BBC Radiophonic Workshop ‎– Doctor Who – The Music

Dr Who CoverThe BBC Radiophonic Workshop in London opened in 1958 to produce music and new effects for radio. Composers for Doctor Who started working here in 1963, under the direction of Ron Grainer. The theme for doctor who was created mostly by Delia Derbyshire in the style of Elektronische Musik—or music created from only electronically produced signals. This term was coined in 1949 by Werner Meyer-Eppler, and rivaled the French style of Musique Concrete, which used sounds recorded from acoustical sources, instead. To use this style of music in television, was new and innovative. It was also groundbreaking, because “televised science fiction was a new concept for the BBC” (factmag). The soundtrack for Doctor Who was comprised almost exclusively of electronic music through 1989, and the composers working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop created most of the incidental music and sound effects.

One of the most famous tracks that was released in the 1970’s for this television show was “Sea Devils,” which was noted for being much more experimental than the usual incidental music of Doctor Who. It was composed by Malcolm Clarke, and used the EMS Synthi 100 of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

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EMS Synthi 100 – Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Another important track on the LP is “The Leisure Hive,” composed by Peter Howell. By 1980, the workshop was creating music for every episode. By this time, the workshop had gained a lot more synthesizers, which would make the music a lot richer.

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Native Song

Staff Pick: Missouri Folk Songs sung by Loman D. Cansler (Folkways Records: FH5324, 1959)


Part regional history, and part family heirloom, Missouri Folk Songs is a rare collection of our state’s native songs, performed by Dallas County, Missouri-native Loman D. Cansler (1924-1992)[1]. Continue reading

She’s Like Elvis, But Hotter

Staff Pick: There’s A Party Going On, Wanda Jackson (Capitol, 1961)

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Although she’s still referred to as the “Queen of Rock n’ Roll,” Wanda Jackson is not a household name. She’s an integral part of rockabilly and rock n’ roll history, however, and her gravely rasp and bold style is highly worth some overdue attention.

Born Wanda Lavonne Jackson in Maud, Oklahoma on October 20, 1937, Wanda’s father was the first to encourage her to play guitar, piano, and sing (he had also pursued a career as a country singer before the Depression). When she was a teenager, she performed regularly as a country artist on a local Oklahoma City radio show, where she was discovered by country superstar Hank Thompson. Wanda toured with Hank and his Brazos Valley Boys in 1954, and signed with Decca that same year.

During a 1955 package tour, Wanda was paired with the likes of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. Wanda and Elvis dated briefly, but remained friends for long after; she largely credits Elvis for encouraging her to pursue a career in rockabilly music. In addition to being one of the first (and few) women to sing rockabilly, Wanda was also one of the first women to add glamour to the scene with her pencil dresses, heels, glitter, and fringe.

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In 1956, Wanda signed with Capitol Records, a relationship she would maintain into the early 70s. With Capitol, she cut her most successful singles, including “Fujiyama Mama,” “Mean Mean Man” and “Who Shot Sam,” which are still considered rockabilly classics today.

Her most popular single, “Let’s Have a Party,” released in 1960, was originally recorded by Elvis for the 1957 film Loving You. There’s a Party Going On, released on the heels of “Let’s Have a Party” in 1961, captures Wanda’s vibrant energy and raucous spirit. Must listens include Wanda’s rendition of “Kansas City,” and a silly number called “Tongue Tied,” a chronicle of Wanda’s lovestruck awkwardness. Her band on the album, dubbed The Party Timers, includes legendary country guitarist Roy Clark. To top it off, Marr’s copy of this album includes Wanda’s original signature on the cover with the note: Love you!

Although she gained fame for her rockabilly hits, Wanda eventually returned to her country roots, and even recorded gospel music in the 1970s after becoming a born-again Christian. Now 75, she continues to tour and record. In 2011 she put out the album, The Party Ain’t Over, which was produced by Jack White. Her latest album, Unfinished Business, released in 2012 and was produced by American singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle. The Marr Sound Archives holds over a dozen of her records, including cuts from both the rockabilly and country genres.

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Barbara Varanka, Graduate Assistant, Marr Sound Archives