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

The Worlds Of Doctor Who

World of Doctor WhoThe last hurrah for Silva Screen’s license to release Doctor Who music on CD in the 1990s, Worlds Of Doctor Who largely consists of music you’ve heard before if you’ve heard the same label’s other Doctor Who output, give or take a surprise or two.

The album opens and closes with two new versions of the famous theme music, the “Lightning Version” at the beginning and the lively “Spoons Version” at the end. As you might’ve guessed, the latter rendition of the theme is practically built around a guest performance on the spoons by Sylvester McCoy himself; it’s an interesting novelty, right up there with Jon Pertwee’s “I Am The Doctor”, but not much more than that. Both of these new arrangements wouldn’t have been out of place on the Variations On A Theme EP.

After the “Lightning Version”, things proceed very much along the lines of Silva’s original Earthshock compilation CD, providing classic clips arranged more or less chronologically, starting with the original BBC 45 version of the 1960s theme tune and then going straight into the Dudley Simpson single “The World Of Doctor Who” (built around music from the 1971 Pertwee adventure The Mind Of Evil). Selections from The Sea Devils and several Tom Baker adventures follow, the latter material coming from Heathcliff Blair’s Pyramids Of Mars re-recordings of classic Simpson scores from that era. At least some canny choices were made here to present the most listenable and accessible material.

After the 1980 Doctor Who theme arranged by Peter Howell, we segue into the more modern, synth-heavy sound of the Davison era; again, the material heard here has been heard before (not just on previous Silva Doctor Who soundtrack compilations, but on the 1980s BBC LP releases that those compilations drew from). To vary things up a bit, material that isn’t necessarily strictly from Doctor Who begins sneaking into the playlist during the 80s section, including Mark Ayres’ theme for the Myth Makers interview videos. This material, too, has been presented before by Silva, on Ayres’ Myths And Other Legends solo release.

Things get a bit more interesting with the suites of Ayres’ music from the last two seasons of the original series. The material has been heard before, but here it’s edited into three eight-minute-or-longer suites (one each for The Greatest Show In The Galaxy, Ghost Light and The Curse Of Fenric) where, again, the best material is brought to the fore. Those three episode scores have also been released in their entirety by Silva, but Ayres picked out his own best material (and it has to be said that I agree with him just about 100% on the selections he made for the suites) and put it all into a single track per episode. No new interstitial material tries to introduce cohesion to the suites; there are stops, starts and pauses between individual cues, but nothing too jarring.

Things are capped off with the first CD release of Ayres’ “Return To Devils’ End” suite, composed for a documentary video of the same name which reunited the cast and crew of the Pertwee-era classic story The Daemons at the original shooting locations. A true Dudley Simpson afficionado, Ayres creates an even better homage to “the Simpson sound” here than Heathcliff Blair managed with the original Simpson sheet music. The “Spoons Version” of the theme music wraps things up.

3 out of 4If you’re wondering about the music from Shakedown: Return Of The Sontarans and Downtime, two of the better fan-produced video drama spinoffs of the 90s, both of those projects’ scores were released in their entirety on Silva CDs as well, but not until after this CD’s release.

It’s a nice sampler CD of Doctor Who soundtrack cues, with a smidgeon of new (but hardly canonical) material, so there are worse ways for Silva Screen to have closed out their Who catalog.

Order this CD

  1. Doctor Who (Lightning Version) (5:17)
  2. TARDIS – Doctor Who (2:37)
  3. The World Of Doctor Who (2:39)
  4. The Sea Devils (3:19)
  5. The Ark In Space (0:50)
  6. Pyramids Of Mars (3:59)
  7. The Brain Of Morbius (3:11)
  8. Doctor Who Theme: 1980-85 (2:37)
  9. Meglos (1:32)
  10. The Five Doctors (5:24)
  11. The Caves Of Androzani (6:07)
  12. Myth Makers Theme (2:11)
  13. Doctor Who (Terror Version) (4:16)
  14. Terror In Totters Lane (1:55)
  15. The Greatest Show In The Galaxy (8:31)
  16. Ghost Light (8:05)
  17. The Curse Of Fenric (8:57)
  18. Return To Devils’ End (2:51)
  19. Doctor Who (Spoon Version) (4:27)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 78:45

Doctor Who: Pyramids Of Mars

Doctor Who: Pyramids Of Mars soundtrackI couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this one advertised. Wow! The Dudley Simpson scores from the 1970s? Where did they find them? Well…they didn’t. You see, the music on this CD was re-created on synthesizers by the talented Heathcliff Blair, since the original tapes of the Dudley Simpson music which became the sonic trademark of pre-80s Doctor Who have long been lost. Blair’s new recordings of the music from such all-time classic episodes as Ark In Space, Genesis Of The Daleks, Pyramids Of Mars and more are incredibly faithful…but they’re so obviously synthesized. In a few places, Blair manages to squeeze something not unlike the acoustic warmth of the original performances out of his synths, but the fact is, contrary to popular perception, the music from Doctor Who was not always entirely synth-based, and with the best intentions and equipment, even these lovingly crafted 3 out of 4results of a tribute to the show’s past sound a little off. You be the judge. Personally, I like it, because it’s as close as we’re ever likely to get to having a collection of music from that period of Doctor Who’s history. And if you do enjoy Pyramids Of Mars, I strongly urge you to check out the similar arrangements and style on Mark Ayres’ soundtrack for the related video Shakedown.

Order this CD

    The Ark In Space

  1. The Violation (0:54)
  2. Cryogenic Sleepers (3:14)
  3. Wirrn Attacks (1:24)
  4. Noah’s Humanity (1:51)
  5. The Trap (1:14)

    Genesis Of The Daleks

  6. The Battlefield (0:58)
  7. Futile Escape (1:08)
  8. Sarah Pursued / The Prototype (1:16)
  9. Genocide (1:41)
  10. Davros’s Megalomania (2:37)
  11. Explosives and Detonators (1:06)
  12. Sneaky Nyder (1:35)
  13. Good From Evil (2:02)

    Pyramids Of Mars

  14. Egyptian Expidition / TARDIS Attacked (2:29)
  15. Clements and the Mummies (4:35)
  16. Sutekh Descends (1:40)
  17. Cottage Under Siege (1:41)
  18. Sutekh’s End – The Doctor Wins (4:30)

    Planet of Evil

  19. Nightfall on Zeta Minor (4:53)
  20. The Thing in the Pit / The Big Fall (2:23)
  21. Anti-Man (4:26)
  22. Redemption (4:54)

    The Brain Of Morbius

  23. The Doctor’s Mickey Finn (2:02)
  24. Portrait of Morbius (1:14)
  25. The Sisterhood of Karn (1:01)
  26. Condo’s Death / Monster Rampage (4:22)
  27. Cyanide (1:07)
  28. The Mind-Bending Contest (1:08)
  29. The End of Morbius (1:35)
  30. Self-Sacrifice (0:30)
  31. The Doctor’s Theme (3:27)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 1993
Total running time: 68:57