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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Edwin Astley - "Secret Agent Meets The Saint" (RCA) Vinyl, 1965



Two shows that made an impression on me as a child were the British series "Secret Agent" (Danger Man, UK) and "The Saint."   In the back of my mind, I have remembered the theme songs and often hummed them in my daily baths.  Someone either on Facebook or some other social media site brought the title theme of "Secret Agent" to my attention.  A super catchy face-paced melody that is the opposite of the slower-pace show.  Patrick McGoohan played John Drake, a British secret agent who travels the world for the Queen.   When I watched it as a boy, it seemed sophisticated to me.  It wasn't like "Wild Wild West, " or the other knock-off James Bond shows on TV.  It had its own gritty glamor.  McGoohan was cool in every sense or meaning of that word.  The music, on the other hand, is frantic, busy, with an orchestration that featured a speeded-up Harpsichord.  

"Roger Moore plays the Saint," and he's a combination of private detective and borderline criminal.  Simon Templar (his fictional, given name) as played by Moore, had a built-in charm factor.  He wasn't cool but was fun.   To be in the Templar/Moore world was to participate in the good times.  As he traveled around the world, us viewers went with him.  Even though most of the sets were fake (like "Secret Agent"),  one could feel the sense of exotica or a new adventure.  

The composer Edwin Ashley, who did both tv series, was very much into the British film soundtrack world.  He is also the father of Karen, who married Pete Townshend, and his other daughter is Virginia Ashley, a noted songwriter-singer.    The happy arrangements and melody of "The Saint" is very much like the mood of the series.  The British composer has this unique talent of doing something corny sounding, but great at the same time.   The one song that does it for me in a big way is the "Theme from Secret Agent" or known here on this album as "High Wire."  As I write, the title song goes through my head, and I think it maybe impossible for me to escape from its clutches.  The Harpsichord is the key here.