Wednesday, March 6, 2024

#85 New Edition (+ New Order bonus)

New Edition here at #85 is a rare case of an inactive act getting a MusiCard in 1991. Besides the gold Legends subset with the likes of Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, I can't think of other examples off hand.

New Edition - "If It Isn't Love"

We've already seen Bobby Brown in this set at #35, but these photos seem to be from the post-Bobby lineup from the late '80s as a 5-piece with Johnny Gill added. Gill gets his own MusiCard coming up at #121, with Bell Biv DeVoe having a pair at #109 and 110. Ralph Tresvant has to wait until Series 2, but we'll eventually see him at #297 and 298. So considering Pro Set was fully covering the fellas, I suppose it made sense to also give a card to their group that was splintering at the time.

All six men have reunited as New Edition after years apart, still occasionally touring and even doing Vegas residencies as recently as right now. That's pretty impressive, especially since they started out as a "boy band" after all. From looking at a recent show's setlist on YouTube, the fellas mix in their non-New Edition hits as well, such as Bobby's "Every Little Step" and Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison", so looks like they give you good bang for your buck when you see them live.

New Edition - "Can You Stand the Rain"

New Edition's heyday was a little before my time, though I've always liked "Can You Stand the Rain" and "If It Isn't Love". For further reading, here's their Wikipedia entry link.

Changing gears for some Photoshop fun, my favorite "New (something)" artist has got to be New Order (...though I also like the New Pornographers a lot). I've mentioned before that receiving the New Order cassette Substance as a Christmas gift from my older cousin circa 1989 was a turning point in my musical journey or whatever. Kind of surprising they didn't receive any MusiCards. "Blue Monday" was unavoidable in the mid 80s, while their latest album at the time, 1989's Technique, had gone to #1 in the UK (#32 US), so New Order was definitely popular enough to warrant inclusion, but perhaps Pro Set wasn't able to secure licensing. Let's at least give 'em a custom mock-up here these many years later.

They were still riding high in the early 90s, with 1993's Republic being a big hit, and stands as New Order's best chart position in the States, hitting #11 on the US Billboard 200.

New Order - "Regret"

I bought Republic on CD when it was new and listened to it a ton, later going back and getting into their early stuff too (not to mention Joy Division). Frontman Bernard Sumner is a bit hit-or-miss for me, with his vocals and lyrics sometimes falling short (I have no idea what any New Order song is about, as the lyrics generally seem to be random phrases thrown together willy-nilly), but overall I'm a big fan. His side-project with Johnny Marr called Electronic had a few bangers in the 90s, too.

I haven't done it in a while, but the blog's Desert Island Disc recurring feature is where I fill up a theoretical CDR with my favorite songs from one band I love. I'm dusting it off with a name change for this post. These songs are not ranked in order, but rather it's just a playlist of songs to help me to cope with the ol' desert island isolation, were I limited to about an hour of New Order material to bring with me. Actually, I'm cheating here as I would probably just bring Substance (disc 1, which is the same as the cassette; the CD release included a second disc of b-sides), so this is a "besides that" playlist.

New Order - Desert Island Playlist

1. Dreams Never End
2. Age of Consent
3. Your Silent Face
4. Love Vigilantes
5. Elegia
6. Face Up
7. Regret
8. World
9. Special
10. Hellbent
11. Restless
12. Love Less
13. Round & Round
14. Run
15. Vanishing Point
16. Touched By The Hand Of God
17. 1963

Yeah, that could maybe use a little tweaking, but a good enough mix of songs for me. Length comes to just about 80 minutes, so that would likely squeeze onto a CDR.

I figured I'd change this feature to a "playlist" rather than "disc" to update for the times. My new car now is the first for me that doesn't have a CD player-- well, I suppose my first car didn't have a CD player either, just radio and cassette player-- so it's an end of an era for me spinning discs as I drive. I dislike commercials too much to listen to the radio very long these days, but I've been making myself "best of" playlists on Spotify for a while now, mainly for tunes when I walk the dog, and looks like I'll be using these playlists in the car now too.

As a card collector, I similarly like having a "music collection"-- like a stockpile of CDs, or even folders upon folders of mp3s backed up on an external hard drive-- but that doesn't jive with streaming services like Spotify (who have a reputation for being terrible at compensating artists). But oh well. Gotta get with the "new order" of things, I guess. lol

New Order - "1963"

Back on topic to wrap up, New Order still exists as a band today, but they're not quite the same since acrimoniously parting with bassist Peter Hook years back. At least the gal on keyboards, Gillian Gilbert, returned to the fold after taking a decade off to be a mom.

Are any of you readers into New Edition or New Order? Got favorite songs of theirs? Sound off in the comments if you wanna, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 29, 2024

#82-84 Nelson

Nelson has 3 consecutive cards in Series 1 plus a "different font" promo for a total of 4 MusiCards for us to check out in this post. Above is the only card where the rest of the band is featured in the photo, not just the titular twins. The redhead in the middle looks a bit like Emma Stone, but don't let the long hair fool you; that's a man, baby.

Entering today, I know just a couple Nelson songs: "(I Can't Live Without Your) Love & Affection" (which I could live without) and "After the Rain" (which I do like). They seemed like the last new "big hair" rock band to emerge before that genre went the way of the dodo in the wake of Nevermind.

Nelson - "After the Rain"

I was intrigued by the SNL tidbit on the back of the card. Wikipedia has some more context on that early performance:

During the 1980s, Matthew and Gunnar played as Strange Agents and as The Nelsons, with which they played the Los Angeles club scene. A year after the death of their father in a plane crash, Lorne Michaels agreed to have the Nelsons as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, at the request of their manager at the time. They became the first unsigned band to play on the show. During this iteration of the band, Matthew was the lead singer and bassist, while Gunnar played the drums. As they returned home from the show, Gunnar claims he had what he called "an epiphany", which he shared with his brother. He told him that they should break up the band as it was and start sharing the front stage together. Gunnar promised to learn to play guitar and did so in a year. (source)

Here's a shot of them holding their guitars.

The band members get name-checked on the back of card 83. If it were me putting the set together, I'd maybe swap backs with the full-band photo of the previous card (that actually shows all those guys), but whatever.

Deja vu. The unnumbered promo version of card 83 can be distinguished by the casual "Pro Set MusiCards" font in the black box. The crop is also slightly different, with that box touching hair here, plus we see the tip of the lower guitar now. And of course the back is different:

The blurb is a little more.. effusive?.. than we're used to with this set. That opening sentence, jeez! "Uniquely 1990s music" was close, but turned out to be uniquely 1990, specifically. Done by '91.

Nelson - "Love & Affection"

Nelson's last card features a tight headshot of the duo split by a beam of flowing blond hair.

The other band members bookend the Nelson cards, showing up again on the back photo of card 84.

I really doubt the other fellas are still in tow, but the Nelson brothers never stopped rocking. I gotta admit I could've sworn I remember hearing about Gunnar Nelson passing a few years back, but I may have conflated him with someone like Jani Lane from Warrant, because yep, at least as of Leap Day 2024, they're both still kicking. Nelson has released new music as recently as the mid 2010s and still perform live on occasion. They also have a separate tribute act for their dad called Ricky Nelson Remembered, and sometimes play in a celebrity all-star rock band called Scrap Metal.

Let me know in the comments if you've got any thoughts or memories connected to Nelson to share.

Monday, January 29, 2024

#80-81 Alannah Myles (+ Alanis Morissette bonus)

Alannah Myles parlayed her #1 hit "Black Velvet" into a pair of MusiCards in 1991.

Per ASCAP, it was the most played song on radio for 1989 and 1990, so that's pretty impressive. Like most Americans, I liked the song, but never really heard from her again after it faded from the airwaves.

I hadn't realized (or maybe I just forgot) she was Canadian, but I guess her being known for that bluesy Elvis tribute tricks you into thinking maybe she's from down south. She's got a robust Wikipedia entry with lots of accolades from north of the border, though in the US she just could never get out of "Black Velvet"'s shadow.

Here's the other card Alannah Myles got. Neither was reprised in the UK edition, so she's just got the two regular MusiCards. Not much to say about the photos used-- typical promotional headshots-- though both cards look like they would have been better served by having the Super Stars logo bumped to the opposite corner (but for some reason Pro Set only dared do that for the UK edition, or for the occasional Series 1 cards that got an updated variation included in Series 2 packs).

Alannah turned 65 this past Christmas and seems to have slowed down her music career, though she still works on music here and there, in recent years re-recording her old songs, sorta like the Taylor Swift thing, re-recording your music so then you own the recordings instead of slimy industry dudes.

I'd be curious if any of you regular readers have heard an Alannah Myles song besides "Black Velvet"..? I took a curious listen to some of her other songs on Spotify and they were solid but nothing else really stood out too much for me. Here's one that's not too bad:

Alannah Myles - "Why Have Angels Denied You"


Feels like I gotta pair up Alannah Myles with another female singer from Ontario who also did some child acting before becoming a rock star, and who coincidentally happens to have a similar name.

This custom fudges not only Pro Set's borders, but also the timeline of Alanis becoming a star. Her debut album didn't come out until 1991, with a quick follow-up in '92, but those were Canada-only releases. Then in 1995, Jagged Little Pill was a worldwide smash, selling over 33 million copies. You gotta imagine that had MusiCards endured as an annual release instead being one-and-done, Alanis would have likely been all over those theoretical mid/late-90s MusiCard sets, probably even featured on the box.

I still remember when she burst onto the scene with "You Oughta Know". For a guy like me mainly into alternative rock back then, the track was notable for featuring Flea and Dave Navarro, bandmates at the time in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The story I remember hearing is that they only agreed to do it as anonymous session work, and after a bit of legal posturing when the news leaked, the two guys ended up getting points on the album, resulting in Navarro making more money from that one song than the entirety of the rest of his tenure in the Chili Peppers, funny enough.

I'd consider myself a casual fan of Alanis Morissette, but have never bought an album or seen her live. "Hand in My Pocket" and "Ironic" are a couple other hits of hers I dig, both also off Jagged Little Pill. Acting-wise, she was cool to see in Dogma and a run on the show Weeds, plus a recurring part on the fun animated show The Great North. I also watched a lot of You Can't Do That on Television as a kid (despite it being kinda controversial at the time), though I don't particularly remember young Alanis' brief stint in the cast.

Anyways, her most recent album came out in 2022. For further reading, you can peruse her Wikipedia entry.

"Thank You"


I wanted to do a little reader appreciation now that 2023 is in the books. I hit my MusiCards Blog goal of posting at least once a month for the year.. though fell short of my stretch-goal of posting more than once per month. But I still count it as a victory after only 5 posts in all of 2022.

I like to offer a vague incentive for readers to chime in about the artists we cover here, so sometimes I get around to doing a little mail-blast to the regulars. Thanks and congrats to these five fellas who all commented on at least half of the 12 posts here in 2023:

Brett Alan
Matt (Red Sox)
Night Owl

It goes without saying I appreciate anyone who reads this little blog, and especially these 5 guys for their continued active participation. If there's a chance I don't have a current mailing address for any of you guys, please hit me up. Nothing too exciting, but I'm planning to send out thank-you cards your way soon/eventually.

No promises for a similar promotion next year, but definitely maybe. If you're a reader who doesn't comment much, well, the count is reset for 2024, so feel free to pop in more this year. Let me know in the comments if you've got any thoughts/memories to share regarding Alannah Myles and/or Alanis Morissette. Thanks!

Sunday, December 31, 2023

#79 Morrissey (+ The Smiths bonus)

Here's Morrissey at #79 in the 1991 MusiCards checklist. It's certainly one of the more visually distinctive cards in the set, though feels rather cramped. The same photo is reprised on his card in the UK edition.

I didn't pull this card from the handful of packs I opened as a kid, but it probably would have been regarded as a pretty sweet hit if I had. I really got into Morrissey and The Smiths back around 1992. In fact, thinking about it now, I believe Best of the Smiths vol. 1 and 2 on CD were my first ever online purchases, ordering off a text-only CD store site during the early days of the web. 

Morrissey - "Suedehead"

Sadly, like many other fans, my opinion of Morrissey has taken a tumble over the years, what with his tendency to cancel more concerts than he performs, and, yep.. the frequent eye-roll inducing statements he spouts off these days, often coming off as a crotchety old racist. But I prefer to remember the good times, back when he wrote cool songs about being a shy, unlovable nobody that I could relate to.

Morrissey - "Tomorrow"

Longboxes of Bona Drag and Your Arsenal were among my other early CD purchases, and both albums got a ton of play by teenage Gavin. I even had a Your Arsenal t-shirt in my rotation during high school. 

I was resistant to 1994's Vauxhall & I when it first came out-- the single is the worst song on it-- but years after the fact it became another favorite album of mine. I'm sure one could argue he's done some other good stuff here and there since ("First of the Gang to Die" is a snappy tune from 2004), though I don't pay that much attention to his modern output.


Here's a custom for The Smiths as a quartet from the mid 80s. They're one of the few notable bands from their era to never give in to the "reunion" (payday) pressure even though they were all still around until just mid 2023 when bassist Andy Rourke passed away. But yeah, I guess Johnny Marr is happy doing his own thing. He's put out some good stuff in recent years though doesn't seem to get a whole lot of attention.

The Smiths - "Panic"

I still do enjoy pretty much the entirety of the Smiths' recorded output, even tracking down all the rare b-sides and such back in my days trading live & rare recordings. I honestly hadn't realized "Panic" was about Chernobyl until reading the back of Morrissey's MusiCard. So there you go.. Informative! LOL

The Smiths - "How Soon Is Now?"

"How Soon is Now?" was the first song of theirs I remember really noticing, with its unique droning standing out when it'd come on the radio. I soon then copied a cassette of Meat Is Murder that I borrowed from my cousin. I remember often listening to that tape on my walkman, a must-have album for any long trip. I eventually got their discography on CD and loved them all in their own way. I don't listen to the band nearly as much these days (and have never gone vegetarian; sorry, Morrissey), but still give them a spin on occasion.

How about you? Any readers go through a Smiths/Morrissey phase? Favorite songs?

Thanks as always for reading and Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

#74-78 George Michael

George Michael has 5 cards in series 1 of 1991 Pro Set MusiCards, and we'll be taking a look at them in this post. He's also got one card in the UK edition and a promo card ("different font" type).

Here's a pleasant enough shot of George deep in thought whilst inside on a sunny day, perhaps longing to be out on the pitch kicking around the football with the fellas, but alas he's got a photoshoot to pose for. This same photo is used less successfully on his card in the UK edition, with the logo moved down to the opposite corner and the cropping covering some of his hair.

There's a new Wham! documentary on Netflix that's supposed to be pretty good. I've been meaning to check it out.

Pro Set must have designed this one to also work as a relic or autograph card. LOL, JK
But no, really, that would look great with a big metallic ink signature on the left, right?

Back photo is from the same "brick wall" shoot but with a little less smile.

George Michael - "Careless Whisper"

This pic with the guitar is the same as the unnumbered promo card.

Gotta admit I'm rushing through writing this post late in the day here on November 30th in order to keep my string of monthly posting intact.

His arms look rather hairy on this one. 

George Michael - "Monkey"

I had Faith on a cassette I dubbed from my aunt sometime around 1989. I still really enjoy several songs on that one. My mom got Listen Without Prejudice back then as a Columbia House CD, and I think I played it more than she did through the 90s, though really only "Freedom '90" and "Praying For Time" clicked with me.

George Michael - "Praying For Time"

If this one wasn't labeled as George Michael, it might've taken me a minute to figure out who was pictured. Looks kinda like Jim from The Office here.

This back photo looks like a mugshot from that earlier "hairy arms" photoshoot. 

George Michael's last few chapters took a sour turn and he had his share of controversy and scandal. Sucks that he had to go through what he did and tragically died before his time.

But yeah, quality singer with an impressive catalog. Any George Michael favorite tunes you wanna mention or stories to share? Much thanks as always.

Monday, October 30, 2023

#73 Ian McCulloch (+ Echo and the Bunnymen bonus)

Ian McCulloch is on card #73 in the 1991 MusiCards set. It's not a very exciting photo and Pro Set probably would have been better off constructing this one as a vertical card rather than horizontal. I gotta admit it took me a moment to place the name-- "Oh yeah: it's the guy from Echo and The Bunnymen!"

I like several Echo and The Bunnymen songs, but am not super familiar with them-- their heyday being just a bit before my time-- and hadn't heard any of Ian's solo stuff. I listened to Candleland while drafting this post and liked it fine, though not too different from his familiar Bunnymen sound to my ears, despite those "new aspects of his songwriting ability" touted in the card's write-up.

Ian McCulloch - "Proud to Fall"

After Ian went solo, the band replaced him and kept going for a few years with a new singer. Then in the late 90s, the O.G. Bunnymen regrouped and have been at it since, though they are now down to only Ian and guitarist Will Sergeant left from the original lineup. They just did a short UK tour in September 2023. I think it's fair to say they're considerably bigger in the UK than the US, though this is the only MusiCard that either Ian or his band got (Conspicuously left out of the UK edition).

Echo and the Bunnymen - "The Cutter"


Might as well make a card for the neglected Bunnymen.

This photo from 1987 features the classic Echo and the Bunnymen lineup, though if this was an official card from 1991, one would assume it'd feature singer Noel Burke, who filled in while Ian was off doing his solo thing, 1988-1993.

They've got four songs that have endured as staples of the 80s: "Lips Like Sugar", "The Killing Moon", "Bring on the Dancing Horses", and "The Cutter". Those are great songs, though maybe a bit played out at this point. A couple less-remembered bangers are "Seven Seas" and "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo".

Echo and the Bunnymen - "Rescue"

But my personal favorite song of theirs is "Rescue".. I remember hearing the song on a mixtape from my cousin when I was young and I've loved it since.

That's all I've got for this time. Let me know in the comments if you're a fan of Ian McCulloch and/or Echo and the Bunnymen with any thoughts to add or favorites to mention.

Friday, September 1, 2023

#72 Richard Marx (+ MTV subset series 1)

We're up to #72 in the 1991 MusiCards set with Richard Marx. The washed-out live shot is his lone card in the set. It's likely late in the performance, as he's down to a tank-top.

I'm sure Richard has an audio recorder app on his phone now, with the days of leaving answering machine messages from pay phones long in the past.

Richard's father Dick Marx (giggle) was a jazz pianist who also had a successful career writing jingles, with young Richie sometimes contributing backing vocals. His first big break making a name for himself in the industry was writing the song "What About Me?" that Kenny Rogers took to #1 in 1984.

I liked Richard Marx fine during his peak in the late 80s, though I never went as far as to purchase any of his albums or anything. Loved "Satisfied" and "Endless Summer Nights". And although they got worn out, "Right Here Waiting" and "Hold On to the Nights" are a couple solid ballads of that era. 

A random Richard Marx memory of mine: I was watching him perform 2 or 3 songs with his band live in front of a crowd on a TV broadcast once circa '89 (I think as part of an MTV special event), and what stuck in my memory is how ridiculous it was, when at the end of "Should Have Known Better", the band played/sang progressively quieter rather than have a proper ending. (I'm not sure now if it was lip-synced, but I don't think it was.) LOL, the "live fade out" is something you don't see too often!

But yeah, he's remained active over the years. Here's the link to his Wikipedia entry if you really want to read up on him. Feels like the Nevermind revolution took the wind out of his sails, but he's still put together an impressive career, with plenty of success as a solo artist as well as a collaborator with other notable artists. Seems like a good dude, too, and he made news a while ago by helping subdue a rowdy drunk passenger on a flight.

Wow, turns out Richard Marx has been married to Daisy Fuentes since 2015?! Respect! Everybody had a crush on her back in the day.


I didn't have another artist in mind for today's Custom Corner, so whipping up a MusiCard for Daisy Fuentes sounded like a good idea.

That snowballed into a whole custom subset of MTV personalities. The idea doesn't seem too far-fetched considering the sister set of Yo! MTV Raps cards that included MTV employees among the rappers.

Kevin Seal was probably my favorite as a kid. Seemed like a fun Bill Murray/Paul Rudd-type who didn't take things too seriously.

Gotta respect newsman Kurt Loder, face of MTV News for decades.

Martha Quinn was the only original VJ still around by the time I started watching MTV in the late 80s. Always loved to see her pop on.

The smooth Bill Bellamy gets a Rock N Jock action shot.

It was popular to hate on Kennedy back in the day, but she had her moments.

Pauly Shore was another VJ people loved to hate. I wasn't exactly a big fan, but thought he was entertaining in small doses.

The lovely Tabitha Soren helped MTV News expand in the 90s.

Adam Curry's hair let you know he was the Hard Rock specialist in MTV's arsenal. I didn't watch much Headbangers Ball, but would often try to catch the other show he hosted, MTV Top 20 Video Countdown.

Calling it good here, seeing as 9 is a fitting number for cards. These were really just the first nine people who popped to mind when trying to remember MTV folks from the era I watched, but I'm sure I left out some notable ones. (Downtown Julie Brown! [Uptown] Julie Brown! Heck, the gang from Remote Control.) Maybe I'll do "Series 2" of this subset in a future post. Who do you think should be included?

Please also sound off in the comments with any other thoughts on this MTV group or the work of Richard Marx. Thanks!