In 1994, Williams Electronic Games built Red and Ted’s Roadshow, a widebody pinball machine featuring the likeness, voice, and music of country singer Carlene Carter.
Already, if you are familiar with playing modern pinball machines, you’re probably already wondering where country music fits in with pinball.
Most games have original score, some of my favorites being by Chris Granner. Most seem to kind of fall under electronic rock or, in the case of FishTales, a fun energetic bluegrass.
A couple of notable exceptions were High Speed 2: The Getaway, where ZZ Top’s “LA Grange” was licensed for the game and became the soundtrack, and Twilight Zone, where Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone” was licensed. In both cases, synth arrangements of the song were created to run in the game’s Yamaha synthesizer based sound board.
But then…. This weird thing happened.
Williams had the DCS system ready for market, which has also been used in some of their video games and even their slot machines. This system, instead of synthesizing sounds on the fly and using a CVSD sampler for some voices, used compressed audio recordings. Rumor has it that the Sony ATRAC codec was used.
So for this poor, unfortunate game, someone decided that Carlene’s song “Every Little Thing” had to go in there…. And…. It’s just ghastly awful and doesn’t fit in a pinball game. She’s got a great voice but that song is a NOPE!! I’m not going to bother looking it up but it’s likely on YouTube.
So, faced with the fact that they had to shoehorn this song into the game somewhere, the designers created original score for normal gameplay…. and shoved Every Little Thing into the multiball modes.
I guess it makes sense. Much like Tommy in The Who’s classic… once multiball kicks in, you don’t hear no buzzers and bells, don’t see no lights a flashing… There’s a certain kind of tunnel vision the senses take on while trying to juggle all those silver spheres and take control of them to make the more valuable jackpot shots. This being a Pat Lawlor game, the jackpot shots are tricky but valuable! (No, it’s definitely not one of these games where about a dozen flashing red arrow lights start at the beginning of multiball, where you can just aimlessly flail at balls and everyone around you just hears a voice shouting “Jackpot!” every two seconds.)
Still though… Very very strange. I’d love to know just what happened there at Williams and why that particular song was chosen. (Record company payola was still a very big thing at the time, so maybe…)