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Daytona USA Circuit Edition Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Daytona USA Circuit Edition Original Soundtrack Album Title: Daytona USA Circuit Edition Original Soundtrack
Record Label: East West Japan
Catalog No.: AMCY-2138
Release Date: March 10, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The Daytona USA Circuit Edition Original Soundtrack is the score for the Saturn remake of the Arcade's Daytona USA. Given it was produced by a different development team at Sega, the popular original game composer Takenobu Mitsuyoshi does not return. Instead Jun Senoue heads up a team to bring a more mainstream Westernised sound to the series. While he focuses more on a convincing hard rock sound, his co-composers Richard Jacques, Tomonori Sawada, and Kenichi Tokoi bring more electronically-oriented pieces. Between them, they blend original vocal themes and new instrumental compositions with modern remixes of the Daytona USA stage themes. The result? A blast!


Whereas previous soundtracks in the series featured quirky or alternative vocal themes, Jun Senoue offers much more mainstream-oriented themes with "The American Dream" and "Sons of Angels". The first is an 80s-influenced theme with an anthemic melodies similar to Bruce Springsteen and elaborate electric guitar work influenced by Van Halen. The production values are still high with powerful vocals by Mr. Big's Eric Martin, singing English lyrics such as "Winner takes all... it's the American extensive guitar solos. It's pretty amazing something as good as this could come from a Japanese game composer. The vocalist steps things up a notch in "Sons of Angels" with an especially rousing performance and even strong nods to Springsteen's 'Born in the USA'. The instrumental backing is a little more straightforward this time although Jun's guitar work is as great as ever. The tracks might not be that original, but any fan of 80s rock will agree they're very enjoyable and well done. There are also instrumental versions at the end of the soundtrack.

The other major highlights of the album are the remixes of Takenobu Mitsuyoshi's Daytona USA themes. Each piece receives a full length remix for the main racing scenes and a short intense variation. Jun Senoue really declares 'this is my score now' with his aggressive rock jam on "Let's Go Away" and the effect is controversial yet spectacular. Meanwhile Richard Jacques gives an eccentric eurobeat flavour to "The Kings of Speed" with vocoders replacing Mitsuyoshi's vocals, rapid electronic beats replacing the funk instrumentals. Again, the quality is top-notch and it should appeal to Western audiences. Tomonori Sawada gives a similarly styled interpretation of "Sky High" and emphasises the passionate melody. The once-secret "Pounding Pavement" returns too and blends the pounding Senoue rock treatment with a more retro organ melody. A final treat is Senoue's "Daytona USA Medley", which assembles Mitsuyoshi's various voice samples and chord progressions into one clever, varied, and fluid six minute rock remix.

The various contributors offer a number of original instrumental compositions too. Kenichi Tokoi certainly doesn't hold back in "The Noisy Roars of Wilderness". It's a very dynamic and punchy blend of jazz and rock features that, in my opinion, is far more interesting than the retro sound of Sega's previous jazz fusion works. Richard Jacques also makes fine contributions in the form of "Funk Fair" and "Race to the Bass". The former takes a electro-funk approach and, by blending upbeat trumpet leads and serene synth backing, gets the atmosphere just right for driving. "Race to the Bass" is a drum 'n bass track in the meantime, but a rather interesting one with its varied rhythms and moody layering. The last main contribution is "Crash & Burn", which basically blends cookie-cutter hard rock work with sound effects and voice effects from the game. Fortunately, it's treated more as a bonus track so doesn't negatively impact on the release. In addition, there are a couple of rock jingles flanking the body of the album.


The Daytona USA Circuit Edition Original Soundtrack is a premiere example of a mainstream-targeted racing score done well. The team offer vocal themes, instrumental rock, electro-funk, or various other pieces of electronica that are both convincing stylistically and beautifully implemented. However, they do so without losing the liberating racing spirit of the series. While quirky Engrish vocals are hardly anywhere to find, the team main a good decision by arranging the stage themes from Takenobu Mitsuyoshi's Daytona USA and did a great job with them. The original stage themes don't bring much melodically, but certainly add to the diversity and atmosphere of the score. This is basically an all-round awesome soundtrack. It's hard to believe it was released as early as 1997.

Overall Score: 9/10