The Avengers & Other Top Sixties TV Themes

This double-CD set contains 60 television themes, at least a dozen of which will be familiar to many over the age of 40 or so -- The Avengers, The Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Dr. Who, Fireball XL5, The Saint, The Champions and The Naked City are just a few of those programs whose title themes are featured here. There are a few drawbacks, however -- for starters, Sequel is a British label, its orientation is British television, and it is drawing the contents of these two CDs almost entirely from the vaults of the British Pye label, so there are at least 40 programs here that never (or barely) aired in the United States. Additionally, a significant number of the themes here are not from the original programs' opening credits but are studio re-recordings. Several of these are quite good -- Eric Winstone and His Orchestra, for example, do quite nicely by the Dr. Who theme music with a conventional orchestra. And, in many instances, the re-recordings are done by the composer (Tony Hatch is very well represented, since he was also a staff producer at Pye), though unfortunately even they falter sometimes. Much of what's here would fit into the category of "bachelor's den" repertory, with its sharp stereo separation and strings in front of electric instruments, but some is forgettable dance music -- and then there are the rock oddities. The Pentangle show up doing their "Light Flight," the theme from Take Three Girls, an exquisitely delicate acoustic piece with Jacqui McShee's soaring vocals out front; the Flee-Rekkers' (a Joe Meek act) rendition of the theme from Fireball XL5 doesn't resemble the program's version at all, but is great fun anyway. Jazz buffs will appreciate the presence of Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen and Bob Wallis and the Storyville Jazzmen on disc two, though the latter is also weighted down by some wimpy British pop-band renderings of American television themes. The sound is crisp, the notes are thorough and the artwork, made of choice memorabilia, is a delight. (British import) ~ Bruce Eder

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