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!