Back In Time

From ExoticA
Back In Time
Back In Time album cover.
Studio album by Chris Abbott, Rob Hubbard, Gabriele Priarone, Warren Pilkington & Chris Hülsbeck
Year Published 1998
Genre Game
Length 70:11
Producer Chris Abbott
Catalogue No. C64CD1

Back In Time was a collaborative album co-ordinated by Chris Abbott (trading as High Technology Publishing Ltd) and published in 1997. The album consisted of studio versions of Commodore 64 game soundtracks, which, in certain instances, were arranged and performed by the original composers.

The actual album title and subtitle is a little ambiguous as the cover states, "The music that inspired a generation is Back In Time" along with, "Digital Studio Enhancements Of Cult Classic Commodore 64 Athems". The CD label reads "Digital Studio Reproductions Of Classic Cult C-64 Themes". So "Back In Time" is easiest way of referring to this album!

Originally, the track listing had included Jeroen Tel's Savage and Turbo Outrun tunes, a cover of Last Ninja and a couple of Cybernoids, as well as two tunes covered from the Outrun arcade game. These were all dropped due to actual or potential copyright problems. Shortage of tracks was solved by borrowing two Chris Huelsbeck tracks as-is from his earlier work as a tribute.

The album was mostly created with a combination of a Yamaha MU-80, a Yamaha VL-7, and occasional Soundblaster AWE32 with DB50XG attachment. It was recorded directly from the MIDI files, because I had not started individually recording tracks yet. For some reason I was proud of this, god knows why.

Rob Hubbard's direct contribution to the tracks was immense; he took my unspectacular MIDI files and added depth, funk and ideas which really changed their feel and brought them up-to-date. Crazy Comets' funky guitar and clav, and Delta's pounding bassline came from Rob's sequencer. Monty on the Run was transformed all over, and I felt honoured to get Rob's "I meant this all along" version of the track. The violin on Monty on the Run came from a VL-70m borrowed from Yamaha, and so was the most realistic violin I could get at the time. The same instrument was used on Ocean Loader 3.

One Rob (and Ben) tune that was difficult was Auf Monty. This tune went through the mastering process without a greatly simplified bassline, until Gabriele Priarone put it right. Since the mastered version also had some noise from a faulty DAT tape (in the middle of Thing on a Spring and Parallax), BIT had two master copies: we took the opportunity to replace Auf Monty with a better version.

Definitely the most difficult piece to realise was Mutants, which was a late entry. The Pan Flute sound came about because the previous sawtooth lead just sounded dull when Warren Pilkington came round the weekend before mastering to stay at my house and help out. The Pan Flute just worked for us, though remixers such as the venerable Tonka wasn't too keen (to say the least).

While Rob was pretty pleased with how BIT 1 came out, Martin Galway was less enthused: his standards for remixes had been set by Jogeir Liljedahl's "Galway is God" XM, and he had never been a particular fan of 1:1 remixes anyway, loving the SID sound more for itself. This was rectified on Back in Time 2, which was Galway-heavy, had some great stuff, and had Jogeir Liljedahl doing five Galway covers, of which four made the CD (the remaining one "Game Over" was on the companion CD-ROM for Back in Time 2).

Back in Time 1 came with a companion CD-ROM which contained pretty much all of the Commodore 64 remixes in circulation at the time, as well as the album offcuts, and an original album by Chris "Infernal Dreams". It also contained "Ulilang Pasko", a song so hideous that it's been ruled an act of war by the Geneva Convention.

Back in Time 1 is unique in that a version was released in Hungary with a different cover. It's so ultra-rare that even I don't have a copy.

Reviews of Back in Time were generally positive, though mixed: there was a lot of "who is this guy?", though Rob gave me cover on that, and a lot of people who thought they owned C64 music enough to be able to complain about it being sold for actual money.

Back in Time 1 is still available on, iTunes, Spotify, and everywhere else now. As Jason "Kenz" Mackenzie says "It was a retro gumby charm". Ironically there's a bigger gap between the release of Back in Time and the tunes it covered (around 12-13 years) than from the release to the current day (16 years). So it's really retro retro, or retro squared.

Back in Time sold around 2,500 copies in its lifetime, and is the only Back in Time CD to have sold out, though some people will still contend they're all sell-outs :)
- Chris Abbott

Track Listing

  1. Rob Hubbard & Chris Abbott : "Delta Title Theme 'Delta 97' (Chronological Mix)" - (3:01)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  2. Chris Abbott : "Rambo - First Blood Part 2 Loading Theme (Eno Mixalike Mixe)" - (3:57)
    (Martin Galway)
  3. Chris Abbott : "Sanxion Thalamusik (Imposing Sanxions Mix)" - (5:38)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  4. Chris Abbott : "Thing on a Spring Title Theme (Bouncy Springy Mixe)" - (3:54)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  5. Chris Abbott : "Parallax Title Theme (EquiMixe)" - (9:30)
    (Martin Galway)
  6. Chris Abbott & Gabriele Priarone : "Auf Wiedersehen Monty Title Theme (Hands' Moleman Mix)" - (6:05)
    (Rob Hubbard & Ben Daglish)
  7. Chris Abbott & Warren Pilkington : "Mutants Title Theme (AmbiMixe)" - (4:02)
    (Fred Gray)
  8. Chris Hülsbeck : "The Great Giana Sisters Intro Theme" - (3:54)
    Taken from the album "Rainbows" by Chris Hülsbeck.
  9. Rob Hubbard & Chris Abbott : "Monty on the Run Title Theme 'Monty 97' (Rob Assisted Sprint Mix)" - (6:14)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  10. Chris Abbott : "Arkanoid Title Theme (Architectural Brickbashing Mix)" - (2:27)
    (Martin Galway)
  11. Chris Abbott : "Ocean Loading Theme v3.0 (Wahmixe)" - (2:52)
    (Peter Clarke)
  12. Rob Hubbard & Chris Abbott : "Wizball (Spiral of Fire Mix)" - (3:56)
    (Martin Galway)
  13. Chris Hülsbeck : "To Be On Top" - (5:39)
    Taken from the album "To Be On Top" by Chris Hülsbeck
  14. Rob Hubbard & Chris Abbott : "Crazy Comets Title Theme 'Comets 97' (Rob Funk Mix)" - (4:33)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  15. Chris Abbott : "Delta Victory Theme (Champagne Supermix)" - (4:29)
    (Rob Hubbard)

External Links