Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection

Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection25 years ago, if someone had been asking for a go-to album for casual fans of the Doctor Who theme tune and its accompanying incidental music, I would have somewhat reluctantly pointed them toward the Doctor Who 25th Anniversary Album on BBC Records; reluctantly on the grounds that while it did indeed include the major iterations of the theme tune, its incidental music was drawn entirely from Sylvester McCoy’s first two seasons, largely scored by Keff McCulloch with very ’80s hand clap samples for percussion backing his very ’80s synths. It was a nice enough sound for its time, but not one that has dated very well. In 1993, for the show’s 30th anniversary, the default selection became the BBC’s 30 Years At The Radiophonic Workshop, which I’d recommend with a different set of reservations: most of its tracks were pure sound effects. Very evocative ones, to be sure, the pride of the BBC’s sonic skunkworks at Maida Vale, but little of the 30th anniversary album was actually music.

We had to reach the show’s 50th anniversary to strike the right balance at last. The four-disc Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection is an unapologetic romp through the tunes accompanying the TARDIS’ travels from 1963 through 2013. If a single show’s sound has evolved more radically over time (without it being a variety show with an ever-changing selection of musical guests), I’d love to hear about it. In five decades, Doctor Who has gone from experimental-going-on-avant-garde analog electronic music, to small orchestral ensembles, to tuneful (and sometimes showy) ’80s synthesizers, and then to full-on orchestral grandeur. That journey is sampled at various points across four CDs here. (A limited edition of 1,000 copies of a more expansive – and, undoubtedly, expensive – 11-CD set will be available in early 2014; Silva has already fessed up that this 4-CD set is a sampling of that larger collection, without giving any indication as to whether the material will be available separately on individual CDs, iTunes, or what have you.)

For those who faithfully bought Silva Screen’s ’90s CD releases of Mark Ayres’ late ’80s scores and the label’s reissues of classic BBC albums, as well as the BBC’s own attempt to fill out the Doctor Who soundtrack library in the early 21st century, there will be a lot of familiar material here, sometimes only in briefly excerpted form. Ayres’ scores, and familiar material such as “March Of The Cybermen” and music from Tom Baker’s last season, can be found here as edited highlights, as can already-released ’60s and ’70s gems such as excerpts from the now-hard-to-find-on-CD-without-getting-a-second-mortgage CD featuring Tristram Cary’s music from the second-ever Doctor Who story, The Daleks. Ayres was the archivist responsible for picking out the best bits from the classic series, and his choices line up almost exactly what what I would have picked. (Note: almost. Leaving the music accompanying the Brigadier’s flashback out of a Mawdryn Undead suite is an unexpected choice, to say the least.)

But there are many surprises as well. The sheer amount of pristine, not-smothered-in-sound-effects Dudley Simpson music to be heard is impressive. For decades, short of Silva Screen’s singular experimental attempt in the 1990s to do a Simpson “cover album” with the best synthesizers and samples available at the time, almost none of Simpson’s music has been available, despite the fact that he remains the reigning champion among Doctor Who composers (having scored episodes from 1964 through 1979). Copies of Simpson’s music simply were not retained, for who knew that it would ever be in demand as a standalone product? But thanks to Simpson’s occasional collaborations with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – a group which did a better job of archiving, and occasionally had to add synthesizer overdubs to Simpson’s more otherworldly cues – some selections of Simpson’s unique small-ensemble sound now survive. A few other Simpson specimens are culled from scenes in which the music was virtually the only sound in the mix (such as the music from the Patrick Troughton story The Seeds Of Death). This brings us such wonderful lost treats as the suite from 1977’s The Invasion Of Time, a selection of music which reminds me of Blake’s 7 as much as it does Doctor Who, and concludes with a great “slimy” synth motif for the Sontarans, a piece of music that screams “short, squat and ugly”. Other unearthed Simpson gems include music from The Android Invasion, the aforementioned Seeds Of Death, and the Pertwee space opera Frontier In Space. There are surprises from the small stable of other composers who scored the Doctor’s travels in the ’70s, including Carey Blyton’s stuttering stacatto saxophones from Death To The Daleks and his more traditional “Simpsonesque” strains from Revenge Of The Cybermen.

Another surprise heard here is a handful of stock library music pieces used during the 1960s, from the first piece of music ever heard within an episode of Doctor Who (on Susan’s portable radio, no less) to the familiar and oft-reused action cues that accompanied Cybermen and Yeti in equal measure. Many of these pieces have surfaced over the years, in such forms as the fan-compiled Space Adventures CD and short-lived one-off CDs timed to coincide with the releases of such things as The Tenth Planet and Tomb Of The Cybermen. But this is the first time than an officially sanctioned BBC release has declared these to be the Doctor Who music that the fans have always known them to be. The inclusion of a piece by Les Structures Sonores (used in the Hartnell four-parter Galaxy Four) is historically significant: when trying to describe the sound she wanted for Doctor Who’s still-unwritten theme tune, producer Verity Lambert fell back on the work of Les Structures Sonores as a suggested listen. (What actually emerged was wonderfully different from that suggestion, but however your tastes run regarding the show’s stories main theme, every major iteration is included here for your listening pleasure.)

The ’80s, the final decade of original Doctor Who, present a different problem: nearly everything survives from that era, so it becames a question of judiciously picking what to leave out. The major pieces that everyone would wish for are present, however: Tom Baker’s swan song from Logopolis, the thematic bookend of Peter Davison’s first trip in the TARDIS in Castrovalva, Earthshock‘s “March Of The Cybermen”, The Five Doctors, the percussive Sontaran march and the flamenco-style acoustic guitar work of The Two Doctors, edited highlights from three of the four stories making up The Trial Of A Time Lord, and the final moments of music from the original series in 1989’s memorable (and perfectly scored) Survival, which demonstrated that the show’s decade of synths was on the cusp of giving way to a more interesting mix of synth, guitar and live violin if the story demanded it.

Things then transform dramatically. For the first time outside of a 1990s “composer promo” release of questionable legality, selections from the Hollywood-spawned score of 1996’s Paul McGann TV movie come in from the cold on an official Doctor Who soundtrack compilation. Not much more than a taster, to be sure, and yes, the entire score’s been available as the music-only audio track on the DVD of that movie for about a decade now, but it’s nice to see this release taking in the entirety of the franchise’s musical history (with one major omission – more on this in a moment). From here, we jump to an extended best-of from Murray Gold’s reign as the sole musical voice of modern Doctor Who, covering everything from Rose’s theme through The Rings Of Akhaten. As much as some fans have only ever grown up with Murray Gold’s bombastic orchestral music as the sound of Doctor Who, it’s impressive that Silva Screen managed to constrain the new series highlights to a single disc.

But considering that, before the track listing was announced, I fully expected much of this set to be tilted in favor of the new series, the 50th Anniversary Collection is a pleasant surprise from start to finish. Fans weaned on the David Tennant years may be shocked to discover how much the “house style” of Doctor Who has changed, but those of us who grew up with Tom Baker or his predecessors will find much to love here. Yes, the first disc has a lot of sound effects on it, but they’re almost music in their own unique way – the sound of the living, breathing alien worlds found in Lime Grove Studio “D” so many years ago. And I never thought we’d get, on CD, such music as Don Harper’s sinister spy-movie-inspired strains from The Invasion, or the Dudley Simpson tracks that we have here.

I’m a little surprised to see that the two 1960s movies starring the late Peter Cushing as quirky but perfectly human inventor Dr. Who are not represented here. Silva released all of the available score material from both of those movies in their entirety some time back, so they have access to (and rights to) the recordings. I suppose they get excluded for not being part 4 out of 4
of the TV franchise, but if there was any concern that the ’60s-centric CD had too many sound effects, I wonder why these tracks weren’t considered for inclusion. With every passing year, Cushing’s brief tenure as the TARDIS traveler grows more obscure, so I suspect I’m alone in thinking there should have been some hint of the movies here.

The 50th Anniversary Collection is a dandy sampling of the Doctor’s ever-evolving musical accompaniment over the years.

Order this CDDisc One

  1. Doctor Who (Original Theme) (2:20)
  2. An Unearthly Child: Three Guitars Mood 2 (2:03)
  3. An Unearthly Child – TARDIS Takeoff (0:49)
  4. The Daleks (The Dead Planet): Forest Atmosphere (1:07)
  5. The Daleks (The Dead Planet): Forest With Creature (0:54)
  6. The Daleks (The Dead Planet): City Music 1 and 2 (0:56)
  7. The Daleks (The Dead Planet): The Daleks (0:32)
  8. The Daleks (The Survivors) – Dalek Control Room (0:34)
  9. The Daleks (The Ambush): The Ambush (2:00)
  10. The Daleks – Capsule Oscillation (Dalek Destructor Fuse / Bomb Countdown) (0:19)
  11. The Edge of Destruction – Explosion, TARDIS Stops (1:10)
  12. The Keys of Marinus – Sleeping Machine (0:52)
  13. The Chase – Dalek Spaceship Lands (0:17)
  14. The Chase – TARDIS Lands (0:11)
  15. Galaxy Four – Chumbley (Constant Run) (0:27)
  16. Galaxy Four – Chumbley at Rest (0:28)
  17. Galaxy Four: Marche (Les Structures Sonores) (2:40)
  18. The Daleks’ Master Plan (The Nightmare Begins): A Strange Sickness (0:44)
  19. The Daleks’ Master Plan (Destruction of Time): Growing Menace (2:08)
  20. The Gunfighters: Excerpts from ‘The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon’ (3:51)
  21. The Tenth Planet: Space Adventure Part 2 (1:21)
  22. The Macra Terror – Heartbeat Chase (1:57)
  23. The Macra Terror – Chromophone Band (1:56)
  24. The Macra Terror – Propaganda Sleep Machine (1:08)
  25. The Tomb of the Cybermen – Sideral Universe (2:26)
  26. The Tomb of the Cybermen – Space Time Music Part 1 (1:21)
  27. The Web of Fear – Space Time Music Part 2 (1:19)
  28. Fury from the Deep – Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill (Incidental Music) (0:39)
  29. The Wheel in Space – Cyberman Stab & Music (1:32)
  30. The Wheel in Space – Birth of Cybermats (0:44)
  31. The Wheel in Space – Interior Rocket (Suspense Music) (1:55)
  32. The Dominators – Galaxy Atmosphere (1:04)
  33. The Mind Robber – Zoe’s Theme (1:20)
  34. The Invasion: The Dark Side of the Moon (0:31)
  35. The Invasion: The Company (1:31)
  36. The Krotons – Machine and City Theme (1:49)
  37. The Krotons – Kroton Theme (2:14)
  38. The Seeds of Death: Titles (0:35)
  39. The Seeds of Death: Ice Warriors Music (0:26)
  40. The War Games – Time Lord Court (1:32)
  41. Doctor Who (New Opening, 1967 – full version) (2:20)
  42. The Mind of Evil: The Master’s Theme (0:43)
  43. The Mind of Evil: Hypnosis Music (0:36)
  44. The Mind of Evil: Dover Castle (0:29)
  45. The Mind of Evil – Keller Machine Appears and Vanishes (0:22)
  46. The Mind of Evil: Keller Machine Theme (0:43)
  47. The Claws of Axos – Copy machine tickover (0:16)
  48. The Claws of Axos: The Axons Approach (1:45)
  49. Music from ‘The Sea Devils’ (5:24)
  50. Music from ‘The Mutants’ (7:12)
  51. Music from ‘Frontier in Space’ Episode 1 (1:46)
  52. Music from ‘Death to the Daleks’ (3:50)
  53. Planet of the Spiders – Metebelis III Atmosphere (1:53)

Disc Two

  1. Doctor Who Opening Title Theme (0:44)
  2. The Ark In Space – Nerva Beacon Infrastructure and TMat Couch (1:42)
  3. Music from “Revenge of the Cybermen” (5:28)
  4. Terror of the Zygons: The Destruction of Charlie Rig (0:42)
  5. Terror of the Zygons: A Landing in Scotland (1:22)
  6. Terror of the Zygons: The Zygons Attack (0:51)
  7. Music from “The Android Invasion” Episodes 3 and 4 (6:32)
  8. The Brain of Morbius – The Planet Karn (1:50)
  9. The Seeds of Doom: Antarctica – The First Pod (2:17)
  10. The Seeds of Doom: Get Dunbar! / Krynoid On The Loose (2:55)
  11. The Masque of Mandragora – The Mandragora Helix (1:26)
  12. Music from “The Invasion of Time” Episodes 3 and 4 (5:36)
  13. Doctor Who Closing Titles (40? Version) (1:15)
  14. Doctor Who 1980 (Opening Titles) (0:38)
  15. The Leisure Hive: Into Argolis (1:44)
  16. Full Circle: K9 on a Mission (0:35)
  17. The Keeper of Traken: Nyssa’s Theme (0:41)
  18. Logopolis: It’s The End… (3:18)
  19. Doctor Who 1980 (Closing Titles) (1:16)
  20. Castrovalva (3:18)
  21. Four to Doomsday: Exploring the Lab (1:46)
  22. Earthshock – March Of The Cybermen (5:13)
  23. Mawdryn Undead (4:19)
  24. The Five Doctors (5:29)
  25. Warriors of the Deep (3:53)
  26. Resurrection of the Daleks (5:01)
  27. The Caves of Androzani (Alternative Suite) (6:07)
  28. Doctor Who Theme (1980 – Full Version) (2:42)

Disc Three

  1. The Twin Dilemma (4:04)
  2. The Mark of the Rani (3:45)
  3. The Two Doctors (3:15)
  4. Timelash (5:51)
  5. Revelation of the Daleks (3:53)
  6. Doctor Who 1986 (2:53)
  7. The Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet (3:21)
  8. The Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids (2:44)
  9. The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe (3:16)
  10. Doctor Who 1987 2:38()
  11. Music from ‘Time and the Rani’ (1:38)
  12. Delta and the Bannermen: “Here’s to the Future” (1:57)
  13. Music from ‘Dragonfire’ (3:02)
  14. Music from ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ (5:32)
  15. Music from ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ (3:23)
  16. Music from ‘Battlefield’ (4:41)
  17. Music from ‘The Curse of Fenric’ (6:35)
  18. Music from ‘Survival’ (5:28)
  19. “…and somewhere else, the tea’s getting cold” (from ”Survival”) (0:24)
  20. Prologue: Skaro / “Doctor Who” Theme (1:34)
  21. “Who Am I?” (1:55)
  22. The Chase (Original Version) (2:20)
  23. “Open the Eye” (2:25)
  24. Farewell (1:35)
  25. End Credits / “Doctor Who” Theme (0:49)

Disc Four

  1. Doctor Who Theme – TV Version (0:42)
  2. Doctor Who: Series 1 – Rose’s Theme (2:15)
  3. Doctor Who: Series 2 – Doomsday (5:08)
  4. Doctor Who: Series 3 – All The Strange Strange Creatures (The Trailer Music) (4:07)
  5. Doctor Who: Series 3 – Martha’s Theme (3:42)
  6. Doctor Who: Series 3 – Boe (3:44)
  7. Doctor Who: Series 3 – The Doctor Forever (4:19)
  8. Doctor Who: Series 3 – This Is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home (3:18)
  9. Doctor Who: Series 3 – Donna’s Theme (3:16)
  10. Doctor Who: Series 4 – Song Of Freedom (2:51)
  11. Doctor Who: Series 4-The Specials – The Master Suite (4:33)
  12. Doctor Who: Series 4-The Specials – Four Knocks (3:58)
  13. Doctor Who: Series 4-The Specials – Vale Decem (3:20)
  14. Doctor Who: Series 5 – I Am The Doctor (4:03)
  15. Doctor Who: Series 5 – The Mad Man With A Box (2:09)
  16. Doctor Who: Series 5 – Amy’s Theme (2:08)
  17. Doctor Who: Series 6 – Melody Pond (4:43)
  18. Doctor Who: Series 6 – The Wedding Of River Song (2:36)
  19. Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol – Abigail’s Song (Silence Is All You Know) (5:33)
  20. Doctor Who: Series 7 – Towards The Asylum (2:25)
  21. Doctor Who: Series 7 – Together Or Not At All – The Song Of Amy And Rory (3:17)
  22. Doctor Who: Series 7 – Up The Shard (3:02)
  23. Doctor Who: Series 7 – The Long Song (3:39)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2013
Disc one total running time: 79:01
Disc two total running time: 78:40
Disc three total running time: 78:58
Disc four total running time: 78:48

Doctor Who: Variations On A Theme

Doctor Who: Variations On A ThemeOriginally issued at the time of the show’s anniversary as a legendary square CD (now highly prized and priced by collectors), Variations On A Theme is exactly what the title suggests: a collection of four different takes on the main title music from Doctor Who. The low-key, new-age-esque “Mood Version”, arranged by Mark Ayres (who, at the time, had only just begun scoring episodes of the show), kicks things off nicely, but the real gem is Dominic Glynn’s “Terror Version”, which lends an appropriately creepy atmoshphere to the proceedings – just as it should be. Keff McCulloch, who scored most of the episodes in the 24th and 25th seasons of the series, brings us the amusingly sunny “Latin Version”, which some fans will recognize as the version of the theme used to open the “Years” documentary videos. Ayres closes out the four-track disc with the “Panopticon Eight Regeneration Mix”, which strikes the balance between doom and gloom 4 out of 4and dance music nicely.

Is this disc worth the search? Absolutely, in my opinion. I’ve always enjoyed this collection, brief though it is, and a reissue is long overdue, perhaps with some other artists’ interpretations of the Doctor Who theme (Orbital and all-string ensemble Fourplay come to mind immediately) in tow.

Order this CD

  1. Doctor Who: Mood Version (3:12)
  2. Doctor Who: Terror Version (4:15)
  3. Doctor Who: Latin Version (6:38)
  4. Doctor Who: Panopticon 8 Regeneration Mix (5:37)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 19:42

Doctor Who: Trial Of A Time Lord

Doctor Who: Trial Of A Time Lord soundtrackYet another slightly shady release of music from Doctor Who, this CD excerpts the scores from two portions of the 14-episode 1986 epic, The Trial Of A Time Lord. The music heard on this CD originates with Trial’s first four and final two episodes, sometimes known to fans respectively as Mysterious Planet and The Ultimate Foe, both scored by Dominic Glynn. Glynn also arranged the Trial Of A Time Lord season’s version of the classic Doctor Who theme music, and that arrangement is heard in its televised form here for the first time. In terms of presenting previously unreleased material, I have to admit to being impressed with this bootleg release, though the CD is not without other problems.

Of the CDs I’ve heard in this range of unauthorized releases thus far, Trial has the most mastering problems. The source tape was obviously not in the best of shape. I have occasionally complained about some warble and speed variation in the other releases in this range, but with Trial it comes close to ruining the whole experience. Much of the music, from about 1/3 of the way through Mysterious Planet‘s score onward, has speed problems. Ironically, it couldn’t have happened to a better score. Most of the Mysterious Planet score is rather repetitious, the most impressive cue being the first piece of music heard in part one – the cue accompanying the dizzying flyover of the Time Lords’ trial vessel. I’m a little disappointed that the 2 out of 4Ultimate Foe music also turned out to be warbled, as it’s rather more interesting than Mysterious Planet.

Overall, the music is an interesting addition to my collection, but only for its rarity and unreleased status. As with most of the other Doctor Who soundtrack bootlegs floating around, I’d take a proper BBC-remastered official release any day of the week.

Order this CD

  1. The TARDIS Summoned (1:12)
  2. Main Title (0:47)
  3. There’s A Mystery Here (3:09)
  4. Water Thief (0:11)
  5. Requesting The Death Sentence (0:37)
  6. Escape From Drathro’s Lair (0:24)
  7. Glitz, Dibber and Peri Escape (0:10)
  8. Multiple Chases (0:47)
  9. Objection (0:26)
  10. This Might Be The End (1:13)
  11. The Doctor vs. The Valeyard (2:24)
  12. The L-7 Attacks (1:58)
  13. Katryca The Great (0:30)
  14. Peri Grieves (2:15)
  15. Storming The Castle (0:46)
  16. Hunting The Doctor (2:00)
  17. Merdeen’s Moral Dilemma (0:59)
  18. Drathro’s Final Gambit (1:13)
  19. Chain Reaction (1:19)
  20. The Valeyard’s Identity Revealed (1:23)
  21. Into The Matrix (1:38)
  22. Hands From The Water (0:48)
  23. An Uneasy Silence (0:14)
  24. Life Preserver (1:20)
  25. Irresistible Bait (1:38)
  26. Disconnect The Matrix! (0:49)
  27. The Fantasy Factory (0:32)
  28. A Second-Rate Adversary (0:09)
  29. The Doctor’s Sentence (1:11)
  30. The Master Appears (0:46)
  31. False Charges (1:08)
  32. Star Witnesses (0:25)
  33. Backpedal (1:22)
  34. An Odd Waiting Room (0:39)
  35. Mr. Popplewick Unmasked (0:24)
  36. Disseminate The News (0:24)
  37. The Threat (0:21)
  38. Last Will (0:28)
  39. Hands From The Ground (0:29)
  40. Assassination Attempt (0:56)
  41. Carrot Juice / Valeyard’s Escape (0:49)
  42. End Credits (1:20)

Released by: ?
Release date: 2000?
Total running time: 41:35