Friday, July 12, 2024

Not Quite a Non-Highlight Track

Song - Northern Lights
Artist(s) - William (Bill) Soden
Released - 1986
Primetime Usage - 1987-88 (just non-highlight stuff in 1988)
Contained on - NFL 131 (LP) (Front Runner)
Featured Highlight - Buccaneers @ Cardinals, 1987

The early years of NFL Primetime didn't really have any tracks used exclusively for non-highlight stuff.  Of course, episodic segments like Inside the Numbers, Game Balls, and TJ's Extra Point didn't exist yet either.  The only non-highlight events with music were clips illustrating commentary segments by Chris, Tom, and Pete, and—if you count them as really being NFL Primetime—Sunday Night Football preview segments presented by Mike Patrick & co.  The songs used with those clips were always songs used for highlights, though.  "Northern Lights," composed by William Soden and contained on the final NFL Films LP, was almost an exception.  Northern Lights was used at least a few times for commentary segments, but it was only attached to a highlight once.  The St. Louis Cardinals, playing in their fourth-to-last game at Busch Stadium before moving to Arizona, came back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Unfortunately, the directorial organization of this John Saunders clip isn't very good.  Most of the comeback was skipped over, and Saunders's telling of it removed all suspense.  It seems a lot of the John Saunders highlights from this era were short shrift like this.  It's still an entertaining watch, though.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Song - Forerunner
Artist(s) - Craig Palmer
Released - 1986
Primetime Usage - 1987
Contained on - Network Music NM051 (Corporate Technology (Industrial))
Featured Highlight - Bengals @ Steelers, 1987

The recent acquisition of most every NFL Primetime highlight from the late '80s has unearthed a few interesting one-off songs.  One of these, "Forerunner," is actually pretty good.  It has nice aggressive energy and definitely works well with action highlights.  It would probably work better if some of the excessive bridge sections were edited out, but I'm still surprised it wasn't used more than once on the show.  Even the underscore is good!  Most underscores could be accurately described as "lamer version of main track," but Forerunner's underscore emphasizes the sweet rhythm-guitar part that isn't as audible on the main track.  Forerunner was composed by Craig Palmer.  According to the snapshot of his now defunct website (linked on the Discogs page that's linked above), Palmer somehow became the music director for The Regis Philbin Show in San Diego when he was only 18.  In later years, he composed many library pieces that were used for movies & TV.  Special thanks to GodzFire for ID'ing this song soon after we acquired the Primetime clip.

NFL Primetime's only use of Forerunner was during Week 6 of 1987 (or Week 7 if you count the canceled week), which was the first week back after the strike ended.  In this highlight, Mark Malone actually leads the Steelers to a close home win over division rival Cincinnati.  You might remember Mark Malone as an ESPN reporter, a professional Tom Selleck lookalike, and the most hated man in the history of Pittsburgh, PA.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Most Bizarre Highlight Track?

Song - Action Scene (Submix)
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 - Oilers @ Browns, 1987 (Replacement-Game Week 2)


There have been some odd choices for NFL Primetime highlight songs over the years.  Mortal Combat immediately springs to mind, though that was only used once.  A few of the songs from Oddball Week (Week 1, 1997) were also rather awkward.  I'm not sure any accompaniment choice was more bizarre than the Submix (i.e., underscore) for Action Scene, however.  Underscores are supposed to remove things like the melody and/or the high-pitched instruments, but the Submix for Action Scene sounds like someone pointed a full-blast flamethrower at the heart of the song.  To call it minimalistic is an understatement, and I'm surprised ESPN actually put it on a football video.  I guess it's appropriate that a "replacement" piece like the Action Scene Submix was only used for two 1987 replacement games.  The clip below, of the replacement Oilers edging out the replacement Browns in front of the Dawg Pound, was its last use.

As an aside, the Nichion quasi-legal(?) streaming service has been down for a while.  I'm still linking it above in case the site comes back, but I'm not sure that's likely.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Drive Away (Underscore) + Combo Mix Explanation

Song 1 - Drive Away (Underscore)
Artist(s) - Hal Brown, Donald Bradley Kelley (Brad Kelley)
Released - 1985
Primetime Usage - 1987-88
Contained on - FirstCom UT102 (Wheels of Commerce)
Featured Highlight - Bears @ Eagles, 1987 (Replacement-Game Week 1)

Song 2 - Drive Away (Combo Mix)
Artist(s) - Hal Brown, Donald Bradley Kelley (Brad Kelley) (edited by presumably John Colby)
Released - N.A. (ESPN custom edit)
Primetime Usage - 1987-88
Contained on - N.A. (ESPN custom edit)
Featured Highlight - Seahawks @ Bears, 1987


A month or so ago, GodzFire got in touch with a guy that had most every highlight from NFL Primetime stored on a boatload of DVDs.  Thanks to this guy's generosity, as well as GodzFire's willingness to host them on a convenient Google Drive, I now have way more highlights to choose from than I did before—especially from the late '80s.  I'm nowhere near finished watching all of these videos yet, but several discoveries have been made just from viewing the 1987 & 1988 clips.

Way back in 2016, I profiled the song "Drive Away" from the FirstCom UT102 album.  As with many songs played on Primetime in 1987 and '88, John Colby also used the underscore.  The underscore alone was only used twice that I've found (once in each year), and the Drive Away US had to share its highlight with another song in both cases (Drive Away and its underscore are each only about a minute long).  All other uses of Drive Away were actually a version that Godzfire and I have dubbed the "Combo Mix."  It's a simple, custom edit job (presumably by John Colby) that indefinitely alternates between the main track and the underscore.  My previous post of Drive Away also used the Combo Mix, but I somehow didn't realize it wasn't just looping the main track at the time.

To illustrate the two versions of Drive Away, I'm attaching two(!) videos to this post.  The first, featuring the underscore, shows the Bears thumping the Eagles in a nearly empty Veterans Stadium during the first week of 1987 replacement games.  After the underscore finishes, the rest of the highlight plays Driving Force—a song that happens to be on the same album and by the same composers.  The end of this highlight is cut off, unfortunately, but no more points were scored after what's shown (the Bears won 35-3).  The second highlight, featuring the Combo Mix, shows Walter Payton's final regular-season home game against Seattle late in the same season.  This quality of this clip is much better than the Drive Away video I posted 8 years ago, as you'll see.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Fast Man (Rhythm Only)

Song - Fast Man (Rhythm Only)
Artist(s) - John Colby
Released - 1987
Primetime Usage - 1988
Contained on - Valentino 6162 (Sports Themes), V-CD 13 (Sports Themes)
Featured Highlight - Patriots @ Bills, 1988

The Week 8, 1988 episode of NFL Primetime uncovered recently also revealed a "new" Primetime track.  The regular version of "Fast Man" was used in the very first episode of the show in 1987 (and many times thereafter), but I had not heard the "Rhythm Only" (i.e., underscore) version on a highlight until viewing this episode.  In this clip below, the 3-4 Patriots (QB'd by Doug Flutie) gave the 6-1 Bills a surprisingly good game in Orchard Park.

Unfortunately, the Valentino 1980s compilation album with the regular version of Fast Man does not have the underscore.  The full version of V-CD 13 is on YouTube, though (linked above), so you check out the song there (and no place else that I'm aware of).



Thursday, April 4, 2024

Instant Replay

Song - Instant Replay
Artist(s) - William Soden (likely)
Released - No later than 1988
Primetime Usage - 1988
Contained on - Musikos MS2 (Sports 2)
Featured Highlight - Rams @ Raiders, 1988


Godzfire recently uncovered a few NFL Primetime episodes on YouTube from the late '80s.  Among them was the Week 9, 1987 episode (or Week 10 if you include the strike-canceled week from that season) that was posted by a classic news/commercials/etc. account named ewjxn a month or so ago.  I believe this was the first 1987 episode newly posted on YouTube since Andy Provin posted Week 11 several years ago.  There were also two episodes from 1988 that were embedded at the end of a couple Patriots' game broadcasts from the Classic Pats Games+ account.  The first of those episodes (Week 3) included yet another Musikos song that I hadn't previously heard on a Primetime highlight.  "Instant Replay" is contained on the enigmatic Musikos Sports 2 album, and—just like every other song on Musikos's releases—the artist isn't credited.  I figure it's probably William Soden, but I can't be sure.  At any rate, that now makes 10 Primetime tracks that come from the Musikos Sports series (and I wouldn't be surprised if there's more).

Accompanying Instant Replay is the third-ever "Battle of L.A." between the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Raiders.  The Jim Everett-led Rams prevailed by 5 points over the Raiders, who were in their only full season under future Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan, in the Coliseum.  Special thanks to Godzfire for finding these late-'80s NFL Primetime episodes and immediately ID'ing Instant Replay after watching them.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Unknown Song #59 Identified

That was fast…  Thanks to Godzfire's sound-editing skills and his use of an audio fingerprinting program, US #59 has already been identified as the underscore version of a song called "Rainwater."  Eric Cunningham & Chris Lang, the composers of "Pure Glam," also feature on this one, as well as some guy named Chris Wright (I couldn't find any info about him).  Rainwater is housed in a different library than Pure Glam, though—the Killer Edge label from Killer Tracks.  It's on EDGE2, titled Rock: Alternative 2.  I listed the year as "1999?" for the release of EDGE2 because the Universal website says it was released in 2000, but Discogs has EDGE13 coming out in 1999.  Universal has the release date for the first umpteen Killer Edge albums as all being January 1, 2000, so I figure they just weren't being too thorough there.


Friday, February 9, 2024

Purgatory Primetime - Unknown Song #59 - Rainwater (underscore)

Song - Rainwater (underscore)
Artist(s) - Eric Cunningham, Chris Lang, Chris Wright
Released - 1999?
Primetime Usage - 2006
Contained on - Killer Edge EDGE2 (Rock: Alternative 2)
Featured Highlight - NFC Divisional Round Preview (from Wild Card Sunday Episode), 2006



Two weeks ago, I profiled the use of "Pure Glam" for the AFC Divisional Preview from the 2006 Sunday Wild Card episode.  The NFC Divisional Preview from earlier in that same episode also used a new song.  This song has not been identified, however.  It sounds like a generic grunge instrumental with some loud, punctuating drums.  I'm not sure what more to say about it than that, but please reply or contact me if you know what this track is.

Oh… and enjoy Super Bowl LVIII.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Purgatory Primetime - Pure Glam

Song - Pure Glam
Artist(s) - Eric Cunningham, Chris Lang
Released - 1999
Primetime Usage - 2006
Contained on -
Chronic Trax CM014 (Chronic Rocks, Vol. 1)
Featured Highlight - AFC Divisional Round Preview (from Wild Card Sunday Episode), 2006

After ESPN traded Sunday Night Football for Monday Night Football following the 2005 season, they lost the exclusive long-form highlight rights to the Sunday NFL day games that led to the launch of the show in the first place.  What followed (until ESPN+ New Primetime began in 2019) was what I like to call the "Purgatory Primetime" era.  During this era (2006-18), almost all of the real NFL Primetime broadcasts aired during the postseason.  There was still a show called "NFL Primetime," but it was a bastardized version that aired Monday afternoons without Chris Berman or Tom Jackson.  The closest thing left for NFL Primetime junkies was The Blitz, a Primetime-like segment hosted by Berman & TJ (& others like Trent Dilfer) during Sunday evening SportsCenter that featured shorter highlights and longer talking segments.  The Blitz was passable—and both it and the Monday NFL Primetime used the classic music everyone reading this blog is more than familiar with—but things still weren't the same compared to the pre-2006 NFL world.

The 2006 postseason marked the first real return of NFL Primetime since the end of ESPN's Sunday Night Football.  Aside from ditching the 2005 title song and returning to the 1998-04 piece, the episodes looked and felt just like the ones from the previous year's playoffs.  One quirk, however, was the addition of several new non-highlight tracks.  The first, the most interesting, and the only one that's been identified as of this post, is "Pure Glam" by Chronic Trax co-founder Eric Cunningham and "Blow the Stack" co-composer Chris Lang (assuming it's the same Chris Lang).  It was used one time for each Wild Card episode and also once in the Conference Championship show.  Below is Pure Glam's accompaniment of the AFC Divisional Round preview late in the Sunday Wild Card episode.  Special thanks to Godzfire for identifying this song.