I was expecting so much from this. Johnson wrote lots of memorable little themes for many of The New Avengers episodes - and apart from a few, this album misses them all.
The episode suites included are not - at least in my opinion - the most memorable music from the series. Sound quality is disappointingly variable - I know this was probably a low budget project, but could NOTHING have been done to enhance the tapes? I don't know whether this series was originally recorded in multitrack, but I presume it was; why not spend a bit of money and remix the scores into stereo?
The use of music actually taken from episode soundtracks (including that fantastic theme music!!) smacks of desperation, as is the reuse (yet again) of Johnson's own re-recordings of some of the series music which has shown up before in countless compilations. While sound quality is markedly better, the arrangements here always did lack the punch of the originals.
It looks like most of the music tapes for this series are missing. What a huge shame - I almost think sometimes that if the source material is lacking, a project might be better off not started.
But I guess having ANY of the surviving music is better than none - I am perhaps being generous giving this three stars, but I hope if any more volumes are forthcoming that better care is taken. The inclusion on the other two discs of other Johnson material is welcome although it doesn't have the impact for me I'm sorry that the first disc SHOULD have had.
I was immensely happy on learning of the release of this CD but let down by the choice of tracks. Quality aside, I had and still have a huge soft spot for the music from the New Avengers (particularly an episode called Target) After purchasing the Avengers and Professionals CDs I noticed 1-5 of the best tracks (cues) were chosen from oround 20 episodes! They really did try and squeeze the best out for those CDs. But here it looks like they couldn't be bothered. We have tracks from just 3 episodes - not particularly the best ones, music-wise, either - and the lot has just been put on disc! For example we have 23 tracks from 'To Catch a Rat' It is a nice creepy Harpsichordy score, but there could have been more from 'Eagles Nest' 'Faces' or even 'Trap' (terrible episode, awesome score!) The result being there is six of the SAME theme! (which I do still love) and some tracks lasting less than 10 seconds!
Laurie gave each episode a theme. Something rarely done now if ever! This CD - and it pains me to say it - isn't the best way of celebrating this composer.
Maybe some tracks are lost, I just don't know. But for a very long time I've wanted the music from the New Avengers - and was let down by the people who lazily chose the tracks. I'm NOT knocking the music itself.
This is a fabulously rich release of music by British composer Laurie Johnson. There are actually three different releases by this record company Demon-Edsel. The other two uses the tag of the TV series The Professionals and The Avengers. This is volume three and here on this three CD set we get a variety of music by Laurie Johnson.
Disc one is dedicated to the music he composed for the TV series The New Avengers. It covers some of the music from the Purdey and Gambit era of the popular TV show The Avengers. This is a most enjoyable disc. I feel there is room for more music from the Avengers but this is a good disc in its own right. Each episode required its own music landscape and atmosphere. Johnson did a great job of capturing the spirit of the bizarre world of the Avengers where there is a unique mixture of fantasy and reality where there is comedy and drama. The musicians that helped to produce these recordings also did a great job and the compositions are rich, melodic, dramatic and exciting. The music to the New Avengers is brilliant. And the arrangements are wonderful. The booklet gives interesting details about the episodes that the music is taken from. This truly is a terrific release. However the choice of music to represent The New Avengers is not the best option they could have taken. There were better and more interesting music compositions on other episodes and the choice here does not do justice to the great talent of the composer as a representation of his work for this project. I would have like to have seen more music from the series. But until that ever happens this is a good release.
Music for TV and Film is often ignored as serious music. Possibly because of the nature of the music being a backdrop to the visual element. But the music is an important part of these films and TV shows because they are often the crucial things that create the atmosphere of the piece. In the case of The Avengers the music was especially commissioned for this series. Composers like Edwin Astley, Barry Grey and Laurie Johnson created some very original music and deserve to be respected as serious composers. Laurie Johnson has his own unique style.
Disc two contains music from stage shows "lock up your daughters" and "the four musketeers" and Disc three contains music for film and television as well as "The London Big Band". All of which displays the rich sound, originality, and wide ability of this very talented composer.
Let me start by saying that I'm a card carrying fan of the Avengers, New or otherwise, and therefore an open door in terms of market reach. In addition The House of Cards is my favourite episode of the 1970s version, and so (again) I was an easy sell, given that that episode's entire score is included in disc 1 of this set, although the scores for The Midas Touch and (particularly) To Catch a Rat are equal in musical quality, if not better. To be brief, what the listener is going to get out of this depends almost entirely on what they themselves bring to the table. The uninitiated are going to get 20 odd minutes per episode of very brief muscial cues that don't mean anything to them and don't really have time to amount to very much. A fan, familiar with the episodes in question will, on the other hand, thrill at hearing those cues in isolation for the first time.
There have been other reviews dealing with the pros and cons of the choices made in earmarking the three complete scores included over other possibilities. Johnson's work on the series was vital to the success of (at least) the first season, and there are many other scores that stand out as deserving this kind of exposure. For my money, however, the three chosen are more than justified; Perov's syncopated "Peter and the Wolf" woodwind motiff from House of Cards, the Harry Lime chimes soundtracking The White Rat's pernicious progress, and the admittedly dated but completely in keeping 70's wah-wah of The Midas Touch are all great. Those parts taken directly from the episodes themselves are less impressive (the whiff of Cybernaught and Red Mask Party from Midas Touch in particular), but still worth having in the collection.
The real treat here though is the re-recording of the theme from Tale of the Big Why. Already a bit of a fan favourite, the theme's blokey swing sounds fantasic here in expansive stereo. Had Johnson allowed his band to stretch out and jam with it a little more I could quite happily have listened to this for twice as long as the version we're given.
Discs 2 and 3 haven't yet come anywhere near my CD player, but disc 1 is, to the right punter, worth the admission price alone. Any fans who are in two minds about picking up a copy should waiver no more. An essential purchase.
I bought this set for the second half of disc 2. It is a recording of Johnson's musical `The Four Musketeers'. Looking at the inlay, which mentions Harry Secombe prominently and even has a picture of him in the role of D'Artagnian, I was expecting an original cast recording. However it is an ersatz `muzak' rendition from the Mike Samms singers which lacks all the power and force of Secombe's original performance. It looks like I need to keep searching for the original.
The rest of the discs are what are promised. Some music form episodes of the New Avengers (seems to e original recordings), the original cast recording of `Lock Up Your Daughters', and a few more snippets of film scores and some of Johnson's big band work. All perfectly acceptable, if that's what you're after. I am very disappointed at the presentation of `The Four Musketeers'.