Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Music Review: Soundtrack - Dr. Who And The Daleks/ Dalek Invasion 2150 A.D.
According to the Guinness Book Of World Records, Dr. Who is listed as the longest-running science fiction series in the world, and the most successful of all time in terms of broadcast ratings, DVD sales, and other associated merchandise. The original run of the series was an astonishing 26 years, from 1963-89.
The premise is a fairly standard science fiction one. Dr. Who is a Time Lord who travels through time and space in a contraption called a TARDIS (which is an old style British Police Box). He, and the various associates who accompany him, are on a mission to fight the forces of evil in the universe.
Chief among these adversaries are the Daleks. They are a unique looking bunch, kind of like moving trash canisters with lights all over. Their greeting is a not so subtle “Heil Hitler” arm extension. Their “arms” actually resemble nothing so much as a toilet plunger.
The Daleks sinister campiness was a huge hit immediately upon their first appearance on the program. In fact, the period leading up to the first feature-length film has been described as “Dalekmania” in Britain.
That first film, Dr. Who & The Daleks was released in 1965. The soundtrack was scored by Malcolm Lockyer. The second feature, Dalek’s Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. came out the following year. That soundtrack was by Bill McGuffie. Both of these are being released together for the first time on one CD, by the Silva Screen label.
Lockyer’s score for the first picture is fairly standard soundtrack music from this era, comparable to Herrman or Bernstein I suppose. There are a couple of nods to the James Bond theme in his “Fanfare” however, and the “groovy” guitar sound of “The Petrified Jungle” is a scream. The more fully realized tracks such as “The Trap,” “The Swamp,” and “The Mountain,” towards the end are much more satisfying.
I find Bill McGuffie’s score for Daleks Invasion Earth to be the more enjoyable of the two. There is a distinct jazz influence to his work which translates well. The five minute “Daleks And Robomen” positively swings, as if it were a British cousin of Neil Hefti’s Batman music. “Smash And Grab (Reprise) And End Titles” closes things out in a peculiar way. It is as if the Miles Davis of Sketches Of Spain has somehow wandered onto the set. The whole effect is weirdly perfect.
The rare bonus tracks are the real find here though. To cash in on all the fun, Malcolm Lockyer released a single titled “The Eccentric Dr. Who” b/w “Daleks And Thals” The A side is such a period piece. Imagine Ventures, Dick Dale, and The Munsters getting together for a session. Its great! The B-side is as sinister sounding as anything involving Daleks should be, with a dash of Goldfinger thrown in, just for kicks.
Bill McGuffie’s contribution here is an interesting, jazzy take on Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue In D Minor.” He calls it “Fugue For Thought” and it ran in the pre-credit opening of Daleks Invasion Earth.
There are also two tracks of effects that were used in the film, “Tardis Effects,” and “Dalek’s Effects.”
This compilation is about as thorough as one could be it seems, and it was obviously a labor of love for everyone involved. On the back cover there is even an old Sugar Puffs cereal ad with an offer to: “Win A Real Dalek.” Dr. Who fans should not pass this one up.