So having been released on Monday, guess what is top of the chart for iTunes downloads, and has been all week – Murray Gold’s Doctor Who Soundtrack Album. It also has an almost perfect run of glowing reviews, with only one person knocking off a mark for the fact that the recording of Song for Ten isn’t the one that was used in last years Christmas episode, but a new arrangement.
Anyway, looking at the track list there is a broad selection of extracts from the first two seasons of the new version of the series. Unlike the bulk of the eighties series, with their largely electronic incidental music produced by Radiophonic Workshop, and subsequently Keff McCulloch, Mark Ayres and Dominic Glynn, this soundtrack is much more orchestral, however not nearly so orchestral as the John Debney soundtrack for the ill fated Doctor Who television movie in 1996.
The album also shows the benefit of having a single composer for the whole series, so track 3 of the album is the Doctor’s Theme, a haunting, mournful solo soprano, variations of which you often find intertwined into other tracks throughout the album, and track 14 is Rose’s Theme elements of which appear at key moments for her. But having a single composer certainly doesn’t mean that everything sounds the same, with styles varying widely from the electronic heavy music from Tooth and Claw, through to the classical themes for Madame de Pompadour and the beautiful piano themes for episodes such as Father’s Day. Amongst the other gems on the album you also get the doom laden choral theme for The Daleks, and the memorable solo strings for the Impossible Planet. Alongside that you also get two songs – Song for Ten and Love Don’t Roam – the first, as previously mentioned coming from Christmas Invasion, the second due to appear in this years Christmas episode The Runaway Bride.
Last but not least, the album includes two versions of the main title theme, opening with the 41 second main theme used on the programme, and ending with a full version, parts of which have been used as the closing theme throughout the second season. However, I still have to say (and I know I’m in a small minority in this) that I’m with John Debney in that the arrangement needs to be changed to get a good orchestral version of the theme. Whilst part of Murray Gold’s brief was to keep it close to the original theme, the John Debney version changes the arrangement significantly, lowering the tempo and opting for purely orchestral, and is all the better for it. (Of course the ultimate version of the theme still has to be Bill Bailey’s Belgian Jazz version…)
Having said that, the Doctor Who Soundtrack by Murray Gold is an essential purchase for any fan, and is certainly a great listen.