Monday, 26 September 2016

No human being would stack records like this.

No human being would stack records like this.

 For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter, my almost too sick to survive devotion to Venkman, Stanz, Spengler & Zeddemore will come as no surprise. So along with spores, moulds and fungus, I’ve got a reasonable though not a biblical proportion of Ghostbusters vinyl records.

Ray Parker Junior’s hit song "Ghostbusters" came in various guises in the UK, silver & blue injection mold labels along with several 12” extended versions. 

My favourite is the 7” with a pop up sleeve, along with two picture discs, one shaped and one luminous. 

A 10” record store day release from 2014 also glows in the dark. 

For the American, Canadian and Australian markets, a second single was culled from the soundtrack LP, The Bus Boys “Cleanin’ Up The Town”. This is the Australian release.

The original soundtrack LP was released on Arista for most of the world, an eclectic mix of songs that all make an appearance at some point in the film.

1.    Ray Parker Jr. “Ghostbusters” –first head after the librarian gets scared in the library      

2.    The Bus Boys “Cleanin' Up The Town” – first heard after the Ghostbusters approach the library ghost 

3.    Alessi  Brothers “Savin' The Day” – heard after the Ghostbusters leave the Mayor’s office (“Lets run some red lights”)          

4.    Thompson Twins “In The Name Of Love” – heard on the radio while the Ghostbusters  enjoy their final petty cash Chinese meal

5.    Air Supply “I Can Wait Forever”    - heard on a passing workman’s Sony Walkman headphones as the Ghostbusters get thrown off campus.

6.    Laura Branigan        “Hot Night” -played at Louis Tully’s 4th anniversary of being an accountant party. Also The Trammps “Disco Inferno” is played, this would appear on the 2006 CD re-issue)           

7.    Mick Smiley “Magic” – heard after Walter Peck shuts off the Ecto Containment Unit        

8.    Elmer Bernstein  -“Main Title Theme” (Ghostbusters)   

9.    Elmer Bernstein  - “Dana's Theme“

10. Ray Parker Jr.  - Ghostbusters (Instrumental Version)

30 years down the line and the original soundtrack was re-mastered and released. Now for whatever reason, call it fate, call it luck, call it karma, some of the tracks (most notably The Bus Boys song) sound like the original tape masters have been damaged, which is apparent on all of these vinyl re-issues.
30th Anniversary issue (below) Slime version (left) Newbury Comics Limited 1000 (Right)

For Ghostbusters II there was less on offer outside of the soundtrack album. The title track “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown in 7 & 12” format, Run DMC’s take on the Ray Parker song (the single has a different mix to the lp) and a 12” version of “Spirit” from Doug E. Fresh And The Get Fresh Crew.

2014 saw one of my favourite Ghostbusters vinyl releases with the Run DMC version backing the original. A 12” marshmallow scented Puffy gatefold jacket which simulates the feel and texture of a marshmallow along with lenticular 3D prints; it’s the sort of record that just popped in there.

2006 saw the release of Elmer Bernstein’s wonderful score for the first movie. Limited to 3000 CD copies released by the Varèse Sarabande CD Club, this sometimes pops up on eBay for the price of a third mortgage. You can currently stream this on You Tube, but this really deserves to be given a proper vinyl reissue.

 When I heard about the new 2016 film in production and being called a re-boot, I was sceptical to say the least. I’m struggling to think of a previous re-make (call it what you will) that I’ve enjoyed, let alone surpasses the original. Robocop, The Fog, The Omen, Godzilla, Total Recall, Arthur and of course the noxious, possibly hazardous waste chemical that is The Italian Job has taught me to not look directly at the latest Hollywood trap. However, the incessant barrage of sexist and racist trolling from certain quarters (some call them fans, I call them Wally Wicks) made me put all of my prejudices aside and view the film with an open mind. I’m glad I did, it’s a very funny and an excellent romp that I felt compelled to go back and watch again (in 3D the second time). I’d urge everyone to view it in the same way, just make sure you stay to the very end, past the ending credits.

For the new movie two vinyl LP’s have been released, one with songs from the film and the other being the soundtrack score. The new album is well packaged, just a shame the art department didn’t get together with the disc cutting department as the final song on side one is shown on the sleeve as the first song on side two, also the download code that should be printed on the inner sleeve is missing. The songs feature some fairly good remakes of Ray Parker’s original, along with tracks from Ellie King, 5 Seconds of Summer and Mark Ronson, plus some DaBarge and the Ray Parker’s Ghostbusters that go to make this an album that is worth burying the needle on. 

 The quality of the new soundtrack score is stunning, whilst the score itself is way short of Bernstein’s original (as is the GBII soundtrack, which is as yet unreleased) the beautiful slime vinyl and stylish packaging is supreme. This limited package of 500 (you are looking at number 6) from Sony's “At The Movies” series will serve all your supernatural needs.

Finally, if you want to hear the original album at its very best, (bearing in mind the re-mastering issues I mentioned earlier) I’d recommend this 1984 version from Japan which can really bust some heads, in a spiritual sense.

 12” Bonus – touching the etheric plane.

No this isn’t a very shiny space record, it’s a laserdisc.

The forerunner to DVD.

Never ever put one of these on your turntable.

“Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.”

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Groundbreaking Singles – Dr Who by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop


Groundbreaking Singles – Dr Who by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

My last blog entry (possibly the nerdiest on yet) focussed on the tape loops and sound manipulation of The Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows. However the manipulation of sound goes all the way back to the beginning of recorded music. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, wrote in 1878 that when his cylinders were played backwards "the song is still melodious in many cases, and some of the strains are sweet and novel, but altogether different from the song reproduced in the right way". In the mid 1940’s Egyptian composer Halim El-Dabh used a wire recorder, reverb chambers and voltage control to produce his sound manipulated composition The Expression of Zaar.

                Wire Recorder 1922

With the use of tape, French composer Pierre Schaeffer was able to take this process even further and create an art form known as Musique Concrete. The use and manipulation of instrument, voice, natural or electronically generated sounds were mixed together to create sound collages.

Dr Who was originally intended as a time traveling show to shed light on historical events, something quickly usurped by the time of the second serial "The Daleks".  Using Musique Concrete techniques with Ron Grainer’s theme, Delia Derbyshire started work on recording the music for the new show.

First broadcast on the 23rd of November, Dr Who would become a global phenomenon that is still going strong today. The theme would be released as a mono single in Feb 1964 that failed to chart, however it is the use of sound manipulation and tape editing to create a melodic song that puts this single years ahead of its time. My version is a later one (1972), the original being on an unboxed Decca label; my later reissue is still the original mono mix that was submitted by Delia Derbyshire for the show. The version aired on the first episode was a slightly changed version to fit in with the graphics.

Original Decca releases with both label variations - Dr & Doctor Who

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was formed in the late 1950's, primarily to create sound effects and later theme tunes and incidental music for radio and TV. Shortly before Dr Who, Ron Grainer had worked with the Radiophonic Workshop for a BBC documentary "Giants Of Steam", the music of which would be released on a Decca EP of the same name in 1963. The Radiophonic Workshop would inspire musicians for decades to come, Pink Floyd visited the Workshop studio in 1967 and albums like Dark Side Of The Moon would embrace many of the tape techniques used by the team.

The fake stereo version - 1973
In 1973 the Dr Who single was reissued with the fake stereo treatment, along with some extra sonic embellishments. A new version was made in 1980 with synthesizers in real time, compared to the original 64 version it’s a vile stain on the TARDIS floor.  For those with some time on your hands, here’s a journey through the 50 years of Dr Who themes.

For my money I believe that the original theme has never been bettered. It's difficult to imagine just how strange the original theme must have sounded coming through the TV, the chart hits of November 1963 "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Gerry & The Pacemakers and "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes must have made it sound like something from a distant time. Given that real-time instruments that were capable of recreating this theme were over 20 years away made that a correct assumption. Add in the general feeling of public unease just a day after the assassination of President JF Kennedy and it's no wonder people wrote in to the BBC to complain that the theme scared their children. When it comes to feedback it doesn't get any better than that.

 My version from 1972 that has the original mono mix