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Soundtrack Review

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The Avengers
Original Tara King Season Score


Composer: Howard Blake and Laurie Johnson
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
Available 08 August 2011

Mention The Avengers to people above a certain age - let’s be kind and say over 40 - and the famous Laurie Johnson theme music will get mentioned almost immediately. It’s as much about the show’s iconic status as Steed’s bowler hat or Mrs Peel’s fab outfits - all Biba and Quant.

But as with all the best spy shows of the 1960s - and the strike rate was amazingly high - the music wasn’t just about having a great opening theme. Incidental scores also played a major role in developing the overall atmosphere, and The Avengers wasn’t immune to the importance of a timely drum roll, brass stab of comedic flourish on the flute.

However, Johnson was no longer available by the time Tara King took on the mantle of Steed’s sidekick so he suggested a replacement, Howard Blake, a composer that was nominated after a recommendation from Bernard Herrmann - high praise indeed.

The choice proved perfect - Blake clearly understood what the show needed, concocting a splendid array of atmospheric pieces, perfectly in tune with the programme’s mix of menace, mayhem and manners. Having played piano of some of Johnson’s Avengers sessions undoubtedly helped his cause but Blake provided his own personal twist to proceedings; this was no pale imitation or knocked-off copy.

However... and it’s a big ‘however’... like so much incidental music, it doesn’t hold up without the visuals. On CD the stuttering drums or slow stretches of brass live without there references and despite the undoubted charms much of the music written by Blake for The Avengers really doesn’t stand up on its own.

The remastering, carried out at FX, is splendid, and the packaging and sleeves notes are just as high in qualities, which all combine for a really nice overall product. And it’s one that Avengers fans will love and cherish, no doubt, but I’m betting that this CD won’t get played an awful lot because with out the pictures this music just doesn’t work.

As an Avengers artefact this double CD scores top marks but as far as repeat playing is concerned Howard Blake’s score scores…


Anthony Clark

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