For many, including myself, Tom Baker’s Fourth is the Doctor, the definite article, you might say. And though his scarf, floppy hat & love of jelly babies have helped, there’s a long-forgotten musical facet to his appeal.
All but the most dedicated of Whovians might not even know it exists, until now. Even though it involves a group who’d become one of the biggest electronic/pop acts of the Eighties, the Human League’s 1981 instrumental ‘ Tom Baker’, released towards the end of the great man’s time in the TARDIS, remains to most a relic of a band having regenerated its line-up and in the process of finding its sound, one which even they themselves appear to have quickly disowned.
Nonetheless, let’s delve deeper, with a few timely diversions, and hopefully in the process raise it from a B-side (first issued with the ‘Boys & Girls’ single) to an undisputed A!
5. It Sounds Like The Future
Openly inspired by the Radiophonic Workshop, the League gladly accepted the offer of a private tour of Room 13 at BBC Television Centre, and by the sound of it quickly went home and wrote a piece that both pays homage to the classic era sounds of Delia Derbyshire & friends and anticipated the future direction the incidental music of the series was to take.
Just listen to Peter Howell’s arrangement of the theme, as used from Series 18, Baker’s last as the Doctor. Like much of the music of the decade its not afraid to go electric, Howell making use of three synthesisers ( an ARP Odyssey, Roland Jupiter 4 & Yamaha CS-80, since you ask) and an EMS Vocoder among a no doubt massive bank of instruments.
Go back and revisit any of the Fourth Doctor’s Hammer Horror- indebted stories (that is to say most of his second & third series, honourable mentions to ‘ Terror Of The Zygons’, ‘ Planet Of Evil’, ‘ Pyramids Of Mars’ & ‘ The Brain Of Morbius’) accompanied by ‘ Don’t You Want Me’ though, and the effect may be slightly different, by way of a quick disclaimer.
This article was first posted on November 20, 2013