NFL Films Music: Selections from Autumn Thunder

Mark Sabbatini By

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"From the 'Some Idiots Apparently Will Buy Anything' file, the NFL will be audio selling recordings of the conference championship games for replay on Apple iPods." ~ profootballtalk.com

Great. I guess I'm an idiot.

With the week of Super Bowl XXXIX here, Apple's iTunes Music Store is setting the mood with Selections from Autumn Thunder: 40 Years of NFL Films Music. The album, apparently exclusive to the store, features selections from a 10-disc boxed set of NFL music available from a more normal range of sellers for more money than any rational person (even by sports fan standards) should spent. In that context, a single-album option for diehards who'd rather buy chips for the big game ought to be welcome.

I have little trouble envisioning fans - especially of the winning team - being willing to shell out $7 for a radio broadcast of a three-hour game. But how many are willing to spay $10 for 37 minutes of what is largely shallow horn-drenched funk is a different matter. Are there really all that many people who watch a lot of NFL highlight videos and would consider this an audio trip down memory lane?

Beyond that, this is basically an overpriced novelty with a few catchy tunes and titles. It's not that there's no potential; it's just never developed on songs all clocking in between 90 second and three minutes long.

But the compositions are a step above typical TV soundtrack fare and a handful might be worth paying $1 for to download individually (better yet, just audition the 30-second previews for free; you'll get enough of an idea to know what's going on). "Ramblin Man From Gramblin'" is a surprisingly strong bop/blues that makes one actually wish an extended version with room for solos by the sax and vibes players existed. "The Lineman" is a bluesy '60s detective show type heavy on timbales and horns, but with no development beyond its two-vamp skeleton. A pleasant surprise is the closing "Camaraderie," where a mournful horn stands out convincingly against relatively light background clutter.

Much of the remaining album sounds like the soundtrack it is, resembling scores from Andrew Lloyd Webber to synthesized Bach rock. Such work might pass the jazz test given proper arrangement and opportunity for improvisation, but unless you're the type who tapes games in order to replay the "NFL on FOX" theme repeatedly don't expect much glory.

Tracks: Round Up; Up She Rises; The Lineman; Ramblin Man from Gramblin'; Pony Soldiers; Rainbows to the Endzone; Comeback; A New Game; Finale; Return to Win; Road to Victory; The Dream of a Lifetime; Heroes of War; Waltz of the Goliaths; Camaraderie.

Personnel: Featured performers include David Robidoux, Sam Spence and Tom Hedden. Full credit listing not available as of this writing.


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