Wednesday, May 3, 2023

#64 Linear (+ Dimebox Dad Music Customs Series 3 set)

Number 64 in the '91 MusiCards set is a pop group called Linear. The awkwardly cropped photo squeezes in the three fellas who are showing off their world-class mullets and a sampling of their musical instruments.

The back pic is likely from the same photoshoot as the front, but must've been earlier seeing as they've still got their jackets on. 

Gotta admit this band doesn't ring a bell for me-- and I never watched much Miami Vice-- but they've got a modest Wikipedia entry and were a flash in the pan in 1990 with "Sending All My Love" reaching #5 in the US.

"Sending All My Love" sounds a bit familiar listening to it now, and it really hammers that chorus into your head, but doesn't really differentiate itself from the rest of the generic dance pop of the era. These guys sounds like they could have been the opening act on a New Kids On The Block tour. I actually listened to the entire debut album while writing this post. There's some terrible "boy band" stuff on there that's lost on me as a middle-aged man hearing it for the first time, but a couple "guitar forward" songs were alright.

A sophomore LP, Caught in the Middle, was released in 1992 and the lead single "T.L.C." reached #30, but petered out after that. They put out a single called "Let's Go All the Way" in 1994, but it didn't go anywhere, ironically, and that seems to have been their last release of note. While not very active these days, Linear is still together as a group according to their Wiki, though now they're a duo of "Steele" and "Riot," with "Bang" having left the fold.


Changing gears, here's something from last year I haven't gotten around to posting yet. Nick from the Dimeboxes blog had facilitated another deal where I whip up a set of several custom cards of favorite musicians for his dad Mike in exchange for some set needs of mine.

Dimebox Dad Music Cards Series 3

This is the 3rd series of 18 cards (for easy paging) I've made for Mike over the years. How these sets come together is I'm sent a list with names and some info for the backs along with suggested photos to use. Then I make them into cards, with the only guideline being that he likes 70s oddballs best, so I try to keep that in mind when thinking of what design would work well with each picture. Some of these were templates I had already made, but some were cranked out specifically for this project.

I'm down with Daniel Johnston and there were a few other names I recognized or maybe knew one song they did, but the majority of these were unfamiliar to me. Fun to give a curious listen and skim the Wikipedia for them while making the cards.

"I Love You Like I Love Myself" by Herman Brood is a song I hadn't heard before that has become one of my most-played songs of the past year. Hell, I've played the song on repeat for a good chunk of time on more than one occasion. It's a really fun, heartfelt rocker from the late 70s that would fit right in on modern classic rock radio, yet refreshingly not worn out like the rest of that rotation. So thanks to Nick's dad Mike for turning me onto that, among other very cool tunes I was exposed to thanks to making these requested custom cards.

I was really happy with how the cards came out and brought them with me during my trip to Chicago last summer, hoping to hand-deliver them. Would have been great to see the look on his face when he flipped through the cards for the first time, but unfortunately we weren't able to work out a meet up while I was in Nick and Mike's neck of the woods and so I resorted to mailing them after returning home.

As with all my customs, they're not for sale but if you really want one for your collection I'm sure we could work out a trade without too much trouble.

That'll do it for this post. Thanks for stopping by and let me know in the comments if you've got any thoughts to share regarding Linear or any of the Dimebox Dad set. I'm also very curious if any of you are like me and once in a blue moon get obsessed with a song and listen to it on repeat many times in a row.. or am I just a weirdo?

Monday, April 10, 2023

#63 Huey Lewis (and The News)

Huey Lewis (#63) seems to be one of the more popular cards in the overproduced 1st series of 1991 Pro Set MusiCards. Like, you could legitimately argue it's a key card in the set. If you open a random pack of MusiCards and get one, it's a good pull. (--Not that it's worth more than a few cents, of course!) 

Odd that they kept it as a solo subject rather than make it a card of Huey Lewis & The News despite bits of them in the background of the photo. This same card is reprised in the UK edition of the set, though there the logo box is moved to the lower right corner, revealing more of the News.

Huey's reign as a top rock star of the day didn't really stretch into the 90s, but back in the mid 80s? You couldn't avoid the guy if you tried. The back gives you a big-picture overview of his band's accomplishments and mentions he's from the Bay Area.

I like the hits of Huey Lewis and the News as much as the next guy, though he was just a bit before my time, with me not really "getting into music" until the late 80s when he was yesterday's news, as it were.

My favorite song of his/theirs would probably be "The Power of Love", which is not only a sleek slab of toe-tapping pop rock & roll, but also has the association with Back to the Future further bolstering its pop culture status and nostalgic foothold with people around my age.

Last I heard, Huey is semi-retired and losing his hearing from decades of rocking out. Wishing him the best.

I might as well right a wrong and use this opportunity to design a MusiCard-that-never-was that squeezes in more of the neglected News.

Pop off in the comments if you've got anything to say about Huey Lewis and/or the News. If you're a fan, any hidden gem deep cuts you'd recommend giving a listen?

Next up is a band I'm not familiar with, but the post will have a big Custom Corner to make up for it. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 31, 2023

#62 Patti LaBelle (+ Dionne Warwick bonus)

Patti LaBelle is #62 in the 1991 MusiCards set. This photo reminds me of those old Skybox basketball cards with the white background and various colorful shapes n' stuff around the player. The logo box effectively censors Patti's right hand, making me smile at the thought that she's flipping the bird under there, all like "Kiss my ass, I'm Patti F'ing LaBelle!"

We get a look at a different hairstyle on the back. As the write-up states, she's been at it for a long time and had some solid hits along the way.

I remember the likes of "On My Own" (featuring Michael McDonald) getting played a lot on the adult contemporary radio stations my mom played in the car back when I was a kid in the mid 80s. 

Once I started buying cassettes for myself in the late 80s, the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack was among the first albums in my budding music collection. Pretty sure I bought it specifically for Harold Faltermeyer's iconic instrumental "Axel F", but I also really enjoyed Patti's two contributions on the tape: "New Attitude" and "Stir It Up".

She's still active, occasionally performing concerts, and has done a fair amount of television acting in recent years, plus was a contestant on the second season of The Masked Singer.

Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite Patti LaBelle songs or thoughts/memories to share.

Just a quick one-- trying to squeeze in a monthly post before March ends-- but I watched a doc on Dionne Warwick on HBO Max earlier this year, which included Patti LaBelle as a contemporary interview subject. It was pretty interesting and I enjoyed it despite previously not knowing much about Warwick's career other than the basics. She didn't get included in the '91 MusiCard set, so I figured it would make for a good custom to pair with the Patti LaBelle entry.

"Heartbreaker", "I'll Never Love This Way Again", and "That's What Friends Are For" are probably my favorite songs of hers-- more songs that remind me of riding in the backseat as a kid-- but she has plenty of good ones.

Thanks for reading. Huey Lewis is on deck.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

#61 Lenny Kravitz (+ Slash bonus)

If the 1991 MusiCards set designated certain cards of promising new acts along the lines of Future Stars or Rated Rookies, #61 Lenny Kravitz would be very likely to receive such designation as an up-and-comer at the time.

"Let Love Rule"

He had gotten his foot in the door with "Let Love Rule" seeing decent airplay in 1990. His second album, Mama Said, followed in April 1991-- about the same time these cards were hitting shelves-- with the singles "Always on the Run" and "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over" helping propel Lenny on his way to stardom.

Lenny also has a card in the UK edition of the set featuring the same front photo.

I consider myself a casual fan of his. Like.. I taped multiple Lenny Kravitz songs off the radio back in the early 90s, though I never got around to buying any of his albums.

"Mr. Cab Driver" is a lesser-known tune of his I like from his early days. "Are You Gonna Go My Way" is undeniably catchy. "Fly Away" is another banger (and if you have a silly sense of humor, check out this hilarious reimagining). Throw in "Again" and his cover of "American Woman" and I think that's about all of his songs that I'm familiar with. Let me know in the comments if you've got any favorites of his or know of any deeper cuts that are worth checking out.


"Always on the Run"

A favorite Lenny Kravitz fun fact of mine is-- no, not that his mom was an actress on The Jeffersons-- but that the basis for "Always on the Run" was originally an idea Slash came up with as a potential Guns N' Roses song, but drummer Steven Adler had trouble playing it. So the tune ended up getting finished as a collaboration with Lenny instead.

When looking for Slash pictures to make a custom, this seemed like a fun one to work into the '91 MusiCards design. Turned out pretty cool.

Love me some classic GNR and will have to cover the band more in depth in a future Custom Corner, but keeping it brief this time. Up next is Patti LaBelle.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

#56-60 Janet Jackson

Her name ain't baby; It's Janet... Ms. Jackson, if you're nasty.

I like Janet Jackson's music fine, especially the Control through Rhythm Nation 1814 era, with those hit singles being all over the radio and MTV when I was young.

She's got 8 MusiCards total: the 5 consecutive here in Series 1, plus one in the UK edition, one "alternate design" promo, and one regular design promo. We'll hit most of those in this "speed round" post, trying to get the blog back in the swing of things after it sank into a hiatus the latter half of 2022.

Good variety of photos in the group.

1991 Pro Set MusiCards #56 Janet Jackson

This one features a lot of hair.

1990 sure was a big year for her.

1991 Pro Set MusiCards #57 Janet Jackson

She could almost pass for LaToya from this angle. Heck, squint your eyes and it could be her brother Michael.

It's tough for me to pick a favorite Janet Jackson song, but "Pleasure Principle" would be up there.

Janet Jackson - "Pleasure Principle"

1991 Pro Set MusiCards #58 Janet Jackson

This one's all business. A rare time the awkward MusiCards design actually works well with a photo.

Back picture here, featuring Janet as a blonde with her hair up, is similar to that on card #57, likely from the same photoshoot. Almost look like they could be stills from a video. Actually, yeah, looks like that might be from the "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" video.

Janet Jackson - Love Will Never Do (Without You)

1991 Pro Set MusiCards #59 Janet Jackson

This horse cameo might be the first animal sighting in the set so far unless I'm forgetting something. Wikipedia mentions Janet wanted to be a horse racing jockey when she was little.

I remember getting a little sick of the "Rhythm Nation" video getting played so much on MTV at the time, but it's a good song.

Janet Jackson - "Rhythm Nation"

1991 Pro Set MusiCards #60 Janet Jackson

Looks like this image is from the "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" video shoot, as with the back of cards #57 and #58. A bit grainy, but cute pic.

I watched the big Janet documentary on Hulu (think it was originally on Lifetime) last year and enjoyed it. Learned a lot about her and the Jackson Five. That also inspired me to find and watch Poetic Justice, the 1993 film she starred in with Tupac. That was a decent flick. Talented lady, no doubt.

Now here's the unnumbered promo card-- note the different font in the logo. These "cello pack promos" as TCDB currently lists them, are often early versions of cards that went on to appear in the final 1991 MusiCards set-- that is to say they use the same photograph-- but there's no non-promo doppelganger sharing this straightjacket-pose shot. Promo exclusive, baby! Ms. Jackson!

The back photo didn't get reused either. Probably the earliest photo of the bunch, from the looks of it.

Janet Jackson - "Miss You Much"

The write-up says "Miss You Much" was the most played single of 1989, though fact-checking that claim, looks like the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1989 (Wikipedia entry) has it ranked at #5. But I guess they're talking about radio and/or MTV play, which is likely a somewhat different list.

Notice the colors are flipped on the back of the promo.

Finally, here's Janet's alternate design promo card from 1990. This photo was also not used on any of her retail MusiCards. It looks very close to the back photo of card #56, but nope, different photo.

Seems like the same picture at first glance, but it's like one of those "spot the differences" exercises when you take a closer look.

BTW, I'm not covering her card in the UK edition in this post, but that one features the same "a lot of hair" photo we saw earlier at card #56.

Most of the bio information here is mentioned on her other MusiCards, though this one does share the tidbits that she loves eating Mexican food (me too! so relatable!) and visiting Paris in spring. I dig the "sexy mummy" photo, too.

"Escapade" is another favorite song of mine. Listened to it a lot on a special playlist made for Friday afternoons when I got off work, with its whole vibe of "whew, I'm done working for a while, time to have some fun" helping ring in the weekend.

And so there's a bunch of Janet Jackson cards. Any thoughts or memories coming to mind when you think of her? Favorite song(s)? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

#55 INXS (+ concert-going rambling)

INXS slots in at #55 in the 1991 MusiCards set. It's a strange posed shot of the Aussie boys each doing their own thing while gathered together in an empty room. Looks kinda like the guy in white is all, "Hey guys, check out this new riff I came up with." Meanwhile Michael Hutchence is all, "Yeah, sounds good, Tim, but I gotta check out this fascinating camera over here."

Sadly, the design's misplacement of the Super Stars logo essentially spoils what could have been a fine looking trading card. Poor Andrew Farriss on the left there gets the "blockhead" treatment while the lower right corner cries out its vacancy. Such a shame. (But stay tuned.)

They had a great run, and give credit to the Pro Set writer for ably summing up the band in the space allotted. Seems like most bands in this set didn't really remain relevant in the wake of the Nevermind sea change happening as these cards were on retail shelves, but INXS were still riding their peak to some degree. Bangers still ahead of them here include "Not Enough Time" and "The Gift", both tracks I remember enjoying on the radio and MTV in the early/mid 90s. But Elegantly Wasted (1997) was kind of a dud, and Hutchence tragically hung himself later that year (...which was rumored to be a case of autoerotic asphyxiation gone awry, though that seems to be just gossipy hearsay, with evidence indicating he was doped up and distraught over drama involving access to his young daughter).

INXS - "Not Enough Time"

The card's back photo is similar to the cover for 1990's X (above), sourced from the same photoshoot and utilizing the same outline effect.

That back image was also used on shirts and posters for that tour. By the way, "X" marked 10 years since their 1980 debut album. I thought perhaps it was their tenth studio album, but that distinction would go to Elegantly Wasted.

The last time we saw a variation in this set, its purpose was to correct a typo on the back of a Debbie Gibson card (#43). This time, the back of the variation is untouched, and the only reason for the revamped card is simply because it makes all the sense in the world to kick the logo to the opposite corner to better fit the photograph.

Ah, this variation found only in Series 2 packs is like a breath of fresh air after the constrictive original. I know I'm sounding like a broken record on the matter, but it sure would have benefitted the set had the layout designer(s) simply chosen which corner to put the black box based on how it worked with the photo from the get-go, rather than forcing it to the upper left before fixing a few problematic cards with later variations.

INXS also have a separate card in the second series (#314), plus there's a pair in the UK edition too, so the band is penciled in for a return to the blog eventually. We'll delve into their career more in those future posts. For now, I've got a couple personal anecdotes I wanted to cover here.

INXS - "Never Tear Us Apart"

In a random early memory of mine, I'm a pre-teen in the late 80s riding in a car with some family members in Chicago on the way to my great grandmother's funeral. I haven't really matured into listening to "real music" by this point, but at sometime during the trip I overheard a catchy song on the radio or something. I forget the context, but somehow I work part of the lyric like "two worlds collided" into the conversation and my cool older cousin kinda perked up and asked "INXS?" I just nodded and felt like hotshit for kinda impressing her with my vague familiarity with current hit singles. As an only child, she was as close as I had to an older sibling, and she would go on to help nudge me along my path of musical discovery as I entered my teen years.

I still love that song-- Kick really is a great album start to finish-- and even worked up a "reimagined" cover version that I enjoy rocking out from time to time when I practice playing guitar. I recorded a rough version in 2015 that's still collecting dust on the internet in case you want to check it out. It's not very tight, but in my defense it's all me: guitar, singing, keyboard, and even the sloppy drums.

I should also mention that-- unless maybe I'm overlooking something?-- pretty sure INXS is the only act in the entire 1991 MusiCards set that I've personally seen perform live in person. Yep, it was June 21st, 2006 at the Embarcadero Marina Park South in San Diego. On lead vocals was the winner from their Rock Star competition reality show, JD Fortune. I had caught most of those episodes (chiefly thanks to Dave Navarro co-hosting, as I was a diehard Jane's Addiction fan at the time), so it was nice having some "bond" with the guy through getting to know him through the show (and the rest of the guys in the band, for that matter), but the experience was still just a step above watching a cover band, hearing all the INXS classics with somebody besides Michael Hutchence singing.

Here's a custom for the latter era of the band. They kept it going as INXS for a few years before finally calling it quits in 2013.

But yeah, it was a fun night at a pleasant outdoor venue. My friend Chris had stumbled into free tickets-- gotta admit I would've never considered actually spending my own money to go to the show, but for free? Sure! My concert-going heyday was the mid 90s through the 00s, but I usually went to alternative/indie rock shows, so there's not much overlap with the MusiCards checklist. While I dug plenty of larger acts of the day-- huge Tom Petty fan, for example-- I just rarely ponied up the dough for large venue concerts. That's still true today, though I have more discretionary income to play with now. I find it hard to pay $100+ for tickets to see somebody play from the rafters when there are several HD video recordings available to watch free on YouTube, ya know? My buddy Doug recently bought a single ticket to see Paul McCartney in Seattle. He's a huge Beatles fan who had never seen him live, so that was monumental for him to pull off. He was texting me video clips while it was happening and it was a vicarious blast. But I don't know if I have a personal equivalent of that where I would pull the whole "Shut up and take my money!" meme to buy a ticket at any cost. That might make a good question prompt for the comments: Is there any musical artist alive today you'd happily buy a $200+ ticket for the opportunity to see perform live if their tour happened to stop at your largest local sports arena?

Maybe this is on my mind because a tour was recently announced with Jane's Addiction opening for Smashing Pumpkins. The current version of both bands is a far cry from their glory days, but I'm debating it. I've seen Jane's several times, but never the Pumpkins (despite being a big fan). Tickets are like $75 and it's at the Moda Center where the Trailblazers play. It's an easy commute for me-- the train passes it on my way to and from work-- but I've never been in the building. I'm sure it won't come anywhere near selling out, so maybe I'll take a look closer to the mid-November date and see if I can score a cheap ticket or two. 

Welp, I've probably rambled enough to fill out the post. I'll have to get around to listing out my favorite INXS songs when we eventually get to their Series 2 card. In the meantime, please let me know in the comments if you've got any thoughts or memories to share regarding INXS. I'm also curious about the aforementioned "expensive ticket" question, and-- if you're looking to kill some time-- maybe count up how many acts you've seen live from the 1991 MusiCards checklist. Might be interesting to find out who among our readers here has caught the most. I'm setting the bar pretty low with 1! (And that one barely counts, considering the replacement singer.)

Oh wait, I just found a second artist in the set that I've "sort of" seen live! Back in August '96, fresh out of high school, Doug and I drove up to Big Bear, California for a music festival in the mountains. We were mainly there to see Porno For Pyros and Love & Rockets (who were both great). Lady Miss Kier also performed a set, and she's featured on a MusiCard with Deee-Lite (#268), who had recently broken up at the time. I don't remember much of her set, as we were still milling around the grounds for most of it, but I recall thinking it was cool to see her-- the far-out lady from the fun "Groove Is in the Heart" song/video-- even if her music that afternoon was a bit too "dance rave" for my taste. So yeah, I'd say that plus seeing INXS with a new singer combines for a solid "1" for my Acts-Pictured-on-a-MusiCard-I've-Seen-Live total, or 2 if we're being really generous about it.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

#54 Information Society (+ getting a MusiCards wantlist up)

Information Society are #54 in the 1991 MusiCards set. The trio each have something quirky going on in this photoshoot, with one guy on roller-skates, one guy in gardening gloves and a Jughead hat, and the third guy in unusual headwear as well. 

This card makes for a compelling argument that Pro Set really would have been better off being looser with placement of the logo box. It'd be a nicer looking card if the photo was centered better and with the logo in the lower right corner instead. But no, series 1 cards all have the box in the upper left-- with the exception of a handful of variations that were actually only available in series 2 packs-- while the cards in the series 2 checklist all have the logo box in the lower right. The UK edition also sticks the box in the lower right without exception. Sure would have made more sense to just decide which corner to place it based on what worked best with the photo at hand, but apparently that thought didn't jive with the Pro Set employee(s) who were making those calls during the design phase of the product, so we get some awkwardly framed cards like this, the lone Information Society entry in the MusiCard universe. I would whip up a custom variation if I could find this photo online, but I wasn't able to track it down.

I did find the back picture, however, from the same photoshoot. Now the third guy has added kooky glasses to his ensemble.

I think of Information Society as a one-hit wonder, with their "Pure Energy" getting played on the radio a ton when I was a kid. But I rarely, if ever, saw the video on MTV, or recall any other song from them, and just don't ever hear anyone mention them anymore, so much so that I had been wondering if perhaps it was more of a regional hit in the San Diego market. But nope, turns out they built up a decent following. Wikipedia is telling me they were active from 1982–1997 and then 2006–present, with these 3 guys still at it decades later.

Information Society - "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)"

It's a pretty cool song, though the video is laughably dated with late 80s ridiculousness. They had a woman in the band for a while, but she left sometime between this video and the aforementioned photoshoot. Fun fact: Apparently they were able to clear the Star Trek sample because Leonard Nimoy's son was a fan of the band. While "Pure Energy" is the only track of theirs I could name off the top of my head going into this post, according to Spotify they've got another song that's also very popular called "Repetition":

Information Society - "Repetition"

"Repetition" has 11 million plays (compared to 14 million for "Pure Energy"). "Repetition" doesn't ring a bell nor really do anything for me (and yes, I'm repeating "Repetition" a bunch as some dumb meta joke), but while checking out their other popular tracks, there was one song that perked me up in a "wow, I probably haven't heard this song in 30 years!" way...

Information Society - "Walking Away"

Honestly I don't know if I'd go as far as to say I liked "Walking Away" back in the day, but I definitely remember it for its catchy, eye-rolling chorus. I remember joking with my buddies poking fun at it. Like, after turning off a Nintendo game, I might deadpan, "I am walking away from, walking away from, games that suck such ass," or something dumb like that.

Are you readers familiar with Information Society? ... like, beyond the "Pure Energy" song? Let me know in the comments, if you'd be so kind.

Getting a MusiCards wantlist up

I found some time over the past couple weeks to sort my duplicate 1991 MusiCards with the intention of putting together a 2nd set (Series 1 + 2 + UK). Got pretty close, but ended up short a few.. many of which are the common, garden-variety Series 1 cards, thankfully pulling the vast majority of tougher Series 2 cards from a retail box of the stuff. (I didn't luck into pulling a hologram insert, though.. which would be a dream of mine, but not enough to rip through dozens of boxes looking for one).

I figure having a second set would be nice to have around, not just as something productive to do with my many dupes, but also because occasionally when I pull out my set to get card images for the blog, I'll notice a printing flaw or condition issue hurting the card's appearance. So it'd be nice to know I've got a complete backup I could turn to in situations such as that.

Instead of listing my needs in this post, I went ahead and made a separate page for my MusiCards wantlist that I can link on the sidebar and update going forward. If you've got some MusiCards available, please take a look and get in touch if you've got any I need and wanna swing a little trade.

Also.. Anybody working on a MusiCards set or want to start? I've got lots of triples available from Series 1, Series 2, and the UK Edition that I'd be happy to thin out in trades without expecting much in return. Just let me know!