The Power and the Glory:  The Original Music and Voices (soundtrack) by Sam Spence, John Facenda, Tom Hedden, David Robidoux



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Autumn Thunder
by Sam Spence, Tom Hedden, David Robidoux

The Themes of Fall: The Music of Football and Film  - Tracksounds Special Feature

Autumn Thunder: 40 Years of NFL Films Music by Sam Spence, Tom Hedden, and David Robidoux







Autumn Thunder (Soundtrack) by Sam Spence, Tom Hedden, David Robidoux

Autumn Thunder
Composed by Sam Spence,
Tom Hedden, David Robidoux
Cherry Lane Music (2004)

Rating: 9/10

Buy Autumn Thunder by Sam Spence, Tom Hedden, David Robidoux  from


Listen to this soundclip of Autumn ThunderPony Soldiers (354 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn ThunderJazz Undercurrents (357 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn Thunder

Round-Up (314 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn Thunder75 Seasons Suite (370 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn ThunderHeroes of War (339 kb)


“While every track isn't a 5-star piece, the effort and care to make so much of the music from NFL Film's available shines through and the overall effect of this 6 hour compilation earns it one of Tracksounds highest ratings.”

The Thundering Heard
Review by Christopher Coleman

For over 40 years now, NFL Films has produced some of the most-watched sports documentaries and specials in television history. Kinetic snapshots taken from countless-Sundays of football  have been preserved by visionaries Ed and Steve Sabol and their team of creatives. Those snapshots are inexorably joined to the music of composer Sam Spence, Tom Hedden and David Robidoux.  For the sports fan, much of the music attached to the myriad of Super Bowl shows, team documentaries or player tributes, are just as recognizable as some of Hollywood's famous musical themes.

After a year and a half of work, NFL Films, along with Cherry Lane Music, released the massive 10-disc compilation, AUTUMN THUNDER: 40 YEARS OF NFL FILMS MUSIC. Contained within are most of the classic tracks that football aficionados have come to know and love.  Although some the titles have been renamed, the music of "Forearm Shiver," "Ramblin' Man from Gramblin'," "A Golden Boy Again," "Pony Riders," "The Raiders," among others from composer Sam Spence are included.  Moving beyond the body of the famed NFL composer's work are a number of slightly-lesser known compositions, from slightly-lesser-known composers such as Tony Luisi, Martha Jane Webber and Beverly Hermmann. 

Beginning with the heavily jazz-influenced music from the 1950s and concluding with pulse-pounding, synthesized scores of the new millenium, AUTUMN THUNDER is almost like taking a historical tour of pop  and orchestral music. Film music fans will certainly find familiar references to classic film themes like THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and THE GREAT ESCAPE and PETER GUN. Likewise, jazz and pop fans will find allusions to Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," Henri Mancini's theme for Peter Gun or to Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" from the mid-1980s. The discs and tracks generally follow a chronological order, so one of the more entertaining aspects of this compilation is listening to the evolution of the sound of NFL Films and the era-nuances found from disc to disc.

Going beyond those classic football tunes and into the new millennium, AUTUMN THUNDER further delivers a healthly introduction to the music of NFL Film's next-generation-composers: TOM HEDDEN and DAVID ROBIDOUX.   While maintaining the traditions established by Steve Sabol and Sam Spence, the two composers also keep the production company's sound fresh and accessible for today's audiences.  The combined result is a massive compilation that entertains the hard-core NFL fan as well as many soundtrack collectors.

The Golden Spence Era

NFL Films' earliest era is, of course, synonymous with the sound of SAM SPENCE.  The first six discs are dominated by his compositions.  For those who remember watching NFL Films' productions prior to the days of ESPN, then it is likely that Spence's flair with jazz as well as memorable melodies will be those pieces that are immediately recognized and emotionally connected to.  His famous pieces simply transport the listener back to an era where players and coaches stayed with one team and when they were known more for the football-exploits than off-the-field-failings.  Many of Spence's pieces seem to capture the essence of an era long gone.  The earliest of tracks are heavily influenced by the period in which they were composed.  Disc 1  is  predominantly made of jazz/big-band compositions, although the foundations of the NFL Films, orchestral feel start surfacing on track 4, "Knight in Cracked Leather."  After disc 1, the famous musical personality of Steve Sabol's productions takes shape and, by disc 2, the music has matured into what fans have come to remember most about Sam Spence's work. 

Tracking through to disc 7, some listeners may be wearied as each disc holds only one or two easily recognizable pieces.  Some may find many of the tracks plagued by musical references that pinpoint the era in which they were written.  Music peppered by references from the 60s, 70s and 80s are in abundance.  That said,  discs 4 through 7 still contain some of Sam Spence's best works: "The Raiders," "Jazz Undercurrents," "Round Up," "Classic Battle," "Wild Bunch," "Salute to Courage."  Each exhibit at least one characteristic that helped Sam Spence set these productions apart:  memorable melodies, blarring brass accents, pulsing percussion, or determined string work.  That said, even this 10-disc release isn't enough to cover all of Sam Spence's recognizable works such as "The Final Quest" and "The Equalizer" which can be found on the 1998 Tommy Boy Records release of THE POWER AND THE GLORY.  The contribution of Spence to the world of sports-video production can hardly be measured, but suffice it to say that some of his works have become slices of Americana and AUTUMN THUNDER does his body of work justice.

The New Millennium of NFL Films

Reaching mid-way through disc 7, we have a handing off of the torch.  With the 75 SEASONS Suite, we move into NFL Film's new musical era.  Composers Tom Hedden and David Robidoux are boldly introduced with music from their 1994, Emmy-Winning score for the TNT-aired special covering the history of the NFL's first 75 Seasons. Composer Tom Hedden is given the main music credit here and David Robidoux credited with "additional music."  However the credits are divided, the combined effort of the two composer here, features some of the most lyrical and evocative music found on any of the 10 discs.  Founded upon a single, title theme, the composers arrange and orchestrate its employment throughout the track with grace and finesse and also with climactic majesty, just as it is found in the TV special. Truly, the 12 minute suite alone almost makes the entire set worth the price of admission.  Those who were fortunate to see the special or buy the VHS tape of it (yes VHS - there is no DVD release), will find this suite particularly poignant.  Those who have not seen this brilliant documentary will certainly want to after hearing this track alone.

Now the work of Tom Hedden and David Robidoux extend far beyond 75 SEASONS. The balance of the compilation, discs 8 through 10, features only the work of NFL Film's two new torch-bearers.   The pace and tone of the remaining discs takes on a decidedly more contemporary feel.  Fans of modern-day film or game music will find much to sink their ears into.  That said, the mindful listener will discover that much of what is presented is "Sam Spence" as interpreted in the new millennium.  The horns are there, but blare the louder.  The stringers are there, but soar the higher.  The percussion remains, but pounds even harder. 

As modern-day composers, both Tom Hedden and David Robidoux demonstrate their unique styles and voices quite clearly.  As demonstrated in the 75 Seasons Suite, Tom Hedden's work reflects the ideals and techniques of his predecessor yet modernizes them.  Tom Hedden's early work provides an accessible bridge from Spence's style to the present-day sensibilities.  In discs 7 through 9, is found Tom Hedden's most enjoyable work.  Full of bold themes and wondrous orchestrations, his work carries the NFL Film's flag quite well.  One only need to listen to tracks like "Golden Boy" (track 13, disc 7), "The Hero's Suite" (track 8, disc 8), or "Touchdown Suite" (track 1, disc 9), to find NFL Film's musical tradition alive and well.  Still, by disc 10, Tom Hedden shows that his musical evolution continues. His sound has transitioned into a smaller orchestra-feel and greater dependence on production.  It is this modern-ideal that David Robidoux also exhibits, but much stronger and right from his early days with NFL Films.

Many of Robidoux's earlier works for NFL Films loosely cling to the patented sense of melody and theme well established by Spence and continued by Hedden, yet Robidoux's use of percussion is much more aggressive than either.  While Tom Hedden's work might be called more "thematic,"  David Robidoux's might be called more "forceful."  Tracks like "Legends" (track 14, disc 7), "Kickoff" (track 15, disc 7), and "Heroes of War" (track 1, disc 9) all demonstrate Robidoux's talent for melody, but also his knack to amp everything up by a notch or two.  Those who have a tendency to appreciating the work of a Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard or James Michael Dooley, will find much territory to explore and enjoy in Robidoux's work.

AUTUMN THUNDER is packaged in a huge book-like case whose "page" hold 2 discs each.  The cover looks and feels like, what else, a football.  Handy for carrying this compilation through the rain, but at almost $100, it's doubtful this case and contents will ever be treated so recklessly.  The liner-notes are extensive.  In fact, let's call it a book that features notes by Steve Sabol, Sam Spence, Tom Hedden, David Robioux and Jerry Mahler, executive in charge of Audio at NFL Films.  There are numerous, color photos, song notes and indexes.  A top-rate package.  The only negative is that there isn't one single listing of tracks that include, title, length, and composer in one line.  (Not a big deal unless you are writing a review of this set!)

While the $100 price tag might seem a bit steep, for the football fan, there is little question that this release is worth every penny.  For the film music fan, I say serious thought should be given to AUTUMN THUNDER as well.  How many 10 disc film music compositions are out there?  Not many, if there is even one.  This compilation is like a trip through the decades with the NFL and as these discs play, its virtually impossible to not be infused with the inspiration that Steve Sabol and company surely have intended for their productions from the very beginning.  It should be said that AUTUMN THUNDER isn't an exhaustive compilation of the NFL Film's archive.  To deliver that would put it in a place where only NFL players could afford to buy it.  What has been delivered is plenty - even if one or two of the more obscure pieces aren't included.  Finally, While every track isn't a 5-star piece, the effort and care to make so much of the music from NFL Film's available shines through and the overall effect of this six hour compilation earns it one of Tracksounds highest ratings.”

Rating: 9/10

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Disc 1



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Night of the Gun (Sam Spence) 2:03  ***
2 Big Band Jump (Sam Spence) 2:18  ***
3 008 (Sam Spence) 2:17  ***
4 Knight in Cracked Leather (Sam Spence) 3:17  ***
5 The Bomb Squad (Sam Spence) 1:24  ***
6 Police Car (Sam Spence) 3:02  ***
7 The Dasher (Sam Spence) 2:49  ***
8 Shoulder Holster (Sam Spence) 2:29  ***
9 The Clue (Sam Spence) 2:51  ***
10 Bongo Run (Sam Spence) 2:22  ***
11 Latin Nights (Sam Spence) 2:26  ***
12 Solomon Squatz (Sam Spence) 2:41  ***
13 Take Six (Sam Spence) 1:54  ***
14 Aggression "Life on the Wild Side" (Sam Spence) 2:10  ****
15 Sunday with Soul (Sam Spence) 2:38  ***
16 Glory Day in Green Bay (Sam Spence) 2:53  ***
17 Forearm Shiver (Sam Spence) 2:39  ****
18 Street Warfare (Sam Spence) 2:53  ***
19 Milktrain to Paydirt (Sam Spence) 2:16  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 47 minutes  

Disc 2



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Whirlwinds to the End Zone (Sam Spence) 2:39  ***
2 Big Game America (Sam Spence) 2:38  ****
3 Rainbows in the End Zone (Sam Spence) 2:50  ****
4 Game Plan for Sudden Death (Sam Spence) 2:42  ****
5 The Over the Hill Gang (Sam Spence) 2:44  ***
6 Deadline (Sam Spence) 2:34  ***
7 Duel in the Dust (Sam Spence) 2:24  ****
8 Gut Pride (Sam Spence) 2:28  ***
9 Headcracker Suite (Sam Spence) 2:42  ***
10 Let's Go Big "O" (Sam Spence) 2:31  **
11 West Side Rumble (Sam Spence) 2:57  ****
12 Ramblin' Man from Gramblin' (Sam Spence) 2:37  *****
13 March to the Trenches (Sam Spence) 2:51  ****
14 Meeting in Rio (Sam Spence) 2:43  **
15 A Golden Boy Again (Sam Spence) 2:34  *****
16 Silent Season of a Hero (Sam Spence) 2:53  ***
17 To Catch the Wind (Sam Spence) 2:50  ***
18 Old Pros (Sam Spence) 1:48  **
19 Pony Soldiers (Sam Spence) 2:53  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 50 minutes  

Disc 3



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Magnificent Eleven (Sam Spence) 3:32  ****
2 The Generals of Autumn (Sam Spence) 3:23  ****
3 Dance of the Fumblers (Sam Spence) 3:00  ***
4 The Path to the Title (Sam Spence) 3:33  *****
5 One More Moment for the Master (Sam Spence) 2:20  ***
6 Sideline to Sideline (Sam Spence) 2:46  ***
7 Touchdown Jubilee (Sam Spence) 2:34  **
8 The Game that Got Away (Sam Spence) 2:51  ***
9 The Happy Runner (Sam Spence) 2:13  ***
10 Happy March (Sam Spence) 3:00  **
11 The Mob (Sam Spence) 2:50  ****
12 Champion's Homecoming (Sam Spence) 3:18  ****
13 Yesterday's Heroes (Sam Spence) 4:26  ***
14 Drum Track #1 (Tony Luisi)) 1:01  ***
15 Return of the Victors (Sam Spence) 3:15  ***
16 Headline (Martha Jane Webber) 2:45  ***
17 Action Ride (Martha Jane Webber) 2:35  ***
18 A Chilling Championship (Sam Spence) 3:11  ****
19 Championship Chase Finale (Sam Spence) 2:53  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 55 minutes  

Disc 4



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Electro Combat (Sam Spence) 2:04  ***
2 Autumn's Race (Sam Spence) 2:19  ***
3 The Raiders (Sam Spence) 1:57  *****
4 Championship Chase Overture (Sam Spence) 3:44  ****
5 Action-Man (Martha Jane Webber) 2:09  ****
6 Lonely Ride (Martha Jane Webber) 2:23  ***
7 Moving Vistas (Beverly Herrmann) 3:11  **
8 Happy Lovers (Beverly Herrmann) 2:41  **
9 Heavy Action (Beverly Herrmann) 2:41  **
10 Cinderella Men (Sam Spence) 6:15  ***
11 Prime Choice (Sam Spence) 5:59  ***
12 Hotdogs and Heroes (Sam Spence) 5:44  ***
13 The Defenders (Sam Spence) 3:50  ***
14 Quest fo the Silver Trophy (Sam Spence) 6:02  **
15 Sunday Afternoon Fever (Sam Spence) 5:46  **
16 On the Winning Side (Sam Spence) 3:32  ****
17 The Connection (Sam Spence) 2:04  **
18 Latin Fire (Sam Spence) 1:34  ***
19 Jazz Undercurrents (Sam Spence) 2:07  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 65 minutes  

Disc 5



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Dangerous Mission (Sam Spence) 2:09  ****
2 The Westerner (Sam Spence) 2:25  ***
3 Army Life (Sam Spence) 2:09  ***
4 Round-Up (Sam Spence) 2:00  *****
5 Juggernaut (Sam Spence) 2:07  ***
6 Honcho (Sam Spence) 1:49  **
7 Santa Anna Wind (Sam Spence) 1:53  ***
8 Olympian (Sam Spence) 2:36  ***
9 A March Towards The Sun #2 (Sam Spence) 3:41  ***
10 Range Rider (Sam Spence) 2:16  ***
11 Water Bug (Sam Spence) 2:15  **
12 Macho Theme (Sam Spence) 2:07  **
13 Bold March (Sam Spence) 2:24  ***
14 Wallop Shuffle (Sam Spence) 2:06  **
15 Worldwide March (Sam Spence) 2:30  ***
16 Mother Russia March (Sam Spence) 1:53  ***
17 Fat Cat March (Sam Spence) 2:21  **
18 Cosmic Treveller (Sam Spence) 1:55  **
19 Battleground (Sam Spence) 2:33  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 43 minutes  

Disc 6



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Patriots March (Sam Spence) 3:13  ***
2 Classic Battle (Sam Spence) 2:20  ****
3 Classic Victory (Sam Spence) 2:35  ***
4 Heartland (Sam Spence) 1:54  ***
5 Sad Homecoming (Sam Spence) 2:18  ***
6 Long Way to Go (Sam Spence) 2:18  ***
7 Tale of Two Seasons (Sam Spence) 1:57  ****
8 Journey to the Moon (Preparation)(Sam Spence) 1:33  ****
9 Silver Streak (Sam Spence) 1:56  ***
10 Big Boomer (Sam Spence) 1:52  **
11 Whatever it Takes (Sam Spence) 1:52  **
12 Blockbuster (Sam Spence) 1:30  ***
13 Men of Winter (Sam Spence) 1:38  ***
14 Wild Bunch (Sam Spence) 2:02  ****
15 Cinderella Super Bowl (Sam Spence) 1:57  ***
16 Mighty Men and Magic Moments (Sam Spence) 2:17  ***
17 Heroic Mission (Sam Spence) 2:13  ****
18 Battlefield in the Sky (Sam Spence) 2:19  ***
19 Squadron Right (Sam Spence) 2:25  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 41 minutes  

Disc 7



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Grace and Grit (Sam Spence) 1:48  ***
2 Rodger the Dodger Finale (Sam Spence) 2:42  ***
3 Shimmering Challenge (William Soden) 2:15  ***
4 Industrial Giant (Sam Spence) 2:05  ***
5 Raider Might (Sam Spence) 2:19  ***
6 Tomorrow the World (Sam Spence) 2:41  ***
7 Critical Mass (Sam Spence) 1:49  **
8 Salute to Courage (Sam Spence) 2:01  ****
9 The Contender (Sam Spence) 1:57  ***
10 Yellow Ribbon (Sam Spence) 2:18  ***
11 75 Seasons Suite (Tom Hedden) 12:34  *****
12 A New Game (Tom Hedden) 1:55  *****
13 Golden Boy (Tom Hedden) 1:48  ****
14 Legends (David Robidoux) 2:50  *****
15 Kickoff (David Robidoux) 3:44  ****
16 End of Half (David Robidoux) 2:47  ****
17 Trials (Tom Hedden) 1:59  ****
18 Coronation (Tom Hedden) 2:54  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 52 minutes  

Disc 8



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 American Holiday (David Robidoux) 2:32  ****
2 Big West Skye (David Robidoux) 2:18  ****
3 Frozen in Time (David Robidoux) 1:36  ***
4 Road to Victory (David Robidoux) 2:44  ***
5 Fearless (David Robidoux) 2:12  ****
6 A Moment in History (David Robidoux) 2:07  ***
7 Return to Win (David Robidoux) 2:24  ***
8 The Hero's Suite (Tom Hedden) 8:25  ****
9 Underdog's March (Tom Hedden) 2:26  ****
10 Humble Beginnings (Tom Hedden) 2:45  ****
11 The Super Bowl (Tom Hedden) 2:20  ****
12 Turning Point (Tom Hedden) 2:21  ****
13 Origins (Tom Hedden) 4:09  ***
14 Decision Time (Tom Hedden) 2:38  ***
15 A Hero Remembered (David Robidoux) 2:14  ****
16 Game of Inches (Tom Hedden) 2:13  ***
17 No Huddle Offense (Tom Hedden) 2:08  ***
18 Air Attack (Tom Hedden) 2:21  ***
19 Old Man Winter (Tom Hedden) 2:16  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 52 minutes  

Disc 9



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Touchdown Suite (Tom Hedden) 9:03  ****
2 Heroes of War (David Robidoux) 2:35  ****
3 Gone But Not Forgotten (David Robidoux) 2:00  ***
4 When Lightning Strikes (David Robidoux) 1:47  ***
5 Victory to the West (David Robidoux) 2:14  ****
6 Lights Out (David Robidoux) 2:08  ***
7 Building a Champion (David Robidoux) 2:42  ****
8 Times of Glory (David Robidoux) 2:16  ***
9 The Face of Adversity (David Robidoux) 2:00  ***
10 Without Warning (David Robidoux) 2:34  ***
11 The Dream of a Lifetime (David Robidoux) 2:37  **
12 Unitas We Stand (David Robidoux) 3:09  ***
13 Drive to Glory (David Robidoux) 2:31  ***
14 High Black Shoes (Tom Hedden) 2:29  ***
15 Two Minute Thrill (Tom Hedden) 2:38  ***
16 Warrior Quarterback (Tom Hedden) 3:32  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 44 minutes  

Disc 10



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Relentless (Tom Hedden) 2:50  ***
2 High Stakes (Tom Hedden) 2:11  **
3 Playmakers (David Robidoux) 1:57  ***
4 Heavy Hitters (David Robidoux) 2:28  ***
5 Reunion in Canton (David Robidoux) 2:55  ***
6 Mind of a Warrior (David Robidoux) 2:25  **
7 Generations (David Robidoux) 2:42  ***
8 Never Relent (David Robidoux) 2:34  ***
9 Brothers to the End (David Robidoux) 2:12  ***
10 Choose Your Destiny (David Robidoux) 2:59  ***
11 Rife with Possibility (Tom Hedden) 2:07  ***
12 Counterpunch (Tom Hedden) 2:00  ***
13 A Tradition of Honor (Tom Hedden) 3:22  ***
14 One Day.  One Game. (David Robidoux) 2:20  ***
15 Salty Dog (Tom Hedden) 1:50  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 36 minutes  
  Total 10-Disc Running Time (approx) 333 minutes  




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