30 December 2017

Reupload - Johnny Pearson - Rat Catchers/ Weavers Green

Label: Columbia
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 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 are two full recovered episodes 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 I would guess that the pounding piano lines filled the vast, cavernous rooms 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.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks again David

And have a happy New Year for you and Family

Greetings Albert

Arthur Nibble said...

Ah, Johnny Pearson, one of the folk behind a mellow classic, the 1965 cover of "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" under the guise of Sounds Orchestral which made 5 here and 10 over the pond.

Bi-weekly soap "Weavers Green" suffered because its weekend episode was shown in scattergun fashion across the network - in two regions it was up against "Doctor Who" hence viewers didn't always follow the plot - and it was allowed to fail by the bigger ITV stations. When new 'big 5' ITV station Yorkshire's "Emmerdale" went primetime, Anglia steadfastly kept it in the late children's TV slot for a few years.

Arthur Nibble said...

That version of "Weavers Green" is completely different to the televised one. Apparently all 49 episodes of the soap still exist - number 22's available via Vimeo, so you can check the theme tune out for yourself...


23 Daves said...

Ah, so it's another example of a sixties/ seventies theme tune single which was just a re-recording. I'm 99.9% sure the A-side is the original theme, though.

Ian Fryer said...

Hmmm, I'm not so sure. Musicians Union rules and contracts with the musicians generally meant that the recording made for a TV theme would not be allowed to be released commercially. Almost invariably these are re-recordings, the exceptions being when a library track or other already recorded piece is used as a theme tune.

The original recording can be heard here, but sounds a bit slow and wobbly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WJCDr464-k&t=3s