Those were the tedious days…

Posted: September 15, 2008 in Gaming
Tags: , , , ,

Be in no doubt, there was fuck all to do in the 1980s. As a fourteen year old uninterested in sport, a dysfunctional family life and television programs a dirge of smug, po-faced rubbish my Commodore computer was my escape, and effectively introduced me to electronic music. Prior to that, my main source of music was listening to metal and punk tapes through my ZX Spectrum tape deck – just like a primitive EA Trax. With the C64 you couldn’t use the tape deck for music so I was forced to listen to the in-game music (on the “SID” chip) and loved it, and through that developed a taste for Jean Michel Jarre, through to Front 242 and European industrial music up to techno 12”s, all of which directly influenced my early musical output.

Playing the games themselves for any length of time, like watching films from the 1920s or a four hour plays from the 16th century, is a truly specialist interest, requiring dewy yet steely eyes for the appalling graphics, and saintly patience for the high difficulty levels – there was a lot less entertainment on offer in those days – so plenty of time to plug through the ever repeating levels ad nauseam.

The music, however, can be enjoyed whilst doing more interesting things on your PC and the Sidplay emulator is excellent and absolutely free. Most of the tracks are poor even allowing for the technology but downloading the, ahem, “top 64” is a slight quality control – a few that made me smile are Rambo: First Blood Part 2, Crazy Comets, The Last V8 and Forbidden Forest.

I’m not sure the whole thing is interesting enough to warrant the small cult that appears to be surrounding it, but following the links to the sites of the obsessed is interesting in itself, as is the fact that many producers such as Timberland are using SID sounds in their productions, via SID VSTi plug-ins. However, for a supreme example of a modern interpretation of C64 music, check out the free demo of Bionic Commando: Rearmed for Xbox 360.



Sidplay 2 emulator

Top 64 C64 trax

Full collection of SID files

Quadrasid VSTi plug-in

Buy a hardware SID for £300!

Slay radio – “modern” C64 remixes

  1. Ian says:

    I remember buying “demo disks” via mail order for my Amiga! I think it was Fairlight’s “242” that put me on to Front 242, although I don’t think it has anything to do with them. (I just found it on the web too — it hasn’t aged well!)

  2. johnnyviolent says:

    That’s funny…I’d forgot about that little culture of the time of doing “computer” versions of “proper” music and giving them silly names. I found Fairlight 242 and video at
    It doesn’t seem to be the technology that held it back. Early Neophyte (great Dutch gabba act) material was all done on Amigas – they even had an EP called “The Three Amigas!” Presumably they linked them in some way…

    • napalm says:

      the EP “The Three Amigas!” was named this becouse a it was prodused on the amiga and b becouse neophyte is jeroen, jarno and danny so that is what the 3 stands for

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