Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Soundtrack Review

This is a 4 CD collection of music and some sounds that have spanned the last 50 years, going right back to the very beginning right up to the present day.

There has been no shortage of releases in various mediums to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of our favourite Doctor. But a relative latecomer to the party has been the 50th Anniversary Soundtrack. This is a 4 CD collection of music and some sounds that have spanned the last 50 years, going right back to the very beginning right up to the present day. There are nearly 130 tracks across these CDs ranging from around 20 seconds to nearly 8 minutes.

Each CD is conveniently attributed to an era or eras of the show. Disc One covers Doctors 1 - 3. Disc Two covers Doctors 4 and 5. Disc Three gives us the remainder of the classic Doctors including the TV Movie. Disc Four is a selection of Murray Gold's contributions to the modern era of the programme.

Disc One is certainly a cracker with the most tracks included, and includes some sound effects including the TARDIS wheezing groaning noise and the low pitched oscillating noise from the Dalek City. Sometimes it's hard to tell sound effects and music apart, but that's OK because regardless, each evokes different memories, images and feelings of nostalgia from the earliest days of the series. Back then the alien and ethereal soundtrack in its own right, was terrifying! A lot of budding musicians would find the work of the Radiophonic Workshop a fascinating subject for study. It's just a pity that the combination of music and effects wasn't carried on throughout the album, as pretty much as soon as the 60's is covered the sound effects fizzle out which does feel rather inconsistent. The nuances of the unconventional sounds from the 60's reward repeat listening.
At the opposite end of the spectrum however are greats such as 'The Tenth Planet - Space Adventure Pt. 2', better known as the 60's Cybermen Theme, which is heart thumpingly exciting and synonymous with the scene from 'Tomb of the Cybermen' where the metal giants emerge from their forced hibernation. Brilliant stuff! Throughout Disc One, the music blossoms into some of the more famous and familiar scores from the Tom Baker era in Disc Two. Whilst there are classics such as 'Terror of the Zygons' and 'The Seeds of Doom', veteran composer Dudley Simpson is tragically under-represented with excerpts from 'The Android Invasion' and 'The Invasion of Time', which don't have exactly iconic soundtracks. It's even more criminal that there are no tracks from classics such as 'Genesis of the Daleks' or 'City of Death', arguably two of Dudley's best works! This was one of my biggest disappointments as either story could host an album of its own. Each era is bound by the relevant opening and where possible closing theme tune, which seems a bit excessive when I tell you there are about a dozen variations on the album.
Moving into the 80's one thing that does stand out is that each track from that era feels complete, evoking the feel of a whole story and action rather than just being an excerpt. 'Resurrection of the Daleks' effortlessly evokes how totally screwed you are when an army of Daleks bursts through your airlock in deep space, 'The Two Doctors' gives us the military might of the Sontarans and 'Logopolis - It's the End' surmises the funereal atmosphere of the 4th Doctor's last outing. The tail end of the classic era is dominated by the big beat sounds of Keff McCulloch, unpopular with some, not least for his take on the theme music, though the extended cut offered here shows some interesting variations. The McCoy era rounds off with some surprisingly modern sounds from 'The Curse of Fenric' and 'Survival' which are great listens, but short-lived as we are plunged straight into the TV Movie. With a bombastic B-movie score, even the opening theme is something of a black sheep.
Disc Four feels like Murray Gold's greatest hits with tracks such as 'Doomsday' and 'All The Strange Strange Creatures'. But then towards the end there are four tracks from Series 7, which is available as an album right now and seems like poor use of the available disc space. I'm not really in a position to fully appreciate this part of the album, and feel what there is could have been embellished with some new morsels. Yet I can see how this would be welcome to someone who had never purchased a Doctor Who Soundtrack Album before. The last part of the album I can comment on is the booklet inside, which disappointingly just contains a track listing and lengths. It is a real missed opportunity to include some further information on the making of some of these tracks and the composers, just to make the album feel that bit more celebratory.
So what do I make of the album? I love it! It certainly delivers a satisfying range of material from the last 50 Years and you really feel the progression in the style and approach, and each track is presented in crisp clarity so top marks for the restoration work. It really leaves you wanting more. The only downside is that at present, there are some big gaps, and popular scores senselessly omitted. However I feel that these are being saved for the special limited edition TARDIS soundtrack collection that will have a disc for each Doctor (details of which have yet to be announced). There is however a wealth of diverse material from all eras of the show so if you have never listened to a Doctor Who Soundtrack before or have listened to every soundtrack that has ever existed there will be something for each and every listener to enjoy.
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My name is Jon, recently graduated media production student. Always on the look out for chances to do what I enjoy and make it count. Writing, filming, animating, editing, radio. My speciality seems to be Doctor Who, years of accumulated knowledge and passion appear to be paying off creatively this being one outlet channel. So thanks for sharing in that with me and offering your support by reading my articles.