With Street Fighter IV but a stone's throw away from home release (along with an accompanying new soundtrack!), I thought this would be a great time to come back to one of my favorite Street Fighter II albums. Toriyama indulges us with the Alph-Lyla classics, utilizing some tight guitar and electronic synth work that results in some ridiculously kickass arrangements. This 1994 release saw the opportunity to gave us a first-hand taste of arranged material for the new Super Street Fighter II characters: T. Hawk, Fei Long, Dee Jay, and Cammy.
Save The Holy Place takes T.Hawk's theme to a place smooth and mellow - a soothingly pleasant listen that, midway, reverts into some seriously bitchin' improvisation. On Your Mark gets trippin' with a funky electronic backbeat played to a blues-style like rendition of Fei Long's theme; the mid-section to the end improvises with an uplifting guitar section and a sprinkle of orchestral-like sensibilities. On His Beat mixes up growling synths, an appropriate reggae backdrop, and an almost mystical lead performance for Dee Jay. And then there's Cammy's Remembrance, which, in my opinion, is the true gem of the CD. Toriyama doesn't hold back for our favorite Delta Red gal; the lead and backing guitars are among the finest on the album: uninhibited, thrashing, yet completely focused. The song is just badass in every sense of the word.
As for the original World Warriors, the privileged six are also bestowed with Toriyama's good graces. Most notable are Hearts of Fire and Breathe Again, searing renditions of Ryu's and Ken's themes. They're both performed with slowly-churned relish, made nearly poetic by their legendary melodies. Splendor turns the other cheek, opting for a full acoustic set, castanets, and Latin chanting to bring Vega's theme alive. Its stab at Spanish ethnic music is beautiful and genuinely classy.