Friday, January 29, 2016

Getting Nowhere Fast

Song - Grid Lock
Artist(s) - Ray Russell
Released - 1994
Primetime Usage - 1996-05
Featured Highlight - Jets @ 49ers, 1998

One of the staples of late '90s/early '00s NFL Primetimes, "Grid Lock" most often associated itself with the less prominent games on the schedule.  It makes sense on two levels.  The name of the song implies stagnancy & frustration, something that fits well with teams that aren't doing too well.  Also, the music—though good—sounds rather neutral emotionally and therefore works best for highlights that are more about the individual plays & accomplishments than about who wins.  Grid Lock was written by prominent guitarist, session musician, and production music composer Ray Russell.  Fortunately, this isn't Russell's only Primetime track, as he has one other (much more obscure) song that I have yet to cover on this site.

You likely won't be able to find the original CD cut of this track.  FC-A33 is one of many early albums in the FirstCom Action series that are no longer available on the FirstCom website.  I've never seen it show up on eBay or anything like that, either.  On the plus side, however, Grid Lock is easy to find online if you don't care about obtaining it or listening to it in a fully 100% legal way.  A google search for "Grid Lock" with either "Ray Russell" or "NFL Primetime" should suffice.

This post's highlight choice is ironic given Grid Lock's tendency to accompany undercard games.  The Jets & 49ers, who both were coming off winning seasons & would both win double-digit games in 1998, played each other in a high-octane season opener in what was then known as 3Com Park.  Glenn Foley, who would soon be replaced by Vinny Testaverde, threw for a career-high 415 yards for New York.  This game is mostly remembered for one other reason, though:  Garrison Hearst's 96-yard touchdown run on San Francisco's first offensive play of overtime.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Unknown Song #1 - Powergate

Song - Powergate
Artist(s) - Steve Martin
Released - 1988
Primetime Usage - 1991-95
Featured Highlight - Chiefs @ Chargers, 1995


I was originally going to wait & do all the NFL Primetime songs I haven't identified after I'd posted everything I do know, but I'm going to make an exception here because somebody on my youtube page specifically requested this game highlight.  I'm still not planning on making this a regular thing right now, though, so don't expect any more unknown tracks for a while.  This composition was used pretty frequently for most of the early-to-mid-'90s.  It's kind of dour & depressing on the surface, but the synth bass line gives it enough energy to make it serviceable.  I don't think it's a Sonoton track, but it does sound somewhat similar to some of the Sonoton stuff used on Primetime from 1989-90 (especially the songs added in 1990).

The aforementioned highlight shows the post-Montana Chiefs smothering the Chargers in San Diego and, thanks to the 49ers upset of the Cowboys the same day, gaining sole possession of the best record in the NFL.  If any of you readers know what this song is, don't hesitate to comment either here or on youtube.  Thanks!

Friday, January 15, 2016

"Young" Triumphs & Mistakes

Song - Race to the Death
Released - 2000
Primetime Usage - 2000
Featured Highlight - Steelers @ Jaguars, 2000

One of the most obscure songs from the later heyday of NFL Primetime, "Race to the Death" seemed to be an attempt to replace the melancholy struggle motif previously occupied by Neck and Neck.  It's an OK song in small doses, though, and "small doses" were definitely what we got—it was just used a handful of times during only the 2000 NFL season.  The artists behind Race to the Death were, ironically, not so obscure…  well one of them at least.  I don't know a whole lot about Bryan "Chuck" New, but he does have a massive number of credits listed on Discogs.  George Young is a bit more famous, though.  In addition to being the older brother of Malcolm & Angus Young of AC/DC (and an AC/DC producer), he was also the co-writer & co-producer of top-10 disco hit "Love is in the Air" by John Paul Young (no relation).  Additionally, George Young was one of the inaugural inductees in the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 1988.

I apologize for the quality of the included highlight video, but this was the only Primetime clip I've been able to find with Race to the Death.  This game was a fitting example of the decline of the Tom Coughlin Jaguars, but it's mostly memorable for one reason.  Steelers rookie Plaxico Burress, after getting a long reception over the middle, decided to do a celebratory spike even though he hadn't actually been touched.  It didn't ultimately affect the contest's outcome, but this play often shows up on "top sports blunders" lists.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Empire Building

Song - Empire Building
Artist(s) - Mary Therese Matthews, Sally Anne Griffith, John Bähler, Matthew Muhoberac
Released - 1985
Primetime Usage - 1987-96 (infrequent)
Contained on - FirstCom UT104 (Powersurge)
Featured Highlight - Bengals @ Colts, 1987

The next two weeks will feature a couple songs that were requested on my youtube discussion page.  The first, "Empire Building," has a relatively strange usage history.  The song played on NFL Primetime highlights during the first 10 years of the show's run, but it was quite rare to hear it.  I've viewed quite a few episodes from that decade-long run, but Empire Building only shows up on three of them:  one highlight in 1987 (the one below), one in 1992, and one in 1996 (EDIT - I've found it was used during at least a few episodes in 1991, too).  Unlike sports cards, however, rarity doesn't make this track a gem.  It's far too neutral and sleepy to be good football accompaniment.  Empire Building is also the third and final (that I know of) track composed by the Matthews/Griffith/Bähler/Muhoberac quartet.

ESPN edited this song a little in the '90s by removing the bridge section and adding in some "creative" looping.  I'm not gonna post a second video for the edit because the edit isn't that meaningful & the song isn't that great, but it's a worthwhile footnote at least.  If you really want to hear it, try to find the Bills/Rams game from week 1 of 1992 or the Vikings/Lions game from week 1 of 1996 (special thanks to Kyle Caughlin on youtube for catching this difference).

The featured game highlight isn't real memorable, but it has a few nice plays.  The Bengals went into the Hoosier Dome and topped the Colts in the 1987 season opener.  It was an ironic result in retrospect since Indianapolis actually ended up winning the AFC East (their only playoff appearance in a 17-year span) while Cincy went 4-11.