Dramatized audio suggestions?
June 7, 2011 12:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm finding the BBC Radio 1980s dramatization of The Lord of the Rings to be a very satisfying soundtrack for exercising... but I'm already almost halfway through it...

I'm finding I don't really care to listen to music when I exercise. I suppose I am ultimately destined to try to scratch this itch with audiobooks, but I really like the mix of acted vocals, dramatic presentation and musical accompaniment in the BBC Radio productions of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Are there other productions in this vein I could listen to?

I know the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Jim Dale are excellent, by the way, but I played them a lot when my child was an infant and I'm generally all Harry Potter'd out. Fantasy/Science Fiction isn't a requirement but I do like having my mind get engrossed in another world. I'm really not interested in getting into video.
posted by nanojath to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
How important is the musical accompaniment to you?

If you like full casts: World War Z, Foundation (BBC version), H.P. Lovecraft dramatizations by... Atlantic Theatre Company (I think?)

Single reader stuff I've enjoyed lately: China Mieville books (narrator is spot on), George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, guiltily... The Sookie Stackhouse novels... the readers sounds so much like Sookie that they're great falling asleep/I don't have to pay attention things.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:28 PM on June 7, 2011

Oh, and many Stephen King books are good for this. The Long Walk was OUTSTANDING in audio book form. A lot of people like the original reader of the Dark Tower series, the first book was redone so there's a new reader on the first and last few books. He's okay.

His short stories are really good and attract top voice talent. Everything's Eventual is a good one to pick up. And The Shining I couldn't stop listening to this winter.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:30 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recently listened to audio books of the first two Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams which were actually BBC radio adaptations with a cast and sound effects etc. They were both very good. Here's one of them on Amazon, I definitely recommend the two I listened to (I don't know about the salmon book, I've heard bad things).
posted by shelleycat at 12:30 PM on June 7, 2011

Also From BBC radio:

Absolute Power (Stephen Fry!)

Bleak Expectations - simply wonderful.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:34 PM on June 7, 2011

Decoder Ring Theatre
posted by juv3nal at 12:38 PM on June 7, 2011

Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials audiobook is a full cast and (I think) with music. I thought it was very well done.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 12:46 PM on June 7, 2011

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, some read by Nigel Planer and some by Stephen Briggs, is fantastic. That will keep you in audio for a loooong time. The performances are excellent, both readers do such good character voices
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:47 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Boy, do I have the rabbit-hole for you to fall down: Big Finish Productions. They primarily do Doctor Who audios, but they've got a ton of other properties too, including Sherlock Holmes, Dark Shadows, Stargate ...
posted by jbickers at 12:55 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love the audio versions of Ted Chian's excellent science fiction stories, as collected in this post I did on him last year. The MP3 reading of "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" is particularly well-acted.

Also, it's not an audiobook, but I suspect you'd really enjoy Radiolab. It's a podcast about fascinating ideas in science/culture/philosophy, and marked by superb sound design. I happened to catch an episode on the radio for the first time the other day and was struck by how good it sounded, how well they presented the material for radio with supplemental music and effects. It's definitely a Mefi favorite for a reason.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:01 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also came in here to recommend Big Finish Productions.
posted by pemberkins at 1:10 PM on June 7, 2011

The original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio drama, if you haven't listened to that.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:10 PM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

Neil Gaiman reckons he lost loads of pounds listening to Hugh Dickson's unabridged reading of Bleak House.
posted by HastyDave at 1:59 PM on June 7, 2011

I liked listening to a radio dramatization of Star Wars by NPR. A family member owned it, and it was on cassette tape, so I have no idea if it's digital now or not, but it had a full cast and Mark Hammill actually voiced Luke Skywalker, I think.
posted by dubadubowbow at 2:02 PM on June 7, 2011

Earthsearch (and sequal Earthsearch II) was first broadcast on R4 around the same time as LOTR was. It's a bit retro sf now but I still like. There was a prequal Mindwarp broadcast a few years ago but that's not essential.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:28 PM on June 7, 2011

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy started as a radio program.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:47 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Hitchhikers Guide, adding Orson Welles' War of the Worlds

Although there is probably too much musical content, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds is fabulous if only for Richard Burton's narration.
posted by humph at 2:48 PM on June 7, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, lots of great suggestions! I guess I should have said at the outset that I'm open-minded about audio books, I realize this is going to be the most robust category of offerings, particularly interested in well-characterized ones.

I'll leave this link here as I'm finding some of the offerings that don't seem to be for sale otherwise here:

posted by nanojath at 3:35 PM on June 7, 2011

BBC has a huge amount of this stuff - look for "classic serial" as the key phrase.
posted by zadcat at 4:47 PM on June 7, 2011

Reading your entry again: BBC has dramatized several John Wyndham novels (classic 1950s sci fi) - also look for the Charles Chilton series, all of which are excellent (dated but distinctly creepy sci fi).
posted by zadcat at 5:28 PM on June 7, 2011

Google "radio drama". You'll get a bunch of free stuff like The Mercury Theatre on the Air
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:18 PM on June 7, 2011

I've logged in just to recommend this. You will not be disappointed.

Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves

Not only is it Woodehouse, and Jeeves Woodehouse at that, but it's beautifully acted, fully fleshed-out, hilariously funny and the best kind of quaint. Listened to it repeatedly during my childhood and I've actually ordered it again just because I've missed it.

There's a whole series of these too (that I haven't yet tested) and I'd bet they're all great.
posted by litleozy at 8:05 AM on June 10, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks again to everyone who responded. Very pleased with my new selection of audio possibilities.
posted by nanojath at 10:07 AM on June 11, 2011

Response by poster: Adding A Canticle for Liebowitz from a recent FPP.
posted by nanojath at 10:52 PM on July 19, 2011

Just wanted to second Bleak Expectations, which is so utterly brilliant.
posted by marginaliana at 6:45 AM on July 20, 2011

Response by poster: Also adding free Daniel Pinkwater audio books read by Daniel Pinkwater
posted by nanojath at 4:59 PM on September 19, 2011

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