter, almost any packaging whatsoever. I was reminded somewhat of the days when I had to generate my own Babylon 5 CD covers. But when was the last time anyone bought a CD because of cool packaging? Okay, aside from last Tuesday, probably not anytime recently. The music is what counts. I just had to vent about the whole “generic CD-ROM paper envelope” treatment.

The musical duties for Emperor were split three ways between composers David Arkenstone (who has worked on prior Westwood/Electronic Arts titles such as the Lands Of Lore series), Jarrid Mendelson (who composed music for the Command & Conquer sequel Tiberian Sun, and Westwood’s primary in-house composer Frank Klepacki (who we recently interviewed here at That’s a bit of a problem in places, because there are places where I’d swear that they thought they were still composing for a Command & Conquer game.

Klepacki’s music remains the truest to what went before with the music from Dune 2000, Westwood’s previous interactive foray into Frank Herbert’s fictional universe. (And this is a no-brainer, since Klepacki did all of the music for that game.) David Arkenstone’s themes for the Harkonnen are all cut from the same heavy-metal cloth, while Mendelson’s Ordos orchestrations demonstrate that he’s been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails.

The highlights include the pounding anthem “Ride The Worm” and “Not An Option”, quite possibly the best 3 out of 4Nine Inch Nails song that Trent Reznor & co. never actually played.

Despite my misgivings about some of the music fitting better into the Command & Conquer millieu than the world of Dune, it’s all quite enjoyable, and stands well on its own apart from the game. Klepacki especially is proving without a doubt that he’s ready to score a movie or perhaps some TV.

Order this CD

  1. The War Begins (4:33)
  2. The Machine (4:50)
  3. Not An Option (3:52)
  4. Unstoppable (5:50)
  5. Ride The Worm (5:35)
  6. Sabotage (4:19)
  7. Harkonnen Force (5:29)
  8. Assembling The Troops (7:42)
  9. Ghola (3:48)
  10. Legacy (6:14)
  11. The Specimen (5:06)
  12. The Spice Must Flow (4:47)
  13. Tribute To Evil (6:21)

Released by: Westwood Studios / Electronic Arts
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 68:26

Namco Classic Collection

Namco Classic CollectionHere it is, possibly the weirdest tie-in album ever. You’ve seen music devoted to Muppets, Teletubbies, Power Rangers, Powerpuff Girls, and any number of other bizarre mascots. But what about a modern-day musical tribute to Pac-Man and his fellow retro-video game stars? That’s the idea behind this limited edition Japanese CD licensed by the jolly joystick giants at Namco, one of the few game manufacturers to have weathered the various storms of the game industry, so naturally the album focuses on the characters of Namco’s arcade game properties some two decades ago.

Naturally, your ability to get anything out of this album will rely very heavily upon your ability to handle house music, as well as how familiar you are with the sounds of various and sundry video games which are now, technically, old enough to drink.

The “Pac-Man Remix” is whimsical, funny, and loaded with audio samples from the game, but when one takes into account that everyone from Aphex Twin to D.J. Maui has already mined that territory adequately, I’m not sure this mix stands out. The track devoted to obscure sequel/upgrade kit New Rally-X is a little more low-key, with game samples not making their first appearance until nearly two minutes into the proceedings. This trend is carried further in the first track devoted to Galaga, my favorite game ever to emerge from Namco’s stable, in which no samples or even musical themes from the game appear, resulting in some rather repetitive dance music with no audible ties to its inspiration. The guitar-driven Dig Dug tune bears somewhat more resemblance to the omnipresent tune that accompanies the game of the same name. The second Mappy mix brings actual samples of the game’s sounds back to the fore, along with appropriately sped-up “mouse” voices counting off “1, 2, 3, 4!” at various intervals throughout the song – though the mind-bendingly staccato drum machine beat tries even my patience. The mix devoted to Xevious leans heavily on samples, and is actually one of the best tracks of the whole collection. The honors ultimately go to the “Pac-Man Remix” and the eight-minute “Galaga: Tiny Voice Production Remix” – which even quotes the musical greeting from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind along with various game sounds (!). Those two tracks are really the epitome of what I was expecting – no, scratch that, hoping for – with this CD.

So, to wrap it up, will anyone aside from me enjoy this CD? Well, it’s entirely possible that I may be the only one. Even thought I walked into this one with an open mind, such tracks as the “Galaga: Feel Like Makin’ Jazz” mix and the “Mappy: Latin Makes You Happy” Remix (both, incidentally, remixed by Akakage) suffer from a total disconnect from their titular inspiration, and made me want to hit the “skip track” button on my CD player. On the other hand, I was greatly relieved that Ryosuke Imai’s Galaga remix, the best thing on here, was also the longest track on offer. But in some ways…the music from the various Namco Museum games for the Playstation is superior, sticking much more closely to the source material musically, if not necessarily using samples. (Why Namco didn’t throw this in as a bonus, or perhaps as a proof-of-purchase premium, with its aforementioned retro game collections is a mystery to me. That’s their target audience!) The packaging is eye-catching, and includes a sticker of the colorful cover art (dozens of CGI Pac-Men wearing headphones and eating musical notes).

3 out of 4This is one of those way-way-out-there entries in my vast library which, like Sharkbait’s Blowtorch Facelift CD, will probably mean something different to everyone who hears it. I liked most of it, but it’s not going to be everyday listening – the mood would definitely have to hit me to sit down and pour some of these tracks into my ears.

Order this CD

  1. Mappy: Latin Makes You Happy Remix – remixed by Akakage (6:23)
  2. Pac-Man Remix – remixed by Yoshihiro Sawasaki (4:27)
  3. New Rally-X: Checkered Flag Mix – remixed by Yoshiaki Onishi (6:00)
  4. Galaga: Feel Like Makin’ Jazz Mix – remixed by Akakage (6:24)
  5. Dig Dug: Pro Action Replay Remix – remixed by Takeo Sasada (3:05)
  6. Mappy Remix – remixed by Yoshihiro Sawasaki (5:09)
  7. Xevious: Maximum Power of Triple Z80 Remix – remixed by Seiya Nakano (4:38)
  8. Galaga: Tiny Voice Production Remix – remixed by Ryosuke Imai (8:01)

Released by: Pony Canyon, Inc.
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 44:07