I admit it, I'm impossibly geeky at times. Sometime last summer I re-discovered Commodore 64
, which primarily plays remixes of old Commodore 64 music, as well as some original tracks inspired by the era of 8-bit home computers became what I listened to while sitting in front of our open garden doors and working on Edgeio throughout most of the summer.
My wife don't really consider it music, but to me it's the music that I listened the most to from '83-'84 and until at least '91. Many of the tracks are truly iconic, and feature artists that provided the soundtrack for the lives of millions of people who where kids in the 80's, yet who are virtually unknown outside a group of mostly 30-something hardcore geeks who grew up spending more of our childhood in front of our computers than chasing girls.
Personally, I didn't listen to much mainstream music until the early 90's, and even since then it's mostly been incidental. But I listened to hours and hours worth of computer game music and demo music every day, and later to hours of electronic music like Jean-Michel Jarre
who was perhaps the
major inspiration for a large part of this sub-culture.
(You can see this inspiration even now, with remixes such as Rolands Rat Race - The Quest for Jarre
by Traxer, which mixes an early Martin Galway
tune with a lot of Jarre influences)
Before I finally left the Commodore 64 behind for the Amiga, I'd learned to love the SID music dearly. It has a special combination of minimalism (being limited to 3 voices, and with very limited space as well as having to synthesize the "instruments" from basic waveforms combined with some extremely
limited sampling capabilities) and the heavy influence of Jarre and other electronic music pioneers such as Kraftwerk
(who I just discovered has a wonderfully bizarre website including things such as a musical calculator) and a certain 80's flair.
Most of my favorites are "obvious" - classics that in some cases made their games. Many of them are also amongst the easiest accessible for people who haven't heard the originals. Here are some of them (I didn't realize before I started putting the list together how many of these tracks are based on Rob Hubbard originals... What can I say, the man is a genius):
Commando (Instant Remedy, based on Rob Hubbards C64 version) - the music from Commando is one of the all time greats in my opinion; the original is fantastic, and this remix manages to capture the feel very well. This is the type of music that would get me to turn up the volume until our parents were shouting from downstairs - proper remixes of Command hits you like a wall, and give just the right feel for the game
I-Ball (The St. Albans Rob Hubbard Fan Club, based on Rob Hubbards tune) - Never had much of a relationship to I-Ball when I was a kid, but I love this remix.
Delta (Chris Abbott, from yet another Rob Hubbard track) -- Delta is a tricky one. The original is near perfect, and most of the remixes start far too slowly or go all soft with pianos etc.. The Chris Abbott version also start to slowly, but It's the best I've found. To show the span in the remixes, here's an orchestral version by Matti Paalanen. It's a beautiful piece, but to me the Delta theme should be fast paced and electronic like I remember it...
Lightforce (Allister Brimble, based on Rob Hubbards track) -- Definitively one of the games that was "saved" by an absolutely iconic soundtrack. When I first started downloading remixes this was one of the first ones - I remembered the soundtrack only vaguely remembered the game, and decided to play it on an emulator and was bitterly disappointed. For another great take on this tune, here's Rob Steptoe's "Unstable Asteroids" remix. Much less faithful to the original than Allister's, but a lot more polished.
Cobra (Jazzed up remix) (Cytex, based on a tune by Ben Daglish -- Cobra was another game largely saved by the music. The game was fairly good, but the music is one of the most iconic game tunes of the 80's. This remix is a lot "softer" than the original, but I love it.
The Human Race (Melodie Eine) (Das Karl Werk Project, based on, you guessed it, Rob Hubbard's original) -- I loved this tune, though I never got into the game. Most remixes are of melody 4, but this version of the first tune is very faithful and is a great "upgrade" while it probably doesn't bring that much new (but that's not needed with an original as good as this tune).
Human Race, subtune 4 (Visa Roster / Rob Hubbard) -- This is something unusual. Visa Roster is a Swedish group that mainly does a capella music, and this is no exception - a fantastic version of Human Race melody 4 done completely a capella.
IK Hamburg Extravaganza (J Krafft, based on International Karate by Rob Hubbard) -- This isn't faithful to the original at all, but it manages to incorporate enough elements of it while still being great as an original work in itself.
Monty On The Run (video, C64 Orchestra live, tune by Rob Hubbard) -- Monty on the Run was considered a breakthrough for the realistic sounding (by 8 bit standards) orchestral instruments, and it's fitting that it's one of the very well done orchestral arrangements that's being played live by the C64 orchestra.
Warhawk (Press Play on Tape / Rob Hubbard) -- Warhawk is another fast paced track, and this is another live rendition by the C64 tribute band Press Play on Tape.
Outrun (Instant Remedy, tune by Jason C. Brooke) -- Outrun is another icon. The arcade version was one of the first truly "immersive" driving games and left us in awe when it arrived. The C64 version was primitive by comparison, but the music was fantastic, and the Instant Remedy version captures it perfectly with a mix of the original c64 soundtrack mixed in with a modernized dance beat.
There are many, many more (and many non-Rob Hubbard tracks too, I promise...). The hardest is to sort the many craptastic remixes from the truly great ones.
is a fantastic resource.
Now to go looking for Amiga tracks...