Back In Time 1 - CD Review

Artist: Chris Abbott plus various artists.
Published by: High Technology Publishing.

Back In Time features many of the classic tunes from the Golden Days of the c64. Arranged, performed and produced by Chris Abbott with extra arrangement from Rob Hubbard, Warren Pilkington and Gabriele Priarone, all recorded and enhanced on modern synth instruments in a digital studio environment. But of course the real question is, is it any good?

Bit (Back In Time) contains 15 tracks and 70 mins of music; we'll take a look at each individual track as they appear, so here goes….
Back In Time 1 CD

Track 1 - Delta 97 (Hubbard) - Chris Abbott and Rob Hubbard.

The famous Delta title theme, with it's strong lead, and powerful baseline. Has been re-created here to perfection. This mix contains all the usual instruments you'd expect but with a few nice touches and slight alterations to the melody. Performed to a slight Dance background, with a bouncy baseline and powerful drums. Delta 97 isn't just a cover, it adds to the original creating a new flavour, yet it still keeps in touch with it's origins. A massively addictive tune that has been dedicatedly covered to perfection.

Track Rating: 9

Track 2 - Rambo 1st blood part 2 (Galway) Chris Abbott

We all remember the Rambo Loading theme. One of Martin Galways many classics. This cover has been recreated very well, with strong drums, and some excellent use of cymbals. Again, Chris has added a little extra to this cover with a slight ambient background forming the missing link, with this he has added a little acoustic guitar strumming. Somehow even with all the nice additions it doesn't quite keep the atmosphere of the original, and the lead instrument although almost perfectly recreated sounds a little lifeless. All said apart, it's a wonderful cover that merits many listening experiences.

Track Rating: 8

Track 3 - Sanxion/Thalamusic (Hubbard) - Chris Abbott

Sanxion in many people eyes was the pinnacle point in Hubbard's career. It had everything, from a complex combination of notes forming a kicking backbeat to a hard and powerful lead. A combination that brought unrivalled tension rarely heard in many previous c64 tunes. This unique experience has failed in many previous outings. Chris Abbott's version however comes through with creditable success. Chris readily admits that the c64 plays a major part in creating this tune, due to the nature of the tune and the sid chip, however this is probably the most successful way to go about it. Chris has kept this almost identically to the original composition with few modifications to the melody. A superb cover that keeps faithful with the feel of the original excellently.

Track Rating: 9

Track 4 - Thing On A Spring (Hubbard) - Chris Abbott.

A jolly classic which doesn't differ that much from the original. It retains all the aspects of the original even including the spring sound effect. This is a good copy of the original but unfortunately doesn't offer any real significant progression from its roots. A good cover that is both accurate and jolly, if a little unambitious.

Track Rating: 7

Track 5 - Parallax Title Theme (Galway) - Chris Abbott.

Parallax, an odd little tune. Well when I say little, it was infact it was quite an epic, a little over 9 minutes long… Seven minutes of it was like one long introduction, ending in just 2 minutes of melody. However due to the nature of the game both parts worked really well. Chris Abbott has covered this really well in its accuracy and clarity producing a full and distinguished performance. The end includes the famous Galway hollow echo type sound, which for me in most covers/remixes has either been unsuccessfully re-created or omitted completely, here though it's been dealt with brilliantly. An excellent cover, that is as slick as it is professional.

Track Rating: 9

Track 6 - Auf Wiedersehen Monty (Hubbard/Daglish) - Chris Abbott/Gabriele Priarone

This cover of A.W.M starts superbly with a brass effect opening building up to the hard guitar backing, quite an excellent start to the tune. The guitar carries on throughout the piece creating a rock style. The backing to this is remarkable creating a full and hard hitting piece. Unfortunately the tune is let down a touch with a dull and flat sounding lead instrument which lacks any real punch or vigour. This is especially disappointing considering the superb background. Not a bad cover by any means, just falls short with the main lead sound, although this does seem to improve as the tune goes on.

Track Rating: 7

Track 7 - Mutants (F.Gray) - Chris Abbott/Waz

Fred Gray was a master of originality. Mutants was indeed this. One of the few tunes on the c64 to give the listener something a little different yet it still remains interesting. This cover is exactly what you imagine the original should sound like when adopting synthy sounds. Starting with a synthy piano intro, changing to a Panpipe lead instrument overlapping a kinda like Australian Didgerydoo effect. Later this finishes of with expectant ambience. A great cover with some nice touches, which makes for great listening.

Track Rating: 9

Track 8 - Great Giana Sisters (Huelsbeck) - Chris Huelsbeck

Although this tune can be found on Chris Huelsbeck's Rainbows album, it makes a worthy appearance on the Bit album. G.G.S was undoubtedly one of the catchiest foot-tapping tune's ever to appear on the c64. Ofcourse you'd expect the original composer to provide the goods when converting this… And yes he has.
G.G.S has been given a smoother feel, which includes many different instruments, including some excellent drums, brass, piano, and bells. This has a definite 80's feel with its bouncy baseline and retro synth. The definitive cover, just awesome.

Track Rating: 9

Track 9 - Monty On The Run title theme (Hubbard) - Rob Hubbard/Chris Abbott

The fast paced M.O.T.R was one of the many tunes that Rob Hubbard composed that set the c64 sid chip on fire. Jointly arranged by Rob and Chris, this tune starts fast and slowly gets faster, and faster and faster. Creating mayhem towards the finale. This is a really complex and full piece that impresses from the moment the tune starts playing. Divided into two sections, M.O.T.R starts with a synthy lead on top of a bouncy backing. About halfway through the piece it changes to Jazz style piano background over lapped with a synthy guitar lead. This track includes an excellent piano solo, which then towards the end changes to a rapid violin string section, which is just sensational. Special note must be mentioned to the excellent drums, and cymbals that give this piece added mayhem. A truly magical piece, that is fast and rewarding. The highlight of the CD for me, it has something for everyone. Inspiring all the way through. So good it's disbelieving.

Track Rating: 10

Track 10 - Arkanoid - (Galway) - Chris Abbott

Arknoid was the first commercial tune that featured samples. Pretty short in all, just over 2 minutes in length. This is pretty much a collection of drums and other sound fx with the a few synthy strings thrown in. All this on a deep baseline. Arkanoid is Arkanoid, and as it goes this is a fine cover. Cannot say it'd take much repeated listening though, but that's the nature of the tune rather than the arrangement.

Track Rating: 7

Track 11 - Ocean Loading Theme V3.0 - (Peter Clarke) - Chris Abbott

Fooling you into thinking it was Galway's Ocean Loader this tune started almost exactly the same, but after only seconds changed into another fine loading theme. Chris has covered this remarkably well, using piano and a synthy like brass lead instrument on top of a well-worked and organised background. This track has some nice touches, which sounds complete and fulfilling. Certainly makes for an interesting and rewarding experience.

Track Rating: 8

Track 12 - Wizball (Galway) - Rob/Chris Abbott

Possibly one of Galway's best ever collection of tunes, which were diverse, original and varied. Split into two sections, it starts of with an appealing space-like melody that is smooth and highly listenable, then it turns into a collection of well-worked sounds, creating an ambient atmospheric tune. Chris has done this again remarkably well, covering every aspect of the piece in precision and detail. Creating a dreamlike cover, which is well executed and maintained through out the piece. Excellent stuff.

Track Rating: 9

Track 13 - To Be Ontop (Huelsbeck) - Chris Huelsbeck

A melodic piece from Chris Huelsbeck, that again has been given the works from the original composer. A varied and unusually styled tune that is both creative and original. Kinda 80's synth adaptation of T.B.O.T, this cover contains an array of different synth sounds and instruments. The tune doesn't follow the traditional methods of verse/chorus. It's so varied it's difficult to go into detail, But in a nutshell: A highly funky and enjoyable listen that is professional and well implemented.

Track Rating: 9

Track 14 - Crazy Comets (Hubbard) - Rob Hubbard/Chris Abbott

Following the conventions of the original tune. This has all the stuff you'd expect from Crazy Comets, all the fx, and even sampled speech. A varied collection of instruments that includes Sax and whistles with sid-like adaptations. All this on a 70's whacka whacka background. It also contains a few new touches along the way, but by and large keeps very faithful with the original. A great conversion that is well suited to the CD.

Track Rating: 8

Track 15 - Delta Victory Theme - (Galway) - Chris Abbott

Some excellent backing sounds to this one, with some nice meaty drums. A dream-like atmospheric cover that has dealt with the composition with crisp clarity. Not totally convinced with the lead though, sounding a little flat and lifeless, and maybe not quite emotional enough in fitting with the superb background. Possibly the weakest cover on the CD, and not quite the finale I was hoping for. Never the less as covers go it's accurate and clear. Just a tad uninsperational.

Track Rating: 6

The Back In Time album is an excellent concept that has been dedicatedly put together. The CD sleeve states it took over 2 man years to put together, so this shows that the CD was not rushed into release, which indeed is good as quality would have indeed suffered. This CD is an excellent start to the series of Bit albums. The highlights being the new mix of Delta, the hard hitting Sanxion, and above all the superb Monty On The Run. Although there maybe a few weaker tracks on the CD, non are poor, infact most are excellent, and indeed some are just sensational. They are all of the highest quality and worth every penny you spend on it. An excellent CD that surpassed my expectations. Great Work!!!


Remix64 Silver Seal Of Approval
Reviewed by Neil Carr