Sunday, October 11, 2020

#27 Paula Abdul (+ Arsenio Hall bonus)

Here's the middle child of Paula Abdul's three cards in Series 1 of the 1991 MusiCards set. It's a sultry photo with a top-down view of the 5'0" firecracker. Prior to Paula, the most skin we've seen in this set so far was back at card #7 where Jim Morrison had his shirt off.

The back photo is kinda jarring-- Paula isn't really known for bold headwear choices, so it made me do a double-take. Still looks good, though. The blurb touches on her breakout as a pop star and echoes the previous card touting her choreography career.

With Forever Your Girl being a smash hit debut record-- it was the first time an artist scored four US Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles from a debut album-- it's easy to forget it didn't have much impact at first. The album was originally released in June of '88, but didn't really start getting traction up the charts until mid '89, going on to be a top seller well into 1990.

My earliest recollection of Paula Abdul was the "Straight Up" video on MTV. The black & white video had a washed out effect to it and the camera bounced around a lot, so seemed like you didn't really get a clear look at her. The feeling was kinda like "Ooh, who's this mysterious new girl on the scene?!" Plus it featured a cameo of Arsenio Hall, who was probably revered as the coolest guy alive to kids my age in 1989, so that gave her some instant cred. There were rumours the two were dating, but turns out they were just friends. I liked the song a lot, but if memory serves, it wasn't until I heard "Knocked Out" or maybe "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" that I was compelled to go out and use some allowance money to buy the album on cassette at the local Longs Drugs.

Oh yeah, that "The Way That You Love Me" video had me under her spell. Loved it! Probably haven't seen it in 30 years, but it all kinda comes flooding back to see it again.


Since I already mentioned Arsenio Hall, let's whip him up a custom. Sure, he's not a musician, but I don't think anyone would have batted an eye had he slipped into the set. He was like the Dick Clark of the era, or maybe a hipper Dick Cavett or Ed Sullivan, helping introduce America to rising acts of the day. The Arsenio Hall Show was a bright showcase for pop artists of the late 80s and early 90s, along with all the hot celebrities and funny quips the show offered. At least at my middle school, I seem to recall the hottest TV shows to the student body were The SimpsonsBeverly Hills 90210, and Arsenio. Oh, and In Living Color was pretty popular too. If you missed the latest episode of any of those, you were hit with serious uncool points against you!

While I didn't know it at the time, Arsenio was also the original voice of Winston in the The Real Ghostbusters from 1986 to 1987, one of my favorite cartoons as a kid.

I built the 2016 Cryptozoic Ghostbusters autograph set 2 or 3 years back, and past-me was super stoked to score an autograph from two icons of my childhood in one.

I think the only other Arsenio Hall card in my collection is this biting Mad Magazine cutout from 1990.

If you watched that "Straight Up" video above, you might've noticed that Arsenio has been blurred out. From what I can gather, that happened in the wake of accusations that he played a role in the death of Prince, which made him a persona non grata for a while, though it doesn't look like any merit to all that stuff ever surfaced.

On May 5, 2016, Hall filed a $5 million defamation lawsuit against Sinéad O'Connor after she claimed he had fueled Prince's drug habit and also had spiked her drink during a party at Eddie Murphy's house.[38] Hall dropped the lawsuit after O'Connor apologized and retracted her allegation that he had supplied Prince with drugs.[39]

A fun fact I just learned about Arsenio from skimming his wikipedia entry is that his mother's named Annie Hall. Like the movie!

By the way, another direct connection between Paula and late night talk shows is that the bandleader on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Cleto Escobedo, was in Abdul's live band back in the day.

I was watching this live show from Japan '92 while I was working on this post. Any Kimmel fans who want to see a young Cleto in his big moment centerstage, you can skip ahead to 58 minutes.

That's it for today. I'm curious if Arsenio Hall was as big a deal for you guys back then as he was to kids in my neighborhood. Were you doing that "Roo, Roo, Roo!" fist-pumping thing with your buddies?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

#26 Paula Abdul

We've finally made it passed the Legends and into the main set. The main set is actually split up into three genres (Pop, R&B/Rap, and Rock) sorted alphabetically, with the occasional outlier making things weird... but we'll get to all that later.

1991 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards #26

Kicking off the pop section is the lovely Paula Abdul. Looks like the photographer had her dance around a bit to get an "action" shot with her hair bouncing around. I can picture the guy, "Ok Paula, now let's jog in place. Lift those knees! Beautiful!"

Paula has 6 total MusiCards: two more on deck right after this one, plus two more once we get to Series 2, and then one in the UK edition. Also worth noting that her cartoon collaborator MC Skat Kat has a couple cards himself in Series 2.

The back write-up covers her background as a successful choreographer. I remember that she was part of the Laker Girls before her singing career, but forgot she did all that other stuff too. Pretty impressive. Younger folks who weren't around for her time on top of the charts probably know her best these days as a judge on American Idol back when that show was a cultural phenomenon, and she's since gone on to judge on other singing/dancing TV shows.

It's not great quality, but this video taken at a live performance features Paula telling the story of how she became a Laker Girl. (It wouldn't let me embed it here.)

Pre-stardom Paula got some screen time in the "Nasty" video.

The Jacksons discovered her through her work on the court and her career quickly took off from there. The music videos she choreographed for Janet Jackson are "What Have You Done for Me Lately", "Nasty" (which netted her the MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography), "When I Think of You", and "Control". Those were all from 1986, as was the one video she did with ZZ Top, "Velcro Fly". She was also behind the big keyboard scene in Big (1988). Even after she became a pop star, she stuck with it, such as choreographing Val Kilmer's moves when he played Jim Morrison performing in The Doors (1991).

In putting this set together, I've come across a lot of MusiCards, and I try to keep an eye out among the dupes for any undiscovered variations or interesting printing flaws. I haven't found much, but one that was almost notable was a #26 that was slightly miscut. Notice how the "P" is all the way at the edge of the card. Again, not all that interesting unless you're really going through the set with a fine-tooth comb like I am.

As for Paula Abdul's music, I'll admit I was a fan as a kid back in the day. I owned 1988's Forever Your Girl on cassette and loved it. Even today, I consider her a "guilty pleasure" of mine and will give that album a play every so often. 

MC Skat Kat shows off his best card.

We've still got 5 more Paula Abdul cards in the pipeline, so we can poke into her musical career more later. I'm going to keep this post short (no "Custom Corner" bonus artist today), but wanted to make sure I published something before September was over. One post per month is my bare minimum goal for this blog. Hopefully going forward I start getting through the set at a brisker pace. 

My life was floating along pretty nicely back when this blog debuted a year ago (10/1/2019), but things took a turn for the worse shortly thereafter. My dog Annie got sick that month and had to be put down in early November, which really gutted me and my wife. Then just when things were getting back to normal for us, the whole covid-19 pandemic took hold of the planet and made things shitty for everyone. Figuring out how to do my job mostly from home took some work. Add to that US government bullshit, unrest over police racism, and Oregon wildfires uncomfortably close to my neighborhood, and it's been a stressful and depressing 2020. Plus we got a new puppy (Ruby) in July who's a mischievous stinker who needs a lot of attention. And we're in the process of buying our first house, with the big move on the horizon. So recreational projects like this MusiCards Blog get bumped to the backburner thanks to stuff like that, even if cranking out one of these posts isn't exactly a ton of work or super time-consuming, but I still gotta carve out some time and get in the right headspace for it.

Not that I think you few kind folks reading this care too much about the frequency of posts here, but as we hit the one-year mark at the blog, just wanted to defend the slow progress so far. 

Big thanks for sticking with me! Hopefully year 2 of the blog covers more than 26 cards!

Friday, August 28, 2020

#25 Led Zeppelin (+ AC/DC bonus)

Here's a nice action shot of Led Zeppelin to close out the Legends subset in the first series of the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards SuperStars set. We'll come to a few more of these gold Legends once we eventually hit Series 2. But at the rate I'm going that'll be years from now! LOL

The back features another cool live photo. That picture probably would have made a cool card itself, but alas, wouldn't work with the corner-killing design of the set, relegating it to no more than a back photo. Of course they could easily make it work with a little tweaking like I do with my customs sometimes, but the folks at Pro Set at the time kept things simple without much "photoshop magic" to help them out.

The write-up on the back lists the albums and gives a little dig at them not having more top-selling singles. But hey, hard rocking tunes like theirs aren't exactly easily embraced by the masses. The likes of Olivia Newton John and the Bee Gees were more palatable at the time.

According to Spotify, their most popular song is "Stairway To Heaven". Well, I already featured that in a previous post, so we'll go with the runner up...

"Immigrant Song" is a good one, though I'm a little surprised to see it ranked as their second-most popular track. Hell, it didn't even make the cut for my personal "best of" disc for them!

Even after 5 consecutive cards, Led Zeppelin still isn't done making their mark in the 1991 MusiCards set, popping up again in the Historic Concerts poster subset near the end of Series 1 (#258). Hopefully this blog (and myself!) stay alive long enough to eventually get there, though we've got a lot of early 90s pop to get through first.

Now that we're at the end of the subset, let's take a closer look at the list of Legends in the set.

1 Allman Brothers
2 Eric Clapton
3 Eric Clapton
4 Crosby, Stills & Nash
5 The Doobie Brothers
6 The Doors
7 The Doors
8 The Doors
9 The Doors
10 Jimi Hendrix
11 Jimi Hendrix
12 Jefferson Airplane
13 Jefferson Airplane
14 B.B. King
15 John Lennon
16 Bob Marley
17 Jimmy Page
18 Jimmy Page
19 The Who
20 The Who
21 Led Zeppelin
22 Led Zeppelin
23 Led Zeppelin
24 Led Zeppelin
25 Led Zeppelin

Note that it's in alphabetical order, but with one funny quirk: Led Zeppelin is sorted under Z instead of L. If those rules were consistent, Jefferson Airplane should have been card #1!


As far as acts that could have taken that alphabetical top spot if they were included, well ABBA would be a strong contender, but sticking with the classic rock leanings of the Legends checklist, there's a clear favorite...

Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't deny AC/DC is one of the biggest rock & roll bands of all-time.

Per usual, I try to keep the bio tight for well-known acts, but if you'd like to spend a while learning more about the band's rich history, I'd point you to their wikipedia entry.

I can't say I'm an ACϟDC aficionado or anything, but I dig their hits. You know, like...

Back in Black
You Shook Me All Night Long
Hells Bells
Big Balls
Highway To Hell
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

...good stuff. For me, these were all "oldies" by the time I heard them, with the exception of 1990's "Thunderstruck". I can remember when that was a hot new track.

Still holds up!

You'd figured they'd be an easy choice for getting a 1991 MusiCard. That album, The Razors Edge, went multi-platinum and reached the US top ten. But I guess Pro Set couldn't secure the licensing or what have you.

As a Padres fan during the Trevor Hoffman era, I sure heard "Hells Bells" a lot. Used as his entrance music, those opening bells and guitar riff helped psych everyone up for Hoffy to nail down another save.

Where are they now? Well, AC/DC is still rocking, technically. They soldiered on after the death of Bon Scott back in the day, and the more-recent passing of Malcolm Young. Singer Brian Johnson is nearly deaf now, and was replaced by none other than Axl Rose for their live gigs in recent years. But rumors are they've got a new (farewell?) album in the can ready to be released one of these days.

I for one wish them the best and hope they never go away. One of the few remaining bands that've been around for my entire lifetime. Rock & Roll will never die. Right?

Do you have any thoughts or memories to share regarding AC/DC? Favorite songs of theirs? Let me know in the comments if you wanna.

Big sea change coming up for the blog, as we leave the classic rock of the Legends subset behind and finally dive into the pop music landscape of the late 80s / early 90s. Should be a fun trip. I'm excited for the journey! (And don't worry, still plenty of rock left in the set, too.) See you soon.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

#24 Led Zeppelin (+ Steppenwolf bonus)

Number 24 in the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards set is another Led Zeppelin card. This one features a wholesome posed photo looking not too far from a Sears shoot for a family Christmas card or something like that.

No second photo on the back this time, but rather a wordmark/logo. The blurb seems to credit Zeppelin for coining the term "heavy metal" for hard rock music, though I'm not seeing anything to back that up on Wikipedia's heavy metal music entry, instead crediting producer Sandy Pearlman for using the term to describe The Byrds.

We've come to the first card that has a corresponding promo! Let's take a look at the relatively-rare early version of this card...

The front is very similar to the base card, though note the different font for "Pro Set" and "MusiCards" in the logo, plus instead of "Legends", it's marked "Hall of Famer" in the teal bubble.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983. The museum in Cleveland didn't open till 1995, which was the same year Led Zeppelin was inducted. So technically they weren't Hall of Famers at the time this card was created, which might be a reason Pro Set switched the subset name to "Legends" instead.

The easiest way to spot these promos is they are unnumbered. Some other minor differences on the back, but the basic layout isn't too far from the mass-produced finished product.

I believe these promos were available with the Pro Set Gazette magazine/catalog thing, but couldn't say for certain. There are another group of MusiCards promos with a completely different design (that are numbered), but that's for another day. Actually those would be the "first promo set", so this Zeppelin is actually part of the "second promo set". Kinda confusing.

Led Zeppelin - "Kashmir"

Since the back of the promo card mentions Physical Graffiti, here's one of the best-known tracks off that double LP.

"Kashmir" was an idea from Page and Bonham, and was first attempted as an instrumental demo in late 1973. Plant wrote the lyrics while on holiday in Morocco. Jones played Mellotron on the track, and arranged strings and brass parts that were played by session musicians. The song was one of the most critically acclaimed on the album, and was played at every gig from 1975 onwards. Page and Plant played it on their 1994 tour, and it was reworked in 1998 by Sean "Puffy" Combs for his single "Come With Me" which featured Page on guitar. [wiki]

The back of the featured card in this post mentions the origins of the term heavy metal in regards to music. So let's go with Steppenwolf, who were the first band to mention "heavy metal" in lyrics.

Steppenwolf - "Born to Be Wild"

"Born to Be Wild" was a solid hit for Steppenwolf in 1968, and the song gained even more popularity by being featured in the 1969 film Easy Rider. It's sometimes described as the first heavy metal song, and the lyric "heavy metal thunder" (describing a motorcycle) marks the first use of this term in rock music.

Steppenwolf formed in 1967 and had a nice run of success from 1968 to 1972, scoring three top 10 hits: "Born to Be Wild", "Magic Carpet Ride", and "Rock Me".

The band originally split after a farewell concert in Los Angeles on Valentine's Day in 1972, but later reunited in various forms over the years. Lead singer John Kay (now 76) is the only original member these days, and he announced last year that the band would no longer perform live.

Steppenwolf - "Magic Carpet Ride"

I don't know much about Steppenwolf other than their few hit songs, but let me know in the comments if you've got any lesser-known favorites of theirs I should check out.

Just one more Led Zeppelin Legends card up next, then we'll dive into the pop music section of Series 1. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

#23 Led Zeppelin (+ Hum bonus)

1991 MusiCards #23 is another Led Zeppelin card. Looks like a pretty glammed up photo, eh? The name in lights behind them calls to mind KISS (who are included in this set later, but didn't make the cut to be considered "Legends" apparently). It's not always easy to get a live shot that features every band member while still being close enough to tell who's who, so cap-tip to Pro Set on this one. Looks like this might have been taken between songs, with Robert Plant talking to the crowd and the other guys primed to start the next song. Check the roadie in the yellow shirt who seems to be helping out bassist John Paul Jones with the cord or strap of his boomstick.

The back features a dark posed photo of the four fellows. Blurb here doesn't say much beyond what the previous Zeppelin cards have said; just a broad overview of the band's run in a couple sentences.

As I was having my "musical awakening" as a teen in the early 90s, my buddy Doug got into Led Zeppelin before me, spending his allowances on their CDs at Music Trader-- our preferred local second-hand music store back then-- over the course of a few weeks. I think he ended up with pretty much all their main albums. While I knew of their biggest hits, I'd say my real introduction of them was from borrowing Doug's CDs one week and making my own compilation of my favorite tunes from them.

And hey, I happen to still have that disc. So this is the first "desert island disc" of this blog that actually exists as a real disc!

  1. Over The Hills And Far Away
  2. D'yer Mak'er
  3. Black Dog
  4. Rock And Roll
  5. Misty Mountain Hop
  6. When The Levee Breaks
  7. Kashmir
  8. Bron-Yr-Aur
  9. Dazed And Confused
  10. The Song Remains The Same
  11. Dancing Days
  12. The Rain Song
  13. Going To California
  14. Stairway To Heaven

Yep, this CDR got a lot of play in my cars over the past 30-ish years (happened to be one of those couple dozen discs that I felt belonged among my "car discs" selection), and is still in the rotation today. If I had to pick a favorite track, I might go with "Over the Hills and Far Away".. something about that song seems to comfort me when I'm stressed out on the road.

You may be asking "how come there's no songs from Led Zeppelin II on there?" And well that's because that was the only Zeppelin CD I owned back then, so it was excluded from my CDR.

But for the record, the II tracks I'd include would be as follows:
15. Whole Lotta Love
16. Heartbreaker
17. Ramble On

As always, please consider yourself invited to post a comment letting me know I'm an idiot for leaving off any of your favorite songs. ...I mean, don't be a dick about it, but I am always interested to hear what songs folks really like that I may have overlooked.

I was trying to decide between a couple other bands for today's Custom Corner.. But then I just found out yesterday that one of my all-time favorite bands put out a surprise new album, their first output in 22 years!

I'm talking about Hum. Maybe you haven't heard of them, or if you vaguely know them as the band who had a minor 90s alt rock hit with the "(She thinks she missed the train to Mars, She's out back counting) Stars" song. But I love 'em. Heavy alternative nerd rock with lots of guitars. Their previous album, 1998's Downward Is Heavenward would be in the discussion if I ever had to come up with a Top 10 Favorite Albums of All-Time.

The band would come out of hibernation for the occasional live show, but they've basically been on hiatus since the turn of the millenium. There was always that tiny shred of hope they'd come out with a new album someday, but I wasn't holding my breath.

So yes, it's a wonderful surprise for this Hum fan and a much needed good thing in 2020. Inlet, the new one, is actually really good! A lot of times reunion albums are terrible and the band ends up kinda pissing on their legacy a bit.. but not this time! Sounds like you want a beloved band's new album to sound.. not staying exactly the same, but progressing what you love about their music into new territory. A perfect new chapter in the book of Hum. Hopefully not the last.

Ok, sorry for all the slobbering, but again, a key role of this blog is to provide a place to ramble about music I love.

They don't have much in the way of high quality photos online, so I've had to get a little "arty" with these customs.
A quick bio on Hum-- check their wiki entry for the longer version-- is they started in Champaign, Illinois back in the late 80s and put out a two or three indie releases before signing with RCA for 1995's You'd Prefer An Astronaut, garnering some attention with the quiet/loud song "Stars". The follow-up Downward Is Heavenward was well-received by critics and fans, yet failed to see much commercial success. They toured a lot for that album, but were eventually dropped by RCA and decided to call it quits, playing their final show on New Year's Eve 2000.

Other than a handful of reunion performances over the years, they'd been quiet until Inlet popped up for sale on their Bandcamp page June 23, 2020. Physical versions of the album are are tentatively scheduled to ship at the end of August.

I suppose a tour supporting the new album is out of the question anytime soon (damn covid), but I'd love to catch them live someday. (I'm kicking myself because I just found out they played Portland back in 2015-- Had I known, I definitely would have gone.)

I think I originally got into them thanks to "Stars", though today I consider that song a bit played out and wouldn't necessarily say it's one of my favorite songs of theirs. That album is really good, don't get me wrong, but now I'm all about Downward Is Heavenward. Love to put that on and listen start-to-finish every so often, especially in the summer.

They're part of the 90s alternative rock bands with 3-letter names triumvirate I love along with Paw (covered earlier) and Dig (who I'll cover at some point). I've got a couple Hum shirts in storage somewhere-- traded to me by somebody who worked with the band back in the day-- and thought of snapping pics for this post, but gave up after not finding them quickly enough (One is black with a microscope on it, the other is white with Ultraman or similar Japanese superhero on it.. both of which are just slightly too nerdy for me to wear on the regular these days). I've got a Stars 7" single on green vinyl that's kinda cool. And I think I've got copies of all their rare tracks that are circulating, plus several live recordings. Several years back, I played a role in unearthing a previously uncirculated demo tape called Its Gonna Be A Midget Xmas that I got hooked up with from a different guy-who-knew-a-guy.

So wrapping up here, yep, Hum is a favorite band of mine and a surprise new album from them out of the blue is a big highlight of my 2020 so far.

Next up on the blog is more Led Zeppelin. Still a couple more of those then we finally move on to the true base cards after that.

Monday, June 1, 2020

#22 Led Zeppelin (+ Butthole Surfers bonus)

Led Zeppelin is back at card #22 in the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards set. Looks like this copy here has a less-than-perfect top corner. Might have to poke around for an upgrade. I think I've got 2-4 copies of each Series 1 card at this point, so I've likely got a better one around somewhere. Sorting all of them is an ongoing process. If anyone is working on this set (or just looking for a favorite band's card), let me know and I should be able to help out with my dupes.

Oh, and along these lines, congrats are in order for Night Owl recently completing his 1991 MusiCards set! I appreciate the plug in that post, too!

That reminds me of another quick thing I wanted to mention. In my efforts to get more eyes on this blog, I've been trying to get it included in the Sports Card Blogroll run by James B. Anama. If you're not familiar, it's a handy list of pretty much every active blog in the cardsphere. A lot of folks browse that to find blog posts to read, so if you're a blogger, you want to be sure your blog is included there. James is usually very nice and quick to add new blogs. But the fact this is a non-sports blog throws a wrinkle and he's been reluctant to accept my add request. I feel this blog would fit right in under the "SET SPECIFIC BLOGROLL" section. Hey, the Gint-A-Cuffs blog is in there, and that's not strictly a sports card blog either. But I'd also be fine with a new little "NON-SPORT BLOGROLL" section added with this blog among the inaugural class. James might be wary of a flood of Pokemon/Magic The Gathering/Star Wars/etc blogs, but honestly I think that stuff is a whole different "cardsphere" altogether.. one that I'm not even sure exists, or if it does, I haven't stumbled upon it yet. I don't think I've gotten any commenters on this blog other than usernames I'm already familiar with from sports card blogs. I think most of us are familiar with MusiCards being everywhere in the early 90s right there with all the other "junkwax" we ripped at the local card shops back then. So I consider MusiCards closer to sports cards than other stuff that would fall under the "non-sports" umbrella. It's my belief that most card collectors are familiar with MusiCards and would appreciate the variety in blog reading with the occasional music post. And backing me up on that is a Twitter poll James did where the vast majority of respondents voted in favor of him adding the blog.

Last I heard from James, he was still considering adding the blog, though that poll was about a month ago now, so probably not at the forefront of his mind. If you think you can articulate reasoning for adding this blog to his blogroll beyond my pleas, please consider leaving James a friendly email or Twitter comment encouraging him to add the blog. Today is the 8-month anniversary of the 1991 MusiCards Blog, but still feels like we're having trouble getting out of the gate, and extending reach in blogrolls such as the one James maintains would be great. I'm not just looking for more page views, but more voices in the comments are very appreciated and make each post much more interesting for everyone. I'm always intrigued to hear other thoughts on the bands/songs/etc being covered.. feelings and memories readers have.. sometimes alined with my experience, other times a much different perspective. I'm not trying to boost my ego with lots of views and comments, rather I'd love to build a little online community for-- as the sidebar intro states-- "taking a trip back in time to the awesome 80s & gnarly 90s [...] talking about the music and more from the era (and beyond)."

Gah, I'm sorry for spending so much of the post on this!

But as for the card, looks like the fellas are in the middle of a seated, acoustic performance. I've watched The Song Remains The Same-- the concert film type thing recorded in '73 and released in '76-- a while back, but otherwise I haven't checked out much live Zeppelin, so I'm not sure if this was a common occurrence at their shows.

The back features a live photo-- electric, this time-- and a blurb focusing on Led Zeppelin IV.

"Stairway to Heaven" is an undeniably great song, right?! Maybe if you listened to a lot of 70s and 80s rock radio, you might be sick of it at this point. But for somebody like me who was only discovering this stuff around the time these MusiCards were first on shelves, it's still exciting when you hear the song quietly starting up. You know you're in for a ride. Even though I don't really have any idea what Robert Plant is singing about, it makes for an epic narrative song that feels like a short story or film.

With a duration of 8 minutes, it's very long as far as popular songs go. That and "Hey Jude" (7 minutes) were what radio DJs would play when they needed a bathroom break. Listeners couldn't get enough. "Stairway to Heaven" was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the United States in the 1970s.


Going with the first thing that pops into my head here, I figured I'd go with the Butthole Surfers for today's accompanying Custom Corner. They've got an album titled Hairway to Steven (1988), hence the connection.

Butthole Surfers are a weird rock band that formed in San Antonio back in 1981. Their albums in the 80s weren't commercial hits but were big in the underground rock scene. Kurt Cobain was a fan and met his future wife, Courtney Love of Hole, at a Butthole Surfers/L7 concert.

The band eventually signed with Capitol Records in 1992, a surprising move that some fans felt was selling out their indie roots. Capitol hooked them up with a big-time producer to helm their major label debut.. (and hey, coincidentally fits well with this post). John Paul Jones, best known as the bassist for Led Zeppelin, produced Independent Worm Saloon (1993), with the single "Who Was in My Room Last Night?" garnering decent alternative radio play, plus got the band on MTV when the video was featured in an episode Beavis & Butt-head during the show's prime.

The follow-up album Electriclarryland (1996) saw the band reach the height of their mainstream success, with the single "Pepper" topping the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and its video getting solid rotation on MTV. Record label squabbles took some wind out of their sails and they seemed to settle back into "underground" status after that record.

They haven't been very active in recent years (latest album was released way back in 2001), though they play live once in a blue moon and may finally come out of hibernation for a new album one of these years.. who knows?

"I'm a surfer!"
I can't claim to be a huge Butthole Surfers fan, though I've got several songs of theirs in my iTunes library.


  1. Who Was In My Room Last Night?
  2. The Wooden Song
  3. You Don't Know Me
  4. Human Cannonball
  5. Revolution, Pt. 2
  6. Lonesome Bulldog II
  7. Golden Showers
  8. P.S.Y.
  9. Lonesome Bulldog IV
  10. Concubine
  11. Eye of the Chicken
  12. Dum Dum
  13. Cough Syrup
  14. Pepper
  15. Thermador
  16. Jingle Of A Dog's Collar
  17. TV Star
  18. I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas
  19. Night of the Day
  20. One Hundred Million People Dead

There's my personal "best of" playlist for them. Frontman Gibby Haynes has also guested on a couple other songs I like, singing lead vocals on "Jesus Built My Hotrod" by Ministry and "Fire In The Hole" by Deconstruction. The early 90s side project P (with Johnny Depp and Flea) also had a couple tunes I like ("Michael Stipe" and "The Deal").

Ha, turns out Gibby was a star on the court back in high school.

Good enough excuse to whip him up a basketball card custom. Who says this blog isn't a sports card blog?! lol

That'll do it for this post. More Led Zeppelin on deck.

Any thoughts to share on "Stairway to Heaven" or the Butthole Surfers, please feel free to sound off in the comments.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

#21 Led Zeppelin

Here's probably the quirkiest photo we've seen so far, as we arrive at #21 in the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards set. John Bonham is playfully poking his smiling face above the yellow barrier, with the rest of Led Zeppelin being partially obscured. Works well with the design in a "modern art" type of way (step back and look at it.. It's pleasing, right?). If this was the Beach Boys, that'd be a big yellow surfboard, but Zeppelin don't surf, so who knows.. just a wall, I guess.

The back features a live photo.. Looks like an acoustic performance.. back before "MTV Unplugged" made that a trendy thing to do. Zep always ahead of the game!

Led Zeppelin has a total of 7 MusiCards by my count. This one kicks off 5 consecutive Legends cards, then they've got a Historic Concerts card later on in the set (#258), plus a promo card. Like with the previous band in the checklist, The Who, funny that these legendary Brit rockers don't have a card in the UK edition of the set. Gotta wonder what was going on in the Pro Set meetings when they were deciding which bands to feature. Licensing red tape played a part, I'm sure, but we're left with some head-scratching questions.

Oh, and Jimmy Page has already had a pair of solo cards, too! That brings the Led camp count up to 9 MusiCards. That might seem like a lot until you realize Madonna has a whopping 15 MusiCards. Geesh!

Led Zeppelin - Moby Dick (live drum solo)

Since John Bonham is the star of the featured card, I figure I'll spotlight him for this particular post.

I'm not going to go too deep here in these days of Wikipedia (Bonham's wiki), but the short version is John Henry Bonham was born May 31, 1948 in England. He never had a formal drum lesson, but started pounding away at an early age and along the way befriended Robert Plant, eventually joining him in the young band Led Zeppelin. 

Bonham used big-ass drum sticks ("trees", he called them), and his heavy hitting is apparent on several of Zep's hits. I'll save listing off my favorite Zeppelin songs for one of the many future posts they've got in the pipeline, but there are plenty of good ones.

Led Zeppelin - "When The Levee Breaks"

As far as heavy-hitting hits of theirs, figured I'd go with "When The Levee Breaks". John really lays it down hard on that one. (And if you already started playing the Moby Dick clip above, that's fine.. just play this one on top of it.. it will add a unique touch to the rock!)

Unfortunately, John liked to not only hit the drums hard, but also party hard. And one fateful night in September of 1980 he partied a little too hard and passed away. The rest of the band were devastated by the loss and Led Zeppelin was no more after that (not counting a few half-hearted partial reunions over the years.. such as Live Aid in 1985, with both Phil Collins and Tony Thompson filling in on drums).

John left behind his wife Pat and their two children, Zoë and Jason. I was thinking I'd feature Jason Bonham, a distinguished drummer in his own right, in the Custom Corner section of this post.. but hold on, his 90s band Bonham does have a real MusiCard coming up at #153. LOL, oh well, looks like I've got to find another band for the custom.


Yeah, I don't think I'll pick another band for this post, but instead here are a few John Bonham customs for ya!

Full disclosure: John Bonham never really played second base for the Padres.

Up next: More Zeppelin.