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.


  1. This was a song I hoped you would find. I never saw it in the Youtube playlists of NFL Primetime songs and you'd have to dig into old Youtube compilations of Primetime shows in order to hear it. Good post!

  2. @xSmootx from Twitter here again, did some searching and found a clean version of the Original Powerhouse track up on YouTube by Dave Volsky -

    Great song, hope somebody can stumble upon the clean versions of the other two renditions.

    1. Yeah, I've noticed a lot these being put up in recent weeks. It's good my posts are having an impact. I doubt you could get a "canon" version of the '90s edit of Powerhouse since it's a custom edit, but it's not too hard to make it yourself if you're decent with Quicktime 7 or something similar (all the components of the edit are in the original track—just needs some cut/paste work).

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