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Mother :: Review by Sitorimon

Mother Album Title: Mother
Record Label: CBS / Sony Group (1st Print); Sony Music Entertainment (Reprint)
Catalog No.: 32DH-5285; MHCL-341
Release Date: August 21, 1989; February 18, 2004
Purchase: Buy at eBay

Overview

Mother (aka EarthBound Zero) seems to have a cult following; it certainly has a good cultstone foothold in RPG history. While the Mother 1 + 2 Original Soundtracks have been recommissioned not so long ago, it seems fair to delve back and review the arranged album. Intrestingly, the lyrics for the several vocal tracks are recorded in English with Catherine Warwick giving her best with what she's got to play with.

Body

"Pollyanna (I Believe in You)" is very typical of Japanese 1990s music. It features very cheesy guitar, MIDI pianos, and chirpy lyrics. Catherine Warwick is out of tune at times and the song has some other problems, though it's far from offensive. "Bein' Friends" is a much better reflection on the whole process with Warwick almost taking on a classical whaling in the bridges. The point where tacky happiness becomes actually rather good is here and you need some of this once in a while. Definately a highlight if you're looking for the fun of the series. Away with the English lady and out with Jeb Million who thinks he's Bryan Adams stuck in a cowboy bar! Catchy, fun country madness that could find its way onto 'The Best of Line Dancing Vol. 1'. No harm in that either I think!

"Magicant" sees vocals disappear in favour for some ambigious synths and abstract instrumentation. Intrestingly arranged, albeit not a song I'd have thought could be arranged particularly well, but sometimes the least obvious choices make for musical gold. Catherine Warwick makes her next appearance with "Wisdom of the World", an absolutely beautiful ballad with angelic vocals, sweeping string arrangements, and subtle drums. This song is made all the more enchanting by the production in which the vocals seem to be very soft and flowing with the strings never a separate entity.

"Flying Man" brings out the ukelele! Louis Philippe has a voice not dissimilar to that of an early French George Michael, however you'll never get him singing a song like this. Weird tuned percussion and quirky uke riffs make this song quite a unique experience — even for the gaming community — and it's not every day you can get that. "Snow Man" is in a similar vein to "Magicant", but is a more traditional arrangement. Good fun to listen to. "All That I Needed (Was You)" is Catherine Warwick's final song, which is, like the opening duo, another catchy, inoffensive, and, above all, fun early 1990s Japanese pop song.

Moving towards the end of the arranged section, "Fallin' Love, And..." is a very progressive track that only really sways between two chords. Variety is nevertheless created through adding various instruments and little patterns here and there. The song is pretty itself but goes on for too long to be anything worthwhile repeating often. However, "Eight Melodies" is one of the simplest and most sumptuous songs in video game music written. A beautiful children's choir and a full orchestra present a stellar performance of a very sweet but powerful tune. While some may find repetitive, I find it completely overwhelming.

Keichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka, the original composers for Mother, then give us a 24 minute compilation of the entire original soundtrack under the title "The World of Mother". It is a superb indulgence and a real bonus. Each piece plays through and fades out while the next starts and there's no special effects rubbishing their way into the music either! Hurrah! "Smiles And Tears" closes the album as an unreleased track; it is simple enough, but has not been polished sound-wise so it really does sound like a demo left on the cutting floor.

Summary

Mother's arranged album intends to be a happy little gem with quirks and surprises. The surprise is that the album is actually rather good. While it hasn't stood the test of time well in terms sound production, it certainly has stood the test of time in terms of good music. The original game music is a wonderful bonus.

Overall Score: 8/10