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: The Seventh Doctor Audio Adventures

Doctor Who: Music From The Seventh Doctor Audio AdventuresThe last collection to date of soundtracks from a single Doctor’s adventures, Music From The Seventh Doctor Audio Adventures puts together music from three of the 2001-2002 stories starring Sylvester McCoy. The music collected from each of these three adventures is pretty diverse – it may well be the only CD in my collection that has trance music, theremin and someone playing the spoons on the same tracklist – and it’s also a first in that it contains contributions from the seventh Doctor himself. But more on that in a moment.

The first seven tracks consist of selections from Dust Breeding, and they’re the only straight-ahead, soundtrack-ish cues you’ll find on this CD. In the liner notes, composer Andy Hardwick says he was trying to achieve a “breathy quality” to act as a motif for the dust, but as a standalone listening experience, it’s the moody piano work that stands out the most. The “breathy” synths, when they do appear, actually give the proceedings an almost dated sound.

The most surprising, and enjoyable, music included on this CD are the techno tracks from The Rapture, a story which centered around an Ibiza dance club of the same name with a sinister secret. The multi-talented Jim Mortimore, who has also authored and even illustrated Doctor Who novels from the New Adventures range, gets to work Doctor Who into his “day job” as a techno musician with some lively tracks; the various pieces of “source music” here are woven into a continuous suite whose component parts stand just as well on their own. I was really surprised by how good some of the music for The Rapture was. I also have to give mad props to whoever edited together the extended-length trailer for this story – normally I skip the story trailers because, well, I’ve heard the stories in their entirety by now at least once. I’m always up for listening to The Rapture‘s trailer again though – it’s that good.

From there we go into an all-out SF musical parody. I was particularly looking forward to hearing the music from the comedy story Bang-Bang-A-Boom! by itself, just to see if Russell Stone had worked any clever musical nods in there somewhere that weren’t immediately apparent under dialogue. If anything, Bang-Bang-A-Boom! stops just short of being a disappointment; while the story itself lampoons everything from Buck Rogers to Space: 1999, the music is decidedly more modern. Stone seems to be trying to make fun of the more droning passages of the music from Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, but he’s trying too hard, and winds up with music that, for the most part, is far more droning and catatonic than anything that the composers on either of those shows could’ve managed – sort of a case of okay, we get the 3 out of 4joke. Things are livened up considerably with the various entries from the Intergalactic Song Contest, featuring Mr. Sylvester McCoy on the spoons. (This may well be the only time that the Doctor featured in one of Big Finish’s soundtrack collections can be counted as a performer in his own right.)

It’s a bit of an uneven listening experience if one tries to go straight through it in a single sitting, but there are some individual gems in the rough on Music From The Seventh Doctor Audio Adventures.

Order this CD

  1. Trailer: Dust Breeding (1:35)
  2. The Sadness That We See In Him (2:52)
  3. Damien Unhinged / Mr. Seta Unmasked (5:43)
  4. Like A Tiger, It Toyed With Me (1:52)
  5. The Dust Belongs To Me! / No Oil Painting (4:42)
  6. Always Knew I’d Die On Duchamp (4:12)
  7. The Future Has Already Happened (1:09)
  8. Trailer: The Rapture (0:52)
  9. Maggie’s Music (1:47)
  10. Triangle Chill (4:04)
  11. Freestyle (2:50)
  12. Brook Of Eden (4:03)
  13. Rebirth (1:41)
  14. Sorted (2:07)
  15. Jude’s Law (2:56)
  16. Pink Pulloff (1:47)
  17. Crystal Devildance (1:08)
  18. Gloves Off (with Jane Elphinstone) (1:29)
  19. Trailer: Bang-Bang-A-Boom! (1:57)
  20. Welcome To Dark Space 8 (1:22)
  21. The Trouble With Dark Space 8 (1:58)
  22. I’m Just Not Like The Other Boys! (The Pits Of Angvia) (1:20)
  23. Dead Drunk (The Death Of A Scientist) (3:02)
  24. This Is The Denouement (Oh No, Sorry, It Isn’t) (2:30)
  25. That Peace Conference (2:50)
  26. When Gholos Attacks (0:45)
  27. That Space Battle (1:04)
  28. Galactivision (3:33)

Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 68:31

Cybertech Part II: Pharos

Cybertech Part II: Pharos soundtrackAn interesting and somewhat obscure release, Pharos is the second collection of musical atmospheres by Cybertech (a.k.a. Michael Fillis and Adrian Pack). The two Cybertech CDs share a common thread: they try to evoke the atmosphere of past eras of Doctor Who music and, at the same time, pay tribute to what was the only source of new Who in the early 90s, Virgin Publishing’s Doctor Who: The New Adventures novels. In a way, Cybertech’s works are rather like the Doctor Who equivalent of the infamous Star Wars soundtrack-to-a-book release Shadows Of The Empire. Pack and Fillis composed original scores for specific scenes of some of the books (with the relevant passages quoted with permission in the CD’s lavishly illustrated booklet), while other adventures are given a score more evocative of a general mood, and some are accompanied by original, non-novel fiction. A few pieces unrelated to any specific book are dotted throughout the disc as well.

Lending the proceedings more of a stamp of Who authenticity are brief cameo appearances by Sylvester McCoy and the late Jon Pertwee, and their respective fellow time travelers Sophie Aldred and Caroline John. McCoy and Aldred’s appearances are “in character” as the Doctor and Ace, even though they each only speak a handful of lines of dialogue in their respective tracks. On the other hand, Jon Pertwee and Caroline John don’t seem to be playing the roles of the third Doctor and Liz Shaw, but instead act as narrators delivering the overall mood in the album’s opening and closing tracks. Mark Gatiss also makes a vocal appearance for the musical theme to his own novel, “Nightshade”.

And the music itself? Pack and Fillis toy around with the Doctor Who sounds of both the 70s and 80s, and nail some of the best approximations of those eras’ moods I’ve heard. Some of the non-story-specific pieces pick up the pace a little bit with more of a dance beat, but nothing terribly incongruous. It’s all very atmospheric, 4 out of 4and right in line with where the music of Doctor Who left off when the series vacated the small screen.

So, overall, what do I think of Pharos? I think Big Finish Productions should really be talking to these guys about joining their rotating cast of composing characters. They’re that good.

Order this CD

  1. Precipice (1:45)
  2. The Pharos Project (3:12)
  3. Time’s Crucible (3:15)
  4. Prometheus Bound (6:45)
  5. Prometheus Unbound (2:50)
  6. First Frontier (3:45)
  7. Yeti (9:15)
  8. Iceberg (8:00)
  9. Nightshade TV Theme (4:20)
  10. Trevithick’s Monsters (5:55)
  11. Interstitial Time: A Static Vortex (1:20)
  12. Legacy (3:20)
  13. Type 40 (3:20)
  14. Master Mind (10:30)
  15. Cyberia (4:45)
  16. Wavelength (2:00)

Released by: Jump Cut Records
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 75:25