Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Verdict On The Inspecteur Gadget CD: Wait For Volume 2

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.


  1. Sorry to hear. I kinda liked it.

  2. Thanks for mentioning my website
    I agree that this Gadget cd lacks quality, but it was a fun listen, even though it's a bit short.

    1. Hi Nicky! :) Great to see you on my blog! Yeah, the music itself is wonderful, but what a lackluster CD presentation. The music is so obviously of far superior quality on your copy of the original LP (presuming you still have it in your collection?). Also, I think Télé 80's way of handling criticism is sad. Earlier today, their facebook site had two threads full of critical comments from fans, who were complaining about the low quality of their CDs. A few hours later, both of these threads had been deleted. Pretty unprofessional, I have to say.

      By the way, I've been wanting to thank you for some time now for sharing your Gadget soundtrack online. Before I found the music on your site (way back in 2006), I had no idea an official soundtrack release even existed... so finally finding it in such great quality was an amazing experience:) I think in general, fans of Levy and Saban's "Inspector Gadget" music has a lot to thank you for; as your MP3 uploads have led to the soundtrack being discovered and enjoyed by countless fans here on the web.

  3. Thanks to your blog I now know a bit more about the whys and why nots of this cd. The main problem seems to be that it isn't really a cd for collectors, but more of an instant-discount cheapish cd. It's better than nothing, it does give hope that there might be a bit more luxerous version someday.
    To be honest, I never knew there was an Australian Gadget record! I'm very curious to the tracks not on the French version and I'm going to need to hunt for those:)

    Glad to have helped discovering the Gadget music:) I always wondered if there actually existed such a record after seeing it mentioned on the tv show end titles (way back in 86). As you might know, owning a website gets you into contact with fellow fans who help you finding stuff like this. Even though my website is Transformers based, I always got the most emails asking about the Gadget music for some reason.

    Anyhow, I'm glad someone "took over" the Gadget music info job from me:)

    1. Hi, sorry about my extremely late reply here! Other things in life started catching up with me. Anyway…

      Yep, it's definitely a cheaply produced, mass-market CD. But I think the main problem is not that it's cheaply made, but that they could have gotten a better product simply by delaying the release date and spending more time looking for mint copies of the LPs. That’s what they’re doing, anyway… the masters are presumed lost, so they rip all the Gadget music from original LPs. If they had been smart, they would have done some research on the internet and put themselves in contact with fans/collectors like yourself, who could probably easily have helped them with better copies of the music. (In fact, why DIDN’T they contact you about it? Are they completely blind to the popularity of your high-quality MP3 uploads online?)

      About the Australian record: It’s funny you mention that you never knew it existed, because you’ve had a picture of it on your Transformers music site for years! :P That’s actually where I first saw the cover: the LP you mention as being “from Great Britain (?) and on ABC Records.” Back then not much more was known about it, but later on several sites started listing its origin country and track listings. Which is how I came to learn that it had a few tracks that were NOT on the French LP. And about that…

      Recently, I got hold of a Very Good-condition copy of the “Inspector Gadget – The Music” record, and finally got to hear the unique tracks! In short, they sound great:) The ones of most interest are definitely Brain the dog (an instrumental version of Brain’s theme!!) and Italian Gadget (a very elegant piece of background music)… but there are also a few others, like the English-language version of the show’s end credits. I hope to be able to share these tracks here in the not-too-far future. I’m also gonna contact Télé 80 to see if they might be interested in getting lossless copies of this unique music. All the tracks may not sound completely mint, but they do sound great compared to the background music tracks on their CD. (Maybe it could even prompt Télé 80 to start a search for a completely mint copy of the Australian LP, in order to get the music in even better quality.)

      “I always wondered if there actually existed such a record after seeing it mentioned on the tv show end titles (way back in 86).”

      It’s funny, in a way, because the American end credits for the show had that listing with “Soundtrack: Saban Records” already in 1983, long before any English-language soundtrack edition even existed! I have a feeling this note might be intended more as a message to music publishers: If you want to release the Inspector Gadget music, contact Saban Records. Which is, of course, what ABC Records did for their 1986 LP. But yeah, it does get a little confusing…

      “Anyhow, I'm glad someone "took over" the Gadget music info job from me:)”

      Heh, honored to hear that I’ve become the main information centre for the Gadget music :P Truth to be told, I’m not sure how long it will last, as I’m constantly considering whether or not I’ve really got the time to run a blog like this. It becomes a bit demanding after a while, even though it’s fun. But getting comments like this is certainly making it a little more worth it:) I hope there will be more comments as time goes by, because it’s definitely a big motivation if my blog actually manages to create some dialogue between fans. That’s why I originally started doing the blog, and it’s finally (slowly) beginning to get a few comments here and there.

  4. Hey there, sorry for the late reply, but I didn't notice yours until just now.I can't remember putting the picture of that Australian Gadget record on my website and I also can't remember where I found it. Although most of the records on the site are from my own collection, this one was stolen from somewhere, including the vague info.

    I just read on your website that a volume 2 is coming out. Great news! This one looks a little bit better and even if it would miss one or two tracks, it still is very welcome to me.

    You make a very good point that the end credits mention of a Gadget soundtrack might be for music publishers, this seems logical. Still, it did bug me since seeing this show way back in 1985/86 what this record was supposed to be.

    I know the feeling about how demanding a website can be. I like finding stuff like your blog and getting in contact with other fans, but updating stuff was getting a drag and at the moment It's not possible for me to do that (technical reasons), which takes the pressure off. I will continue in your new Gadget cd news section.....

  5. Hi again, nice to hear back from you! Yeah, information about the Australian record seems to have surfaced gradually on the web; it was a mystery to me too for years. At any rate, it's a cool record (even if the cover art leaves something to be desired). When it comes to the unique tracks I mentioned in my last comment, I think I'll hold off with sharing them online until I know what will be on the upcoming 'Special edition' CD. My LP copy has a very small number of scratches here and there, so if the upcoming CD contains better-quality versions of the music, that would be awesome! :)

    For the most part, I'm looking forward to the new CD too:) I just hope it will be as good as it has the potential to be. When 28 tracks can easily be included, it seems silly to only have 26 (especially if this might limit the interest among foreign fans). The short version of the US Opening Theme, for instance, is one of Shuki Levy's most famous compositions of all time. It just feels a bit weird not to have it on an official soundtrack CD, even if it IS a French release.

    Also, yes, you're hitting it right on the spot about updating a web site continuosly. I love it when this site puts me in contact with other fans… that’s definitely the most rewarding part of it. But the updating part can really feel pressing at times. Just recently, for the first time in over a year, I did not update the blog for several months (earlier I had tried to do at least one update a month). And frankly, it felt a bit liberating to get away from my 'every month' goal! :) This blog will always be a spare time project, so if it is to continue, it will have to be whenever I've got time and whenever I feel like it... even if that means intervals of several months without updating. (Case in point: I could have updated about the second CD already in mid-July, but had more important things to attend to, so it was postponed until August. Even then, it felt a little bit like work.)

    Of course, it’s not only work… some of the stuff also does feel fun and rewarding to post about in itself, like the fund-raising for the French ‘art of’ book about DiC. Who knows, maybe my blog might actually make a difference and get more fans to support the project? :)

  6. I'm glad it took a while for information about the Australian record to surface. It would have driven me nuts knowing it was out there and not being able to listen to it. These days it's a little easier for me, I even passed on paying $1 for the French Gadget LP a while ago.

    I agree that the US theme should be on the cd. Not everyone is a score freak who enjoys the unknown stuff. I assume a lot of people want the recognisable stuff from their childhood as well.

    You're right about stopping to "having" to update the site every month. It should stay fun and not be work. I updated every week and it took a lot of spare time at some point, but I "had" to do it. I've stopped updating now, but the urge to try to get that new Gadget info on it is big:)

    I think your Dic fundraising could help. I never heard of that project before you mentioned it and perhaps the mention on the FSM board will bring more people to it as well.

    Too bad it's in French though! It's like those Japanese Transformers book, great pictures, but it's frustrating not to know what the text is saying.

    1. Haha, for my own part it *has* been frustrating! I've known about the Australian LP for at least a couple of years... thanks to online track listings that started appearing, I deduced early on that there were a few unique tracks that didn't just replicate the French LP. Ever since then, I waited and hoped for some enthusiast to upload the Australian LP online, like you had done with the French one. Eventually, I realized it would never happen (as everyone probably assumed it contained exactly the same material as the French LP)... and that's when I started looking for it myself and FINALLY - only 4-5 months ago - came across a copy on Ebay. The French soundtrack LP might be rare, but this Australian one seems to be EXTREMELY rare!

      "...I even passed on paying $1 for the French Gadget LP a while ago."

      Hmmm, but don't you have the French LP in your collection already? At least that's what I assumed, since you were the one who uploaded it online.

      I agree it's too bad that the DiC book might only be published in French. Even so, with 65% images and 35% text, I still found it worthwhile to donate to the project. Also, I asked on the official Facebook page about the chances for an English-language edition, and co-author Nordine Zemrak replied: "...if the project became succesful, english language could be possible!!". So who knows? It's still a long shot, of course, but it's nice to hear that the writers are at least open to the idea:)

  7. I have yet to do a search for a physical version of the Australian Gadget lp, but I'll believe it's impossible to find. The French one wasn't easy either. The singles are a little more common. I think the problem is that , although we like to believe otherwise, not too many people are interested in music. That's why that stuff isn't available much online too. For 99% of the records from my site that I got online, I was the online bidder.

    I never had the French record, but I always had a cd version of it, complete with booklets. A fan made a trade with me for something else, this was a long time before I had enough storage to put music online though. ( it didn't occur to me to use a file sharing website).

    I'm curious to the DIC book, even if it is in French, but I'm not sure which other shows besides Gadget might be familliar to me.

  8. Wow, really?... the only bidder? Were these records mostly singles? I would imagine the original LPs from Saban etc. to be more popular. But yeah, it is saying something when it took me over a year of searching before the Australian record popped up online. This might simply mean it's an extremely rare collectible, but it might also mean that perhaps various people out there with a copy didn't bother putting it up for sale, as they were thinking nobody would be interested in buying it. Still, when I finally did find the Australian LP, it was quite pricey and was definitely being sold as a collector's item. For better or for worse, the ebay seller did realize it had selling potential.

    So your MP3 uploads are actually a rip of a rip, so to speak. Well, they still sound great. I must admit I do kinda feel like looking around a little for a copy of the French LP, too, as I would love to hear it in completely lossless quality:) But maybe I'll wait for the upcoming CD first. (Let me guess, by the way: Those fan-made booklets you mention probably look better than the official booklet for the Télé 80 CD, right? Somehow it wouldn't surprice me. ;)

    As for the DiC book, with its focus being mainly on the 1980s, it should logically include sections on a LOT of famous DiC cartoons from the era. A few shows that immediately spring to mind:

    -Ulysses 31
    -The Mysterious Cities of Gold
    -The Littles
    -Heathcliff (and the Catillac Cats)
    -Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
    -The Real Ghostbusters