Downtime soundtrackAt least two years after its initial release (and having passed on it then), I spotted this slightly obscure collection of music from a Doctor Who video spinoff (like Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans) and thought I’d give it a try.

No one ever said that every Doctor Who-related CD release was worthwhile. While there were some interesting ideas in the production of this soundtrack – not the least of which was the inclusion of actual stringed instruments, as opposed to the synth-strings which have served Mark Ayres and previous Who composers so well – it just seemed that there was an overabundance of production concepts and talent, and a lack of any clear direction in a musical sense. The main titles and the “Confrontation” track are two of the highlights, and frankly, it’s not difficult to stand out above the remainder of the largely forgettable and occasionally irritating music that fills out this CD.

There are some ridiculously short cues which add little to the overall musical landscape, and there are also at least one or two tracks which contain annoyingly shrill synthesizer sounds which create that painful harmonic buzz that threatens to summon every dog in your neighborhood at any moment. And perhaps the greatest insult is that, for a score which purports to contain real acoustic instruments, there are precious few of them to be heard. There’s a very nice suspense motif which sounds like it was played on viola, heard mainly in the first half of the score, and a few other examples of real stringed instruments, but for the most part Downtime is saddled with a helping of synth strings. Now, in the past, I’ve praised other Doctor Who composers and musicians for their innovative use of synth strings and string samples – more often than not, they were forced to fall back on synths for simple budgetary reasons. But to put a real stringed instrument back-to-back with a synth patch…bad idea. The contrast is immediately apparent, and the result makes me wonder if 1 out of 4the music budget ran out on this production as well.

Unless you’re a Doctor Who mega-completist (which obviously I am), I can’t honestly recommend this soundtrack. Even if you saw and liked the video, the soundtrack is hardly worth the effort to try to listen to the whole thing without dialogue and special effects.

Order this CD

  1. Introduction: Det Sen Monastery and Title Sequence (4:27)
  2. Astral Plane (0:56)
  3. Confrontation (2:04)
  4. Eerie (0:37)
  5. First Chase (0:36)
  6. Second Chase (0:15)
  7. Truth (0:34)
  8. Chase / Astral Plane (3:36)
  9. Brigadier’s Lost Memory (2:43)
  10. Intelligence (1:21)
  11. Message Understood (0:17)
  12. He Feel (1:14)
  13. Hallucination (0:16)
  14. Astral Plane (1:47)
  15. Travers (0:16)
  16. I’m Still Alive (1:40)
  17. Danny Was Right (0:32)
  18. Double Cross (1:23)
  19. Sting (0:06)
  20. Build-Up (1:02)
  21. Apparition (0:20)
  22. The Stranger (0:51)
  23. Realisation (1:46)
  24. Family / Yeti Themes (4:16)
  25. Approach (1:04)
  26. Single Sting (0:04)
  27. The Lift (0:08)
  28. Webs (0:05)
  29. Attack (0:46)
  30. Yeti March (2:12)
  31. Climax (0:27)
  32. Victoria (6:18)
  33. Family Theme (0:20)
  34. End Credits (3:10)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 48:18

Merril Bainbridge – In The Garden

Merril Bainbridge  - In The GardenThis one really caught me off guard. Like Alanis Morissette’s album, I resisted buying this for a long time because it’s just not typical for me to gravitate toward something that’s getting current radio airplay. I don’t even know what it was about Merril’s weird single “Mouth” that did it for me, but I reluctantly picked up the album and found that she never quite sounds the same way twice. Bainbridge emerges as an effective pop-lite vocalist, sounding a lot like Olivia Newton-John did in her heyday in the 1970s. But even though she comes across initially as yet another cute, pre-packaged artist put together by a producer, some of her vocals really are quite effective, and even some of the backing tracks are above par. The real standout on this album is “Power Of One”, an absolutely gorgeous ballad with excellent lyrics and production. It’s a very rating: 3 out of 4nice track that promises much, even though her sophomore outing dropped the ball on the potential of her treatment of slower songs. She may never amass more than a small cult following in the U.S., but I have a feeling that – despite the folly of releasing the goofy “Under The Water” as the second single from this album – we haven’t heard the last of Merril Bainbridge yet.

Order this CD

  1. Garden In My Room (4:32)
  2. Under The Water (4:13)
  3. Miss You (3:04)
  4. Mouth (3:26)
  5. Julie (3:56)
  6. Song For Neen (2:41)
  7. Sleeping Dogs (3:28)
  8. Reasons Why (2:57)
  9. Spinning (4:10)
  10. Being Boring (3:52)
  11. State of Mind (5:02)
  12. Power of One (4:08)
  13. Garden In My Room – reprise (1:14)

Released by: Universal
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 46:43

Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute

Red Hot Chili Peppers - One Hot MinuteThis is one of those rare albums of which I like approximately half, and can’t stand the other half. Like a lot of people who don’t delve too deep into the hard rock scene, my first exposure to the Chilis was the atypical ballad “Under The Bridge” in 1991, but I warmed to some of their other songs, even the oddball pseudo-rap “Take It Away”. Which brings us to this album. Why did I get it? Because I love “Aeroplane” – what a wild song! But that’s not the only good song on this album. Also check 3 out of 4out “Walkabout” and my new favorite Chilis tune, “My Friends”. It seems like every other track on this album appeals to me, but the alternating ones are surefire skip material. Which sums up my approach to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in general.

Order this CD

  1. Warped (5:04)
  2. Aeroplane (4:45)
  3. Deep Kick (6:34)
  4. My Friend (4:03)
  5. Coffee Shop (3:09)
  6. Pea (1:47)
  7. One Big Mob (6:03)
  8. Walkabout (5:07)
  9. Tearjerker (4:19)
  10. One Hot Minute (6:24)
  11. Falling Into Grace (3:48)
  12. Shallow Be Thy Game (4:34)
  13. Transcending (5:47)

Released by: Warner Bros.
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 69:24

The Innocent Sleep – music by Mark Ayres

The Innocent Sleep soundtrackSo I wonder – with the sound of acoustic instruments being predominant on this soundtrack, is this Mark Ayres plugged in or unplugged? Perhaps a little of both. Either way, it’s a striking change from his past work, from the hauntingly wistful operatic motif of the main theme, to the pounding action scenes, all of them avoiding the many mistakes of recent film scores and establishing a very distinct character for the sound of the movie and Ayres’ own musical style. I’ve said it before, and perhaps now with a somewhat more mainstream film on his resumè, I can say it again more forcefully – Mark Ayres is definitely one to watch. Or listen to, at any rate. One seemingly minor thing I loved about this score is one particular motif which zig-zags around major and minor keys, never resolving to either one, a series of four chords 4 out of 4which somehow manages to ascend and descend at the same time. It’s a beguiling little piece of music which appears in a number of cues, and it’s that kind of music, which manages to be intriguing both emotionally and structurally, that makes this an appealing album.

Order this CD

  1. Il Sonno Innocente / The Innocent Sleep main title (2:49)
  2. The Old Site (1:27)
  3. Lusano / The Execution (4:56)
  4. Warehouse Chase (2:46)
  5. Riverside / Nightmare / Police Station (5:23)
  6. Jail Break (3:21)
  7. Billie / A Word With Willie (1:01)
  8. Cavani / Billie Meets Alan – Il Sonno Innocente (1:50)
  9. Alan Calls Home (3:12)
  10. Arson (2:40)
  11. Hospital / Alan at Billie’s Place (3:47)
  12. Press Conference (4:24)
  13. “Today In Focus” (1:26)
  14. Ears to the Ground / Motorbike Chase (2:42)
  15. Cavani Flies In (3:45)
  16. A Revelation and a Death (1:31)
  17. “Anybody But Stephens” / A Man for a Crisis (4:27)
  18. “Tutto Pusto” (4:49)
  19. Ashes – Il Sonno Innocente (2:21)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 59:04

Ren & Stimpy – Radio Daze

Ren & Stimpy - Radio DazeAnd here we have an example of what made You Eediot! so great. You Eediot! was great because it wasn’t Radio Daze. This decidedly more childlike release – in keeping with its namesake TV series around that time – follows a moronic premise which is frequently stretched molecule-thin. Ren and Stimpy take on a radio career which, in the space of a half hour, skyrockets to Hollywood fame and then back into the dregs, along with this album. Radio Daze is emblematic of what happened to the entire Ren & Stimpy franchise after Nickelodeon evicted creator John Kricfalusi from his own property – they ceased to mine the rich vein of not-even-remotely-for-1 out of 4kids cartoon comedy that he had exposed, and instead went digging for the lowest available denominator. In Nickelodeon’s hands, Ren & Stimpy buried itself quickly. This has been the last Ren & Stimpy CD to date.

Order this CD

  1. Opening (1:27)
  2. I Wanna Be A DJ (3:41)
  3. Caller #5 (4:02)
  4. King of the Airwaves (3:27)
  5. Is Anyone Out There (3:02)
  6. On The Road (3:49)
  7. Any Freeway You Take (3:20)
  8. Hard Time (3:49)
  9. Powdered Toast Man (3:29)
  10. In Hollywood (3:10)
  11. Take A Walk on the Muddy Side (3:32)
  12. Dead-End Job (1:29)
  13. Stuck With You (3:18)

Released by: Sony Wonder
Release date: 1995

Ben Folds Five

Ben Folds FiveThe first effort by this bizarre trio wasn’t as cohesive as Whatever And Ever Amen, but still offers some of the band’s best ouput. “Best Imitation Of Myself” is a very upbeat, Jellyfish-esque pop tune, and the hilarious “Underground” offers a satirical take on the 1980s’ “I want to look/act/be different – just like everyone else!” wave of mass-nonconformity. But perhaps the greatest selling points of this album are the ballads “Alice Childress” and “Boxing”, the latter a bizarrely touching tale of the Rating: 3 out of 4symbiotic relationship of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell. “Alice Childress” is a despairing fish-out-of-water story of a long distance friendship. Many of the other tunes, on the other hand, are almost too effervescent to distinguish themselves; the performances are more than satisfactory, but the songwriting was better honed on the next album.

Order this CD in the Store

  1. Jackson Cannery (3:23)
  2. Philosophy (4:37)
  3. Julianne (2:31)
  4. Where’s Summer B.? (4:07)
  5. Alice Childress (4:35)
  6. Underground (4:11)
  7. Sports & Wine (2:58)
  8. Uncle Walter (3:52)
  9. Best Imitation Of Myself (2:38)
  10. Video (4:08)
  11. The Last Polka (4:34)
  12. Boxing (4:45)

Released by: Caroline
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 46:21

Split Enz – Anniversary

Split Enz - AnniversaryYet another live winner from Split Enz, this album consists of recordings from the group’s 20th anniversary reunion tour (which, if I might hazard a guess, probably had a lot to do with inspiring ENZSO). Anniversary’s performances seem to benefit from the fact that, unlike The Living Enz, by this time Tim and Neil Finn had both matured and changed their musical outlooks somewhat. Though the material is still faithful to the original Enz studio renditions, one can catch more than a slight hint of Tim’s solo work when Tim reprises old favorites like “Charlie” and “Time For A Change”, and Neil’s Crowded House sound sneaks into such numbers as “History Never Repeats” and especially “Message To My Girl”. One great inclusion is “Split Ends”, the band’s first single in the early 70s, whose lyric “it’s all the same to me, brother” takes on a new dimension when Tim and Neil sing it (since the song was written years before Neil joined Split Enz in 1977). There’s also a lot of fun on-stage banter when Noel Crombie takes a bow after the end of “Strait Old Line” 4 out of 4(which ends, curiously, with the piano/spoon solo from an earlier song, “The Woman Who Loves You” – an arrangement which was also used in the ENZSO version). One gets a genuine sense of being there from this album. As with The Living Enz, I rate Anniversary a better introduction to Split Enz than the dull History Never Repeats: The Best of Split Enz album which you may have seen.

Order this CD

  1. Shark Attack (3:22)
  2. Poor Boy (3:43)
  3. Hermit McDermitt (4:54)
  4. Years Go By (4:22)
  5. Split Ends (2:27)
  6. Message To My Girl (4:46)
  7. Best Friend (3:19)
  8. What’s The Matter With You (4:28)
  9. I See Red (4:24)
  10. Time For A Change (3:29)
  11. Strait Old Line (7:45)
  12. Charlie (7:28)
  13. History Never Repeats (5:18)

Released by: Fuel
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 59:47