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!


  1. Never heard of The Firm or The Honeydrippers until now, eh? I can tell you weren't listening to the radio (or watching MTV) in the mid-80s. The Firm's "Radioactive" was an AOR favorite and "Sea Of Love" was played so incessantly that I wished Plant had never formed another band.

    The Series 1 variations in Series 2 is one of the weirdest things I've seen in a card set. I'm sure Topps is jealous it never thought of that.

    1. Yeah, any radio listening I did in the mid 80s was the "easy listening" station my mom would play in the car (Air Supply and the like). I didn't really start listening to the radio and watching MTV until the late 80s. I thought that version of "Sea Of Love" was nice, but I can see how it'd get annoying on heavy rotation.

  2. Oh, yeah, Page played on tons of British Invasion records. So did John Paul Jones; I've heard Herman's Hermits jokingly described as "Led Zeppelin with a different face" given how often those two played on their records. (Personally I'm much more of a Herman's Hermits fan!)

    I'm not that big on Joe Cocker, but "High Time We Went" is probably my favorite by him. "Feelin' Alright" is a classic too, and he does a nice job with one of my favorite songs, "Darling Be Home Soon", but the Lovin' Spoonful original is still tops with me.

    1. I've been checking those songs out.. good stuff!

  3. My favorite Joe Cocker song is "The Letter". My favorite Joe Cocker performance is his duet with John Belushi on SNL:

    1. Ha yeah, that's a great SNL clip! And I didn't realize he did that "my baby wrote me a letter song" but just heard a live version the other day.. great song.

  4. I know The Wonder Years song like I know Happy Birthday... but don't know much about Joe Cocker. I like that Fire It Up song that you shared though.

  5. Great looking Joe Cocker card. That song always has me thinking of The Wonder Years when I hear it. "When the Night Comes" is my favorite Joe Cocker song. Not a classic but still my favorite. Fun post!