Fall 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Knight Rider  
Music composed and conducted by Stu Phillips
Theme Composed by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson
  Available on Film Score Monthly Vol. 8, No. 10
Running Time: 79:08
Amazon UK

Knight Rider (1982-1986) was one of the great cult TV series from the eighties which show cased an early pre Baywatch legend: David Hasselhoff. It actually thrust Hasselhoff"s career and made him an instant pop icon for youth of the generation of that time. The series centred around a highly advanced car called KITT which was an almost sentient computer and automobile (here voiced by actor Williams Daniels) and Michael Knight portrayed by Hasselhoff as the sole occupant of the car. The show focused on the typical detective buddy plot but here the buddy being the industrious car KITT.

The series was a big hit in its initial run and Battlestar Galactica composer Stu Philips provided a stunning main theme, which was an integral part of the shows success. The main theme [co-composed by Executive Producers and frequent collaborator Glen A Larson] The theme ("Main Title" "Test Drive" "End Title") has an almost fanfare-like nuance to it, reflecting a very noble and heroic melody set against a futuristic backdrop enveloped in modern electronics supported by a very 80's pop beat. Incidentally the theme was one of the first on television to feature electronics and synthesizers but also using orchestral music instruments playing melodic lines as well as harmonies. The theme features percussion, chimes, bells, timpani, drums, and key boards using a 16 player ensemble.

This premiere CD features the first official soundtrack album on CD and show cases five episodes scored exclusively by Stu Philips (including the pilot).The sound recording is terrific (the original show was in mono sound but this is the first time the music is represented in full stereo).

Unfortunately the episodic nature of the show lends a rather funky television-like feel to it a times. But the themes are well developed. However diversified styles are featured across the CD. Take the Brassy "KITT vs Horse", then there is a nice romantic piece in "Long Walk" and a mariachi styled cue titled "Bull", together making interesting listening.

The really saving grace of the album is the main theme which is heard in various forms and pushes thrill button specially in "KITT to the Rescue" "  But If you loved the show and the main theme then this is for you surely one of .the most recognisable television themes.

The liner notes contain an introductory note by composer Stu Philips. The rest of the notes feature very detailed and revealing notes on the origin of the series. Kudos to FSM for obtaining this music from Universal archives with special arrangement of Stu Philips who is the co-producers of the album. Bonus surprise: There is a very brief Universal fanfare featured at the tail end of the last cue.

This music works very well in the context of the TV programme but this CD becomes a slightly tiresome listen all together. Better to listen to the five episodes separately and not at the same listening session. Still the CD has an advantage of improving but after repeated listens only. Highly Recommended for the fans of the cult TV series.

Amer Zahid


Film Score Monthly News Release:

FSM continues its unprecedented release of television soundtracks with Knight Rider, the hit NBC series which ran from 1982 to 1986. Knight Rider starred David Hasselhoff as a lone crusader armed with "Kitt," the world's most sophisticated car -- a winning team that captured the imagination of television audiences.

Knight Rider's memorable and groundbreaking main title theme was composed by Stu Phillips and series creator/producer Glen A. Larson (Battlestar Galactica). At the time keyboards were used mainly for effects or to supplement other instruments, so the Knight Rider theme was revolutionary in its sole use of keyboards and rhythm section, evoking Kitt's high technology and creating an instantly recognizable "groove" that has since been sampled by several hip hop artists.

In addition to the main and end titles -- newly mixed from the two-inch, 24-track master tapes -- this CD features lengthly suites from Stu Phillips's scores for the series' two-hour pilot, "Knight of the Phoenix," and four 1982 episodes: "Not a Drop to Drink," "Trust Doesn't Rust" (guest starring the evil prototype of Kitt, "Karr"), "Forget Me Not" and "Inside Out."

Phillips, who scored the first half of the first season of Knight Rider, provided numerous variations on the energetic main title theme, and dynamic action-adventure scoring in the style of the early 1980s: essentially symphonic orchestra with big band-styled brass and rock rhythm section. The episode scores have been newly mixed from the 1/2" three-track stereo masters.

This CD of Knight Rider is produced in conjunction with Phillips's Wrightview Productions, under exclusive license from NBC Universal Television Studios. It is one of the rare releases of television music from this era and, as the series itself was monaural, represents the first chance to hear any of this material -- including the world-famous theme -- in stereo.

Liner notes are by Lukas Kendall with special introduction by composer and album producer Stu Phillips, and artwork courtesy of NBC Universal Television Studios.

Knight Rider
  1. Main Title 1:16

  2. Knight of the Phoenix
  3. Main Title 1:04
  4. Las Vegas Country Rock/Safe/Busted Play 2:35
  5. Michael Saved/Keep Fighting 2:43
  6. Not Bad/He Dies 3:01
  7. Test Drive 0:47
  8. Automobile Heaven/Piece of Cake/Dreamin'/Auto Cruise 3:08
  9. Evil Tanya 1:19
  10. They're Off 0:33
  11. A Little Speak 0:44
  12. Kitt to the Rescue 2:19
  13. Escape From Jail 1:05
  14. It's Back 1:04
  15. The Shootout 3:16
  16. Hi Yo Kitt 1:21
  17. Through a Truck/Airport Chase 5:00
  18. Tanya Gets Hers/Warm/Knight 2:50

  19. Total Time: 52:56
  1. Act Breaks 0:13

  2. Not a Drop to Drink
  3. Only M.K./Love You Too/Car Pick-Up 1:32
  4. They'll Never Believe/To the Pipes 1:25
  5. Bull/More Bull 2:28
  6. Fight in the Woods 0:59
  7. Kitt from Outer Space 2:16
  8. Long Walk 2:11
  9. Fran Kidnapped/Fran Rescued/Good Guys Win 3:59

  10. Total Time: 14:58
    Trust Doesn't Rust
  1. Knocked Out Guard/The Monster 1:37
  2. Bonnie Kidnapped 3:06
  3. Tony's Time 2:25
  4. Showdown 2:19
  5. Karr Dies 2:10

  6. Total Time: 11:43
    Forget Me Not
  1. Mad Love/Mikki Abducted 1:51
  2. Mikki's Escape 1:40
  3. Gun Case/Suitcase/Assassin Flees 2:01
  4. The Purse 1:58
  5. Activity 1:53
  6. Kitt vs. Horse 1:28

    Total Time: 11:00
    Inside Out
  1. Mission Begins 1:04
  2. Frantic/Kitt's Magic 1:21
  3. Go/Convoy 3:03
  4. Caught 0:56

  5. Total Time: 6:27

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