Tony Gallichan is Mildly Perturbed by... The Doctor Who Theme
Surely he's not serious.
Gallichan slagging off the Doctor Who theme?
Is he mad?
Well, no, I'm not mad. (Well, not about this, anyway). And I'm not slagging it off. The problem I have with it is that the original version is so perfect that any version after pales enormously in comparison.
I'm serious! (Stop laughing at the back there!)
Just so you know, I. Like many others, have a small obsession and collect every version of the theme I can lay my hands on. You'd wet yourself laughing at some of them, I can tell you. I reckon that I must have over thirty versions of it!
So, I have a certain, um, knowledge (?) about this.
Ok. The original, pilot version is a work of genius. A work of art, I assume we are all agreed with that? Good. So, where do you go from there? Downhill, that's where. The remixes of it loose something, even the remix done for the second go at An Unearthly Child. You see, the pilot version has mistakes in it. And that just makes the icing on the top. The first episode one is smoother, more polished. Its still nice but already something is lost. After that, the remixes turned it into a different piece. I'm serious!!!! The atmosphere changed. The pilot and the first episode versions are SCARY. Haunting. Organic. The ones from Troughton onwards have a different ingredient.
Now, I like the Howell version. I believe that it's Adam's favourite version. It suited the time it was done for. Alistair Lock (of Big Finish fame) did a version that could have been tailored for season eighteen. Mind you, he also did the Madonna version for Panopticon so nobodies perfect. There was also a version he did which was very similar to the Howell version except that Alistair chucked in everything except the kitchen sink. I swear I can hear steal drums in there. Actually, he has a certain musical signature in his Who themes. You can always tell a Lock version of the theme because of it. And no, I'm not going to try and explain what it is. Listen to the theme on the 7th /8th doc free disc the marvellous Monthly gave out. The first one with Storm warning on it. You should be able to hear it on the McCoy story.
I've had several goes at it. There's the Who Romantic version in the audio section here and I'll eventually be putting up my very first attempt from many, many years ago. I've had a couple more goes but they didn't come out right.
Orbital have done a tres cool version. Love the beginning - they've gone for the tribute approach. I'd love to see what they would do if asked to record a version for a new series. Skipping over McCulloch, Dominic Glynn's version was fine for the Trial season, though it needed a different title sequence. However, it's still a little crappy.
The B-side to the Timelord's doctorin' the TARDIS was rather nice. It had that lovely bass upbeat that a lot of people, myself included, don't bother with.
Still not sure about the McGann telly version. Too brassy. (What an old fuddy duddy I am!) And as for the David Arnold version, well, Keith likes it. What a mess. Awful, sorry. "OOF!"
So, what of Mark Ayres' attempts? Good. No, I mean it. I enjoyed the first one he did for Variations on a Theme. I felt that the Fenric one was a little bit of a wasted attempt because the melody was too light. Nice bass sample though.
And with Mark we come full circle. The new, stereo remix. It's good. It's very good. I love it. But it isn't the pilot version. No mistakes, you see?
So cheer Delia Derbyshire and raise a full glass to her memory. She realised perfection. And left the rest of us trailing far behind in our attempts to emulate that perfection.
May she rest in peace.
Tony Gallichan hears the music in his head without the aid of headphones! (Time to start worrying!)