Tag Archives: Dr.Who

Rocks In The Attic #292: Various Artists – ‘The Doctor Who 25th Anniversary Album’ (1988)

RITA#292A quarter of a century ago – talk about travelling through time! A relic from my childhood, I remember buying this on vinyl when I was ten years old and very much into Dr. Who. If I remember correctly, I bought it from WH Smith on Market Street in Oldham – and I can almost picture the corner of the store where the music section was.

Sadly this album is also a relic of the era when Dr. Who was very, very naff – the era of the seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy. A couple of years ago I met the man himself, together with his second companion Sophie “Ace” Aldred at a convention. I really wasn’t that excited to meet him – almost as if I blamed him personally for being a lame duck Doctor. Sophie Aldred was still as hot as hell though.

And anyway, I was more excited about meeting the eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, sat further along the signing table. It wasn’t his connection to Dr. Who I was bothered about – it was his role as the titular “I” (or Marwood) in Withnail And I. McGann autographed a black and white publicity still from the film, scrawled “PONCE”, and drew an arrow to his character. Fantastic!

But anyway, back to Dr. Who. This album of incidental music from the McCoy years (bookended by some earlier versions of the title theme) is delightfully naff. It’s almost nostalgically naff – and that’s the one thing that’s wrong about the current incarnation of the series on the TV at the moment. It’s too modern, too sexy and just not naff enough.

I have other problems with the modern Dr. Who – the absence of cliffhanger endings, the overuse of the Daleks, the fact that the Doctor can now control where the TARDIS lands, the overuse of the sonic screwdriver as deus ex machina – but I guess overall it’s just too damn slick.

Stop messing with my childhood, BBC. It’s Dr. Who – it’s supposed to be a bit crappy!

Hit: Dr. Who (1980)

Hidden Gem: Gavrok’s Search

Rocks In The Attic #279: Steely Dan – ‘Aja’ (1977)

RITA#279This isn’t my favourite Steely Dan album. That has to be the awesome Pretzel Logic. I guess any of them could be my favourite though – they’re all so consistent. But just like your favourite James Bond actor, or your favourite Doctor (Who), it always comes back to the first one you were exposed to, and for me that was Pretzel Logic.

Aja has to be the best sounding Steely Dan record though. The production on it sounds just perfect, like it was recorded on a computer, but without losing all the soul that pro-tools recordings always seem to do. Obviously it couldn’t have been recorded on a computer back in 1977 – it’s just recorded really well; seven tracks of perfection.

When I saw Steely Dan a couple of years ago on the 2011 Shuffle Diplomacy Tour, they opened with the title track from Aja. I don’t know what the drummer did wrong to deserve that – the drum parts on that song are amazing, with an awesome drum solo mid-song over the saxophone parts. I think I’d like a bit of a warm-up before I tackled that in a setlist. Perhaps it was punishment for his habits on the tour bus or something. Anyway, he nailed it – and he was only a young dude as well. He didn’t even flinch; he just took it all in his stride. Give the drummer some, indeed.

The title-track from Aja is probably the best example of the band being classified as jazz-rock. There are huge portions of the song based around a simple two-note motif, reminiscent of Miles Davis’ So What opener from Kind Of Blue. Like most of Steely Dan’s music though, I have no idea what any of the lyrics mean – but it doesn’t really matter. The music is just so rich, that they could be singing in ancient Hebrew and I’d still dig it.

Thanks to De La Soul heavily sampling Peg (for their song Eye Know), I felt I already knew that song before I heard anything else by Steely Dan at all. It’s a great pop song – probably their most commercial and mainstream-sounding single, but the prominent Michael McDonald backing vocals on the song are the only sour point on the whole album for me.

The master tapes for two of the albums songs – Black Cow and Aja – have gone missing over the years, preventing the record company from being able to bring out a SACD or 5.1 version of the album:

“When we recently sent for the multi-track masters of Aja so as to make new surround-sound mixes of same, we discovered that the two-inch multi-tracks of the songs Aja and Black Cow were nowhere to be found. They had somehow become separated from the other boxes, which the producer had abandoned here and there (studios, storage lockers, etc.) almost twenty years before. Anyone having information about the whereabouts of these missing two inch tapes should contact HK Management at (415) 485-1444. There will be a $600.00 reward for anyone who successfully leads us to the tapes. This is not a joke. Happy hunting.” – Donald Fagen & Walter Becker, 1999.

Really? “$600.00”? That misplaced decimal point sure sounds like a joke to me.

Hit: Peg

Hidden Gem: Aja

Rocks In The Attic #269: Tame Impala – ‘Lonerism’ (2012)

RITA#269I heard Tame Impala’s Elephant earlier this year on a compilation CD given away free with a rock magazine. I liked it immediately – my song of the year, hands down. What a groove – like the Super Furry Animals doing a T. Rex cover of the Dr. Who theme, with John Lennon on vocals.

I bought the album that weekend (I can’t remember the last time I did that on the strength of hearing just one song) and it became an instant favourite on the turntable. In fact the album was the soundtrack of my trip down to Dunedin to see Aerosmith play in April. It’s funny how albums do that, especially new albums. I remember when I used to go on holiday with my parents – begrudgingly of course – in my early teens. I would buy a new album just before the holiday, and it would always weld itself into the fabric of my memories of the trip.

The rest of Lonerism isn’t as focused as Elephant. I’m not entirely sure what genre of music the whole album could be classified under; although the music press is keen on pigeon-holing them as a psychedelic rock band. I’m not so sure. It doesn’t sound a million miles away from the likes of Super Furry Animals, but it’s more laid-back than that. Kevin Parker, the man behind the music, has heard a Floyd album or two in his time, that’s for sure.

Hit: Elephant

Hidden Gem: Keep On Lying