Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2013 October 21 • Monday

Soundtrack of the Week #289 is more music for The Avengers. This time it's Howard Blake's scores for the Tara King season.

Just as The Avengers evolved significantly when Diana Rigg replaced Honor Blackman, similar developments changed the show when Linda Thorson was brought on to replace Diana Rigg.

Honor Blackman's addition to the cast created a wildly successful formula that was perfected by the team in the Diana Rigg years, switching first from live video tape recording to film and then from black-and-white film to color.

With these changes came an international audience and an international hit. The stakes were high when Linda Thorson joined the program. It seems to me that popularity is hard for a television series to handle. Having found an audience, the show's creators want to keep it. The easiest course is to repeat what was successful before. New ideas being too difficult to come by or deemed too risky to come by, new characters will have to suffice.

I haven't watched any Linda Thorson videos since the 1980s, when I devoured as much of the show as I could get. I don't remember them very well except as being not as good as what came before.

The music, happily, is exceptionally good. The suite here from "My Wildest Dream" is slinky, tense and exciting in much the same way as some of Laurie Johnson's best work. The one cue from "Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40" sounds a lot like a Johnson composition, even in the instrumentation, though there might be more prominent percussion.

"All Done With Mirrors" has a main title cue that's very similar to Laurie Johnson's "Cybernauts" music. "Action Sequence" and "Blues in Suspense" are excellent saxophone-driven jazz numbers that are very unlike anything that came before.

The main title from "Game" is one of my favorites, using harpsichord, organ, tambourine, electric and upright bass and percussion, among other instruments, in exciting ways.

"Wish You Were Here" has some Mission: Impossible-like cues. "Take Me To Your Leader" some very nice touches and swinging atmospheres with some interesting bass and flute unison lines. "Who Was That Man I Saw You With?" makes great use of electric piano.

In general the music here is fantastic, really groovy and interesting with great combinations of instruments and effortless mastery of various moods.