All Over Xanadu is an arranged album dedicated to 1985's Xanadu and 1986's Xanadu Scenario II. These best-selling sequels to the original Dragon Slayer were the first Falcom titles to actually feature music and the latter game was Yuzo Koshiro's game debut. Though their original scores were never fully released, Falcom commissioned an arranged album by famous musician Ikuro Fujiwara. Is Falcom's first ever album release a worthwhile one?
The album opens with an arrangement of the sole theme from the Xanadu, "La Valse Pour Xanadu". This waltz was a distinctive feature of the original game with its haunting melodies and hypnotic metre. In Ikuro Fujiwara's arrangement, a studio-recorded string ensemble emphasises the wistful shape of the melodies. However, he also adds a gothic touch with continuo from a synthesized harpsichord, appropriate given the mythology in the game. The overall arrangement is much richer than the original and a fitting opener to the album.
The arrangement of main theme for Xanadu Scenario II initially continues the gothic focus with a rendition of a melody similar to Chopin's funeral march. However, it transforms into an uplifting jazz fusion arrangement at the 1:18 mark, featuring excellent guitar leads and catchy backing. Unlike many arranged albums out there, the stylistic shift isn't too jarring since Fujiwara maintains some darker acoustic elements. Plenty of other arrangements feature interesting blends of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. "Around Nuldour", for example, is reminiscent of the opener with its ornate harpsichord work, while the ending theme is more elating than ever with its elating brass work. "Postlude" and "A Calm Tone of Voice" also bring something novel to the album with their romantic string and piano performances.
All Over Xanadu also features arrangements of Yuzo Koshiro's first ever game compositions. "From Mapleford" and "To Altel" instantly reflect Koshiro's lyricism with their blends of Baroque counterpoint and poppy beats. These arrangements are actually well-integrated medleys of several tracks from the in-game soundtrack. The album ends with two battle theme medleys, "Monster Collector" and "Dragon Slayer". Every piece featured in these medleys is a classic and it's clear that Koshiro was highly inspired when writing them. It's also pleasant how "Dragon Slayer" fades out with faint piano and string work, ensuring the album is rounded off on a reflective note.
Overall, All Over Xanadu is an impressive commemoration of the Xanadu and Xanadu Scenario II scores. All the wonderful melodies from the original games are presented clearly here, while the gothic tone and emotional story of the games is also emphasised. The arrangements are nevertheless creatively liberated works, diverse in style and filled with intricacy. In contrast to many other Falcom productions, Fujiwara resists from making the arrangements too cheesy and also offers top-notch implementation for its time. This album is now very rare and expensive, but the most dedicated collectors may find it rewarding to purchase second-hand.