Wednesday, February 12, 2020

#18 Jimmy Page (+ Joe Cocker bonus)

1991 MusiCards #18 Jimmy Page
Woah, this might be the first "metal" card we've come to in the set so far. You could have told me that photo was of RATT or Quiet Riot and I would have believed you. But no, it's apparently Jimmy Page in that getup shredding on a two-headed guitar. I suppose that'd be John Paul Jones lurking in the background on bass.

Yep, for the second card in a row, we've got a variation that reconfigures the design a tad (chiefly, moving the MusiCards logo to the opposite corner). I believe variations such as these were available from "Series 2" packs (These packs also included Series 1 cards mixed in). Series 1 packs were produced in much greater quantity, so the variations (and Series 2 base cards) often carry a premium compared to Series 1 base cards. There are no variations in the Series 2 part of the checklist, by the way.

The next variation in the set isn't until card #43.

That blurb is pretty badass. Jimmy Page is practically a damn wizard!

I don't recall ever hearing of The Firm or The Honeydrippers before this, but I've just now checked them out briefly.

The Firm - "Midnight Moonlight"

Looks like The Firm were active 1984-1986, and also featured singer Paul Rodgers (Free and Bad Company), drummer Chris Slade (Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Uriah Heep, and AC/DC), and bassist Tony Franklin. The track "Midnight Moonlight" was a reworked Zeppelin leftover.

The Honeydrippers were a vintage R&B-inspired band helmed by Robert Plant from 1981-1985, with Page and Jeff Beck sometimes being involved. They've got a nice version of the classic "Sea of Love" that was a big hit for them. Plant was worried people would start considering him a "crooner" so he pulled the plug after only one release: an 18-minute EP.

Skimming Jimmy Page's Wikipedia entry now-- wow, didn't realize he was such an in-demand session musician in the 60s.

Page was the favoured session guitarist of record producer Shel Talmy. As a result, he secured session work on songs for the Who and the Kinks.[33] Page is credited with playing acoustic twelve-string guitar on two tracks on the Kinks' debut album, "I'm a Lover Not a Fighter" and "I've Been Driving on Bald Mountain",[34] and possibly on the B-side "I Gotta Move".[35] He played rhythm guitar on the sessions for the Who's first single "I Can't Explain"[31] (although Pete Townshend was reluctant to allow Page's contribution on the final recording; Page also played lead guitar on the B-side, "Bald Headed Woman").[36] Page's studio gigs in 1964 included Marianne Faithfull's "As Tears Go By", the Nashville Teens' "Tobacco Road", the Rolling Stones' "Heart of Stone", Van Morrison & Them's "Baby, Please Don't Go", "Mystic Eyes", and "Here Comes the Night", Dave Berry's "The Crying Game" and "My Baby Left Me", Brenda Lee's "Is It True", and Petula Clark's "Downtown".
Petula Clark - "Downtown"


That leads us right into the artist I wanted to spotlight on today's Custom Corner: Joe Cocker.

Not long ago, I read that the iconic guitar in the studio version of Joe Cocker's "With A Little Help From My Friends" is played by Jimmy Page, and-- mind blown-- I penciled in Joe as the companion custom for this post.

Joe Cocker - 1991 MusiCards-That-Never-Were custom

Joe Cocker - "With A Little Help From My Friends"

Cocker's reimagining of the Ringo-sung Beatles classic is dynamite! A new generation (myself included) was hit over the head with it thanks to its use as the theme for The Wonder Years, a coming-of-age comedy-drama that ran on ABC from March 15, 1988 until May 12, 1993. I liked the show back then, and watched through it again a few years back.

I touched on The Wonder Years back in a past Baseball Card Breakdown post. I had a lot of fun writing that, and-- along with other posts where the music I grew up on played a big role-- it could be considered a precursor to this MusiCards blog, helping me realize I really like rambling about not just cards but also music and pop culture stuff.

But back to Joe Cocker... His career began in 1961 under the stage name Vance Arnold (No relation to Kevin Arnold, fictional character). He didn't have much success as a pop singer, so he later dropped the stage name and embraced the gritty voice and spastic on-stage movements he became known for. Later in the 60s, he formed a backing band called The Grease Band. "With a Little Help from My Friends" really put him on the map, reaching #1 in the UK in November 1968.

Other Joe Cocker tunes that've stood the test of time include a cover of Billy Preston's "You Are So Beautiful" (1974) and "Up Where We Belong" (a duet featuring Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the Oscar for Best Original Song and Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo.)

Joe Cocker - "Fire It Up"

Joe Cocker put out 22 studio albums from 1969 through 2012. Gotta admit I think I've only listened to one of them in its entirety, though I've been meaning to dig deeper into his back catalog. I checked out 2012's Fire It Up on a whim back when it was released and was surprised how much I liked it. The tracks "Fire It Up", "Younger", and "Walk Through the World With Me" are especially good. It ended up being his swansong, as he passed away from lung cancer at the end of 2014 at the age of 70.

If you've got any Joe Cocker favorites to recommend (or non-Zeppelin Jimmy Page work), feel free to let me know in the comments below. Page will find himself back on the blog soon, as a stretch of Led Zeppelin cards aren't far off.

But in the more immediate future? Prepare yourselves for a humorous skit:

Who's next?
No, not Yes. Who.
I want to know which artist is next. Please reveal them to me.
But we've already covered Them.
Then Who?
Oh, forget it!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

#17 Jimmy Page (+ ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead)

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page graces card #17 in the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards set. This is obviously from a promo photoshoot based on the backdrop. Kind of an awkward pose. Can almost picture him singing the "I'm a Little Teapot" song.

Buckle up, because we're entering The Zeppelin Zone with this set. Jimmy has another card up next at #18. And shortly following that (after a couple cards for The Who), his band Led Zeppelin has a DiMaggian run of five consecutive cards. Plus we'll later hit a Historic Concerts card for them and then later a promo card (I plan to hit the promos at the end, giving me ample time to scoop them up-- I'm still working on building a "master set" of MusiCards). But yeah, that's a whole lotta Led.

Led Zeppelin - "Whole Lotta Love"

Yep, we've hit another variation. As with most variations in this set, the Super Stars logo travels from the upper left down to the lower right. The photo shifts to the left (revealing the head of the guitar) and the teal "Legends" banner shrinks a little and jumps to the top.

For easy comparison, here's a gif of the two cards.

Of course I'm familiar with Led Zeppelin, but gotta admit I've never heard of the Jimmy Page Band. Seems like his career has been relatively quiet since Zeppelin broke up way back in 1980. I know he's popped up once in a while here and there over the years, but seems he hasn't really done anything big in the past 40 years, which is kinda surprising for a guitarist of his stature.

Well hey, we've still got a whopping 8 cards in the pipeline to cover Page and his main band's work, so I'm just going to put a pin in it for now and jump right into the Custom Corner.


Today's bonus band was likely influenced somewhat by Zeppelin, with many sprawling rockers in their catalog, but mainly I'm choosing them to feature now because I saw these guys live just the other day and wanted to post about it here.

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead (often shortened to Trail of Dead) might have a long, scary name, but they're a band of good dudes who rock out. They're not super well-known, but they make my short list of bands I would enthusiastically recommend to anyone into rock music.

Trail of Dead - "Baudelaire"

I was first introduced to their music in the late 90s by my friend David DeVere who was a big fan of theirs. Dave wasn't at all shy online, so I'm sure he wouldn't have a problem with me using his full name here. We were online buddies for a few years and shared a lot of cool music with each other, but eventually we lost touch. I tried to reconnect a while back, but his email address had gone bad, and attempts to find him on social media have been a dead end. Davy, if you're out there, drop me a line and let's catch up!

As 2019 was winding down, I came to the grim realization that I hadn't been to a concert all year. And yep, 2019 ended up being the first year since 1994 that I went a full calendar year without going to at least one live music show. (I went to 3 stand-up comedy shows during the year, for what it's worth, but it's not the same thing.) Man, the younger version of myself would be sickened by this! I love live music, damn it! Feeling the need to end my dry spell, I secured a ticket to Trail of Dead for January and I'm glad I did.

It was such a great show. Sold-out crowd. I got lucky with a front-row spot and had a great time up in the thick of it. They were loud as fuck so I'm glad I brought ear plugs to protect my hearing (sorry; old fart alert). But man, having the drums/bass thumping away in your chest during a badass jam is such a great feeling. The band rocked to perfection, and it was cool how the guitarists all took turns on drums (3 of them).. impressive versatility. I had to wake up early the next day for a work thing, but no regrets.

Silly gif using a few photos I took.
What's really cool is I get to use my own photos for the custom(s). Sure there are countless better photos of the band to be found online, but it's awesome to be able to make it a fully in-house project. I've made hundreds of custom cards at this point in my life, yet I think these are the first made using photos I took myself. Pretty neat.

I even snagged a setlist from the stage immediately after the show. I've got a decent little setlist collection (highlighted by Weezer, Mercury Rev, and Rocket From The Crypt), but I don't think I've added to it in the past several years (not since I moved to Portland in 2009?).

Trail of Dead - "Into the Godless Void"

As far as a rundown of the band's history, well here's the first paragraph of their Wikipedia entry:
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (often abbreviated as Trail of Dead) are an American alternative rock band from Austin, Texas, formed in 1994. The chief members of the band are Jason Reece and Conrad Keely. The two alternate between drumming, guitar and lead vocals, both on recordings and live shows. The band is known for their wild, energetic concerts. Their tenth studio album, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories, was released on January 17, 2020.

Now I'll try to narrow my favorite songs of theirs down to an album's worth.

Desert Island Disc - Trail of Dead

  1. Summer 91
  2. And the Rest Will Follow
  3. Caterwaul
  4. Classic Art Showcase
  5. Let It Dive
  6. Ebb Away
  7. Half of What
  8. When We Begin To Steal...
  9. Isis Unveiled
  10. Bells of Creation
  11. Inland Sea
  12. Ascending
  13. Eight Day Hell
  14. Witch's Web
  15. Into the Godless Void
  16. Don't Look Down
  17. It Was There That I Saw You
  18. Another Morning Stoner
  19. Baudelaire
  20. How Near How Far
  21. Relative Ways
  22. Source Tags and Codes

Ok, there's a solid "best of" collection right there, but man.. every album is a banger. Engaging music, thoughtful lyrics, a few "out of left field" sounding songs to shake things up.. just great stuff. Again, I can't recommend them enough if you're into alternative rock at all. Terrific band.

 Trail of Dead - "Summer '91"

If I ever end up doing a podcast/youtube version of this blog (which I probably won't, but never say never), "Summer '91" would be a perfect theme song to use. Its cautiously nostalgic head-nod to 1991 fits right in with our look back at the 1991 MusiCards set... plus it rocks. So yeah, I could totally see that being used as intro and/or outro music in a podcast-type situation.

Looking back at '91
Reflecting on those things we could have
Said and done
The dancing lights across a crowd
Remind us of another town
That's dead and gone
It's just dead and gone

That's going to wrap up this post. Sorry if I layed on my love for Trail of Dead a little thick! Over the past few years, they've really risen up the rankings of my all-time favorite bands, so I hope I've at least convinced someone reading to give them a curious listen, and maybe even find themselves being a new fan.

As always, please comment away below if you have any comments to comment. Otherwise, see you soon with card #18 which is Jimmy Page again.