East of the M60’s 2016 Advent Calendar celebrates the legends behind the SID chip

There are few sound chips that have had as good a following as the Commodore 64’s SID chip. Otherwise referred to 6581 (or 8581 on the later C64C and C64GS machines) in numerical form, it is the soundtrack of many a misspent 1980s and 1990s youth.

Its iconic appeal has inspired East of the M60’s Advent Calendar for 2016. The creator of this blog, needless to say, is an avid C64 lover himself.

Today’s Sultan of SID: Martin Galway

If you had a Commodore 64, you will have come across Martin Galway. His uncle is flautist James Galway and Martin’s soundtracks are indelibly associated with Ocean Software’s 1980s titles. He started out on the BBC Micro before progressing to the Commodore 64. His musical credits include the themes for Wizball, the first two Ocean Software tape loader themes, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Mikie, and Arkanoid.

Essential Tunes

i. Wizball

For the first door of our Advent Calendar, we kick off with Martin Galway’s music from Wizball. This clip also includes the second version of the Ocean Loader theme music among its ten tracks.

For the main theme from Wizball, this comes in just after the sixth minute. It sounds incredible in 2016 as does the rest of the tunes.

ii. Arkanoid

Arkanoid, during the mid to late 1980s, was a popular brick-bashing game. It is based on the older Breakout and Super Breakout. The original coin-op game by Taito did well, but its home computer conversions fared better.

The most incredible part of this theme was the use of samples – arguably one of the first C64 tunes to use them to the full. So much so that it inspired Jeroen Tel to use samples in Turbo Outrun two years later.

iii. Game Over

On original release, Imagine’s 1987 flick screen run and gun game caused quite a stir. Not for its stupidly high difficulty curve. It was its risqué cover which had a bare nipple on the model.

More than compensating for the sheer naffness of the game was Martin Galway’s score. Having had a copy of the game (courtesy of Commodore Format’s Power Pack), I spent more time listening to the music. I am glad I didn’t pay £3.99 for it on budget.

Tomorrow’s Sultan of SID…

Behind tomorrow’s door, we shan’t divulge who our next SID legend is, but we can give you a clue. The clue is as follows:

One of two Essex brothers at the height of their powers.

All will be revealed tomorrow.

S.V., 01 December 2016.

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