A Quick Look At Data Discs' Shenmue Vinyl LP

Retro seems to be the in thing at the moment - be it games, movies, clothes or even music formats. While you could argue that vinyl never really went out of fashion, for a good while it was only the most dedicated of music aficionados who would go to the lengths of seeking out that elusive LP for their collection. That said, the recent mainstream resurgence of vinyl as a viable format on which to purchase your music comes with the caveat that a large proportion of people buying vinyl don't play them, and some don't even own a record player; instead opting to buy records to put up on the wall, or simply for the sake of collecting because they look cool.

Of course, I know that doesn't account for everyone but it's an interesting topic of discussion. And with that we move our focus to the Venn diagram which blooms when you correlate the allure of vinyl with the retro gaming scene. Data Discs have wasted no time in capitalising on the cross over of these two areas of collecting/nostalgic amour and created a whole range of officially licensed SNK, Capcom and Sega-inspired original soundtrack vinyl LPs; most of which feature the timeless bleeps and bloops of arcade and Mega Drive titles from years past.
One edition that bucks this trend is the Shenmue soundtrack, and seeing as I recently bought a record player (after inheriting my late mother's huge collection of soul and Motown vinyl); I decided that it was about time that I tried out one of these game-flavoured musical offerings...

I've made no bones about the fact that I'm not the world's biggest Shenmue fan (I think our friend Adam Koralik takes that title), but I do appreciate the technical brilliance of the series and the way in which it broke new ground for the adventure/role playing genre when it launched way back in 1999. When I first played through Ryo's adventure, I often found myself wrestling with bouts of sheer boredom and confusion while simultaneously being awed by the visuals and sound design. And it's that last point that is relevant here.

See, regardless of my other opinions of Shenmue, from the hideous d-pad controls to the restrictive and annoying stop/start gameplay, I've always thought that it sounded phenomenal. From the tranquil menu music to the epic main theme and the unforgettable ambient percussion tracks, if I close my eyes and think of Shenmue, before even an image is formed those musical themes flood my mind.
Aural aspects aside though, the package on offer for a mere £19.99 is one that is very professionally produced and is a lovely item in its own right. That it is an homage to Yu Suzuki's iconic Dreamcast title is just an added bonus. The vinyl disc itself is a cool frosted turquoise, while the cardboard outer sleeve is printed to an exceptional quality, with the familiar Shenmue protagonists (and antagonist) featured on the front cover. Track listings are on the back cover as you'd expect, and inside the sleeve is an added extra in the shape of a large square lithographic poster printed on rigid card and finished with the same gloss sheen as the cover. Overall, it's a really well produced, high quality package and as mentioned costs just £20.

Track listing
Side A
  1. Shenmue - Sedge Tree (Original Version)
  2. Shenhua - Sedge Flower (Original Version)
  3. Encounter with Destiny
  4. Christmas on Dobuita Street
  5. The Sadness I Carry on My Shoulders
  6. Cherry Blossom Wind Dance
  7. Daily Agony
Side B
  1. Tears of Separation
  2. Dawn
  3. Snowy Scenery
  4. Separated from Yokosuka
  5. Departure for Hope
  6. The Place Where the Sun Sets (Version 2)
As with most of Data Discs' offerings, there are a couple of variants available (different colours of vinyl in the case of the Shenmue disc), but demand appears to be high and batches seem to sell out quickly once they become available.
In terms of sound quality, the audio is about as good as you can expect from a vinyl record. Naturally, the standard of your hi-fi will have an impact on this, but as somebody who is categorically not an audiophile and has been playing this record on a portable turntable that itself cost £20 - the same amount as the Shenmue LP - I have no complaints. Data Discs state on their website that the tracks are all mastered internally by a dedicated team of engineers, and I have no reason to disbelieve this. Ultimately though, the music being played from the grooves on the record probably doesn't sound quite as clear as when it's played off a Dreamcast GD-Rom through your TV speakers, but then that's a moot point. If you prefer the sound of vinyl over digital recordings then you're going to love the sound of 1980s Dobuita flowing through your speakers regardless. Here's a sample from Data Discs' Soundcloud profile:

Initially, I was quite cynical when I learnt of these game-related vinyl records. I considered them little more than a way to syphon more cash from nostalgic collectors of both types of paraphernalia. However, having now acquired a Data Discs LP and been able to view (and listen to) an example first hand, my opinion has changed somewhat. A well produced, high quality item that any Shenmue fan would be advised to check out, record player or not.

You can find out more about the Shenmue disc and the other game-related vinyl records at the Data Discs website.

Do you own this or any other Data Discs records? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter or in our Facebook group.

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1 comment:

hoogafanter said...

Always irks me when people buy things simply for collection and don't actually use them...