Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Powerhouse Trilogy

Song - Powerhouse
Artist(s) - John Bähler, Mary Therese Matthews
Released - 1985
Primetime Usage - 1987 (Original Version & Underscore), 1991-96 (ESPN Edit)
Contained on - FirstCom UT101 (The Leader), (ESPN Edit not publicly released)
Featured Highlight - Cowboys @ Cardinals, 1987 (Original); Jets @ Bills, 1987 (Underscore); Oilers @ Cowboys, 1994 (ESPN Edit)

One of my posts last week mentioned that a couple songs used in NFL Primetime's first year (1987) eventually returned.  One of those was Powersurge, which I already profiled, and the other was the similarly titled "Powerhouse."  There's a twist here, though, in that three different versions of Powerhouse were ultimately used on the show.  The original, base version and the underscore (no horn section) accompanied highlights in 1987, but then ESPN brought back the song in a cut-and-paste edited form that increased the excitement and removed the quiet bridge section in 1991.  Powerhouse, though a simple song in many ways, provides more energy than most NFL Primetime music and is particularly suited toward games with frenetic comeback attempts.

Powerhouse was composed by early FirstCom regulars John Bähler & Mary Therese Matthews, who I've mentioned multiple times on this blog already.  This song never officially made it off of vinyl, as far as I know, so it isn't easily accessible.  There is an updated remix, titled "Powerhouse 2K" available on FirstCom's website, but it sounds quite a bit different.  It wasn't written by the above artists, either, and is instead credited to associated (related?) FirstCom composers James Griffith, Mark Matthews, and Kathryn Matthews.  I don't know who was responsible for the custom ESPN edit used in the '90s, but I would guess it was then-ESPN music director John Colby.

In honor of the holidays—or something—this post gets a whopping three(!) highlight videos.  Also, in an unintentional oddity, all three have one of the secondary hosts presenting the game instead of Chris Berman.  The first, which features the original version of Powerhouse, features Gayle Gardner showing the Cowboys visiting Busch Stadium & the Cardinals in the 1987 opener.  The highlights really underplay the craziness of how that game ended; the Cardinals overcame a 13-3 deficit by scoring 3 unanswered touchdowns in the final 2 minutes!  This was also their first home opening win in 12 years in what would also be their final home opener in St. Louis.  The Powerhouse underscore highlight has John Saunders showing the Bills, in their last bad season for a while, losing a close game to the Jets at home.  The final video, profiling the '90s custom edit version of the song, has Robin Roberts accompanying the post-Moon Oilers in their last "Battle of Texas" in Irving against the defending champion Cowboys.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Automotion 3, Part 5 - Mechatronics & the Bay of Pigs

Song - Mechatronics
Artist(s) - Jeff Newmann
Released - 1988
Primetime Usage - 1989-90
Contained on - SON 292 (Automotion 3), Sonoton SCD 16 (Automotion 3)
Featured Highlight - Packers @ Buccaneers, 1989

In the early years of NFL Primetime, the late Pete Axthelm aptly used the phrase "Bay of Pigs" to describe any contest between the then-lousy "Bay" franchises:  Green Bay & Tampa Bay (citation).  The Buccaneers in this period had a habit of starting strong & fading (especially with head coach Ray Perkins and his infamously draining "three-a-day" practices), while the Packers were nearing two full decades of dormancy.  In 1989, though, Lindy Infante and his Green Bay Packers put together one of the most entertaining teams in NFL history.  The "Cardiac Pack"—the second of the three "Cardiac" squads after the 1980 "Cardiac Browns" and before the 1998 "Cardiac Cards"—gutted out a 10-6 record largely thanks to their knack for pulling out crazy, last-second, wins.  Don "The Majik Man" Majkowski, mostly known today for being the guy Brett Favre replaced, stayed healthy and had his most productive season as an NFL quarterback (4318 yards, more than double his next best year) in '89.  Unfortunately, a 10-6 record and a win over the eventual champion 49ers wasn't enough for Green Bay's first non-strike playoff berth since 1972 because they lost the division tiebreaker to the Vikings and both wild cards were 11-5.

The fifth and final NFL Primetime song from Automotion 3 is called "Mechatronics."  It's more subtle and complex than the other songs profiled this week.  Mechatronics may seem overly neutral on the surface, but a few listens will reveal its subtle intensity & building energy.  It's actually become one of my favorite highlight tracks from the show.  The featured highlight below is the second Bay of Pigs contest from Week 13 of 1989 (the same episode as all the highlights I've posted from this album, in fact… it was an unusually entertaining week).  The Bucs did everything they could, but they still couldn't stop the "Majik" in the end.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Automotion 3, Part 4 - Satellitic Venture

Song - Satellitic Venture
Artist(s) - "John Epping" (Gerhard Narholz)
Released - 1988
Primetime Usage - 1989-90
Contained on - SON 292 (Automotion 3), Sonoton SCD 16 (Automotion 3)
Featured Highlight - Bengals @ Browns, 1989

This penultimate post from Automotion 3 features another work by Gerhard Narholz alias John Epping.  "Satellitic Venture" is more subdued and moody than the other Primetime pieces on this album, and seems to work best for cloudy, cold, and dreary games that are often seen late in the NFL season.  What better fit for this theme than a December edition of the "Battle of Ohio?"  Oh, there's one more thing to note…  This song can be heard in the background of at least a couple episodes of the Tim & Eric/John C. Reilly creation, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule.  Tim & Eric are known for their arbitrary humor, but hearing the same song on both NFL Primetime & one of their shows is still random even by their standards.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Automotion 3, Part 3 - Xenon

Song - Xenon
Artist(s) - Jeff Newmann
Released - 1988
Primetime Usage - 1989-90
Contained on - SON 292 (Automotion 3), Sonoton SCD 16 (Automotion 3)
Featured Highlight - Oilers @ Steelers, 1989

The third song to be profiled from Automotion 3, "Xenon," does kinda have the sciency & spacey synth sound you'd expect for a piece with that name.  It also has a happy-go-lucky feel that makes it work best for friendlier games (much like Priority).  I don't have much else to say about the music, so let's get to the highlight.  In the late '80s/early '90s (the Glanville & Pardee years), the Houston Oilers had a real reputation for not being able to win outside their comfy Astrodome.  That seemed to be a perfect setup for failure as they headed to Pittsburgh for a December contest in super-Wintry conditions.  The Oilers were nonetheless able to overcome their weaknesses (as well as 7 fumbles) and grit out a 7-point win in Three Rivers Stadium.  The Steelers got their revenge a few weeks later, though, and knocked off Houston on the road in overtime in the Wild Card round.  Fun fact:  Chuck Noll won 4 Super Bowls in the '70s, but his only Coach of the Year award came after his final playoff appearance in 1989.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Automotion 3, Part 2 - Priority & the Alias Master

Song - Priority
Artist(s) - "John Epping" (Gerhard Narholz)
Released - 1988
Primetime Usage - 1989-90
Contained on - SON 292 (Automotion 3), Sonoton SCD 16 (Automotion 3)
Featured Highlight - Saints @ Lions, 1989

The very first track on Automotion 3, "Priority," has much more of a hard-rock feel than the rest of the album despite its heavy synth instrumentation.  It's not anywhere near my favorite NFL Primetime song, but it works well for games that seem to have more of a friendly or emotionally neutral context.

Something I didn't know when I wrote yesterday's post:  it turns out Gerhard Narholz has a bunch of aliases beyond just Norman Candler.  John Epping is one of those pseudonyms, as is Sammy Burdson (who is credited on several other Primetime tracks that will be added to this blog later).  Other production music names I recognize that are actually the elder Narholz are Jim Harbourg, Mac Prindy, and Otto Sieben.  The entire known list is listed in the Discogs link above.

The featured highlight with Priority is the Lions/Saints game from 1989.  In this contest, New Orleans effectively threw away a shot at the playoffs thanks to a scorching 248 receiving yards from former USFL'er Richard Johnson.  Johnson had over 1800 yards and 14 TDs in his two seasons with the Lions (1989-90), yet only had 1 catch for 5 yards in his NFL career outside of that.  This video really shows how dangerous he was at his peak.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Automotion 3, Part 1 - Mission to Future & the Sonoton Explosion

Song - Mission to Future
Artist(s) - Jeff Newmann
Released - 1988
Primetime Usage - 1989-90
Contained on - SON 292 (Automotion 3), Sonoton SCD 16 (Automotion 3)
Featured Highlight - Colts @ Patriots, 1989

In 1989, the behind-the-scenes staff at ESPN apparently decided to throw out all of the music used during the first two seasons of NFL Primetime and bring in a clean slate (a couple songs from 1987 would eventually return).  The vast majority of these new tracks came from a German production music library called Sonoton, which was founded by Gerhard Narholz (a.k.a. "Norman Candler") and his wife, Rotheide, in 1965.  Their eldest son, Christoph, composed a Primetime song that I haven't yet displayed while the middle child, Gregor, is also a prominent composer.  Anyway, Sonoton started putting their stuff on CDs in 1988 and ESPN took full advantage a year later.  The Sonoton-heavy period on NFL Primetime only lasted 2-3 years, but it was a wonderful era of the show if you love synth.

As I mentioned last week, one of these albums—Automotion 3—actually contains a full five tracks that were used on NFL Primetime.  "Mission to Future," by Jeff Newmann, is the first of these tracks to be featured here, and it's a nice & energetic-yet-laid-back composition that fits football well.  You'll also notice a rather "Final Countdown"-ish segment in the middle of the song.  Accompanying Mission to Future is a quirky highlight featuring two 1989 also-rans.  It's also the second highlight I've posted on this blog to show Doug Flutie.  Have fun, and there's still a lot more to come this week.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stay Tuned…

No update for this week, but—starting Monday—I'm going to do something special.  There's one album that has 5 NFL Primetime tracks on it and I will post one song per day, Monday through Friday!  So stay tuned for that…

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Appropriate Titling

Song - Action Scene
Artist(s) - Mary Therese Matthews, Sally Anne Griffith, John Bähler, Matthew Muhoberac
Released - 1985
Primetime Usage - 1987
Contained on - FirstCom A2 (Intense), FirstCom UT105 (New Beginning)
Featured Highlight - Rams @ Oilers, 1987

Sometimes a song title fits the music perfectly.  "Action Scene," though it doesn't have the most original name, is a track that instantly brings to mind imagery of a hard-hitting & breakneck nature.  It fits so well with sports highlights, in fact, that it's really a shame NFL Primetime only used this in its initial year.  Action Scene was composed by the same quartet that brought us Strategy, and is the third & final NFL Primetime song from FC-A2 to be profiled here.

In the opening week of 1987, the L.A. Rams (still with Eric Dickerson for a few more games) went to Houston as a solid favorite to start 1-0.  Instead, the Oilers came back from a 16-3 deficit to pull the upset and begin their first decent season since Bud Adams stupidly fired Bum Phillips several years earlier.  Gayle Gardner, who left ESPN partway through the 1987 season, presents the highlights here:

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Greatest Show on Turf

Song - The Event
Artist(s) - Robin Gurin (composer credit only), Georgia Shapiro, Alec Williams (performer credit only)
Released - 1994
Primetime Usage - 1994-05
Contained on - FirstCom A29 (Power Net)
Featured Highlight - Ravens @ Rams, 1999

Late in the 1999 preseason, total unknown Kurt Warner replaced the injured Trent Green as the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams.  What happened was one of the most remarkable stories in NFL history.  Warner not only led the Rams to their first Super Bowl title, but—partially thanks to weapons like Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Az-Zahir Hakim—also had one of the league's all-time best passing seasons.  During this run, Chris Berman coined the phrase "The Greatest Show on Turf" to describe St. Louis's "circus-like" offense that lasted through the 2001 season.

"The Event," in addition to being a Primetime song, is also a good descriptor of watching the Warner-led Rams.  Composed by Robin Gurin & Georgia Shapiro, and performed by Shapiro & Alec Williams, the song provides a nice mix of laid-back tempo and energetic entertainment.  I couldn't really find any info on the three, though, other than noticing that Shapiro & Williams are credited as writers on "Anxiety" by The Black Eyed Peas.

Going back to the first paragraph, this post's featured highlight is Kurt Warner's first ever start against the Ravens in what was then called the Trans World Dome.  His stats weren't as spectacular as what was to come, but he was playing a good defense and it was just the beginning of his run of success.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

FirstCom CD Update

I received a full refund for the undelivered FirstCom disc today (FC-A43 Action), but oddly no explanation as to why it wasn't delivered.  There were, again, no new Primetime gems on the other two I ordered, so it should just be regular updates on this site for a while longer.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Annoying Delays

Song - The Race is On
Artist(s) - David Reilly
Released - 1988
Primetime Usage - 1989-90
Featured Highlight - Bills @ Falcons, 1989

I apologize for the three week delay in posts here.  I ordered three FirstCom "A" discs that are not streamable on their website off eBay and my plan was to wait until I had listened to them before posting again (in case they had Primetime songs on them).  I received two of them a week+ ago (FC-A35 Hip-Hop Pop and FC-A38 House Jams), but neither had any relevant tracks.  Despite the fact that I ordered it from the same seller, the other (FC-A43 Action) has yet to arrive for some reason.  If that has a Primetime track, I'll post it ASAP, but—for now—here's something else…

"The Race is On" is a pretty generic '80s rocker, but it's still catchy and fits football highlights well.  It was composed by David Reilly, the son of famous harmonica player Tommy Reilly, and is contained on the Reilly-only Bruton album Success.  I don't have much else to say about the song, but the album is a top-notch production music entry and two of its other songs were used on NFL Primetime around the same time.  To explain the album numbers listed above, the "BR 67" code is for the CD version while "BRN 19" is for the vinyl version.

I don't have a particularly important highlight with this song, but at least I found one entertaining one.  In 1989, the 6-2 Buffalo Bills visited Fulton County Stadium and the 2-6 perennial doormat Falcons in a potential snoozefest.  Instead, what viewers got was a back-and-forth fist-clencher with a Paul McFadden 50-yard field goal sealing the upset.  Unfortunately for the still-red-helmeted Falcons, though, that would be their final win of the season and Marion Campbell would lose his job 3 weeks later.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crush You

Song - Crush
Artist(s) - Mark Matthews, James Griffith
Released - 1990
Primetime Usage - 1991-95
Contained on - FirstCom A2 (Intense)
Featured Highlight - 49ers @ Cowboys, 1995

"Crush" could probably count as NFL Primetime's "epic" theme for the first half of the '90s.  I like it, though, because it has more synth and is therefore less over-the-top than International Statement.  It was composed by Mark Matthews and James Griffith.  I couldn't figure out if Mark is any relation to Mary Therese Matthews or if James is related to Sally Anne Griffith, but—since they were all FirstCom composers—I wouldn't be surprised.  Unlike with the female Matthews/Griffith set, however, I have not found more than one Primetime song written by Mark or James.

Crush is contained on FirstCom A2 - Intense.  Unlike a lot of the Primetime themes on early FirstCom CDs, I don't think this track is on any of the earlier FirstCom Up Tempo LPs.  Crush isn't legally streamable or downloadable, as far as I know, but the single-digit FirstCom "A" discs are the most common ones to show up on eBay (that's how I got FC-A2).  Fast Drive is also on this album, plus one other Primetime song I haven't yet covered.

Accompanying Crush is an interesting footnote from the 1995 season.  The defending champion 49ers, despite being without Steve Young, rolled into Texas Stadium and thumped the eventual champion Dallas Cowboys.  Also included in this highlight is Merton Hanks's famous (infamous?) "Pigeon Dance," which was certainly one of the most unique celebration moves in NFL history.  Have fun!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bad Company

Song - Bad Company
Artist(s) - Robert J. Walsh
Released - no later than 1999
Primetime Usage - 1999-05
Contained on - Hollywood Film Music HFML 15.10, Hollywood Music HM-007 (Renegade)
Featured Highlight - Chiefs @ Bears, 1999

NFL Primetime almost always had a go-to song for defensive, tough, and often ugly games.  In the last several years of the program (in its original form), that track was "Bad Company."  It's a more orchestral song, rather than synth or rock, and it definitely works as a mood piece for football grittiness.  In addition to defense in general, Bad Company was also associated on the show with the Oakland Raiders and the "Black Hole" motif of Raider Nation.  It was composed by prolific movie/TV/production composer Robert J. Walsh, who—in addition to his composing work for the company—was briefly a FirstCom executive in the mid '90s.  Walsh also founded the Hollywood Film Music library in 1987, which is not to be confused with the Hollywood Music label linked above.

This track is streamable on FirstCom's website.  One thing I don't like about their organization is that, although you can sort albums by release date, there's no way I can find where you can actually see the release date listed.  If anyone has figured it out, please let me know.

Below is, to my knowledge, NFL Primetime's first use of Bad Company.  The Chicago Bears, behind "The Shane Matthews Band," (one of Chris Berman's best nicknames) edge out the Kansas City Chiefs at home to open up the 1999 season.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Song - Strategy
Artist(s) - Mary Therese Matthews, Sally Anne Griffith, John Bähler, Matthew Muhoberac
Released - 1985
Primetime Usage - 1987
Contained on - FirstCom UT105 (New Beginning)
Featured Highlight - Lions @ Vikings, 1987

It doesn't get much more obscure than this.  "Strategy," composed by same three artists as "Fast Drive" plus Matthew Muhoberac, was used on the very last highlight of the very first episode of NFL Primetime and I haven't seen any other clips use it.  The availability of 1987 Primetimes is rather limited, however, so it definitely could've been used more than that.  Still…  it's probably one of the least remembered songs used on the show.  That doesn't mean it's bad, though.  Strategy's combination of '70s style and '80s instrumentation is unique, and it's relatively large amount of starts & stops—though not ideal for sports highlights—makes it an interesting song to listen to.

Finding the hard copy of FirstCom UT105 is the only way to get this track legally, I'm pretty sure.  Good luck with that…

As indicated above, Strategy's only known highlight usage was the Lions/Vikings game that ended the first-ever NFL Primetime.  Minnesota pulls out a somewhat comfortable, albeit sloppy, win that kicked off one of the most schizophrenic seasons for a team in NFL history.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Close Games Between Bad Teams

Song - Neck and Neck
Artist(s) - Alan Hawkshaw
Released - 1989
Primetime Usage - 1990-96
Featured Highlight - Saints @ Falcons, 1996

When two awful football teams get together, the result—however lacking in polish—can be quite entertaining.  "Neck and Neck" is a song that symbolizes that ambivalence perfectly.  It's up tempo and electronic, but it also gives off much more anguish and unhappiness than most NFL Primetime tracks.  If your team was struggling, you wouldn't be surprised to hear Neck and Neck playing in the background.  This seemed especially true if your team played on astroturf and/or in a dome such as historically mediocre franchises like the Lions, Saints, or Falcons.  The song provided a kind of therapy for football sadness.

Neck and Neck was composed by production music legend Alan "The Hawk" Hawkshaw, who has been active in composition & pop music for more than 50 years.  I won't go through all his awards, group memberships, & accomplishments here, mainly because it would take forever, but you can check them out on his website (linked above) or on his wikipedia page.  Outside of production music, he might be best known for putting together the disco group Love De-Luxe that produced the #1 disco hit, "Here Comes that Sound Again," in 1979.  Hawkshaw's daughter, Kirsty, is also a prolific electronic composer/artist and was the lead singer for Opus III in the '90s.

Neck and Neck is streamable on EMI's production music site, which is linked above.  Unfortunately, it appears to be the only Primetime song that was composed by Alan Hawkshaw.

A fitting clip for this song (and the post title) is this "epic" 1996 matchup in the Georgia Dome between doomed June Jones's 1-9 Falcons and interim coach Rick Venturi's Saints.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back to the Starting Line

Song - Fast Drive
Artist(s) - Mary Therese Matthews, Sally Anne Griffith, John Bähler
Released - 1985
Primetime Usage - 1987-88
Contained on - FirstCom UT103 (Lightning), FirstCom A2 (Intense)
Featured Highlight - Raiders @ Packers, 1987

To shift the focus from this blog's first couple posts, here's an NFL Primetime song you may not remember.  "Fast Drive" was only used during the first two years of the show and, as such, has become long forgotten compared with the songs I featured earlier.  That doesn't mean it's bad, though.  Fast Drive's '80s hair-metal sound fits the time well and works adequately for sports highlights, too.  I wouldn't say it's one of the best Primetime tracks, by any stretch (in part because I've only seen it used for dud games), but it's still pretty enjoyable.  It was composed by Mary Therese Matthews, Sally Anne Griffith, and John Bähler.  I couldn't find any bio info on Matthews or Griffith (they did contribute to other Primetime songs that will be featured here later, though), but John Bähler was apparently one of the singing voices for The Partridge Family back in the early '70s.

Fast Drive may be obscure for NFL Primetime fans, but you might recognize it if you're a fan of pro wrestling.  It was the theme song for the tag-team duo Stars and Stripes (The Patriot & Buff Bagwell) that competed for WCW in the mid-'90s.

The difficulty in finding this song is similar to Powersurge.  There isn't anywhere to stream it in full, official legality (that I know of), but there's a good chance you could pick up FC-A2 Intense on eBay if you're willing to go that far.  FC-UT103 is harder to find, though, and I'm pretty sure all the FirstCom Up Tempo albums are LPs.

As I mentioned above, the only games I've seen with Fast Drive were relatively uninteresting ones.  Here's a clip from the very first episode of NFL Primetime where John Saunders highlights the final Tom Flores Raiders team going to Lambeau and giving the Packers their first shutout loss in 9 years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

International Overuse

Song - International Statement (Main Track & Alternative Version)
Artist(s) - Alan Bell (Alan Blackham), Roger Dexter
Released - 1990
Primetime Usage - Main Track: 1997-05; Alternative Version: 1991-96
Featured Highlight - Main Track: Raiders @ Chiefs, 1999; Alternative Version: Steelers @ Bears, 1995

The song is technically called "International Statement," but it may as well be called "Oh, yeah…  the NFL Primetime song!"  Its mix of early 20th. century orchestral style and '80s instrumentation & edge creates a fitting accent for any "epic" football highlight.  In fact, starting in the late '90s, this track became NFL Primetime's go-to accompaniment for the highest profile games.  That trend continues unabated even to this day, though, because this song seems to always be featured at least once on The Blitz each week and at least once on each postseason day on Primetime.  Unfortunately, it's gotten to the point that this quality composition has become a cliche for over-the-top epicness and I long to actually hear something else with the top-tier highlights.  It's the football music equivalent of "Bohemian Rhapsody" after Wayne's World.

One thing many NFL Primetime viewers may not remember, however, is that they actually used two versions of International Statement during the run of the show.  ESPN started using the "epic" version we all know in 1997, but they had actually been using the "Alternative" track with an added driving rock drum beat over the previous 6 seasons.  I think the added percussion tones down the over-the-top aspects of this song and, as a result, I would love to see ESPN bring this version back.

Unlike FirstCom's own Powersurge from the previous post, International Statement can ironically be found on the FirstCom website using the above link.  Even if you didn't have the link, though, it's easy to find because Classical Excellence is the earliest Chappell AV album currently housed there.

In commemoration of my second song post, you get a twofer!  The first highlight, using the Main Track, is the Raiders/Chiefs game at the end of 1999 where Oakland won at Arrowhead for the first time in the '90s and consequently knocked Kansas City out of the playoffs.  The second video, with the Alternative Version, features the Steelers finally getting over .500 on their way to their first Super Bowl appearance in 16 years.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

No-One Circles the Wagons Like Ken Nelson & Jim Long

Song - Powersurge
Artist(s) - Ken Nelson, Jim Long
Released - 1985
Primetime Usage - 1987, 1990-91, 1993-94, 1998-05
Contained on - FirstCom UT104 (Powersurge), FirstCom A1 (Sports)
Featured Highlight - Bills @ Colts, 1998

On NFL Primetime, Chris Berman's Buffalo Bills fandom was not exactly a well-kept secret.  His love for those Niagara NFLers was best displayed in the coining of his famous line, "No-One Circles the Wagons Like the Buffalo Bills!," in the 1990s.  This catchprase became nearly as synonymous with Berman as his prodigious use of player nicknames throughout highlights and he still uses it often on ESPN to this day.  Another theme that became synonymous with Buffalo Bills highlights was the background song, "Powersurge."  Powersurge, composed by FirstCom founder (and then owner) Jim Long and current FirstCom executive Ken Nelson, provides an entertaining balance of '80s guitar rock and tight brass that works perfectly for football highlights.  Beginning early in Buffalo's Doug Flutie love-affair era in the late-'90s/early-2000s, virtually every highlight involving the Bills on NFL Primetime utilized this track.  In fact, aside from maybe "San Diego Super Chargers," I'm not sure there's another song that is more identified with an NFL team than this one.

One other unique note about Powersurge:  it's the only music track in the history of NFL Primetime that was used in both its first season (1987), and its last (regular) season (2005).

I don't know of a completely legal source to cleanly stream this song on the web at present.  If you're still interested in obtaining it, however, there's a decent chance you can find one of the above albums on eBay (that's how I got FC-A1 Sports).  I believe FC-UT104 is an LP and not a CD, though, so keep that in mind.  There also exists a remix of this song, entitled "Halftime Highlights Remix," that is streamable on FirstCom here.

The NFL Primetime highlight featured below was one of Doug Flutie's first starts for the Bills in 1998.  This was also Flutie's first year back in the U.S. after a moderate stint in the CFL.  Here he's up against a long-forgotten rookie by the name of Peyton Manning…

Monday, August 10, 2015

NFL Primetime Music - Introduction

NFL Primetime, which aired in its weekly, classic form on ESPN from 1987-2005, put a unique imprint on the memories of NFL fans.  Chris Berman's wit and eventual use of corny nicknames cemented him as one of the stars of the network, while Tom Jackson's concise, accurate, & often blunt analysis made him the most refreshing football commentator on TV.  The first 11 years of NFL Primetime also featured an all-star team of co-hosts including John Saunders, Robin Roberts, Bill Pidto, & the late Stuart Scott.  Even legendary sports wordsmith Pete Axthelm, who died in early 1991, provided entertaining editorials and betting analysis in the show's early years.  All of these factors helped make NFL Primetime one of the best highlight shows ever made and vastly superior to anything that's come since the 2006 change to the NFL TV arrangement, but—come on—the #1 reason people loved the show was its awesome soundtrack.

NFL Primetime music has been highly sought on the internet for more than a decade now.  I'm sure, if you found this blog anyway, that you've seen a set of 16+ NFL Primetime songs either posted on youtube or for download elsewhere.  I don't quite know how all of these songs were obtained, though I believe some were ripped from the now forgotten NFL Primetime PS2 game that came out in 2002, but I have found actual documentation on some of them.  Also—in providing a more unique flavor to this blog—I have found a lot of songs not contained in this set, including most of the tracks utilized in the early days of the show.  The vast majority of what I've discovered can be located on the various production music label networks that populate the web.  Well known figures in the production music world created some of these compositions, such as Trevor Bastow, Zack Laurence, John Devereaux, & Alan Hawkshaw, and their quality stands far above the average you'd expect for library stuff.  I've still got a long way to go to find everything, though, given the mind-numbing amount of production music that's available to stream online.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will post information about the NFL Primetime music I have definitively identified.  After that, I will start detailing the songs that are less than fleshed out.  This will start with songs I've discovered without credits and then finish with the tracks I have yet to find at all.  Hopefully this blog will be popular enough by that point that you readers can then help me out with this process.  No song will be available for download on this blog.  However, links to production libraries where these songs can be legally streamed/obtained will be provided whenever possible.  I will also include one game highlight from NFL Primetime as an example of each song's use on the show.  I hope that, one day, this site can put together a complete list of every song used for highlights over the entire run of the show.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading!