Ahh, what a great union of East and West. OutRun 2 featured reprises of Hiroshi Kawaguchi's four classic compositions from OutRun... but there was a twist. They received 'euro remixes' from one of Britain's finest game composers, Richard Jacques, intended to make them appeal to a modern Western audience. The Japanese artists involved the game also produced some remixes too that headline the main soundtrack release. Meanwhile Jacques' arrangements were enclosed in both the Japanese and Western promo albums. The Western promo, OutRun 2 - Music Through the Ages, features the Jacques remixes and original versions of the three racing themes from OutRun. Let's take a closer look...
The promotional soundtrack opens with the original Arcade versions of the three OutRun racing themes. "Magical Sound Shower" is a definitive classic. It blends samba beats, old-school melodies, and jazz improvisation into one six minute track. The result is memorable, rhythmically compelling, and suitable for driving to. The other two driving themes haven't quite attained classic status, but are still good. "Splash Wave" is quite a bit more rock-influenced and fast-paced than "Magical Sound Shower", although at its core is one of Kawaguchi's characteristically warm and naive melodies. "Passing Breeze", on the other hand, is the most relaxing of the set with a light jazz feel and rather smooth soundscaping.
Richard Jacques' interpretation of "Magical Sound Shower" is arguably the definitive version of the theme. He maintains the samba sound of the original through distinctive piano, percussion, and whistle use; the piano accompaniment is especially effective with its upbeat take on the catchy bass riff from the original theme. The live brass section takes on the melody and brings a sassy feel to the original while the extended alto saxophone solo from the 2:22 is sleak and well-written. The subtle electronic beats and various percussive elements also add to the rhythmical impetus. All in all, it's a fresh take on the original that blends high quality Latin jazz with the catchy melodies and riffs of the original.
The other remixes are worthwhile too. "Splash Wave" is pretty interesting since it uses many of the features of old-school rock, albeit with high quality samplers. The melody sounds better than ever thanks to the rich keyboard synth while the electronic and rock backing keeps up the pace. It maintains pretty much the same texture throughout and may have benefited from some solos, though fortunately the keyboard melody is expansive enough to keep listeners interested. The live brass section return to give an upbeat feel to "Passing Breeze", though there are appropriately softer elements too created by the charismatic jazz piano lead and new age elements. The interplay between the brass and piano is sublimely done guaranteeing a compelling seven minute listen. Once again, the piece really flows and isn't obviously segmented, yet never loses its appeal either.
OutRun 2 - Music Through the Ages is a nice promotional album. It's a good way to demonstrate how times have changed from the synthy old-school sounds of Hiroshi Kawaguchi's originals towards the high fidelity modern fusions of Richard Jacques' remixes. Jacques did a great job with these bonus remixes, although the OutRun 2 soundtracks have quite a bit more to offer for those willing to shell out, including a Jacques remix of the ending theme. These originals and arrangements are found in several other albums, including OutRun 2 Soundtracks Side B and OutRun 20th Anniversary Box, so there is no need to buy the promo second hand. Those who own it should certainly find it worthwhile inserting into their CD players though.