Over two years ago, I blogged about the Airwolf Themes album, the soundtrack CD that holds the record for the most expensive soundtrack album ever – and indeed regularly breaks it’s own record whenever a copy comes up on eBay.
I said back then that as the only soundtrack album related to the series, indeed the only recording of the theme actually conducted by the original composer, Sylvester Levay, it deserved a wider distribution. The people making money off the soar-away prices on eBay weren’t the original producers of the album, and with the crazy prices copies of the music were available on the file sharing networks however much the producers tried to get them removed.
When you went to the Airwolf Themes site the most commonly asked question on the forums seemed to be whether there would ever be a re-release of the album.
Eventually last year, Mark J Cairns, the person behind the album relented and started taking opinions about a release online. After multiple delays, today the album finally appeared on iTunes, at a cost of Â£15.99 – somewhat less than the cost of an original CD.
The majority of the tracks are Mark’s recreations of the original episode soundtracks and some of the variations of the themes, all done on synths. However the real stand out tracks from my point of view are the last three, which are a new arrangement of the main theme, and two medleys conducted by Sylvester Levay himself, along with a full orchestra, streaks ahead of any of the other arrangements of the theme that are available. One point to note when listening to the music that is worth mentioning is that if you’re only ever used to seeing the show on reruns in the UK, the tempo of the main theme especially will seem a bit slow, this is what it is supposed to be, but thanks to the conversion process that the episodes go through to be shown in the UK, we’re all used to hearing it slightly differently!
You can read more about how the original Airwolf Themes project came about here.
Going through the new releases on iTunes today, I came across Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project which has finally got an iTunes release.
I’ve got the original CD release back from 1997, which I picked up after seeing a documentary about the making of the album. Although David Arnold is now very much associated with James Bond having written the soundtrack for every James Bond film since Tomorrow Never Dies. This is the album that got him the job – John Barry having recommended him after hearing this album.
The album is eleven tracks, each a reworking of a well known James Bond song, but performed by a contemporary artist. So in amongst my favourites amongst the tracks we have a Chrissie Hynde take on Live and Let Die, Martin Fry doing Thunderball, and Propellerheads covering On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
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.