Music Review: “Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Album” (Various Artists)

If proof was ever needed that the soundtracks have one of the key ingredients to “Doctor Who”‘s success, it could be seen through the array of albums released throughout 2013 by Silva Screen records.  There were the Classic series releases for “The Caves of Androzani”, “The Krotons” and “Ghost Light” plus two releases for the post-2005 incarnation for Series Seven and the 2011 and 2012 Christmas specials, “The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe” and “The Snowmen”.

To round of 2013, Silva Screen have decided to pop open a bottle of Radiophonic bubbly with the release of “Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Album”, a four CD celebration of the musical output ranging from Delia Derbyshire’s iconic arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme through to Murray Gold’s scores from the latest series.

This is truly an eclectic mix with stock music and tracks from the “Musique Concrete” style which dominated the 1960’s sitting alongside a selection of styles from the 1970’s, including a varied range (both electronic and chamber orchestral) from the man who is still “Doctor Who”‘s most prolific composer, Dudley Simpson, the synthesiser driven music of the 1980’s from composers such as Peter Howell, Paddy Kingsland, Dominic Glynn, Jeff McCulloch and Mark Ayres and the big sweeping orchestral scores from John Denney (for the 1996 television movie) and, most recently, Murray Gold.

Given the limited space size, it’s nothing short of a miracle that there is such a variation in music, with the selectors giving a fair balance to every era of the show.  (The first, second and third Doctors are represented on Disc 1, four and five on Disc 2, six, seven and eight on Disc 3 and nine, ten and eleven on Disc 4).

There are iconic musical motifs interspersed amongst the four discs including the memorable themes for the Daleks and Cybermen from stories such as “The Daleks”, “The Tenth Planet” and the James Bond-ian music from “The Invasion”, the electronic themes which greeted Roger Delgado’s incarnation of the Master, the fourth Doctor’s last moments in “Logopolis”, the music that signified the end of the Seventh Doctor’s adventures with Ace in “Survival” and the music which accompanied the Doctor’s story in “The Rings of Akhaten”.

From a personal point of view, there are some fantastic themes which should have been included in this collection such as the beautiful military riff from the 1970 story “The Ambassadors of Death”, the cosmopolitan themes for 1979’s “City of Death”, whilst Rose, Donna, Martha and Amy’s themes appear in this collection, which makes the exclusion of Clara’s “Impossible Girl” theme inexcusable.

There is a special limited release due which includes eleven discs, one for each Doctor, but with a price tag of £100+ I’m afraid that I won’t be buying.

If you’re a fan of the music from “Doctor Who”, this collection will certainly entertain you, but for me it could have been so much more and I hope that there will be more episodic releases during 2014.


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