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Keith Emerson

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Keith Emerson Nighthawks (OST) album cover
3.20 | 32 ratings | 5 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Nighthawks - Main Title Theme (2:24)
2. Mean Stalkin' (2:19)
3. The Bust (2:03)
4. Nighthawking (6:16)
5. The Chase (6:02)
6. I'm A Man (4:18)
7. The Chopper (3:01)
8. Tramway (3:25)
9. I'm Comin' In (2:57)
10. Face To Face (2:51)
11. The Flight Of A Hawk (3:06)

Total time 38:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Keith Emerson / keyboards, composer & producer, vocals (6)

- Paulette McWilliams / vocals (4)
- Jerome Richardson / sax
- Greg Bowen / lead trumpet
- Godfrey Salmon / conductor
- Harry Betts / arrangements
- Neil Symonette / drums
- Frank Scully / percussion
- Tristan Fry / orchestral percussion
- Kevin Crossley / Fairlight programming

Releases information

Soundtrack for the 1981 American crime-thriller film directed by Bruce Malmuth

LP Backstreet Records ‎- BSR-5196 (1981, US)

CD Varèse Sarabande ‎- 302 067 411 8 (2016, US) Remastered (?)

Thanks to greenback for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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KEITH EMERSON Nighthawks (OST) ratings distribution

(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

KEITH EMERSON Nighthawks (OST) reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of the most underrated record in the prog scene! We are in the presence of a very good RIO soundtrack movie punctuated with some accessible and catchy songs. Emerson uses a symphonic approach mixed with interesting RIO elements, a bit like Frank Zappa did with his "Orchestral favorites" album: the tracks are really progressive. The presence of a very participating orchestra contributes to give a pompous character to this record. There are many rather scary experimental parts, often flirting with the RIO subgenre; they know how to build up a palpable tension well suited for disturbing movies. What is impressive is the real structure involved regarding the RIO arrangements, despite a certain dissonance: nothing is randomly made. Emerson can also be very rhythmic, and often the style almost flirts with a disco appoach mainly due to the straightforward drums, the warm percussions and the nervous orchestra, a bit like Rick Wakeman used to do with his records around of the early 80's. This record tends to demonstrate that RIO and Emerson fit VERY well together! I give nearly a 5 stars rating for all the RIO parts! Amateurs of symphonic RIO, you should not be disappointed at all!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am NOt a movie mania but I always curious to know about it when it comes the score is done by rock musician. As far as I know, Nighthawks is about Hauer - tthe internationally wanted terrorist specializing in blowing up innocent bystanders to get his warped politics across. He finally finds his match in dedicated NY cop Stallone, who is determined to keep his neighbourhood psycho-free. Admirably restrained, Stallone convinces as the no-nonsense upholder of the law, while Hauer, here in his first Hollywood film after a successful career in Holland, is perfectly cast as the psychopath just as determined as Stallone but on the wrong side of the law. While the plotting is familiar (especially after countless imitations), competent scripting, direction and acting make this above average entertainment. (

My main focus is of course on the music itself - not the story. I have an opinion that most film music score has (in a way) components of progressive music. Why? Because the music was definitely composed to accentuate the situation the director wanted to create on specific "act" segment of the film. Talking about act, it must be different in mood and appearance which at the end it determines the music styles. In other word, the msuic can comprise multi segments with different styles - as required by the film.

Specific to KEITH EMERSON's "Nighthawks" it's definitely a heavy progressive music with varied ups and downs in terms of music tones. I do enjoy this record the first time I listened to it in 1981. The more spin of this album reconfirm me that parts of the musical nuances were derived (most likely) from ELP's arrangement of "Fanfare for The Common Man". If you do enjoy this ELP track, you would love this album

The opening theme " Nighthawks - Main Title Theme" (2:24) provides an excellent combination of symphonic music and avant-garde style, composed tighly in excellent harmony. "The Bust" and "The Chase" demonstrate how great Keith Emerson's expression in avant-garde musik. There are lots of good combination beween keyboards and brass section. " Nighthawking" (6:16) is my best favorite from this album especially when it comes to good melody and quite complex music bridges. "I'm A Man" which was my childhood's favorite, performed by Chicago Transit Authority. It's really an excellent track and recomposed by Keith Emerson beautifully.

My favorite tracks are: "Nighthawking", "I Am a Man", and "Main Title Theme".

It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection which is best to enjoy during night time to create great impact on the nuance created by the music. Keep on progging

Peace on eartth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Soundtracks and progressive rock have a lot in common, both genres are free to borrow from almost any other genre and pastiche together as many styles as they like. The difference though is that while prog- rock is made of songs and longer compositions, soundtracks tend to consist of shorter snippets of music that set mood or follow the action on screen. A lot of great experimental music has come from soundtrack composers like Herbie Hancock, Quincey Jones and others, therefore I was pretty curious when I found this record while searching through a thrift store. I always thought there was a strong soundtrack influence in the music of ELP, so I assumed Emerson would be a natural at this. So how well does the spinning piano man compare to some of the all-time greats in the soundtrack business ? If Nighthawks is any indication, Emerson was off to a good start as a film composer. Although some of the cuts on here sound like they were composed by someone new to the game, overall the album shows a lot of potential.

All the usual soundtrack elements are here, suspenseful mysterious chords, tense action building sections, and groovy jazz for car chases. Emerson dishes out the required music and is also able to give a lot of it that familiar and unmistakable ELP flavor. There is very little synth on here which is fortunate because Keith was well into all his awful 80s digital synths at this point in his career. Instead, there is some piano and a little bit of Hammond as well as a lot of music featuring a small orchestra accompanied by a rock drummer.

In addition to all the abstract soundtrack music on this album, there are also two weird songs that really stand out. Nighthawking is a fast nervous disco number full of noisy chattering piano and 'party girl' vocals. Usually something like this is annoying as hell but for some weird reason I don't hate it. Also Keith's 80s techno-disco remake of I'm a Man is another odd curiosity. Keith handles the vocals in a scratchy voice similar to old Nice bandmate Lee Jackson and replaces the descending chord progression in the chorus with a typical ELP style fanfare sounding progression. These two songs are interesting because they seem to recall Emerson's more campy days when The Nice was just starting.

Although this album came out in 81, it still sounds like a 70s soundtrack and that is a good thing. For that reason, I would highly recommend this album to fans of 70s soundtracks, as well as fans of Keith Emerson. There is a lot of good music on here.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars How comes that such a genius as Keith was being dragged (trapped?) to perform some average soundtrack music?

I have no clue, really! This one is of course better than the weak "Infierno" but holds little to recommend. I also have to admit that I haven't seen the movie. But hell: if the music doesn't speak for itself, is it all necessary to watch the film? I guess not.

The heydays of the man are waaaaay behind and a track as "Nighthawking" is just a joke as far as I'm concerned. A silly electronic eighties dummy track for sure. Press immediately next of course. Gosh! Over six minutes of this treat! These trumpets and awful beats are really UNBEARABLE.

I can understand that an artist is willing to perform different music while playing in solo, but what is Keith' s purpose here? The only good part is the truly ELP'ish "The Chase". Same maestria but same pompous feel. Only OK for a while.

The man raised little to no interest amongst the PA reviewers for his solo career: only five comments for this album! This is a good indication though about the level of music reached here. Only the "Santana" driven "I'm A Man" is thrilling for about thirty seconds (just before the vocals enter the scene). But that's not much, is it?

I'm desperately looking for a great number out here. But can't find it, unfortunately. The remaining part of the album is quite of the same stuff and holds really little to be retained. I wouldn't be as generous as some fellow reviewers: two stars is as much as I can go in terms of rating.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars For a while after ELP broke up, the only way to get your keith Emerson fix was to find the few solo albums he was releasing. Most of these were soundtracks. This one, from a mediocre Sylvester Stallone vehicle, was actually the most mainstream of those.

The majority of the music is orchestral, and similar to Emerson's Piano Conceryo No. 1 on the works album. If you like that piece (as I do), you will probably enjoy the music here.

There are also two more traditional, and more mainstream songs on the album. Nighthawking is a sort of honky-tonk disco combination, with Emerson's piano driving the music. And there's also an updated version of Steve Winwood's I'm A Man, with Emerson himself actually singing lead vocals.

I wouldn't go as far as to say this is an essential album, but it does have it's moments.

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