26 January 2012
Johnny Pearson - The Rat Catchers/ Weavers Green
Year of Release: 1966
Spy series "The Rat Catchers" was a firm favourite on British television in 1966 and 1967, produced by the Rediffusion television company and broadcasting a total of 25 episodes. A huge part of the reason the series seems to be very rarely referenced now is due to the fact that the episodes were wiped by over-zealous television executives in the seventies, meaning the series has since been allowed to slip into an undignified obscurity. A brief clip recently materialised on YouTube and apparently there is a full recovered episode out there, but that seems to be our lot.
Johnny Pearson's dramatic theme tune - all thundering piano lines, dramatic strings and hushed segements - was perhaps a contributory factor to the programme's success in itself, and was popular enough with the public for EMI to release it as a single. Whilst it failed to chart, it picked up enough admirers in the seventies to be considered worthy of spins at some Northern Soul nights. Once again, if you can hear what exactly is Northern Soul about this track you have a better pair of ears than me, but one would guess that the pounding piano lines filled the vast, cavernous rooms of many of the Casinos easily.
Resting on the flip side is the theme to another largely forgotten series "Weavers Green", a countryside soap opera produced by Anglia Television. Axed after a mere 49 shows, it remains a British soap forever to be mentioned in the same breath as "Triangle" or "Eldorado" as something which didn't last the distance, although rumours persist that Anglia's lack of clout as a television company at this time had more to do with its failings than the quality of the show itself. The theme tune itself is pleasant and chipper, but ultimately inessential.
Johnny Pearson enjoyed a long career in music prior to his death in March 2011, leading the Top of the Pops orchestra for sixteen years and producing endless soundtracks for programmes (including the theme from "3-2-1") and adverts. One of his pieces of library music, "Autumn Reverie", was even adapted by The Carpenters to become the song "Heather", Richard Carpenter having been obsessed by the track after hearing it on a television advert. Tracks of Pearson's turn up with enormous regularity in the "Library Music" section of most second hand record stores, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if he puts in another appearance on this blog at some point.
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