Knight Rider: The Best of Don Peake - Volume 1
Hitchcock Media Records (HMR-9101)
Release Date: 2004
|1.||Let It Be Me||6:13|
|2.||Scent Of Roses||8:23|
|4.||Junk Yard Dog||17:23|
|6.||Mouth Of The Snake||21:31|
|Total Album Time:||70:26|
|by Brian McVickar
on November 21st, 2005
As an adult, nostalgia can maintain quite a sentimental hold on our tastes, motivations and interests, to the point where when we achieve financial stability, the 10-year old inside us often decides how the money should be spent. Often, it is spent on items associated with our hobbies and interests from that early time in our lives. We may not have developed refined, discerning and educated tastes quite yet, so we seemed blissfully unaware of how awful some of these interests actually were. There are always exceptions, of course, but film score fans often receive a quizzical stare from family and peers as we treasure music from film and TV projects that we loved as kids, yet as adults now can acknowledged as sub-par or even dire.
Knight Rider fans now have more to rejoice about, as this album can sit alongside the previous FSM release of Stu Phillips's music from the 80's television cult classic. Six suites of Don Peake's episode scores are featured here, in which he covers pretty much the same ground musically as Phillips did. "Let It Be Me" opens the album with a melancholy melody played first by electric piano and then acoustic piano. The familiar Knight Rider theme makes its appearance near the three minute mark in a suspenseful tone, accompanied by the 80's staple synths, guitars and drums. Following this are what seem to be two source cues, one laid back and lounge-like, the other more up tempo - perhaps for various clubs and bars visited by Michael Knight?
The "Scent of Roses" suite begins with suspenseful low strings with synth and drum accents, moves into a placid cue for oboe and horn solos and then, oddly enough, into a rendition of "As Time Goes By" on piano and strings. Dramatic suspense music follows again, punctuated by some heated strings and brass exclamations. A major mode cue resolves the suite, utilizing a driving rhythm under a soaring horn and string line, which is then capped by the Knight Rider theme.
"White Bird" is next with an opening for dramatic, pained violins and a pulsing tempo before the Knight Rider theme punches forth. A cue for harpsichord, strings and oboe is heard, but then is overtaken by the insistent main theme. Further subdued cues for strings and woodwinds follow, while later what could be another up-tempo source cue is suddenly cut short by staccato action beats.
The next suite is from "Junkyard Dog", which opens in a mid-tempo setting for brushed drums, tambourine, acoustic guitar and French horn. The tone soon turns insistently ominous yet still keeps that driving beat, all punctuated sporadically by the Knight Rider theme. There are several extended sections in this suite for solo synths, pulsing, low and mid-range, which develop into a motif very much akin to Harold Faltermeyer's famous "Axel F" from Beverly Hills Cop. In addition, a stately, brief theme for horns and bells is used, amongst more suspense cues.
"Halloween Knight" begins and ends with an outright lift of the main title from Herrmann's Psycho, with synths replacing much of the string lines. Even the shrieking shower scene music is directly reprised here, for some reason. I am guessing this was supposed to be a "spooky" episode. Chattering sythns and drums briefly propel the mid-section before the dark, suspenseful tone returns and then the suite takes a hard left turn, wrapping up with a jazzy source cue.
"Mouth of the Snake" is the lengthiest suite on the album, starting out with low flutes and bass guitar in unison over ominous low synths. Extended suspense music follows in a similar guise. Later, the action picks up, a Spanish guitar is briefly added to mix and the Knight Rider theme careens into the suite. Several lengthy, jazzy source cues also appear but are abruptly edited into more of the score. This final track is an example of what I found to be an overall sloppy presentation of the music. Many cues suddenly fade out, some are jammed against each other with no logical progression, the sound dips in spots and twice I actually heard dialogue faintly in the background thus I may not have the greatest confidence in the source of this material.
As for the music itself, I think it depends on whatever fond memories you have of the series. When I was young, I tuned into Knight Rider for two reasons: the main title and the car, so I am not quite as excited as others might be at the prospect of having the episode scores on disc. Too many of the suites are mired in endless suspense, rip-offs of other scores or dated lounge pieces. In the end, nostalgia is very subjective. Some might find it strange that I collect the music from the Japanese Transformers series, but I happen to find merit and fun in it, so I know there are those fans out there that will want this album regardless of any critiques I might have.
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