Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Mike POST Hill Street Blues Music from the Original Television Score SILVA SCREEN SILVAD 3510 [37:19]





This out of the common rut cult US TV cops series is synonymous with a virtual realism approach to police drama. The Brits had been doing it for years in gritty 1960s series like Z Cars and the various 'Barlow' offshoots. The series certainly 'has legs' and still enjoys a following a repeats (though at increasingly late/early hours).

Hill Street's characters were firmly drawn, not over-glamourised, and hand-held camera techniques reinforced the impression of 'being there'. The series was a staple of UK Channel 4's 1980s output and one of its flagship successes quickly gathering a loyal following. So was born another cult series.

The magic lay not only in the factors mentioned above but also the fine acting, the poignancy of the plot-lines and the affection in which characters were held.

A further key factor is the music of Mike Post. The signature tune is coolly engaging; bluesy cruising at its best (as is the Councellor track). Freedom's End, Field of Honour, Forever and Wasted draw their melodic material from the theme (which is never far away from any of the tracks) but present it in pastoral elegiac Americana mode. Sadly, cruddy commercial rock influences also invade and deface the score -

(No Jive; Night on the Hill; Friend on the Hill) although these tracks do break the pattern which threatens monotony because of its continual deployment of the (rather good) main theme.The CD has a short playing time and no notes. This is for Hill Street diehards. For those who love the theme the CD offers a set of variations on this distinctive piece of nostalgic 1980s Americana.


Rob Barnett

and another view from Warwick Mason

Hill Street Blues has been around for a lot of years. I personally was never a fan of the TV series, as it seemed to epitomise the low-end aspects of American street life and the story lines were quite depressing. As usual with cop series there were buddy sub-plots, intrigues and the machinations of minor politicians as they interact on the fuzzy line between the law, politics and justice. It was an attempt to bring a gritty realism to the small screen but a lot of the time it was trite and the characters were stereotyped to the point of being cartoons.

This soundtrack is from the series and is basically a set of pastiches around the central theme. The opening track on this recording is the eponymous theme by Mike Post and is instantly accessible and recognisable. The music has a late seventies feel although the sleeve notes give a credit of "Made by Michael Jones Productions @1985". So I'm not sure what's going on here.

The following tracks, Cruising on the Hill, Field of Honour, Blues in the Day, Wasted and The City are funky, chest-wig musical wall paper and there's not much to choose between them, you wouldn't really tell them apart if you put the CD on shuffle play.

Track 7, Jive, is an attempt at contrast with a really poorly played slide guitar part and the whole thing sounding like it needs to be about 15 beats per minute faster on the metronome. There's no conviction (sic) to it and it's unhampered by the need for an attention span.

The rest of the music on here is very similar and becomes tiring to listen to after a short while. Freedom's End, Night on the Hill, Forever, Councellor, Captain, A Friend on the Hill, Officer Down and Suite from Hill Street Blues complete the collection.

For "Hill Street Blues" fans I suppose this CD would add an extra dimension but I don't know what. Being a TV series, most of this music would be played during the programmes so fans who have the episodes on tape already have the music.

Within the context of background music, this recording is suited to the TV series. The ambience of the visuals is reflected in the aural experience and that's as it should be. The only track that stood out for me was track 14, Officer Down, which had a good up front drum mix and was more spacious and dynamic than the other tracks.

Overall a workman-like production but eminently forgettable. Bit like me really.


Warwick Mason


Rob Barnett

Warwick Mason

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