17
Jun 10

THE TIMELORDS – “Doctorin The Tardis”

Popular101 comments • 14,242 views

#610, 18th June 1988, video

The Manual – the book Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty wrote after this record went to #1 – is an essential read. It tells you a lot about the music business in the late 80s, a bit about the country in the late 80s, and it has many sharp things to say about Number Ones and their qualities. Plenty of glib things too, but entertainingly glib. You can get a PDF of it here and anyone with an interest in this site who hasn’t read it should prepare themselves for an enjoyable and sometimes infuriating hour or so.

About the only thing it won’t tell you much about is this actual record. When introducing their “Golden Rules” the Timelords gleefully admit that “Doctorin’ The Tardis” is an exception to almost all of them. Use the latest house beat! They don’t, they go for an old Gary Glitter rhythm. Have a straightforward title! Theirs is a pun. Make the lyrics universal! Oh, come on. No, the hit may have given them the excuse to write a book but it barely even pretends to work as rationalisation: this is a banging novelty record and doubtless put together with no more or less cynicism and excitement than these things ever are.

That’s not to say their instincts weren’t sound. “Doctorin’ The Tardis” wasn’t the first recent attempt at doing a Doctor Who novelty record. Hi-NRG producer and big-time fan Ian Levine, a man not without hitmaking experience, had made an effort a couple of years before with “Doctor In Distress”, a song protesting the show’s then impending cancellation. This was a mortifying flop: Levine cared way too much and the public cared way too little. So even though Doctor Who was still limping on by the time Drummond and Cauty made “Doctorin'”, the record uses it without having anything to do with it*.

To understand this, imagine a Doctor Who equivalent of “Star Trekkin” – lots of jokes about stairs, scarves and screaming. I might have thought it was quite funny (I’m a Who fan, as you’re probably realising) but it wouldn’t have been nearly as good as this. There’s only one actual gag in “Tardis” – the Daleks grating “Dosh Dosh Dosh! Loadsamoney” – the rest is straight-ahead dumb high-impact pop, and works because it takes only the most iconic sounds from Doctor Who and uses them with almost no reference to the show. Dalek voices, of course. The wheezing, groaning sound of a TARDIS landing. The imploding cliffhanger noise. The theme tune’s hook – using Ron Grainer’s synthed-up 1980 arrangement rather than the eerie wobble of Delia Derbyshire’s original. That bassline – the theme’s secret weapon (if only someone would let Murray bloody Gold know it…)

Ahem. The Timelords mix this stuff in with the pop sounds of 1974, the year of glam rock and Davros, scarves on the Rollers and scarves on the new Doctor, glitterbeat and “Blockbuster” airhorns. It’s a companion piece to “Theme From S’Express” in that sense and just as good – part of the same rediscovery of the 70s, beckoning the boy gangs of yobs and nerds onto the dancefloor, the ones Mark Moore didn’t invite to his party. You could put it in a line of descent from “Hoots Mon” and “Mouldy Old Dough” too – novelty monsters which catch a time more truly than some of the serious songs do.

Can I separate my love of this record from my Who fandom? Not really: at Poptimism in 2005, the night before the series came back, we played it – we had to – and Steve mixed it in with a 1998 number one by a future Doctor Who star. It was a great moment. But maybe I can separate it – the moment worked not just because we were excited about the show’s return, but because the novelty record and the teenpop track worked superbly together. I like to think I’d enjoy “Doctorin’ The Tardis” if I’d never watched a minute of Doctor Who.

*(or only in this sense: sampling – the engine of the JAMMS’ work and the presiding spirit of The Manual – is time travel, fishing sounds out of the past and casting them into the future. And more: every sample works like a TARDIS, a few bars of music which when you open them up are far bigger on the inside, gateways to new songs and worlds if you’re willing to make the trip.)

9

Comments

  1. 1
    Nicole on 17 Jun 2010 #

    For a long time I thought “Doctorin the Tardis” was the actual theme to the show, and was confused in 2005 to discover that it was not!

  2. 2
    punctum on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Where the initial wave of New Pop sought to question and remodel the style and content of a pop song, its not entirely unexpected second wave launched an assault on form – what exactly constitutes a “pop song,” how should it develop (or should it even need to develop?), what is the relationship between a song and the record on which it is pressed, should its sociopolitical ramifications determine form and content, or should the former naturally arise from the latter?

    Three years of tiring Soul, Passion and Honesty would suggest that the latter was a far more viable course for pop to take, and it was right that the new wave should not only arise in tandem with, but also take full advantage of, developments in contemporary dance music. “Doctorin’ The House” bears the same relation to Chicago House as Lennon’s “Twist And Shout” does to “La Bamba”; through choice and circumstances, something new has accidentally, or not so accidentally, been invented.

    What do you mean, Chicago House? It’s Glitterbeat! Well, “Doctorin’ The Tardis” also began life as a House record, or at least an attempt to make a House hit out of the Doctor Who theme, though the KLF quickly realised that its triplet structure would be far more amenable to what we now know as a schaffel beat, and in particular that pioneered by Gary Glitter and Mike Leander (which latter, as has already been noted, did the string arrangement for the Beatles’ original “She’s Leaving Home”) on 1972’s shattering minimalist archaeology-to-make-the-future masterpiece “Rock ‘N’ Roll Part 2.” It remains unclear whether the concept for The Manual had been thought through before they made the record or whether it was written as a conceptual afterthought, but after a year of (glorious) limited edition Situationist sniping (all based on deep, deep love) they fancied a proper mainstream hit record.

    They approached it in exactly the same way as Bickerton and Waddington had approached “Sugar Baby Love,” and it was only fitting that several Rubettes, most notably keyboardist-turned-programmer Nick Coler, were on hand to assist Drummond and Cauty; carefully surveying the trends of the moment (spring 1988) with seventies revivalism poised to take its first tentative stranglehold they pieced together elements of Glitter, Doctor Who (which itself was about to enter its seemingly terminal Sylvester McCoy period at this stage), the Sweet’s “Blockbuster,” Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney and even the shortly-to-be-late Steve Walsh’s “You what?” war cry and credited the single to a 1968 Ford Galaxy car complete with police siren – the third non-human number one single, in the wake of the Archies and Spitting Image.

    The single was fiendishly clever and fearsomely catchy. Note how Drummond and Cauty use the “Loadsamoney” and “Exterminate!” memes as a springboard for a telling critique of Thatcherism and the yuppies who worshipped at its soiled shrine (“We obey no one! We are the superior beings!”) – and the sight of Bill Drummond’s unquestionably mad eyes glaring from beneath his top hat on TOTP is unlikely ever to be shifted from my memory – while simultaneously celebrating the trash which was always art. Eventually a “Gary In The Tardis” remix featuring the double G himself appeared, and Glitter even guested with the Timelords (now hooded in monks’ cowls) on TOTP the week they went to number one (remember, at this stage Glitter was still a cherished national treasure). The scene liable to celebrate or eat itself? Who cared? Edelweiss, Kon Kan, Scooter, even Xenomania…the post-Manual list continues to flourish.

    As a straightforward novelty single in the lineage of “Star Trekkin’,” “Doctorin’ The Tardis” would scarcely be worth further comment…and yet it was as uncompromising an assault on the concept of the “pop song” and “pop record” as “God Save The Queen,” and from its pores seep an instinctive understanding of the inherent magic of the pop record, what can be done to and with it in the right (or wrong!) circumstances and how deeply it can affect someone else’s world.

  3. 3
    lonepilgrim on 17 Jun 2010 #

    wonderful sensory overload – whereas S’Express had been achingly hip in its 70s referencing this was gloriously uncool and somehow even hipper as a result.
    it’s perhaps a sign of how little the BBC valued Dr Who that they allowed the KLF to ‘adapt’ its theme tune – I can’t imagine them being so relaxed about it now.
    the video is a delightful celebration of a uk punk diy aesthetic – particularly the shot where you see a pair of feet beneath the dalek – but with its shots of Stonehenge, Avebury and decaying airfields and pillboxes suggests hauntography avant la lettre.

  4. 4
    Rory on 17 Jun 2010 #

    [Right, posting this pre-written comment before even reading anyone else’s!]

    I’d always assumed that this was one of those songs that everyone loved, so was surprised to learn from Wikipedia that the critics reviled it at the time, as if it were a novelty track as execrable as ‘Star Trekkin’. They got it wrong, wrong, wrong, but it’s not that hard to guess why. Critics of 1988 would have been of an age to remember Gary Glitter from first time round, and must have considered him a has-been hardly worth reviving; and they must have been too old to be going through the throes of intense Doctor Who disappointment.

    On the first point, I had no prior exposure to Gary in 1988, and loved the supremely chantable and danceable glam of this. And on the second…

    Doctor Who was one of the cornerstones of my TV-watching childhood; some of my earliest telly memories are of Jon Pertwee whizzing around on his yellow hovercraft, and Tom Baker was like Olivier playing Lear to me. Even when Peter Davison took over, I stayed keen, enjoying his run as much as any from the recent revival. And then came the 18-month hiatus in Colin Baker’s tenure, which broke the spell. The ABC, which had repeated the Pertwee and Tom Baker Whos endlessly, never repeated Colin Baker’s, most of which I’ve still never seen; and by the time they reached McCoy’s, those only got a single outing as well. I caught a few of the early McCoys and felt they had gone seriously downhill; apparently they improved, but by then I’d moved on.

    So by 1988, I (like many others, no doubt) was ripe for nostalgia for the good old days of Who. And not just the actors, but the music. By Doctors six and seven, the tinkering with the theme that started with Davison’s Doctor had got out of control, with the results now sounding badly dated in a way that the earlier themes never will, because they were so orthogonal to their times. My canonical Who themes were the modified Delia Derbyshire ones of Pertwee and Tom Baker, which you can compare with the others here. That’s what I wanted to hear.

    And thanks to “Doctorin’ the Tardis”, which I helped send to number two in Australia, I could: the best Doctor Who theme merged with superior glam, with the very best Who monsters over the top. And not only were the juxtaposed results fun, they were funny. Electronic chants of “do what” and “dosh, dosh, dosh, loadsamoney” may not have been the height of Dalek-inspired humour, but until Mark Gatiss contrived to have a Dalek asking “would – you – like – a – cup – of – tea” earlier this year they were the best we had, at least on an actual recorded product rather than in a playground game. Not an official product, true, but then the unofficialness of “Doctorin’ the Tardis” was part of its charm: a song ostensibly recorded by a car, Ford Timelord (shades of Hitchhiker’s Ford Prefect), shown in the video mowing down Daleks cobbled together out of cardboard.

    We didn’t know it then, but this was the first mash-up to reach number one, a direct ancestor of the DIY marvels of “A Stroke of Genie-us” and “Marshall’s Been Snookered”, and for that alone it’s a landmark. It’s also, of course, effectively the first number one by the KLF, and was the inspiration for Drummond and Cauty’s notorious Manual about blagging your way to number one. The song’s creators apparently don’t rate it either, but all that tells you is that artists aren’t always the best judges of their own work: “Doctorin’ the Tardis” was brilliant then and remains brilliant now, a perfect melding of its excellent parts, and I’m always happy to hear it. The only reason I’m not giving it 10 is that I know that some people aren’t fans of the show and might not…

    Oh, sod it: 10. Here, have a jellybaby.

  5. 5
    Rory on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Aha. So it uses the 1980 theme? The mashing-up deceived me. Oh well, near enough.

    And Gary was a national treasure in the UK at the time, eh? Fair enough. I would have thought his music in 1988 would have been smack in that zone of being too recent to be retro and too old to be cool — like Britpop today. But then I was on the other side of the world.

  6. 6
    flahr on 17 Jun 2010 #

    I don’t think the link to The Manual is working.

    (incisive musical comment from flahr)

    EDIT: and of course immediately after posting that I try it again and it works perfectly :P Move along, nothing to see here…

  7. 7
    Rory on 17 Jun 2010 #

    I just re-listened to “Doctorin’ the Tardis” and Who themes numbers 3, 4, and 5 from that link I gave, and it sounds as if Drummond and Cauty didn’t actually use any of the actual recordings – they must have recorded their own. It has elements of five, but has the clearer synth line of the earlier ones, but isn’t exactly like any of them. So much for the “mash-up” theory – all my long-held assumptions are biting the dust!

  8. 8
    swanstep on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Best novelty record ever? I’m not qualified to judge really, but my sense is that it should be a contender. (Doctorin’ spent three weeks at #1 in Dr Who-besotted NZ.)

    The *sounds* of sci-fi from Forbidden Planet through to Star Wars were often a lot more convincing than the visual fx (particularly on tv, with much smaller budgets). Dr Who had some great sounds, of course, but the record’s putting together *that* credits-opening filter-swept sound with the Tardis’s own roar, with (Frankie-like) sirens, with the glam beat and that bass-line is inspired. The first 30-40 seconds of this track are head-snapping and thrilling in equal measure. Nerds… er, everyone, please report to the dance-floor.

    It’s worthwhile comparing this effort to Def Leppard’s very corporate-feeling, 1974-pastiche Rocket, which was a huge album track at the same time (it became something like the sixth single and vid. off Hysteria in early 1989 IIRC – boy did that album sell and sell). It’s efficient enough, but hardly inspires the affection that Doctorin’ does:
    8 (a bit lower score than most others here, but still easily my highest score for 1988 so far)

    p.s. I’m looking forward to reading The Manual (which is new to me). Thanks for the link.

  9. 9
    flahr on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Well, I’ve listened to it now. It’s certainly enjoyable – I’m not sure, thinking about, how much of its getting to Number One was the work of the KLF and how much was just British affection for the theme itself and anything that sounded like it – but I can’t quite get anything more than that out of it. Lacking a certain spark for me; a 7 I guess.

    Straight in, incidentally, at #2 on the FT All-Time Popular Readers’ Chart. Impressive – and of course a vehicle for inappropriate comparisons to “I Feel Love”, if anyone wants to try it.

  10. 10
    Jezza on 17 Jun 2010 #

    The problem with ‘The Manual’ is that Bill Drummond mortgaged his house previously to pay for a record. He also had a lot of experience in the music industry. So the book is somewhat dishonest. Yes, you can have a No.1 hit, but you have to have a background in classical piano (Edelweiss), OR friends in the music business (S Express), OR a house to mortgage (Bill Drummond).

  11. 11
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Has anyone else actually HAD a number one simply by following the Manual? Has anyone else tried?

  12. 12
    Rory on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Listening to the 12″ mix just now, which I’d never heard before, I’m noticing a subliminal similarity in some of the guitar sounds to certain Martian noises on Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds.

  13. 13
    thefatgit on 17 Jun 2010 #

    I am now absolutely convinced that Bill Drummond is the Marcel Duchamp of pop. Best. Novelty. Record. Ever.

  14. 14
    MikeMCSG on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Sorry to be pedantic Tom but Davros didn’t appear until “Genesis Of The Daleks” which was broadcast in 1975 !

    This is I think the last novelty number one not to be tied into Comic Relief or an official spinoff from a TV series.

    The theme had been a hit before in a discofied version by Mankind in 1978 so this felt a bit second hand to me. Plus the whole police car concept grated on me; I have a low tolerance of that sort of art school humour.

    # 10 You’re right Jezza , Bill Drummond was hardly a fresh-faced youngster. In fact he continued a remarkable sequence of number ones from the former members of long-forgotten Liverpool band Big In Japan (who only recorded about a dozen tracks) which will finally be completed when we get to 1996.

  15. 15
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #14 Aargh! You’re right! ’74 is the last Pertwee season isn’t it? Another one for the eventual rewrites file. :)

  16. 16
    Elsa on 18 Jun 2010 #

    It sounds quite a bit like Blondie’s “Call Me,” which a surprising number of people were unimpressed with on the “What Decade is Tops” board.

  17. 17
    lockedintheattic on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #11 well Edelweiss did (in Austria & Germany & Switzerland & Holland anyway – it only got to number 5 here in the UK)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLVIICWRbjM

    one of the joyhs of popular is discovering via links that one of the people behind Edelweiss went on to create the annoying Intel jingle

  18. 18
    swanstep on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Have just checked out the Mankind (1978) disco version of the Who theme on youtube (both 7″ and 12″ mixes), and to me it’s not a patch on the Timelords (I tend to think that the organic feel of late ’70s disco just isn’t what the track needs, but some studio great from the period like Bohannon or Edwin Birdsong or Moroder or Chic or Quincy Jones might have been able to stiffen everything up sufficiently I suppose). I’ve loved the TOTP Timelords stuff I’ve been able to find on youtube: Daleks ‘playing’ keyboards, very droll. If you’re a novelty you have to commit to your novel concept, and I think these guys did.

  19. 19
    Elsa on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Records this is better than, according to Tom: She Loves You, You Really Got Me, Mr. Tambourine Man, Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Sunny Afternoon, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Hey Jude, Honky Tonk Women, Bad Moon Rising (…and that’s just the ’60s).

  20. 20
    punctum on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Shows you how good it is!

    #10: probably, but, as I said in my original post, who cared? It was about the spectacle, the gesture. Also, and most importantly, it was a Good Story!

  21. 21
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Once again I am delighted by my own consistency! I get more enjoyment out of this record than any of those, for certain.

  22. 22
    rosie on 18 Jun 2010 #

    I know the scoring system was meant to be a bit of fun, but it’s become meaningless for me now. Tom’s objectivity is slipping. No collage of electronic noises is permitted to be less than a 9!

  23. 23
    Stevie on 18 Jun 2010 #

    I have probably related this before, but at the very first ILx Picnic In The Sky I was struck by the sight of several of the Freaky Trigger crew merrily stomping around in a circle to Daft Punk’s “One More Time”. I racked my brain to remember what this spectacle reminded me of. Only several years later did I realise it was the time in 1988 I went out for a drink with my college friend Alan – now a leading Whovian – who, unbeknownst to me, had also invited the local chapter of DWAS. They proceeded to put “Doctorin’ the Tardis” on repeat on the pub jukebox and bash the table with nerdy glee each time it came on.

  24. 24
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 18 Jun 2010 #

    There was something strangely nu-whovian abt the ILx Picnic In The Sky*: location AND attendees!

  25. 25
    Mike Atkinson on 18 Jun 2010 #

    I can’t take Drummond’s claims in The Manual any more seriously than McLaren’s claims in The Great Rock & Roll Swindle. Both are the work of a couple of situationist chancers who fluked it – albeit brilliantly, and The Manual is still a great read – and who then tried to claim that it had been a meticulously conceived masterplan all along. Yeah, right!

    The JAMMs/KLF had been one of my pet acts for the past year, ever since I took a random punt on their debut single “All You Need Is Love”. Every couple of months or so, an unadvertised 12″ would appear in the new release racks at Selectadisc – “Burn The Bastards”, “Downtown”, “Whitney Joins The JAMs”, Disco 2000’s “I Gotta CD” and “One Love Nation” – and I’d snap them all up, fascinated by their surreal inventiveness and unpredictability. Thanks to its heavy sampling on “The Queen And I” from the debut JAMMs album 1987 – What The Fuck Is Going On, I had started playing Abba’s “Dancing Queen” in my sets, only to discover that it filled the floor every time. (I once got as far as cueing up “The Queen And I” on the second turntable, only to wimp out with seconds to spare.)

    Although it pleased me that “Doctorin The Tardis” stormed the charts, and although I enjoyed the novelty while it lasted, this was still my least favourite KLF single to date: barring the bosh-bosh-loadsamoney Daleks, it was all just a bit too obvious. Once you’d got the joke, that was pretty much that. No abiding resonance, darlings. And as far as I was concerned, there were plenty of other acts using samples with a lot more creativity and flair. (We’ve had a couple of them on Popular already.)

    So, yeah, basically I’m the annoying “I was there FIRST!” indie snob with regard to this one. Sorry about that!

  26. 26
    vinylscot on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Have to agree with the slightly less than entusiastic posters. This was fun, not genius. It happened to strike a chord, and good luck to them for that, but, really, endowing this with any deeper significance is stretching things more than a little.

    ..and I’m with rosie on the scoring – I know the marking is personal, but all objectivity has gone now. Many of the more recent (ridiculously high) marks are unfortunately devaluing the whole project.

  27. 27
    punctum on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #22: Where has Tom ever said anything on Popular about “objectivity”?

  28. 28
    rosie on 18 Jun 2010 #

    @27: I don’t know if Tom has ever said anything about being objective, but he used to be bloody good at it when critiquing the pop from before his time.

  29. 29
    LondonLee on 18 Jun 2010 #

    File me under the “fun, not genius” camp with this one too. Conceptual/performance art is all well and good but I’m always bothered by art that needs an accompanying essay to explain it. Drummond might well be the Duchamp of pop but what does that mean really? That pop is so easy (and the audience/critics so gullible) any thrown-together silliness (or signed urinal) can get to #1? I know that’s probably true but it’s very cynical, no?

  30. 30
    lonepilgrim on 18 Jun 2010 #

    i’m not sure that it’s worth, let alone possible, to be ‘objective’ about pop

  31. 31
    will on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Foot-stompin’, air punchin’ fun. How many other novelty records have lasted as well as this?

  32. 32
    punctum on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #29: The answer is (pace Todd Levin): “I could have done this! BUT YOU DIDN’T”

    #31 is also a pretty decent answer.

  33. 33
    Steve Mannion on 18 Jun 2010 #

    The Timelords gave the best TOTP performance I saw from anyone this decade. Mind you I might’ve said the same about Harry Enfield a few weeks prior, at the time.

    Gave this a 10, instinctively. I can’t think of any meaningful problems with it and its success in context (and my own context bearing in mind how I feel about ‘plunderphonics’ generally) is as great an advert for both the UK and its charts as you could get.

    People complaining about the ratings need to get over themselves, frankly. It was never objective, thankfully!

  34. 34
    pink champale on 18 Jun 2010 #

    hmm. i do wonder whether i would think less of this if it wasn’t by who it was by and so didn’t have that extra aura that they give everything they do. i think might (though not much, i liked it just fine in 1988 when i’d never heard of the jamms), but the point is it *is* by who it’s by – giving a record a little extra credit because you like the makers’ conceptual tomfoolery is just a much as a valid pop reaction as liking westlife records more because you fancy…[here i realise i don’t know the names of any of westlife]…er, billy?

    or to put it another way, there may be nothing except the text, but in pop, the text is just as much the singers’ haircut as his lyrics.

  35. 35
    vinylscot on 18 Jun 2010 #

    OK, maybe “objective” is too strong a word…. and I understand it’s natural that Tom will have a “golden age”, but I do find it difficult to tell if he’s being serious, or just having a laugh with some of the more recent entries.

    As Tom’s marks have been getting higher, so unfortunately has the standard of his writing descended from the well-crafted, insightful, informative pieces he used to post, to some recent pieces which come over as little more than adolescent fanboy-ism.

    I know many of you will rush to defend him, as so many of you are acquainted with each other, and maybe have Tom’s “golden age” in common, but I’m entitled to my opinion, and from reading the last few #1s it would seem that I’m not alone… and don’t just state that I couldn’t do any better. I know that, but I’m not the one posting reviews and asking for comments.

  36. 36
    Steve Mannion on 18 Jun 2010 #

    You could always start a blog where you review each of Tom’s reviews and mark them out of 10 (I jest..OR DO I?!).

  37. 37
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Well, obviously I’m sorry if people feel the standard of the writing has slipped! That and the comments are the main things I worry about, and I have my own opinion on how well things are going. Some of the 50s and 60s entries are piffle, for instance.

    As for the marks, of course I never claimed to be objective, but I feel I’ve always been consistent. The pop music I generally love most is rooted in disco, house and hip-hop – this has been the case for the last 15 years or so. I could have telegraphed this back when I was writing about the 50s and 60s, but why? I like that music too, after all – just not as much.

    I don’t think a 9 for this is remotely inconsistent with a 9 for Lord Rockingham’s XI back in 1958, though.

  38. 38
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    (BTW much like Vinylscot I don’t want a rush of defenders here either. If you like the writing keep reading. If not, don’t.)

  39. 39
    Tracer Hand on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Even if this review were nothing but the bit in italics at the end it would be a brilliant review.

  40. 40
    Tracer Hand on 18 Jun 2010 #

    (Sorry Tom)

  41. 41
    pink champale on 18 Jun 2010 #

    actually, i expressed that badly in #34. it’s not that i the timelords ‘extra credit’ about anything, it’s that my enjoyment of their highbrow larking about is just as intrinsic to the pleasure i get from the record as any of the musical elements. i dunno, that’s not really it either. maybe it’s that westlife fans, don’t think westlife records are awful but they is fit, or westlife records are good *because* they is fit, they think westlife records are good and westlife is fit and there is no division between the two. or to put it yet another way, no one’s lying when ugly boybands get screamed at too.

    i certainly haven’t noticed any drop off in popular quality, recent entries have been great as always. there does seem to be a feeling though that these recent records do mark a real dividing line, with people on the wrong side feeling that there the only ones who can see the emperor has no clothes. if you’re feeling that, you’re bound to be less impressed with well written articles on the width of his trousers. full disclosure: i don’t know tom or anyone else here.

  42. 42
    pink champale on 18 Jun 2010 #

    er yeah, sorry for the defence!

  43. 43
    Kat but logged out innit on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Easy 9! Automatic 6 for anything involving Bill Drummond + 2 for excellent Doctor Who interpolation + 1 for Glitter chanting.

  44. 44
    thefatgit on 18 Jun 2010 #

    “Fanboy-ism”. You have to be a bit of a fanboy to get a project like this off the ground in the first place. And here we seem to have 2 subjects which Tom cares deeply about:
    a) Doctor Who
    b) The KLF

    There were bound to be incidents like this along the way. And did he not warn us beforehand about the late 80’s being a particularly significant passage in pop? Is he not allowed to be enthusiatic about his “Golden Age”?

    I think Tom should be awarded a sizeable slice of slack here.

  45. 45
    thefatgit on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Ooops!

  46. 46
    Steve Mannion on 18 Jun 2010 #

    I’d love to ban the word ‘fanboy’. Whatever was wrong with ‘fanatic’?! Not a dig at you tho fatgit, jus saying…

  47. 47
    MBI on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Far more interesting to talk about than to actually listen to. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to sit down and hear this, and I have trouble discerning while stupid sci-fi fanboy injokes are so unpalatable as a series of vocal impressions but so amazing as a series of samples.

  48. 48
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #47 – I had a pop at explaining that in the review. They aren’t (just) injokes, they’re being used as sample sources – it’s the pop, not the joke, potential that’s being mined. The “we obey no-one” section is doing the same work as a line of kung-fu dialogue in a Wu Tang Clan track (say).

  49. 49
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Actually a better example – there’s a terrific old jungle track called “Scottie” which is built on old Star Trek samples (IIRC a redshirt death scene and some Kirk/Scottie dialogue), and much nearer to this record than to Star Trekkin’. The samples are there as memory-triggers but they also serve a point within the structure of the track, ramping up the paranoia/tension/excitement.

    This is kind of the first Toytown Techno record in fact, in that it’s using chunks of cultural stuff as rush-inducers as well as “do you remember” jokes.

  50. 50
    punctum on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Given how long Popular’s being going and the amount of time certain regulars have spent here it’s amazing how many people still don’t get it.

    In the Oxfam branch which Lena helps run there is currently a well-worn copy of Guinness’ 500 Number One Hits book from 1982. Each of the 500 entries sums up all the relevant information pertaining to each chart-topper and in terms of opinion doesn’t deviate from received views. The book is objective, confirmatory, non-judgmental and utterly boring and dead to read. I’m pretty sure someone else did a 1000 Number One Hits update and that was just as bad if not worse.

    I mean, there are plenty of websites, many of which Tom links to here, which will give you all the information you need about number one hits and agree with your views rather than challenge them, if that’s all you want. I’m not saying I’m going to go all batshit teenage fanboy when Then Play Long gets to “my time” but if I feel like it I might, and, as stated above, other websites are available for those who don’t want to read me. I’d rather jump from a twentieth-floor window than read most of them and be bored to death but perhaps that’s just me.

    For sure let’s all applaud the salutary “objectivity” of, say, Charlie Gillett’s Sound Of The City – and for those new to the book, it’s a cracking read, tells you the facts and the history in a way that turns it into a good story rather than a dry, dusty recital from the lectern – but you need the jive nutbagisms of Nik Cohn’s AWopBopALooBopALopBamBoom to balance out the picture and in fact make the music live and breathe. Just like I wouldn’t want a world with either Max Harrison or Frank Kofsky in it; you need them both.

    Really, though, great music writing is almost by definition unhinged. It’s about twisting history to fit your visions (while at the same time doing due service to the music, a balancing act that’s way more difficult than it looks but Tom generally carries it off pretty damn well), it’s about unearthing ghosts, spotting lights that might lead to an unexpected future, about celebrating the body of the music and the writer’s direct relationship to it – and most importantly of all, it’s about the ability to communicate all of this in a way that is both captivating and profound (especially if you intend neither). As soon as you try to put up any sort of Customs gate or border patrol – boo, Tom likes the Timelords more than he does the Respected Relics of Rock, ‘snot fair, does he not know that Keith Elmore Muddy etc. – then music writing dies. Immediately.

    TPL – again, an expressly subjective project which does its best to look at well-known and not so well-known records from a different angle – regularly receives dreary comments (all of which routinely go on the spike) from people who feel that they’re “entitled to their opinion.” I’m no Tory and I’m not necessarily having a go at VS here but I totally agree with what DavyCam said when he took over about the need for people to think less about “entitlement” and more about their responsibilities. If you’re not “getting” Popular then that’s your affair, but it’s grossly unfair to deride something which has from the word go expressly been a personal project – “marked on whim,” as it says at the top of this page – simply because it’s not reiterating the received history of pop in a way that you find palatable. For me Tom’s writing does make this “old” music live and breathe, and that’s got to be better than simply snoozing everyone into the grave with what we already know about The Beatles And The Stones And Cetera. When that happens, both music and music writing are fit only for the life support machine.

  51. 51
    Rory on 18 Jun 2010 #

    There are precisely two songs by the KLF that I love: this, and “America: What Time is Love?” (i.e. not the bunnied one). I don’t even own The White Room, and 1987 leaves me cold. My enthusiastic response to this song derives from what I perceive as its merits. True, some of those merits stem from being a lifelong Doctor Who viewer, which is why I almost gave it 9 to account for the fact that not everyone is; but then I caught myself and thought, “Why am I trying to take other people’s potential problems with this into account? Since when is my mark supposed to be objective?” So my own 10 is as subjective as they come. If the average score ends up at 6 or 7 I’ll have no problem with that at all. And I can’t see how Tom, or any one of us, could play it any differently.

    One of my favourite songs of last year was Muse’s “Uprising”, which bears more than a passing resemblance to this. I just love the danceable guitar/SF-synth combo, it’s as simple as that. Maybe that dates me. Actually, scratch that: inevitably that dates me.

  52. 52
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    re. The KLF – we’ll have another chance to discuss them but this is up with their best stuff for me: it’s the natural bridge between “Whitney Joins The JAMs” and the more polished stadium house stuff.

  53. 53
    punctum on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #51: Completely agree with Rory re. “Uprising,” my favourite song of 2009 and this is one of the reasons why.

  54. 54
    MikeMCSG on 18 Jun 2010 #

    # 50 I shouldn’t really agree with you about 1000 Number One Hits, MC, since one of the authors is a friend of mine and got me on the TV a couple of years back but you do have a point. It’s also riddled with mistakes which I told him !

    Do we take it that Tom is no longer one of those people in marketing who shouldn’t write about pop music then ? :-)

  55. 55
    Steve Mannion on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #49 best of all you could mix the ‘Scottie’ track with the v similar one using “Johnny!” samples in exactly the same way. i think there might’ve been a “Ricky!” one too – no, not sampling Frank Butcher…

    Doctor Who samples in ardkore too natch, but the only one I remember is Boom Town’s (future Who episode title!) ‘Return Of The Doctor’ because they played a clip of it on Dance Energy.

  56. 56
    punctum on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Amazing how many punters read that Minstrel post. You’re right, though; the comment was unfair, I was annoyed at the time for well-documented reasons and I’ve just amended it accordingly.

  57. 57
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Quite right too – I no longer, strictly speaking, work in marketing ;)

    Re. #50 – thanks.

  58. 58
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #57 There is also a Dr Who sample (from “Logopolis”) on a 1993 track by D-Generation, featuring the blogger latterly known as K-Punk.

  59. 59
    anto on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Fun but I much prefer Cauty and Drummonds had other number one.

  60. 60
    vinylscot on 18 Jun 2010 #

    But what Marcello fails to acknowledge is that by inviting comments you invite criticism. I don’t know Tom personally, but I don’t imagine he and I will fall out about this.

    But I see where you’re coming from – I’m with you on the Gillett/Cohn thing – I first came across Gillett’s work in the Rock File books when I was about twelve – they filled in a lot of the gaps.

    And Cohn’s “nutbagism” is what makes the book – PJ Proby? really?

    ..but where I deviate from Tom’s pieces on #1s around this time is not really that I don’t like the records; it’s that Tom’s pieces, to me anyway, seem to be (slightly pained) attempts to elevate these records to unwarranted heights in both quality and importance. Yes, he’s now writing about an era which means more to him, so he’s bound to be more knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but that doesn’t mean his writing is better, or that I should agree with it.

    I know Tom’s never claimed this as an exercise in objectivity, but from following Popular for a couple of years now, I did think he would try to retain credibility. I, personally, believe he is in danger of losing that if he continues with the rather OTT marking which has become the norm of late. It’s not just an age thing – I was, admittedly, an old man of twenty-seven by the time this came out, but I certainly hadn’t lost my fondness/obsession with chart music by this point – there’s a few years left in me yet, and I rather think Tom and I will be agreeing about a good few more in the future (not that agreement should particularly matter to either of us.)

    Anyway, have a good weekend. I’m going home now.

  61. 61
    Tracer Hand on 18 Jun 2010 #

    It’s funny – in a certain set this record is as canonical as it gets (charts gate-crashed and subverted HURRAH)

    Surprised the teeth-gnashing isn’t coming more from the other direction, tbh (“Only a 9???!!! Given everything this record represents???!!!”)

  62. 62
    Steve Mannion on 18 Jun 2010 #

    The onus is on you to argue why/how the marking is OTT tho. I don’t really like ‘Mouldy Old Dough’, I just think it’s funny and interesting that it was a #1 hit. Even if I hated the record, which I don’t, I wouldn’t feel like its high score undermined the project at all. Same applies to the late 80s dance hits…tho I admit here there’s probably a lack of (interest in) discernment. But no way could I love e.g. M/A/R/R/S and not love S Express and it surprises me that anyone would (as opposed to just hating both which is understandable but imo undesirable).

  63. 63
    MBI on 18 Jun 2010 #

    “I had a pop at explaining that in the review. ”

    Yeah, sorry, I know you did, I don’t want to seem like I’m not reading these reviews, I’m just saying that your perception just doesn’t have much to do with my own. And yes, the idea that you’re supposed to review these things “objectively” is a rotten and moronic one — if you think this song is a 9, by God, it’s a 9.

    But for me — this is one of those things where I guess you had to be there. I’ve grown up in the age of Youtube, I can find hundreds of dance remixes of silly phrases and statements anywhere. It’s a novelty record whose novelty passed me by long before I was even aware of music. (And I’ve never watched any Doctor Who.) I can’t imagine holding this on the level of Pump Up the Volume or Jack Your Body.

  64. 64
    Billy Smart on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Hm, Doctor Who + KLF only = the best record in the world imaginable in theory for me, I’m afraid. The best bit is when the theme tune stings, Glitter beats and the Mu Mu chants combine – not uncoincidentally the bit which sounds most like the KLF of 1991. The things that irritate me about it are all vocal, especially the Steve Walsh and Harry Enfield novelty bits that tie the record into Spring 1988 specifics now, and felt gratuitous at the time to me.

    My 1988 reaction was primarily pleasure that anything Doctor Who related was gaining public approval, and relief that this was clearly no Star Trekkin’-style abomination. But if you were to have told me that the makers of this single were shortly about to become the greatest pop phenomena of their age I would have been astonished.

    Retrospectively, the single works best for me as a public reaffirmation of affection for Doctor Who, at just about its lowest ebb in the first Sylvester McCoy season of 1987. What nobody else has yet said was that Doctorin’ the TARDIS can be heard as is a clarion call for the last two seasons of the original Doctor Who, when it suddenly got really good again in a way that was seriously ahead of its time. Its just a shame that no-one was watching any more by that stage.

  65. 65
    Tom on 18 Jun 2010 #

    #63 – this is a really good point. I think I touched on this a bit in the MARRS review: I’m of the generation which was all “HOLY SHIT” about samplers and mash-ups (in the same way that there is still something a little awesome for me about just THE IDEA of a videogame) and a little of that stardust has clearly remained, whereas yeah for someone a bit younger you’d definitely be into “so what” territory, even without Dr Who agnosticism.

  66. 66
    rosie on 18 Jun 2010 #

    @50: Daft old bat here. ;) I don’t do “received wisdom”, I do how it grabs me. There has been more than one occasion when I have gone against the received wisdom. I might mention a certain fad of the mid 1970s to be getting along with. Nor is it me who invokes the names of apparently God-like pundits from the NME, Village Voice or whatever in support of what I have to say. I seldom read such things even in my own pop heyday and their names are unfamiliar to me. Except of course that of Ms Julie Burchill, whom I detest!

  67. 67
    Billy Smart on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Re: 66. The reason why some of us occasionally refer to music journalism that we remember is that it provides us with an interesting insight into how these records were heard at the time and the wider debates and arguments within pop culture that they fed into. They rarely seem to be deployed as divine citations to bolster our own theses. And being unfamiliar with something certainly doesn’t mean that it might not be of interest to me, or make me reconsider its meaning.

  68. 68
    thefatgit on 18 Jun 2010 #

    Isn’t it funny how records like this one or “Mouldy Old Dough” can split opinion, on the project as a whole?

    I thought DTT was immense fun at the time and still do. I think the Glam revival aspect sparked childhood memories, paired with Doctor Who created a perfect storm of infant nostalgia. Quite a revelation for someone pushing 22, trying to be a responsible adult. Those kind of feelings can blindside you, which definitely puts it up there as one of the most memorable records of 88 for sure. In a quite unexpected way, I was thinking about all the time wasted moving from school to school, having to catch up with the others and not knowing the value of stability until much later. That year I pushed for promotion at work and got it. IIRC, that summer was all about the Fanta Yo Yo and it was rarely out of my hand. So deep down I was still very much the manchild.

  69. 69
    swanstep on 18 Jun 2010 #

    One way of thinking about integer scores out of 10 is as, in part, a series of subjectivity-moderating, indifference self-tests: if score(x) = score(y) then you’re saying that you’re indifferent between a world without x (and all its consequences?) and a world without y (and all its consequences?) – one can also dramatize this as a matter of how one would stock the desert island’s ipod if one likes. [Of course there are many subtlely different self-tests of this sort that one can devise, any one of which might produce some artifacts.]

    At any rate, I find Tom’s scores hardest to bear when I don’t at bottom believe that he really *is* indifferent in the required ways. E.g., I don’t think that Tom’s really indifferent between a world without Grapevine or I Feel Love or Jumping Jack Flash or Into the Groove and a world without this nifty bit of fun from the Timelords.

    Unrelatedly, I have 8.5: 1 odds against England qualifying from their group. Looking good mateys. Come to papa, Wayne.

  70. 70
    Elsa on 19 Jun 2010 #

    Regarding #50 and the “Respected Relics of Rock,” I suppose I asked for that by tossing up a bunch of ’60s titles in the interests of perspective (is it OK to ask for “perspective” instead of “objectivity”?). But I don’t think it makes one a crusty rock person to raise an eyebrow at a rating such as the one here. I’ll have you know that, for me, the greatest record of the ’80s is “Planet Rock,” which like “Doctorin the Tardis” is based around musical quotes & aspires to anarchy. I just think that “Planet Rock” is much stronger, more exciting, and more revolutionary than “Tardis.” And better than many a ’60s rock classic too. Yes, maybe I should start my own blog & go on about this… but… I am curious, given that Tom says his tastes are grounded in disco & hip hop, what rating he would give “Planet Rock,” if it qualified for Popular. I don’t question the premise of this blog & agree that Tom should let his biases run wild, but if “Tardis” is a 9, it seem to me “Planet Rock” would break the scale. By the way, the second greatest record of the ’80s is “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam.

    I do want to say that I would rather read about the Doctor Who record, especially from someone who rates it, than read anything about “Mr. Tambourine Man” at this point. And as a regular reader of the amazing Then Play Long blog, my favorite pieces from over there were the ones about Ray Conniff and Andy Williams. Therefore I’m not a MOJOist, and I reckon not everyone who questions the genius of “Doctorin the Tardis” is either.

    One further question – and I hope this doesn’t make anyone angry – how did this record do in countries that don’t televise “Doctor Who”?

  71. 71
    flahr on 19 Jun 2010 #

    #69 touches on the relationship between how good something is and how important it is. One of the reasons rating this higher than say a 7 is difficult for me is because of how inconsequential it feels – M|A|R|R|S and S’Express, say, were groundbreaking, but this is just a bit glib – harmless fun, nothing more. Of course I reckon one of the points of poptimism is saying that a ‘guilty pleasure’ is in fact just a ‘pleasure’. (So in the end, my reason for not rating this higher than a 7 was because I realised that in probably a week I will have had my fill of this record and could happily never listen to it ever again, unlike the M|A|R|R|S or “Beat Dis”).

    I suspect that the ‘A World Without…’ test won’t get much approval from The Poptimists for that reason; it places how good a record’s influencees are almost above how important the record itself is. And I guess in this case it makes sense to agree with them ;)

    EDIT: I notice that The Great British Public had had their fill of it after a week too :)

    EDIT 2: Reading through The Manual now – I like the way that the book points out how this single fails to follow the process (the process they allegedly devised to propel it to the top!) at every stage. It’ll also be interesting to compare the KLF’s later singles to The Manual’s golden rules, especially of course “aaaargh hop hop hop

  72. 72
    Matthew on 19 Jun 2010 #

    I hated this, HATED THIS, as a 13-year-old in 1988, because I felt it was a cheap, demeaning rip-off of my favourite TV show at the time.

    22 years later, Doctor Who is still my favourite TV show, but now I think this single is fantastic. Teenagers are way too serious and stuck-up about things. Thank heavens I grew out of it!

  73. 73
    tonya on 19 Jun 2010 #

    To me this song IS the Dr. Who theme. In America, Doctor Who was only televised late at night on public tv stations, and the only people I knew who watched it were nerds who’d watch any and all sci fi. Rock and Roll Part 2 was well known, and starting to be played in sports arenas all over the country. When Doctorin’ the Tardis was on the radio I didn’t know which samples were Dr. Who, I assumed they all were. I also didn’t know the Timelords were the JAMMS/Drummond/Cauty. I loved the record on its own: the placement of “exterminate”, the silliness of the chant. When I hear the Dr. Who theme now my mind adds the Glitter parts.

  74. 74
    James K. on 20 Jun 2010 #

    Elsa: I’m pretty sure this record is completely unknown in the U.S., although I can’t find a record of its chart performance (or, more likely, lack thereof). After listening to it for the first time (as I just did), it is a bit hard to believe it could have made Number One in any country.

  75. 75
    sean on 21 Jun 2010 #

    I remember hearing this in the Eighties, but I can’t remember how popular it was here in the states. A friend of mine who was djing in clubs in ’88 said this played pretty well with crowds at the time, however.

  76. 76
    wichita lineman on 21 Jun 2010 #

    I was pleased for the folks who had released Whitney Joins the JAMMS (big indie club hit in Peterborough), but I’m afraid I saw it as too obvious in its source material to really enjoy. At this point, Bill Drummond was still the Teardrop Explodes/Echo & The Bunnymen manager to me, and I didn’t expect anything beyond slightly clunky but amusing novelty records from him in the future.

    Also, “the taaaar-DIS” is rotten scanning and an unnecessary fleshing out of the “doctor whooo-oo” hook (GG just repeated the bare bones “rock and roll” over and over and over, which somehow seems more KLF). Bring Me Edelweiss was way more off the wall than DTT (AND it followed the Manual rules!) though to my ears it doesn’t really stand up to repeated listening either.

    To defend the “cool” samples mentioned upthread on Theme From S’Express…. well, they weren’t really, were they? Basing a hit on Rose Royce’s (then) 9-year old hit Is It Love You’re After would be the equivalent of sampling something like Artful Dodger’s Movin’ Too Fast in 2010.

    Has anyone mentioned the chunks of Blockbuster in there? Is this the first number one to sample a previous number one?

  77. 77
    Steve Mannion on 21 Jun 2010 #

    There’s a certain ’96 #1 sampling a vocal hook from 11-12 years before…albeit by an act who’ve always had an odd relationship with ‘cool’.

  78. 78
    tonya on 21 Jun 2010 #

    #74, it was on the Modern Rock charts in the US in 1988. It was on the radio in San Francisco and I remember seeing the video on 120 Minutes.

  79. 79
    James K. on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Well, I stand corrected. I don’t think it’s very well-remembered today, but I could be wrong there as well.

  80. 80
    23 Daves on 22 Jun 2010 #

    This record actually got me into the KLF, causing me to buy the “Shag Times” compilation to find out more about them. I wasn’t enough of an NME or MM reader to have latched on to the hype surrounding them throughout 1987 (I was a Record Mirror man myself, one of a dwindling number) so was dimly aware of their work, rather than having actually heard much by them. I was immediately hooked by this, and to this day, barely a year goes past where I don’t dig the twelve inch single out from my collection and play it a fair few times. Successful novelty records are usually like a particularly explosive supernova form of pop, where the hooks, choruses and slogans are potent, repetitive and captivating for 2 or 3 listens, then tremendously wearing after that. That doesn’t apply in this instance – the glitter-beats still nag, and the ideas still charm. I would agree that its longevity has much in common with “Mouldy Old Dough” and “Hoots Mon” in that respect, two other novelty faves of mine.

    Sadly, a lot of the kids at my school despised this record. I would have been fifteen years old at the time, and many of my friends were rejecting the mainstream and discovering ‘cool’ music, largely involving the kind of House music that wasn’t bothering the Top 40. This single was held up as being a disgrace, an evil joke at the expense of the genre, and one school hard-nut actually shouted himself hoarse about how shit he thought it was when we had a rare conversation about music. Spinelessly, I nodded my head in agreement, failing to mention that I’d bought the thing and actually really enjoyed it. I got the impression that a punch would be forthcoming if I had. I can remember it being the subject of maximum mockery amongst a lot of people at the time, but that might just be exaggerated in my head by the age I was and the kind of people I knew (sexually frustrated teenagers into hip-hop and the kind of music being played in clubs they weren’t yet old enough to get into, mostly).

    As for its US success, I seem to remember it got into the lower reaches of the Hot 100? Hardly much to get excited about, but it seems bizarre to me that a Doctor Who based novelty single would have charted over there at all.

    Also, it appeared to be a fast-burner in the UK, spending only one week at number one, and I think (if memory serves) it wasn’t a particularly high seller overall.

  81. 81
    Paytes on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Strange, but this is the only KLF single on Spotify (or equivalent) …

    http://open.spotify.com/album/6knOQHzQiPkKFj0bd9F3U1

  82. 82
    Erithian on 23 Jun 2010 #

    What’s good about this record is the bits from 70s glam-rock tracks and the glamification of the Doctor Who theme – so that’s a couple of nicked samples and one half-decent idea to splice the theme into some glam from the show’s peak period (I’m a Pertwee man and even seasoned fans cringe about the way the show had gone by 1988). As for the Dalek voices going “Loadsamoney”, that’s no better than most of “Mr Blobby”, surely? (indeed the Meccano Dalek in the video with a bloke running around inside it also recalls Mr Blobby) “A telling critique of Thatcherism and yuppies”? Marcello, you’re pulling our chain just like you were in the Wet Wet Wet thread.

    As for the scoring, I’ve said before that it’s far from the most important aspect of Popular to me, but I’ll be another of those coming to an unwanted defence of Tom. One of the first things he ever said about the marking was that it depended on his mood on a given day, and is entirely on whim, so we can disagree vehemently but we really have no place complaining about it. As I said concerning our biggest divergence of opinion (his mark of 1 for “Vincent”) – “your gaff, your rules”.

    But my god he must have been *such* a fanboy to like this!! Tom, have you read “The Writer’s Tale”? – which began as an idea for a Doctor Who magazine article and ended up as a 700-page book? You may not be a 100% fan of RTD but it’s a superb read, funny and occasionally very moving.

  83. 83
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 23 Jun 2010 #

    *charges to defence of mr blobby/knocks erithian flat*

  84. 84
    23 Daves on 24 Jun 2010 #

    #82 – Speaking personally, I wasn’t a big fan of “Doctor Who” at the time, and I loved this (still do). And to be honest, you could aim the whacky “Mr Blobby” charge at just about any novelty record made in the last fifty years, good or bad. They all tend to revolve around catchphrases, quirky curveballs, daft imagery, and a certain repetitive insistence. I just find “Mr Blobby” irritating, but not this or (to drop another example) “Hoots Mon”.

    Actually, the concept of novelty records is even older than rock and roll itself, and it bemuses me why people frequently take offence to the frothy, jokey light-heartedness of them, but willingly accept the staged eccentricities of Lady Gaga, or indeed the minimal instrumentation and visual catchphrases of The White Stripes. If you squint your eyes a bit (or should that be block your ears slightly?) novelty pop is purely pop music with certain elements exaggerated to extremes. Ford Timelord is no more or less silly a concept than a “Frankie Says” T-shirt. Arguably, the fake daleks are no less preposterous than Gary Numan’s droids on stage at Wembley in the early eighties. It depends what attitude you adopt when the needle hits the groove, ultimately, and I personally think that a lot of novelty pop has brightened up the landscape for many years now. Much of it, of course, has also been spectacularly ill-advised, but when it works (as here) it’s as entertaining as anything from the “straight scene”.

  85. 85
    Mark G on 25 Jun 2010 #

    Of course, there was the Timelord’s “follow-along” single, “Gary in the Tardis” which roped in Mr Glitter, praised him highly, and added him fulsomely to a remix of this.

    Released about a week after this was number one.

    Didn’t make a big impression, pretty much erased from history (as is most of Glit’s back cat)

  86. 86
    punctum on 25 Jun 2010 #

    Does “Doctorin’ The Tardis” get played at all on radio these days or does it fall under the Glitter embargo?

    And apparently the main reason why Faber won’t/can’t republish Morley’s Ask: The Chatter Of Pop is because it includes an interview with GG where he pretty much admits to things some nineteen years before they caught up with him.

  87. 87
    Billy Smart on 25 Jun 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: The Timelords twice performed ‘Doctorin’ The TARDIS’ on Top Of The Pops, on the Christmas 1988 edition (of which more later) with Gary Glitter;

    9 June 1988. Also in the studio that week were; Voice Of THe Beehive, Mica Paris, Maxi Priest and Morrissey. Peter Powell and Simon Mayo were the hosts.

  88. 88
    flahr on 25 Jun 2010 #

    #86: Compare My Radio suggests it’s not been played in the past 30 days, across this range of stations. I suspect the reason isn’t Glitter embargo but simple oldness. (Wonder if the Beeb might be unwilling to play it nowadays because it’s old-Who rather than nu-Who?)

    For comparison: in the same period “Beat Dis” was played once, “Pump Up The Volume” 8 times, and “Theme From S’Express” 11 (!). “Hello” by Oasis, another Glitter-based song, was played twice.

  89. 89
    Billy Smart on 28 Dec 2010 #

    MMWatch: Jonh Wilde, May 28 1988;

    “Come out from behind that Jon Pertwee mask, Bill Drummond, the game is up. The JAMMS attempt at the novelty hit. The notion of handsome Bill grinning between Joyce Sims and Kylie Minogue in chartland is enough to make me forgive the agony this record brings into my life as I type. The idea of teaming up the Doctor Who theme with Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock & Roll Parts 1 & 2’ must have been excruciating even to Drummond and sidekick at conception stage. It hasn’t stopped them though. Imagine the mankind version with a lump of sand in its eye. Pure, unadulterated agony. Splendid, Bill, splendid. Where next though? The theme tune to The Fenn Street Gang teamed up with Pussy Galore’s ‘You Look Like A Jew’? Or how about Father Dear father with Big Black’s ‘Kerosene’? Now we’re talking. By the time I hear this fluttering from every shopping mall in Chrisendom, I’ll be choking on my words though. remind me.”

    Wilde awarded single of the week to ‘Sometimes In vain’ by The Parachute Men. Also reviewed that week;

    Leonard Cohen – Ain’t No Cure For Love
    Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson – Get It
    Paul Hardcastle – 40 Years
    The Style Council – Life At A Top People’s Health Farm
    Big Audio Dynamite – Just Play Music!
    The Darling Buds – It’s All Up To You

  90. 90
    Erithian on 23 Feb 2011 #

    A suitable place to mourn the passing of the Brigadier:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12549622

  91. 91
    Snif on 23 Feb 2011 #

    One would hope that at the funeral they ignore the 21 gun salute, and go for five rounds rapid.

  92. 93
    enitharmon on 26 Jul 2012 #

    @92 Nah, she’s a Time Lord isn’t she. She’s just regenerating.

    I’m rather imagining her as one of the Swede’s favourites.

    I’m very concerned about all these people not much older than me (58 today week) who are popping off at the moment.

  93. 94
    thefatgit on 26 Jul 2012 #

    Never mind The Swede, Romana was my 2nd favourite companion after Leela from 4 (Tom Baker, or BB if you’re familiar with P^nk S’ Who seies on FT) era Who. We also got more than we bargained for from Mary in The Odessa File as well. She had that aloofness as Romana, which I found intoxicating as a young ‘un. She will be sorely missed in Chateau Fatgit. RIP Mary.

  94. 95
    Snif on 27 Jul 2012 #

    “I’m rather imagining her as one of the Swede’s favourites.”

    Would that make her Mucky Romanadvoratrelundar in his eyes?

  95. 96
    Jimmy the Swede on 28 Jul 2012 #

    Let the Swede amplify, although not the biggest of Who fans:

    I’m with thefatgit, plonking for Mucky Leela, although I would not have red-carded Romana from my four-poster either. Nor indeed Peri. Twas Peter Davison who made the understandable comment when he was lying prostrate whilst he regenerated into Colin Baker, whilst the concerned Peri was leaning over him: “It’s hard to try to act your socks off when Nicola Bryant’s breast is in your face!”

    Indeed yes.

  96. 97
    Mostro on 20 Apr 2015 #

    Rory (#4, #5, #7) is almost certainly correct in guessing that the Who theme was re-recorded for this. The sound of the main synth harks back to the original (pre-1980) arrangements, but it’s clearly not identical. (Aside from the sound, the melody fits the glam rock stomp more tightly than a sample of the original would.)

    It certainly isn’t any of the three main 1980s versions; Peter Howell’s 1980 recording (the first complete reworking (*)) sounds quite different (especially the “guitar through a vocoder”(?!) used for the “response” half of the melody).

    The 1986 version has a rather thin, digital sound, and it’s definitely not the (then-current) 1987 version either.

    (*) Apparently they tried redoing it in the early 70s but abandoned it as unsatisfactory. It inadvertently leaked out on some Australian prints of the show. Not sure that counts, and it definitely wasn’t used for “Doctorin'” anyway!

  97. 98
    phil6875 on 26 Apr 2015 #

    @80 ‘Also, it appeared to be a fast-burner in the UK, spending only one week at number one, and I think (if memory serves) it wasn’t a particularly high seller overall.’

    Indeed, ‘Doctorin The Tardis’ didn’t even make the Top 50 Best-sellng Singles of 1988.

  98. 99
    Steve Williams on 27 Apr 2015 #

    It certainly took me by surprise because I came back from holiday in Majorca to find this was at number one, and it felt like I’d been away for about ten years rather than ten days.

    You don’t get that anymore, do you, coming back off holiday and being surprised by what’s in the chart and in the news? Bit of a shame, that.

  99. 100
    Steve Mannion on 27 Apr 2015 #

    #99 I actually had that experience only five years ago – even exclaiming “Wow T—- T—– is at #2!” having failed to realise they’d been at #1 for two weeks before that. In fairness I’d been ensconced in the Arctic Circle for much of that time.

  100. 101
    Patrick Mexico on 17 Jul 2017 #

    Nursin’ the Tardis? It’s PC gone mad! What next, a female Prime Minister, Queen, or a female mother for Jesus Christ?

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)

Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page