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Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks :: Review by Chris and Totz

Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks Album Title: Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks
Record Label: DigiCube (1st Edition); Square Enix (Reprint)
Catalog Number: SSCX-10012; SQEX-10042
Release Date: October 22, 1997; February 23, 2005
Content: 1 CD - 20 Tracks
Purchase: Buy at Square Enix Music Online Music Store


First, listen to the Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale album. You'll hear eleven fantastic fully orchestrated arrangements. Now, listen to the Final Fantasy VIII FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC album. The 13 orchestrated tracks will amaze you. Finally, pop in your Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks album, and be amazed at the 19 orchestrated. hold on. Hey! I can only hear three orchestrated tracks! What's up with that? Yes, there are only three orchestrated tracks: "One Winged Angel," "Aerith's Theme," and the main theme. Talk about obvious choices, huh? The other sixteen tracks are exactly the same as their Original Soundtrack counterparts! Again, what's up with that? Well, let's plough straight on and see...

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Opening ~ Bombing Mission

Although this theme is an exact replica of what it was in the Original Soundtrack, it is just as fantastic. It may not be quite as awe-inspiring as Final Fantasy VIII's "Liberi Fatali"; or the Opening Theme from Final Fantasy IX; however, this doesn't stop it being a great favorite. The slow introductory part is truly heart-rending whilst the more energetic battle-like part that follows really gets your pulse racing! This is a perfect introduction to the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks, whether orchestrated or not! (10/10)

2) Valley of the Fallen Star

This experimental tribal theme (also known as "Cosmo Canyon") was an obvious choice for this album. Although the tragic "Great Warrior" would have been perhaps a more considered choice, "Valley of the Fallen Star" is still a hugely evocative and enjoyable track that proves a real pleasure to listen to. This track would have been ideal for orchestration in this album. Just imagine the hugely emotional power of the orchestrated flute melodies together with the ethnic African drumbeats and you can see why! It would be simply sensational! Regardless of how good the original is, this is certainly lost potential. (9.5/10)

3) Fighting Again

Now THIS is a fighting theme! Yes, the simply unforgettable boss battle theme from the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack has made a very welcome return in this album. It may not be orchestrated but in some ways this blessing; orchestration of battle themes in the past has only had mixed success. With orchestration the techno style that made this theme so original and upbeat would be lost meaning that it really would lack the awe-inspiring impact it currently creates. It's perfect how it stands and Hamaguchi was right not to change that. (10/10)

4) Farm Boy

Although its addition to the Original Soundtrack was reasonably successful, this would have been far from my primary choice to add to the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks. It can sometimes be calming, mellow and enlightening to listen to and is also host to quite a few lovely harmonic progressions. However, its simplicity and ponderous nature means it is often a skippable track on the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks at least. I personally would have preferred a track with a bit more substance to be added. A prime example would be the breathtaking "Great Warrior." (6/10)

5) Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony

This march would have sounded one million times better if it were transformed into that grand orchestrated brass theme it always wanted to be. Although it is sounds upbeat and exciting in its current form, it really lacks the true power it deserves for representing the grandeur of the ShinRa Corporation. This is not helped by the poor quality of the synth sound that was inherited from the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack. If Hamaguchi orchestrated it then it would be just as awe-inspiring as it deserves, but sadly in its current form it simply seems weak. It is a shame that the impeccable standard of Uematsu's composition here was overshadowed by poor sound quality here. (8/10)

6) Electric de Chocobo

This is one of the most popular Chocobo theme arrangements ever made and certainly the best from the Original Soundtrack. This has not been orchestrated in this album meaning that the cool, catchy melodies and energetic, pulsating rhythms inspired by the electronica style Uematsu originally adopted have not been lost. If it were orchestrated it may well have become another very mediocre "Milan de Chocobo" from the Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale album! We don't want that, do we? (10/10)

7) Honeybee Manor

I managed to tolerate the zaniness and silliness this track created in the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack, considering it represented weird parts of the game very well. I felt it was a terrible choice to add to the Reunion Tracks, however, which is supposed to be a sort of 'best collection.' I thought that because it was so criticised in the Original Soundtrack for being so silly and annoying, producers wouldn't dare add this theme to another album. I was clearly wrong. Although I can see how it was intended to be a cheerful and quirky addition to a light-hearted album, in reality it is nothing more than an annoying obstacle that was put in the album at sacrifice of a really successful themes like "ShinRa Corporation" and "Mako Reactor." Not good. (4/10)

8) Cid's Theme

This powerful, rather beautiful theme was a masterpiece in the Original Soundtrack and it would have been even greater if Hamaguchi gave it the orchestration it really deserved. However, the original is still a very welcome addition to the Reunion tracks. Why is this so? In summary: its majestic style and poignant melodies offers a lot of hope and sadness; its melodies are so delicately and musically crafted that they are just unforgettable; plus it is entirely representative of Cid Highwind's inner self, which is quite soft despite his hard persona. Everything about it is wonderful. Still, if only it were orchestrated. (10/10)

9) Forested Temple

If this were orchestrated with Hamaguchi's magic then I could imagine it being much superior to "Mystic Forest" in the Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale album that holds close similarities to it. Still as the ambient gem of the Reunion Tracks Uematsu's original version of this track remains as atmospheric as ever to listen to. Although its chromatic motifs may be simple, they evoke a huge amount of mystery and mysticism within this track. It would have been one of my primary choices to add to the Reunion Tracks, and even though it may not be orchestrated, it still remains as creditable as ever. (8.5/10)

10) Fighting

The battle theme for Final Fantasy VII doesn't need orchestration considering it would lose all the impact and catchiness that the original heavy synth style evokes. It remains as energetic and fast-paced as ever even if it isn't the most original and memorable battle theme of the series. Although it can be repetitive, it is usually quite enjoyable and engrossing to listen to. This therefore makes it a fair addition to the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks yet not the best. (7.5/10)

11) Ahead on Our Way

"Ahead on our Way" is a deeply evocative and touching town theme; its calm, relaxing melodies provide a perfect picture of a town while its melodies are enchanting and memorable. Even though it isn't orchestrated, it certainly rivals the likes of "Breezy" from the Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack and even the orchestral version of "Kids Run Through the City Corner" from the Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale Album. Hamaguchi's orchestration would have made it even better and it was quite a disappointment to see another fantastic theme not being orchestrated once again. (10/10)

12) Golden Saucer

"Yay! Super happy fun time!" This is another of those overly light-hearted tracks heard on the Reunion Tracks. At least it isn't quite as annoying as "Honeybee Manor," however. I would have much preferred to hear a true epic such as "Turk's Theme" or "Staff Roll" in its place. Still, this remains quite enjoyable to listen to even if poor sound quality is hindered by synth instrumentation to some extent. Its catchy melodies and sense of activity are appropriate and it will always make you smile whenever you hear it! (8.5/10)

13) Crazy Motorcycle

This tension filled song is just as energetic and exciting as it was in the Original Soundtrack. It's well developed with very catchy melodies emerging throughout. The use of heavy synth sound just like in "Fighting" and ";Fighting Again"; is perfect for this context and it is clear that orchestration would ruin this one. (8/10)

14) Cait Sith's Theme

"Cait Sith's Theme" is only rivalled as a character theme by the almighty "Cid's Theme." This theme may have been better with orchestration but it sounds fantastic as it is with its memorable melodies and sly character. It brings back distinct memories to me of "Slam Shuffle" and "Johnny C. Bad" from the Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version with its jazzy, cool, sleazy style. I'm very pleased that this has been added to the Reunion Tracks considering it is one of my favourite tracks from the Original Soundtrack. (10/10)

15) Descendent of Shinobi

This is yet another light-hearted track like "Honeybee Manor" and "Gold Saucer", which seem in too great magnitude in this soundtrack. I probably wouldn't have added this if I had the chance considering it lacks the depth in character that "Cait Sith's Theme" and "Cid's Theme" both possessed as character themes. Still, it has nice quirky melodies and it is very enjoyable to listen to. (7.5/10)

16) J-E-N-O-V-A

This really does not demand orchestration considering its fast-paced and energetic rhythms and overall sci-fi feel inherited by its techno style would all be lost. This is one of the more experimental futuristic additions to the Reunion Tracks and Uematsu has really hit the bull's-eye with this one. It's a fabulous addition to the album and quite possibly the best special boss battle theme of the whole series. (10/10)

17) F.F.VII Main Theme (Orchestra Version)

The impossible has been accomplished: Hamaguchi was able to improve an already perfect song! Uematsu's original "Final Fantasy VII Main Theme" is one of his best works ever, and Hamaguchi's orchestrated form is even better! Amazingly, the original was able to ignore the terrible sound quality of the Original Soundtrack and sound great! However, I feel that now I have heard it orchestrated it becomes my duty to say it is the best orchestral song I have ever heard. This is perfect - it evokes all the feelings the original one did, but, this time with greater intensity. This goes to show that Hamaguchi and Uematsu alike are true musical geniuses. Many of the non-orchestrated additions to the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks may not have expanded upon their originals, however, this theme makes up for this by a long way. Now, where is our "Cid's Theme (Orchestral Version)"? (10+/10)

18) One Winged Angel (Orchestra Version)

This is the only orchestrated theme that seems perhaps a regression from its original. Uematsu's original was simply unbeatable, and in spite of truly admirable efforts from Hamaguchi, this certainly shows. The only considerable improvement is in sound quality. This originally hindered the clarity of the original and their vocals; however, with orchestration this is transformed into sound quality that is much sharper and clearer! Otherwise, it remains a weaker version of the original. For starters, not only is it much shorter, but it is also much more frenzied and chaotic than the original. It seems to be almost tripping over itself in places and the many transitions between each of the theme often feel rather clumsy and incoherent. It also doesn't manage to hit you as hard as the original. I felt it didn't realise the full magnitude of the original's awe. However do not get me wrong, by no means is this a bad theme: it has everything the original once did although not in the greatest intensity. It has memorable melodies, a full Latin chorus, chilling gothic styles, and even the sound effects that bring back memories of the music being played during the stabbing scene in the movie "Psycho!" What more can you ask for? Hmm, well, quite a bit more. (8.5/10)

19) Aerith's Theme (Orchestra Version)

This is the final theme to the soundtrack and it is certainly an excellent way to finish this album! Even against the original "Aerith's Theme," Hamaguchi has provided a considerable improvement with this powerful orchestration. Considering the orchestrated version doesn't divert hugely from the original, it is still a perfect capture of the tragic character of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII and doesn't spoil its melodic perfection. The theme, like Aerith, symbolises beauty, sadness as well as hope. It is very hard to express in words just how evocative this arrangement can be. It can be so tear jerking considering Aerith's memorable, and heartbreaking tragedy; yet against this heart-rending sadness, the rich orchestration provides quite an uplifting glimmer of hope as well. The orchestratation expands upon the original and adds a further dimension as far as its intensity is concerned. It doesn't transform the original beyond recognition by any respects, but is still met with fantastic results. Hamaguchi has arranged and developed it perfectly! (10+/10)

Hidden Track) One-Winged Angel (Karaoke Version)

This is the hidden track in the soundtrack that can be accessed by rewinding the first track from the beginning to about -4.30 in the CD! This is a nice little secret to the album; however sadly it is identical to "One Winged Angel (Orchestral Version)" yet without the vocals. These vocals were what primarily made "One Winged Angel" reasonably successful in the first place! The idea of the absence of vocals is so that you do karaoke with this track if you really wanted to; however, I don't really see anyone being strange enough to want to do that!! Still, this theme is a nice, surprising little bonus to the CD even if nothing more than this. It would have been better if our bonus were something more stunning like an orchestrated version "Cid's Theme," which would be worth the effort of rewinding to get to! Gah. (6/10)


Overall The Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks create a fantastic and very enjoyable album that shows the true power and awe of Uematsu once again. As well as this, it welcomes newcomer Shiro Hamaguchi to the series who has since built up quite a splendid list of albums.

It is the three arranged orchestrated tracks that make this album what it is. Although they don't really stray largely from their originals, they are generally successful and very appropriate incarnations. They add an extra depth to their original creations from the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack. It seems a real wasted opportunity that some of the tracks derived directly from the Original Soundtrack are not orchestrated too - fifteen minutes of orchestrated tracks is just not enough. Themes such as "Cid's Theme" and "Valley of the Fallen Star" really seem to be pleading for orchestration yet never were. This seems like a real missed opportunity if you imagine the awe these tracks could potentially create in their orchestrated form.

Seeing the tracklist of this CD, one cannot help but notice that it is incredibly light-hearted! Songs like "Yuffie's Theme," "Gold Saucer," and worst of all "Honeybee Manor" all prove this. In some places it shares the same darkness as the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack with themes such as "One Winged Angel" being heard, but I think the attempt to steer away from all the doom and gloom the Original Soundtrack was criticised for went a bit far. This leads to a somewhat questionable choices for the tracklist ("Honeybee Manor," anybody?) and leads to a few unwelcome absences e.g. "Mako Reactor," "ShinRa Corporation," and the "Turk's Theme." At least they didn't add "Underneath the Rotting Pizza" though...

If you were to buy this soundtrack I would recommend you buy it for the three orchestral tracks. Do not buy this album for the first sixteen tracks unless you don't have the money to buy the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack in which the album will act as a decent 'best collection.' However, if it is original, inspired musical perfection that you are looking for then I would point you in the direction of the much more accomplished Final Fantasy VIII: FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC and Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale orchestral albums. The Reunion Tracks are certainly very enjoyable to listen to however they simply lack the length and originality of other more successful competitors in the series meaning it fails to live up to my high expectations for it.

Percentage Overall Score: 74%

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