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Two interesting C64 arrangements albums have been released recently.
I thought it would have been interesting stuff to review for the Atari scene. :)

The "Tune" collumn  in the tables  indicate the number  of the original  tune in
the  production  .SID file  (available  in the  High Voltage  SID Collection  at

You can purchase the albums at Synsoniq shop :
You can also find samples of the albums in .MP3 format at the provided URLs.

|   Press Play on Tape - Loading Ready Run []   |
|Track| Song                        | Author                    |Duration |Tune|
| 01  | Rambo: First Blood part 2 . | Martin Galway ........... |  03:39  | 01 |
| 02  | Ghosts'n Goblins .......... | Mark Cooksey ............ |  03:33  | 02 |
| 03  | Warhawk ................... | Rob Hubbard ............. |  04:25  | 01 |
| 04  | Monty on the Run .......... | Rob Hubbard ............. |  05:35  | 01 |
| 05  | Beyond the Ice Palace ..... | David Whittaker ......... |  02:33  | 01 |
| 06  | Wizardry .................. | Mike Alsop .............. |  02:45  | 01 |
| 07  | Commando .................. | Rob Hubbard ............. |  04:03  | 01 |
| 08  | Thing on a Spring ......... | Rob Hubbard ............. |  03:42  | 01 |
| 09  | Aztec Challenge ........... | Paul Norman ............. |  03:00  | 02 |
| 10  | Auf Wiedersehen Monty ..... | Rob Hubbard & Ben Daglish |  05:41  | 01 |
| 11  | Paperboy feat. Game Over .. | Mark Cooksey ............ |  04:17  | 02 |
| 12  | Krakout ................... | Ben Daglish ............. |  02:48  | 01 |
| 13  | Thrust .................... | Rob Hubbard ............. |  03:16  | 01 |
| 14  | Master of Magic ........... | Rob Hubbard ............. |  04:35  | 01 |

One day i read a news  on the Orange Juice website about a band  performing live
covers of classics C64 tunes.  Very interested, i searched for stuff  about them
and i found a video of the band performing Commando at The Party 2000, cool!
But while playing the video,  my enthusiasm decreased...  Oooh what was that! It
sounded like  a band who began  playing their instruments  just about  one month
ago... And i think it was really the case back then.

Press Play on Tape  is composed of nothing less than 6 musicians,  these being 2
keyboard players, 2 guitar players, a bass player and a drummer.

After some concerts, as they were becoming famous over the scene (certainly more
for  the concept of  C64 covers concerts  than for their  musical skills),  they
released an album named "Loading Ready Run".

So  how does  it sound?  Hopefully,  much better  than the  concert  recordings!
I think that studio mixing helped a lot  (especially multiples takes in fact ;).
Anyway there are  always little synchronisation  problems,  some parts  sounding
sometimes  too fast and complex  for them  to play in  perfect tempo.  Also some
notes in the main melody ring sometimes a little false.
Special mention to the drums  which are played perfectly  (glad because it's the
most important instrument to keep the tempo stable!)  and even if the drummer is
playing  electronic drums,  these are probably  not sequenced  here,  as  it was
already good in the live video i saw. Also this guy says that he isn't a drummer
since long, so he has reached a good level quite fast in my opinion.

And  about  the arrangements?  These  guys play  rock instruments  so it  mainly
sounds rock and the style doesn't differ a lot on each tracks.
Lots of  things have  been modified  from the  original SID versions  like  more
complex drums,  harmonised instruments playing the melody,  chord accords in the
back  and specific  instruments choices,  but the  main structure  of the  tunes
hasn't been touched much.
Also there aren't a lot  of additional parts or solos,  but some freestyle stuff
seems to have sometimes replaced the original melody (a few times anyway).

The synthesizers instruments used are most of the time quite basic ones (i could
even say childish sometimes) and i find it quite a shame because they could have
been using  some more  stylish ones,  same complain about  some guitars effects.
Also i would have prefered a more funky rhythm in some parts, but it's a  highly
personal opinion. ;)

These guys being  big fans of Rob Hubbard,  half of the tracks  on the album are
some of his compositions.  Also most of  the selected tunes are well known  ones
even for a non C64 owner,  as the games have been released  on others plateforms
or the tunes covered in others formats (by Mad Max and Tao on ST for example).

[Tracks Review]

Like lots of  Martin Galway tunes,  Rambo First Blood intro  got long  arpeggios
sequences which give a wide feeling to the tune and it's nicely rendered here.

Ghosts'n Goblins is quite close  to the original but got  (slightly) less  weird
drums.  There's  an easter egg  in the reversed voice  in the background  of the
intro. ;)

The  guitar which  plays the  intro of  Warhawk  doesn't  restore the  stressing
feeling of it.  Same fact in a later part, the whole cover being cooler than the

Monty on the Run  is one of  my favorites tracks.  It's as fast  as the original
tune  and even  if there  are some  small problems,  the rock  melody is  nicely
reproduced by the guitar.  Also this instrument fits perfectly in the blues part
in the middle and i love the rock part that comes after.

There's  a transition from the  previous track with  Beyond the Ice Palace.  The
intro here is  less dark than the  SID version.  After that it nicely alternates
the calm and nervous parts, the whole arrangement being more rhythmical than the

Wizardry is  an acoustic cover,  expecting some  shy synthesizer strings  in the
back.  It's  slower  than  the original  and  less rhythmical.  There's  also an
additional part in the middle, but very close to the original melody anyway.

Commando arrangement  got a problem,  a really loosy synthesizer lead.  Also the
repetitive part in the middle  is too long and should have been cutted short  as
it goes on  boring for  30 seconds,  but the original  is like that too  and the
melodic part coming after is really nice. A more funky rhythm wouldn't have been
a nice addition here, in my opinion, along the slap bass.

Thing on a Spring  sounds like  the original,  the  happy feeling  being greatly
served by the  childish synthesizer instruments.  The drums solo  at 02:58  is a
nice inclusion. :)

The original  Aztec Challenge tune have  certainly been composed  with some hard
rock inspiration and  it's is highly expressed here.  But i prefer  the style of
the Nexus 6581 version as it sounds darker,  mainly because there are once again
out of place synthesizer instruments here.

Auf Wiedersehen Monty  is  another  one  of  my  favorites.  It  got,  like  his
predecessor,  some very  rock inspirated parts  which  sound great played  on  a

The Paperboy  cover is  very faithfull  to the  slow funky-blues feeling  of the
original but adding lots of elements  like solos when there weren't any  as well
as a nice break-part at 03:06.

I don't like Krakout at all, but i've got the same problem with the original. In
fact this tune got "crazy" melodies which, even if it's fun to listen the  first
time and certainly delirious to play,  make me skip this track  when i listen to
the album.  It could have been a comical-show song, fun but not listenable as it
is for me. Anyway the retranscribtion is faithfull.

Thrust is  my thrid  favorite piece,  mainly because  i love  the original.  The
instruments choosed are quite good,  even the synthesizer instruments choice  is
not that bad. The wah guitar effect at 01:55 is also a really nice idea, even if
it has been highly suggested by the original SID instrument.  Note that it's not
a complete cover,  the original having some repetitive parts  and also one which
sounds probably too weird to be reproduced by live instruments.

Master of Magic is a great cover,  the rhythm complexity, as well as the baroque
style and the tragic feeling  of some parts are perfectly rendered.  Rob Hubbard
has been  inspirated  by a  song called  Shibolet  from  the band  Synergy  when
composing the original tune.

Until recently the C64 covers albums available were filled with techno-remixies,
so if you're interested  in another kind  of arrangements,  this album can be an
interesting pick.

But what we got here are rock instruments played versions of the tunes and not a
lot more.  And if you've heard the Giana Sisters cover by Machinae Supremacy for
example,  don't expect  the same  variations  in the  arrangements  or the  same
mastery of the instruments here.
What i like  in arrangements are nice  unexpected variations or  additions and i
din't found many in Press Play on Tape work.
Anyway the fact  that the covers  stay  very close  to the originals tunes  will
certainly please lots of people  and the weaknesses don't prevent these of being
very nice to listen, some tracks and parts being really great.

But i am not sure  that these guys will improve their skills and release another
C64 covers album,  as their  last idea was  to make a boys-band clip  where they
were singing the Comic Bakery melody  with lyrics about how much they love their
C64, over a boom-boom melody...

|           Reyn Ouwehand - Nexus 6581 []           |
|Track| Song                        | Author                    |Duration |Tune|
| 01  | Last Ninja 3 intro ........ | Reyn Ouwehand ........... |  04:26  | 03 |
| 02  | Shape ..................... | Johannes Bjerregaard .... |  03:41  | 01 |
| 03  | DMC IV part 2 ............. | Johannes Bjerregaard .... |  03:23  | 02 |
| 04  | Enlightement: Druid II .... | David Hanlon ............ |  03:51  | 03 |
| 05  | Flimbo's Quest ............ | Reyn Ouwehand ........... |  03:16  | 01 |
| 06  | Dutch Breeze: Flip the Flop | Reyn Ouwehand ........... |  04:14  | 01 |
| 07  | Deflektor ................. | Ben Daglish ............. |  03:50  | 01 |
| 08  | Special Agent ............. | Johannes Bjerregaard .... |  03:50  | 01 |
| 09  | Blues Meanies part 1 ...... | Steve Barret ............ |  01:42  | 01 |
| 10  | Asian Legends ............. | (Check detail bellow) ... |  07:52  | ** |
| 11  | Aztec Challenge ........... | Paul Norman ............. |  04:06  | 02 |

|                         Asian Legends Medley Detail                          |
| Medley Part | Game                        | Author        |Tune|SID Tune Part|
| 00:14-00:59 | Fist 2 The Legend Continues | Neil Brennan  | 01 | 00:00-00:45 |
| 01:09-02:03 | The Last Ninja ............ | Ben Daglish . | 06 | 00:46-01:40 |
| 02:03-02:26 | Yie Ar Kung Fu 2 .......... | Martin Galway | 05 | 00:15-00:38 |
| 02:26-02:57 | Legend of Kage ............ | Fred Gray ... | 01 | 00:10-00:35 |
| 02:57-03:23 | Yie Ar Kung Fu ............ | Martin Galway | 12 | 00:00-00:22 |
| 03:33-05:02 | Way of the Exploding Fist . | Neil Brennan  | 02 | 00:00-00:57 |
| 05:09-05:39 | International Karate ...... | Rob Hubbard . | 01 | 00:25-00:59 |
| 05:39-06:10 | Last Ninja Remix (Approx.). | Reyn Ouwehand | 04 | 00:31-00:46 |
| 06:10-06:39 | Last Ninja 3 .............. | Reyn Ouwehand | 06 | 00:20-00:34 |
| 06:57-07:43 | Last Ninja 2 .............. | Matt Gray ... | 02 | 00:50-01:36 |

The first time i saw this album on Synsoniq website,  i thought,  looking at the
techno-styled cover,  that it  was just  another one  filled with  bunch of "C64
techno remixies no more  interesting than all those  you can download freely  on
the internet", like the Back in Time series...
But no, it's definitly not this kind of covers we got here.

The arranged tunes aren't the most well-known C64 game-tunes, so if you're not a
C64  owner  and  gamer,  you'll  have  probably  never heard  of most  of these.
Personnaly, i only knew three of these before listening to the album  (the Asian
Legend medley counting as one).

The album is arranged  and produced by Reyn Ouwehand,  who was  a C64 game music
composer back in the 80's  and is now a music producer.  So the arranger being a
music producer, you can certainly imagine how professional and interesting these
covers are.

Great point is  that the style differs  on most tracks  and the instruments used
too.  Reyn Ouwehand has  also called  a sax player in,  himself playing  all the
others instruments.  Maybe some of these are sampled  but anyway none are out of
place and  the "real ones" sound  realistics.  There are even some  vocal themes
inclusions in a few tracks (no lyrics though).

[Tracks Review]

Last Ninja 3 intro tune  is arranged in an asian/epic style,  with a deep reverb
and some chorus voices,  the original SID tune  sounding already very epic.  The
rhythm sounds quite modern and  there's a synthetic lead inclusion at 2/3 of the
track,  making this cover fitting nicely as a modern "Once Upon a Time in China"
movie opening. ;)  There's a solo in the original tune which hasn't been covered

Shape is  a C64 demo tune  composed by Johannes Bjerregaard  to show what he was
capable of. Here we got a very funky version greatly deserved by the sax playing
the  main theme.  The  others instruments  are  funk-typicals.  There's  also  a
synthetic instrument playing  the background melody which sounds quite close  to
the original SID one.

DMC  (Danish  Music  Company)  IV  demo  is  another  music demo  from  Johannes
Bjerregaard and  its 2nd tune  got a quite  arabic/celtic melody  and very tough
instruments.  Reyn made a metal arrangement of it which reproduces perfectly the
original  powerful  feeling. It's  astonishing  to hear  how  the original  high
octaves SID breaks sounds close to their guitar rendition!  The main theme seems
to be played by the sax player along synthesizer strings.  This version got more
progressive drums than  the original and it adds  a lot to the powerful feeling.
It's one of my favorites pieces of the album.

Enlightenment  Druid  2  a very  calm  tune,  heard  many times  in the  various
Fairlight cracktros  over several plateforms.  There're lot of faery instruments
used in this version  but the main theme doesn't sound as faery  as the original
because it's played by an acoustic guitar  which got less echo than the original
SID instrument.  There's also  a (low frequency played) slow beat  coming in the
middle of the track which adds a nice dreamy sensation.

Flimbo's Quest cover sounds quite like a western cartoon music,  because there's
a banjo and a typical saloon piano along some funky beat and bass.  There's also
an organ solo  which adds quite much to the funky style  and a nice guitar part.
It results in a great cover of an originaly very funky tune.

Dutch Breeze was a 1991 C64 demoscene production  featuring lots of upbeat tunes
by Reyn Ouwehand.  He  choosed  to arrange  the less melodic one  from the demo,
named  Flip the Flop,  extending its  typical minimalist  90's dance style.  The
funky bass intro has been wiped out and only the main theme is present.  It also
features lots of cut-off effects and a drum'n bass beat.

Deflektor  is  a tune  focusing  on the  main melody  with  a  mostly repetitive
background.  Here  we got a  nice rock arrangement  with a piano  performing the
solos. A calm guitar part varies from the rest of the track and a vocal theme is
also included sometimes.

The sax player is back in Special Agent cover for a funk/rock arrangement.  This
track sounds quite like  an opening for an US cop show.  Special mention  to the
calm part  which features  a vocal/synthetiser solo over  some SID arpeggios and
sounds marvelous.

With the absence  of rhythm,  Blues Meanies  is very calm tune  and the cover is
even calmer,  featuring mostly classical  instruments like a flute,  a piano and
violoncello,  but also an  electric guitar.  It's an originaly very short piece,
lasting around  30 seconds  before looping,  so the cover  is  quite short  too,
keeping two loops of the original theme before adding an additional ending part.

And  we  reached  THE  Asian Legend  track,  my  favorite piece  over  the whole
album.  This  cover  is  in fact  a medley  of  various  themes  from  C64 asian
-scenarised games,  arranged in a (quite typical today) funky/asian style. So we
got  classical asian instruments  perfectly mixed  with  a funky beat,  a groovy
bass, some synthesizer leads and an electric guitar.  It's funky as i would have
wished this kind of medley to be, with a great relaxing part in the middle.  The
themes are perfectly placed,  around 8 minutes of pure delight!  I just miss the
theme i love from the second part of IK+ tune. ;)

As i wrote in the Press Play on Tape album review,  the Aztec Challenge SID tune
seems to have been composed  with hard rock inspiration.  So here we got a metal
cover of it featuring strong trash guitars.  The high octaves theme is performed
on a guitar played with a fast moving mediator  along a spooky synthesizer lead.
But it's certainly the trash feeling  that Reyn Ouwehand wanted  to express most
in  his arrangement,  because  at 3/4  of  the track  there are  some additional
electric noise  which got  volume increased  while the music volume  is reduced,
ending  on loud noise only.  Not very cool to listen especially  with headphones
and big shame because it would have been a great cover without this weird stuff.

So here  we got another  C64 non-techno covers album  (okay,  expecting Flip the
Flop which sounds dancey ;)  and this time it got lots of variation in style and
sounds professionnal in composition and masterisation. What more to ask for?
Also  no arrangement  sounds  out of place  and  all  match  perfectly  with the
original composition.

The best C64 covers albums released so far, in my opinion. :)

[>-------------------------------------------------------) 22/11/02 Dma-Sc (--<]

Alive 6