Knight Rider (Limited Edition TV CD Soundtrack)
Sound: B Music:
When NBC debuted the TV series Knight Rider, they
were a network in big trouble. This was
partly their fault for greenlighting so many silly, populist, wacky shows to
begin with. Recovering from Fred
Silverman’s bored running of the network, the series introduced David
Hasselhoff as the former cop who is ready to become almost one with a machine,
in this case his talking Pontiac Trans-Am KITT (voiced by the great Williams
Daniels). This not-ready-for-Robocop
crime fighter would do whatever it took to get the bad guys and a camp classic
At the time, the theme song (aka 1,000,000 Ring Tones)
by the underappreciated Stu Phillips did sound futuristic at the time and the
Trans Am itself was a slick revision of the classic trying to be more
competitive with sports cars of the time.
It was hoped this design would bring new glory to the popular model, a
look that survived a design revision a decade later. Unfortunately, the model was just discontinued and is out of
production for the first time since its introduction in the 1960s. So much for the future, though the song
continues to be popular and has been sampled often of late. The Stewart Copeland theme for the 1980s
action TV series The Equalizer may owe a little something to it.
So past that, could this music be that good? Surprisingly yes, and more so because the
original ½” three-track masters have been remixed into a very sonic stereo that
brings out how good some of this really is.
This CD offers Phillips’ music for the pilot telefilm, plus four
episodes he worked on. He did the music
for the first season pretty much, but went on to other projects and could not
stay with this show. The result here is
impressive and that he was trying to make music as exciting as possible to
match the scenarios. Though the show
was a fun novelty in its time and may be a cult classic as well as a camp one,
it is at least bad TV that is so bad that it’s good. Many revivals have been attempted and failed. Another one is due for 2005. Wonder what kind of car they’ll use.
The PCM 2.0 Stereo is stunningly good, the music from the
monophonic TV show remixed this way for the first time ever. You would never guess how good these 40
tracks sound unless you got your hands on this disc. You can hear samples of the tracks at www.filmscoremonthly.com via
downloads available along with more information on the limited edition CD (only
3,000 copies are being pressed) and how to order one. Track 17 is a surprise you will get a kick out of, showing how
thorough this CD really is. This also
comes with another nicely illustrated and well-written booklet about the music
and the show. This is certain to become
a popular “guilty pleasure” among TV music fans, so you might want to get your
copy before they run out.
As for Phillips, I was recently looking through the first
season of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries on DVD and little of the
show held up. I was struck by how much
Shawn Cassidy and Parker Stevenson did seem like brothers, or how much more a
mystery show the Drew episodes were. It
was entertaining in its time, but what really struck me was the theme song,
which Phillips made. He crossed traditional
and electronic music to make a good Horror/Mystery genre type piece that really
sold the show. He had previously scored
McCloud, Switch, Quincy and the second of three initial Six
Million Dollar Man telefilms before that became a huge hit show. Phillips just had the knack for TV music and
much more of his work deserves this treatment.
At this point in time, his music for Knight Rider has saved it
from becoming more dated than it might already be.
- Nicholas Sheffo