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Keith Emerson - Nighthawks (OST) CD (album) cover


Keith Emerson


Crossover Prog

3.22 | 29 ratings

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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.

Easy Money | 3/5 |


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