|Do Not Buy This Lousy CD|
Remember my recommendation last week that you should buy/support the new "Inspecteur Gadget" soundtrack CD regardless of what could have been better, like I was planning to do? Well, I have to take that back. Today, I've come to the conclusion that the Télé 80 CD is not worth my money.
Let me explain: I haven't actually bought the CD... but thanks to Itunes, I've been able to listen to excerpts from all 12 tracks of it. (For those who don't use Itunes, try the French music site Qobuz for listening samples.) And honestly - most of the tracks sound pretty disappointing. The worst part is, they COULD have sounded far better if Télé 80 had simply taken the time to locate proper source material (i. e. better LP copies).
First of all, I can confirm that the "crackling of vinyl" mentioned on the Planété Jeunesse forum is very much there... and not only on a few tracks, but on most of them. The French and American theme songs do sound good, but that's probably just because the masters for these main themes have been taken better care of than those for the background music (which are today presumably lost). And that brings me to the main problem with this release. Nearly all of the background music tracks, as well as the awesome soundtrack-exclusive version of Dr Claw's theme (track 6, "Le theme du Docteur Gang"), have a LOT of crackling, and some of them sound embarrassingly bad. (The only exception seemed to be track 5, "L'usine de chocolat" (Chocolate Factory), where I didn't register any scratching noises.) This bad sound quality is particularly disappointing as I know that very good (or possibly even mint) copies of the French LP are still in existence. XIII Bis Records just didn't take the time to find them.
Let's compare, for instance, with the fan-done MP3 rip of the "Inspecteur Gadget: Bande originale" LP that has been circulating on the internet for years ever since originating on this site. There is some subtle crackling on some of the tracks there, to be sure... but generally, the tracks in that rip sound great, and MUCH CLEANER than the same tracks on the Télé 80 CD! (Click here, here and here to listen to some of the fan-ripped background music tracks.) The fact that an unofficial fan rip of the LP sounds far better than an official CD release proves just how amateurish this first "Inspecteur Gadget" CD from XIII Bis Records is. This is not only sad on Télé 80's part, it's downright embarrassing. They better go out of their way to make up for this in the planned Volume 2 CD.
I'll not go into detail about the other reasons not to buy this sloppy CD release, as you already know them from my previous posts: Only 12 tracks on the disc instead of the 25+ tracks that Télé 80 could potentially have compiled from both the French and Australian LPs... the cover image has been flipped for no reason whatsoever... and oh, yes, there actually is one more thing. As you may have noticed, the very last track on the CD is a "US version" of the Inspector Gadget theme. However, this is not the original TV version of the theme, but rather an extended version running for 2:50 minutes. (This version was first released, I believe, as the first track of the Australian soundtrack LP "Inspector Gadget - The Music", before spreading to a few CD compilations of television themes). I don't have a problem with the extended theme song being there, as it's authentic Shuki Levy; but the one version of the American theme that has really stuck in people's minds over the years is undoubtedly the shorter TV version. The extended theme on the CD is good, but not nearly as great... and the theme loses some of its snappiness when the song suddenly starts over again midway through. (Have a listen here to judge the extended theme for yourself.) Bottom line: Both the shorter and longer versions of the theme song deserve to be included on an official soundtrack release; and the shorter (and best) version is of course not included. Probably because the Télé 80 team didn't know about (or didn't bother to research) how popular that original, American TV theme is in the minds of everybody who grew up with it. Again, lackluster work. And speaking of theme songs: Why did Télé 80 change the original title of Penny's French theme "Le theme de Sophie" to "La chanson de Sophie"? As if the mirrored cover image wasn't enough of a pointless change.
All this is sad to say, as I really do like the initiative and good intentions behind the idea of finally releasing iconic 80s TV soundtracks such as Inspector Gadget on CD. But when it's done as sloppily as this, I can't get myself to support it. The only thing giving me a little hope is perhaps that Télé 80's leader Christophe Renaud openly admitted that many of the tracks on their "Inspecteur Gadget" CD were of bad quality - and that they're planning a volume 2 with better sound quality. (I believe I was wrong, by the way, when assuming earlier that Télé 80 was going to search for the lost, original masters: what Renaud meant was probably just that they're gonna find better LP copies to rip the music from.) I won't hold my breath for this... but I really, truly hope that Volume 2 (whenever it comes out) proves to be a big, happy surprice. At the moment, however, there's no hiding that the best way for you to enjoy Shuki Levy and Haim Saban's original Inspector Gadget soundtrack... is the illegal way.