Monday, December 7, 2020

#30 Adamski (+ Adam Sandler, Adam Snyder, and Dick Allen)

Adamski is back with the second of his two cards in the 1991 ProSet SuperStars MusiCards set at card #30. I think this is the tightest headshot we've seen in the set so far, with his face taking up about half the card.

Ha, and that's probably the weirdest back write-up in the set so far. I think the bit with Pro Set claiming Adamski is a extraterrestrial would be known as "kayfabe" in wrestling-- going along with the made-up storyline for the benefit of the fans.

The comments on the previous post pretty much confirmed my suspicions that the vast majority of North Americans aren't familiar with him, but he was big in the European rave scene in 1990. "Killer", a collaboration with then-unknown Seal, went to #1 in the UK and Belgium, #2 in the Netherlands and Germany, and #5 in Ireland and Sweden.

But before we go labeling him a one-hit wonder, well, the follow-up single "The Space Jungle" went to #7 in the UK and broke into the top 30 in a few other countries, so I guess technically there's another Adamski hit. Despite the title, the song is effectively a modernized cover of the old Elvis Presley tune "All Shook Up" (written by Otis Blackwell in 1956).


I was thinking maybe Otis Blackwell for today's custom, but instead let's pencil him in at #237, pairing him with The Smithereens, a band Otis toured with in his later years.

Adamski's real name is Adam Tinley, so I thought I might try to think of other Adams in popular music. Musicians with that first name popping to mind for me are Adam Ant, Adam Yauch and Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys, and U2 bassist Adam Clayton... all of whom are featured on MusiCards already.

I took a look in my iTunes library and found songs from a couple Adams in my music collection.

Adam Sandler has had quite the career, getting his start as a popular cast member on Saturday Night Live in the early 90s and going on to a successful string of comedy films. His lowbrow humor might have worn thin for many by this point, but he still cranks out projects on a regular basis, and received universal praise for his dramatic turn in 2019's Uncut Gems

It's easy to forget Sandler sold millions of CDs in the 90s. They're All Gonna Laugh at You! (1993) and What the Hell Happened to Me? (1996) were both huge, while What's Your Name? (1997) and Stan and Judy's Kid (1999) also went gold. His albums are a mix of comedy skits and humorous songs.

At some point I ended up with his first 3 albums. I may have bought one of them, but the rest were hand-me-downs from friends who stopped listening to them.

"The Chanukah Song" is probably his best-known song, debuting on SNL's "Weekend Update" and later featured via in-concert recording on What the Hell Happened to Me?

Another song off that album, "Ode to My Car", got some censored radio play on the main station I listened to back then, San Diego's 91X, and I liked it well enough to buy the CD. Or maybe a friend of mine bought it and I just borrowed it.. hard to remember at this point. Another favorite song is "The Goat Song" from What's Your Name? which is kind of a rock opera callback to an earlier skit ("The Goat" from What the Hell Happened to Me?).

Switching from a very well-known Adam S. to an obscure one, Adam Snyder is the other Adam to feature today. Not to be confused with the football player with the same name, this Adam Snyder was the keyboardist in Mercury Rev for a stint and helped create their most successful record, 1998's Deserter Songs. That's how I'm familiar with him, but my curiosity lead me to check out some of his solo demos, which I think I got on CDR from a guy who was friends with him. Turns out when left to his own devices, Adam comes up with Americana folk songs. Don't sound much like Mercury Rev (one of my all-time favorite bands), but some quality ditties none the less. He went on to release a couple records, Across The Pond (2001) and This Town Will Get Its Due (2006). The albums feature a full band, though honestly I think I prefer the earlier versions I first heard where it was just him singing while playing acoustic guitar. Those recordings sound super intimate, perfect music for when you're not 100% awake, like late at night or early in the morning. My favorite songs of his are "Leaves of Grass", "Until it Comes", and "Thru Til Morning" off that early demo CDR titled Until it Comes. But the finished versions aren't bad either. If you're into mellow folk music, might be worth giving a listen.

Not sure what Adam Snyder is up to these days, though in his career he's worked with luminaries such as New Order and The Waterboys. Looks like he had a band called The Red Cars in recent years, though I can't find much about them.

That'll do it for today. I'm excited for the next post... where we sound The Alarm.

Last minute addition...

I was heartbroken to hear of Dick Allen's passing today. He's one of my favorite baseball players to collect, as has been documented over the years on my main blog, Baseball Card Breakdown. Hurts to lose him. Man, what a rough year. :(

This above MusiCard custom isn't as far-fetched as you might think. One thing I learned about Dick Allen recently is that he had a brief recording career. Yep, in the 60s he sang lead with a doo-wop group called The Ebonistics. They performed in the Philadelphia nightclub scene and occasionally had a high-profile gig, such as halftime at a 76ers game.

"Echo's of November" was the group's biggest hit. 

The guy won NL Rookie of the Year, AL MVP, and had a successful recording career on the side. That's pretty impressive. Rest in peace, Mr. Allen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

#29 Adamski

Card #29 in the 1991 ProSet MusiCards SuperStars set features the first unfamiliar name for me so far. I can say as I type this opening paragraph that I don't recall ever hearing of Adamski (beyond perusing the checklist for this set) and if my ears ever came in contact with an Adamski song in the past, well I have zero recollection of it. 

My first impression based on this photo is he looks like the missing link between Vanilla Ice and Eminem, though a little more "glam" with his fashion sense. But is that what he sounds like? We'll find out soon enough.

The back gives us a good introduction. There's an odd "Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy" picture and a write-up of how this performer got his career started. Perhaps he was bigger in the UK and that's why I never heard of him? He has 2 MusiCards: this one and another one immediately after it. He's not in the UK version of the set, funny enough. I'm still not sure what to expect when I press play on his music, but based on what I know from this card, I'm expecting something along the lines of Jesus Jones and EMF.. other UK electro-pop from that time that I'm familiar with.

Here's the point where I go to Spotify and listen to what they've got as the most popular few songs of his available.


Oh wow, looks like he's still active, with a release out just this year. Good for him!

Looks like his biggest hit by a wide margin was "Killer" off the Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy album (1990) [that explains the card's weird back picture.. it's the album cover]. The song's got over 10 million plays! I was thinking, "Wow, he sounds a lot like Seal." But no, it actually is Seal providing guest vocals on an Adaminski track.

The 2020 release is called Free to Kill Again and looks to be an album of remixes of that "Killer" song. Hmm, that's kinda sad.

His second most popular song on Spotify is a modern remix of "Killer". I like this "re-dub" version a little more than the LP version, but honestly neither are really grabbing me.

Seal, by the way, has no cards in the standard MusiCards set, but has four cards in the UK edition. I hope I live long enough to eventually cover those on the blog-- let's be real, at the pace I'm going, it'll be several years from now-- because I really like a few Seal songs (and get chagrined whenever anyone refers to him as a one-hit wonder... I remember a few of his songs getting lots of radio play when I was younger, not just "Kiss From a Rose".)

So (over) half of the top 10 songs on Adamski's Spotify page are versions of "Killer".. I guess it must've been a big hit overseas, but I don't recall ever hearing it before. It's getting a "meh" from me today, but maybe if my local radio station was playing it regularly back in the day, it would have won me over eventually. I mean, I love me some Paula Abdul songs, as we've covered over the previous three posts, but if I was hearing them for the first time today, I doubt they'd do much for me. Timing is everything. He just didn't seem to hit in the US. (Again, funny he got a US MusiCard, but not a UK one.)

I'm trying to go into it with an open mind, but yeah, not really feeling the Adamski songs I'm listening to right now as I draft this post. Not terrible, but nothing I see myself ever wanting to give a second listen. If any big Adamski fans are reading this, I feel like I should apologize to you, but hey, nothing personal. I'm also not really familiar with any of the artists in the "Fans Also Like" (pictured above, far right), so maybe this just isn't my scene. Never been much of a raver.

According to his Wikipedia entry, as of early 2020, Adamski "has been spending time in the studio writing and producing songs for the next highly anticipated Kylie Minogue album." That's cool. (Like Seal, Kylie isn't in the US MusiCards set, but has 4 cards in the UK edition.)

I think my initial assumption of him sounding something like Jesus Jones and EMF was pretty close, honestly.. but with less guitars. And by the way, those are a couple more artists not in the US set but in the UK set. Really adds to my feeling that Adamski is out of place in the US checklist and would have made a lot more sense in the UK edition. Kids opening packs of the stuff in England at the time would have likely been much more familiar with him than American kids were, I'm sure.

I think I'm just going to end this post here with no Custom Corner, but seeing as I've run out of things to say about Adamski, I should come up with a good accompanying Custom Corner for the next card-- Adamski again-- or else it'll be a very short post, lol.

What do you say, readers.. Are any of you Adamski addicts? If so, any favorite tracks besides "Killer" (or the other few songs in the above top ten) that I should check out? Or are you like me and are only now learning about him for the first time thanks to this card?

Sunday, November 15, 2020

#28 Paula Abdul (+ Nirvana bonus)

Paula goes horizontal for her third and final card in Series 1 of 1991 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards. Come on, Paula.. let's keep it G-rated! Too sexy!

The back blurb is all about her childhood. No back photo this time, but instead we get her wordmark. Am I alone in thinking that font instantly calls to mind Nirvana?

Here's a look at the Forever Your Girl album cover. You can see the same font used, though it looks less Nirvana-y in burnt sienna and with that little tattoo-looking drawing in the middle of her name.

Nirvana's Bleach-- the first time they used the font, I believe-- was released almost exactly a year after Forever Your Girl, so while it was most likely just a coincidence, it's a funny thought to imagine Kurt Cobain taking inspiration from Paula Abdul. But evidenced by closely comparing the top of the A's and the bottom of the L (in "BLEACH"), it's not the exact same font, but not too far off.

I guess I might as well go with Nirvana for this post's Custom Corner companion since I've already started talking about them, but first let's get back to Paula. I've covered her debut Forever Your Girl in the previous two posts, so I figure I should get passed that and to her other albums.

Paula Abdul - "Promise Of A New Day"

Her highly-anticipated sophomore record was 1991's Spellbound. Like its predecessor, it went to #1 on the charts and became a multi-platinum seller. It wasn't quite the hit single generating monster Forever Your Girl was, but still saw solid MTV and radio play.

As for me, Spellbound was among the earliest compact discs in my collection, moving away from cassettes. I liked the first single "Rush Rush" ok, but I seem to recall it was the second single, "Promise of a New Day", that prompted me to drop some allowance money on the CD. I also liked "Blowing Kisses in the Wind", the third single. Other than those 3 songs, Spellbound didn't quite connect with me much, but I still listened to it several times that summer. (I'm listening to the album for the first time in many years as I write this post. "My Foolish Heart" is another good one I forgot about.)

Paula Abdul - "My Foolish Heart"

The album was released in May '91. By the time Nevermind came out later that September, I wasn't paying much attention to pop/dance music anymore. Abdul's third (and still most recent) record, Head Over Heels (1995), didn't even register on my radar and to this day I don't think I've heard any songs from it. That album was a commercial disappointment, though called "much more experimental than her previous efforts" and "her most honest and personal project" (wikipedia), so I should give it a curious listen one of these days.. perhaps when we eventually catch up to her again on the blog when we reach Series 2 in a few years.

After Head Over Heels was a relative flop (still went gold), Paula backed off from singing, going back to choreography, doing a little acting, and eventually returning to the status of a household name as the sweet, caring judge on American Idol. She popped up with new music via a couple singles-- "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" (2008) and "I'm Just Here for the Music" (2009)-- and more recently returned to performing, with headlining tours and a residency in Las Vegas.

Oh, I got a cool thing to show off!

I was browsing an eBay seller's "other items" recently and stumbled upon this Paula Abdul certified autograph card for a decent price. Thinking about her more lately thanks to this blog, I decided to buy it. While I don't hate the photo or card design (wish it was an on-card auto instead of a sticker, but what you gonna do?), I got the idea to kick it up with an overlay...

I took a dupe I had of Paula's #27 MusiCard and cut a window for the signature of the Panini Americana card to show underneath. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! I've done "custom overlays" several times (including another On The Tube auto, even), but I think this is my first time using a real card as an overlay.


Ok, let's get to the Nirvana part of the post. They're a band I really like, so I'm thinking I'll only touch on their early days here, then continue their run in the future (like, Nevermind-era in another post, In Utero-era in another). I could probably ramble about Nirvana for a long time, but this post is already pretty long, so I'll try to keep it tight.

While Nirvana had been around since the late 80s, they didn't get huge until MusiCards were already on shelves, so it's no surprise they weren't included. But then again, contemporaries Soundgarden did get picked for inclusion by Pro Set, and I think their popularity levels were comparable at the time. So the above custom isn't that far-fetched.

Like most Nirvana fans, I prefer the Dave Grohl era of the band, but still enjoy listening to their early stuff once in a while. I consider Bleach a good album, but I'm not sure any songs from it will claw their way onto my personal top 20 Nirvana songs.. a list I'll probably get to for a future post.

"Sliver" has got to be my favorite track recorded during that pre-Grohl period, among the most catchy pop tunes Kurt came up with.

Ok, I think that'll do it for today. We'll see Nirvana again in another Custom Corner one of these days, and see Paula again once we get to card #281. It's funny that in Series 1, she's listed alphabetically under A (Abdul), but in Series 2, she's listed under P (Paula). Oh, Pro Set! 

Thanks for reading. Please sound off in the comments if you've got any thoughts to share regarding later Paula Abdul albums or early Nirvana.

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.