Listen – Laurie Johnson Orchestra – Theme From ‘The Avengers’- MP3
My apologies for the absence of a second post last week, but (as you’ll see described in today’s Funky16Corners post) I was indisposed.
The tune I bring you today is one of the greatest pieces of TV theme music ever written, courtesy of Mr. Laurie Johnson.
Though it seems unlikely I was exposed to the Avengers when the series was first broadcast here in the US – I was but a tot – I did see them repeated in syndication.
Aside from the fact that ‘The Avengers’ especially the Steed/Emma Peel era (1965-1968) is an iconic representation of a stylish variety of UK small-“m” mod, the theme from the show is evocative of the same cultural signifiers and then some.
The little of the 1960s I remember first-hand, is generally represented by things colorful, slick and modernist, i.e. cartoons and the kind of white-plastic, colored vinyl Op-Art world that got its start in early-60s Swinging London and lasted well beyond its due date as far forward as the early 70s.
‘The Avengers’, which combined the old-school bespoke look of John Steed and the jet age futurism of Mrs. Peel, boiled down the vibe of the pre-hippie 60s to its Pan Am heliport essence, i.e. urban, urbane yet swinging, restrained yet ready to explode at any moment.
Laurie Johnson (Laurence Reginald Ward Johnson) got his start writing theatrical music in the 50s, moving on to TV and the movies in the 60s. Johnson’s ‘Theme From the Avengers’, with its opening Bond-like fanfare, quickly switches gears layering lush strings over a propulsive horn section, using harp and glockenspiel filigree around the edges. As 60s TV show themes go, ‘Theme From the Avengers’ stands along as both utilitarian (i.e. a great representation of the show itself) and as a stylish piece of music all on its own.
Oddly enough, the soundtrack album was released in the US on the storied HBR label.
Johnson, who still tours today went on to write the theme to the ‘New Avengers’ (a show he co-produced) in 1976.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back later in the week.