Network has announced the next release in their utterly fantastic line of CD soundtrack collections for classic ITC shows: Jason King! (Past announcements have yielded scores for Danger Man, The Champions, The Prisoner and others.) The music for Jason King was composed by Laurie Johnson, perhaps best known for his Avengers Theme and incidental music for that series. According to Network's website, "Never previously released and compiled from the original master tapes, this two-CD set comprises the themes and incidental music for Jason King, containing around 70 pieces of music which were specially composed for the series." The soundtrack to the high-camp Peter Wyngarde spin-off from Department S will be available to order from Network starting May 25. And they were even able to find a shot of Wyngarde wearing an open leather jacket over a bare, hairy chest to show off his pendant for their cover! Oh, wait; that probably wasn't very hard. Still, it's certainly appropriate! The series is probably best remembered today for Johnson's music, Wyngarde's irresistibly flamboyant performance, and the parade of garish fashions he clotheshorsed week after week. Oh, and his hairdo, of course. Anyway, the cover captures all of that, so it's awesome.
I realize that not all spy fans are as enamored of Jason King as I am. And I admit that if you watch it in order, the first few episodes are rather terrible, which is never encouraging. Especially since they particularly pale in comparison to the series it was spun off from, Department S. But if you stick with the series, you'll find a lot to like, especially if you enjoy the hedonistic side of the spy genre. King is John Steed's more dandyish side carried to the extreme. He wallows in luxury wherever he goes--including over the Berlin Wall. When King needs to cross to the East, he does so in style, riding inside a crate equipped with luxurious upholstery and, of course, stocked with champagne. It's a very fun, very over-the-top show with some fantastic music I'll be glad to finally have on CD. Then again, I know there are those who feel that Network seems intent on releasing the scores to every minor ITC show before it finally brings out the heavy-hitters, namely The Saint and The Persuaders! All I can say is, I have faith that our patience will eventually be rewarded. In the mean time, why not enjoy some terrific Laurie Johnson music?