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BBC Radiophonic Music

BBC Radiophonic Workshop Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 Oct 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: BBC Music
  • ASIN: B00006LEPG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,647 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Radio Sheffield - David Cain
2. Radio Nottingham - John Baker
3. Boys And Girls - John Baker
4. Mattachin - Delia Derbyshire
5. Pot Au Feu - Delia Derbyshire
6. Time And Tune - John Baker
7. Tomorrow's World - John Baker
8. Reading Your Letters - John Baker
9. Blue Veils And Golden Sands - Delia Derbyshire
10. The Missing Jewel - John Baker
11. Artbeat - David Cain
12. Fresh Start - John Baker
13. Christmas Commercial - John Baker
14. Sea Sports - John Baker
15. The Delian Mode - Delia Derbyshire
16. Happy Birthday - Delia Derbyshire
17. The Frogs Wooing - John Baker
18. Milky Way - John Baker
19. Structures - John Baker
20. New Worlds - John Baker
See all 33 tracks on this disc

Product Description

BBC Review

The Radiophonic Workshop was set up by the BBC's Drama department in the late 50s as a forum for the creation of what were initially termed 'Electrophonic' sounds to accompany specialist radio and TV productions. Most famed for Delia Derbyshire's electronic realisation of the Dr Who Theme, in its early days the Workshop was a hive of fervent sonic experimentation to rival IRCAM or any European electronic music studio (though with slightly different concerns and a considerably larger audience), tillcutbacks killed it off in the late 1996.

This CD is more or less a reissue of the Workshop's 10th anniversary album from 1968, designed to showcase non Dr Who related pieces and featuring work from three of its leading lights, Delia Derbyshire, David Cain and John Baker.

In the dark days before sampling, MIDI and polyphonic synthesis, electronic music was created by incredibly hard and time consuming graft with tape, scissors and primitive tone generators (the Workshop didn't get a synthesizer till 1965). With these constraints it's a source of wonder that the Radiophonicians managed to extract anything but the usual avant garde burble n' squeak, but the music here is anything but...

Obviously, these were composers working to a brief and often treated as glorified technicians by programme makers (hence the cheesiness often on show), but Cain and Baker's skilful, zippy themes are a huge amount of fun to listen to. Likewise their more abstract pieces; Cain's "War of the Worlds" will terrify your cat, and Baker's "Structures" is an impressive slice of gently unsettling atmospherics.

"New Worlds" will strike chords with listeners of a certain age, as its closing bars were used as the signoff to John Craven's Newsround, and if Baker's spot for Tomorrow's World doesn't conjure up a future where we all wake up to breakfast prepared by a robot before flying to work with the aid of a jet powered backpack, then shame on you.

Still, there are moments where the music transcends its origins and demands a life of its own. Most of these are provided by Derbyshire, whose work still startles; "Pot Au Feu" is angular robot jazz crammed with incident; "Blue Veils and Golden Sands" is isolationist ambience some 25 years ahead of its time. The killer though is "Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO" (composed for a sci-fi play based on an Isaac Asimov story). Based around backwards voices, the tones of the Wobbulator (a modified test tone generator) and riding on a riff that sounds suspiciously like Missy Eliot's "Get Ur Freak On", it sounds like nothing else; insanely catchy yet deeply sinister. Lovely.

An essential album for analogue fetishists and TV theme obsessives, plus a must for anyone vaguely interested in the origins of contemporary electronica, BBC Radiophonic Music is a fitting testament to one of the UK's most valuable and eccentric institutions. Oscillate wildly! --Peter Marsh

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
It is with mixed feelings and some surprise that I see this has finally come out on CD. Please keep this one a secret. It's far too delicate to survive being culturally hegemonized with some tedious driving dance beat. I have had the vinyl LP for years and have always jealously thanked the higher powers that charlatans with no sense of history did not use it to lend proxy 'quality' to modern electronic pop. I guess it's only a matter of time before this disc gets plundered for hooks - alas. This is 'collage music' from a time where you had to do it with razor blades. Analogue sampling from the 1960s and 1970s, manipulated tape, tone generators and all that. What's striking is how much SPACE there is in these sounds, a quality which comes from the short duration of most of the tracks (it's experimental library music financed by BBC license payers), and the complete absence of drum tracks. With some of these samples, twanging rulers, clinking milk bottles and the like, who needs 'real' percussion anyway? Musically, we hear childish rhymes, martian heat rays, backwards medieval chants ("his wish, faith to the master"), riffs, loops, clicks and beeps of all kinds. Some of the samples are recognisable from the 1969 White Noise album that Delia Derbyshire also worked on. If you dig that album, get this too. A splendid aural complement to the vogue for TV idents, test cards and 'Schools and Colleges' graphics. The John Craven's Newsround 'and finally' tag also makes an appearance. A must buy for all eclectic electronauts and sonic gourmets everywhere.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An historic reissue, not before time... 13 Oct 2002
The BBC Radiophonic Workshop (RW) is perhaps best known for "realising" the Doctor Who theme music but various other LPs have shown the RW's range and talents. This was the first LP issued by the RW and showcased three composers and their different ways of working. Standout items are John Baker's gleefully ironic "Christmas Commercial" and Delia Derbyshire's ambient wonders "The Delian Mode" and "Blue Veils and Golden Sands", eerie pieces of tape manipulation and atmospherics that, in Delia's words "just melt you".
This is a bizarre gem of an album full of short, weird, quirky little pieces (most under 1:30) created with immaculate wit and skill.
I can't, in all honesty, give this five stars as only hardcore RW geeks or Delia Derbyshire fans (in which both categories I place myself) will love it but it's still an interesting listen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC Radiophonics At It's Best 31 Dec 2002
It makes a change to listen to something from the BBC Radiophonic workshop other than Doctor Who. This Cd is a brilliant showcase of what the radiophonic workshop was up to back in the 60's/early 70's and to know most of the music was made from everday objects it's Fantastic and its a great tribute to the people who actually made the tunes.
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