"Blue Almanac" was an RPG released in Japan on the Mega Drive (Sega Genesis) in 1991. This 15-track arranged album is the only soundtrack of which we can speak for this game. The interplanetary fantasy adventure may have been something of a Phantasy Star knock-off, but that doesn't mean the music was in any way inferior.
The bit of fame this incredibly obscure soundtrack has received is generally due to the name associated with it: Noriyuki Iwadare. However, those who take time to research the soundtrack will learn that Iwadare only worked a few of the songs on this album. Koji Hayama also had a small part on this album: he did the arrangement for track 10.
The songs I found particularly invigorating were the majority of the other "Planet" themes. Along with life-like synth, these songs include a few live instruments, particularly for solos (guitar solo, sax solo, etc.). A female vocalist does some singing and narrating on a couple of songs as well.
The songs, when looked at as a collective effort, reflect the "jam band" arranged albums that were common during these few early years of VGM albums. In particular, I'd be a fool not to notice the similarities this album has with Falcom's "Super Arrange Version" CDs, or some of Sakuraba's earlier works with Wolf Team.
In terms of quality, this album is top notch. An album's rarity generally has little to do with whether or not it's a good album, so this hunk of obscure plastic had me wondering whether or not it was worth the material it was printed on. It didn't even take me 10 minutes to know that this CD was going to be good the first time I listened to it.
If you're looking for something strange, interesting, and well-written from the Sega Genesis days, this would be a good album to get, particularly to "show off" to those who have never even recognized it previously. It's a hard find, but the cheapest prices for it are found on Y!J auctions.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann