Data Discs' release of Yuzo Koshiro's soundtrack to the 1991 Sega game Streets of Rage is just excellent. From audio quality to packaging, it is an overall gem of a soundtrack release. The LP as a whole is a little tinny on the high end, but that's sort of the nature of the early video game music. The high end is always a little warbly and high-pitched, but it's completely counterbalanced in the way the low end thumps, which makes for a surprisingly funky listen.
Coming as it does from purely digital files to an analog format, the music gains a bit of warmth and oomph in the translation between formats. The remastering for vinyl allows Koshiro's music to breathe, whereas the original pieces of music within the game were, obviously, compressed a bit.
The intro to The Street of Rage sounds akin to Enigma's Sadeness, then goes into an absolutely danceable gem of a beat. Attack the Barbarian is pure hardcore dancefloor bliss. It's all bass and electronic shouts, with only the slightest of flourishes to lend it some flavor. The island touch to Keep the Groovin' lends itself to a samba.
The Bollywood touch to Beatnik on the Ship continues the variety, allowing for Streets of Rage to show off a diverse array of styles. Thankfully, the limited range of sounds the equipment Koshiro utilized keeps the pallet of sounds to a minimum, meaning that even as the composer experiments with rhythmic patterns and compositional techniques, he's still creating a soundtrack which has an overriding sense of togetherness.
The sequencing is rather clever, too. Ending side A with Round Clear is almost too precious, but provides a smart reminder that it's time to flip the record. The same goes with ending side B with – naturally – Game Over. Bravo to Data Discs for locking the final groove, as well. It might be the first time we've frantically started pushing buttons to continue while listening to an LP.
The vinyl's gorgeously heavyweight, and the red vinyl matches the prevalent cover colors perfectly. The art prints that come with the release are exactly the sort of thing a video game junkie would love to have hanging in their home. They're classy, but not too classy. We’d have killed for some form of liner notes, though. The label worked with Koshiro to remaster everything, and a paragraph or two about the 25-year history of this music, or even just his process composing would have really rounded out the package.
STREETS OF RAGE (1991) / COMPOSER: YUZO KOSHIRO / LABEL: DATA DISCS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 2ND