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: Time And The Rani / Dragonfire

Doctor Who: Time And The Rani / Dragonfire soundtrackAnother Doctor Who soundtrack bootleg, this CD features an odd pairing of two wildly different scores by two different composers from the show’s 24th season.

Keff McCulloch’s score from the first story to feature Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, Time And The Rani, is easily his best contribution to the series’ background music. Peppered liberally with extremely dated dance music elements (such as frequent use of sampled hand claps), the 36 tracks of Time And The Rani feature some excellent eerie synth work, and is well worth a listen. Some of the first score’s highlights are “The Death of the Sixth Doctor”, “A Little Portentious” (the whimsical music which covered the now-traditional costume changing scene), and “Red Alert”.

Dominic Glynn’s music from Dragonfire takes a much more orchestral approach, foreshadowing the later efforts of Mark Ayres. Though still very much synth-based, the music from Dragonfire is memorable and almost hummable. The three-parter from which the music hails is also notable for introducing long-serving companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) to the show’s cast.

Technically, this CD suffers from some of the same pitfalls as the earlier Castrovalva / Mawdryn Undead CD (judging by the packaging, the same party is responsible for both releases). There is a little bit of tape hiss, 3 out of 4especially during quieter passages. This CD, however, escapes most of the problems of speed variance and “warbles” which were evident on that aforementioned CD.

I have always been a big fan of these two scores, and while I’d prefer to have an officially BBC-sanctioned, remastered, properly-made copy of both, I suppose this will do until that day arrives.

Order this CD

  1. The Death of the Sixth Doctor (0:22)
  2. Main Title (0:52)
  3. It’s The Man I Want (0:15)
  4. Inside The Rani’s Laboratory (0:41)
  5. Urak, Get In Here! (1:15)
  6. The Death of Sarn (0:52)
  7. Mourning (0:24)
  8. Mel Taken Hostage (0:28)
  9. Mel and Ikona (1:02)
  10. The Rani’s Base (1:01)
  11. Feeding the Tetraps (0:44)
  12. Sad Skeleton (0:23)
  13. A Little Portentious (1:00)
  14. Melanie Trapped (1:15)
  15. Melanie Trapped – episode 2 recap (0:16)
  16. Feeding The Tetraps Again (0:43)
  17. Urak Pursues Mel (0:56)
  18. Strange Matter (1:19)
  19. Rendezvous With Faroon (0:22)
  20. Mel Goes It Alone (0:58)
  21. Mel Meets the Seventh Doctor (0:18)
  22. The Rani Returns (1:48)
  23. The Rani’s TARDIS (0:22)
  24. Sneaking In (0:42)
  25. Accidental Capture (0:40)
  26. Adept At Maneuvering (1:28)
  27. You Know, Don’t You? (0:15)
  28. You’re Going To Put It Back (1:27)
  29. Red Alert (0:23)
  30. Step Back (0:56)
  31. The Centre of Leisure (0:34)
  32. Future Pleasure (0:46)
  33. Punishing The Innocent (2:36)
  34. Not A Worthy Opponent (0:51)
  35. An Uneasy Silence (1:30)
  36. Oh You Lucky, Lucky People (0:08)
  37. He’s A Dead Man (0:26)
  38. Perhaps You Need A Reminder (0:54)
  39. Saving the Nosferatu (0:53)
  40. Enter the Dragon (0:28)
  41. Exploring Iceworld (2:23)
  42. Army of the Dead (0:42)
  43. Spot Temperature (1:11)
  44. Die Fulfilled (0:32)
  45. Mad Dash (0:31)
  46. Kane’s Inner Sanctum (1:25)
  47. The Dragon’s Fire Unleashed (0:26)
  48. The Hostage (0:38)
  49. Negotiations (0:38)
  50. Iceworld’s True Nature Revealed (0:54)
  51. Playing with Fire (0:52)
  52. The Final Betrayal (0:38)
  53. A Matter of Time (1:06)
  54. Meltdown (0:50)
  55. Exit Melanie, Enter Ace (0:47)
  56. End Titles (0:48)

Released by: ?
Release date: 2000?
Total running time: 48:24

The Doctor Who 25th Anniversary Album

The Doctor Who 25th Anniversary AlbumThis was the first Doctor Who music released to CD as part of the show’s highly-merchandised silver anniversary in 1988. The greatest distinction of this CD – which is now out of print and getting harder to find with each passing year – is that it contains every broadcast version (minus a handful of barely-distinguishable variations which later cropped up on 30 Years at the Radiophonic Workshop) of the famous Doctor Who theme music, from the creepy 1960s/70s incarnation (achieved entirely by tape-looping means that would seem incredibly primitive today) to the various and sundry versions that kept changing throughout the 1980s: the synth-guitar-driven theme from the Peter Davison era (my favorite), the less effective electronic version from Colin Baker’s final season in the role, and the more atmospheric version by Keff McCulloch that ushered the show out of its existence with Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor. Numerous incidentals from the 1987 and 1988 episodes also appear on this album, all of them by Keff McCulloch, but their abundance of cheap synth sounds and sampled hand-clap percussion gets old very 2 out of 4quickly; a handful, such as one haunting twisted-lullaby theme from 1988’s Remembrance Of The Daleks, barely stand the test of time. But if you’re after an almost complete catalog of the show’s theme music (the wonderful orchestral version which introduced the 1996 Fox TV movie is unavailable anywhere), this is a worthwhile disc to seek out.

Order this CD

  1. TARDIS – Doctor Who theme 1963-1979 (2:26)
  2. Doctor Who theme 1987-1989 (0:56)
  3. Gavrok’s Search (2:11)
  4. A Child’s Return (2:33)
  5. Towers el Paradiso (2:42)
  6. Burton’s Escape (1:24)
  7. Drinksmat Dawning (1:30)
  8. Future Pleasure (3:19)
  9. Newsreel Past (2:52)
  10. The Sting (1:43)
  11. Doctor Who theme 1980-1985 (2:42)
  12. Doctor Who theme 1986 (2:56)
  13. 8891 Royale (1:56)
  14. The White Flag (1:44)
  15. Guards of Silence (2:39)
  16. The Making of Pex (1:23)
  17. Cemetary Chase (2:26)
  18. The Brain (3:03)
  19. Here’s to the Future (1:59)
  20. Goodbye, Doctor (0:35)
  21. Doctor Who end credits 1987-1989 (1:14)

Released by: BBC Records
Release date: 1988
Total running time: 44:13