Friday, December 24, 2021

#50 Hoodoo Gurus (+ the return of MusiCards, kinda)

Hoodoo Gurus are card #50 in the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards Super Stars set. They're a band I've heard of, but couldn't name a song of theirs for you as I begin drafting this post. The photo here is an awkward posed shot, with the cropping making it look like half the guys are very tall (or the other half very short).

That's a pretty big write-up, as far as these cards go, though still doesn't give you much of an idea what they sound like. As for the back picture, it's something we haven't see so far-- not a photo or a band name wordmark, but a photo negative transparency.

I'm listening to a mix of their songs right now and "Miss Freelove '69" just came on and I lit up. Love this song! Guess I had forgotten the artist. So yes, I do in fact know a Hoodoo Gurus song after all.

It was the first single off their fifth record Kinky that came out in early '91. (I can't be the first to think the singer looks a bit like actor Elijah Wood, right?) That was their last album to really grab "the adulation of college audiences" mentioned on the cardback, with their subsequent albums no longer gaining widespread attention in the post-Nevermind era.

But while they might not be well-known in the States these days, they're Hall of Famers in their native Australia. The band formed in Sydney in 1981 and are still active 40 years later, currently finishing up their tenth studio album. There's a pretty extensive Hoodoo Gurus Wikipedia entry if you wanna read up on them further.

Hoodoo Gurus - "The Right Time" (live at the 1994 Australian Recording Industry Association Awards)

Listening to their songs now, this stuff is right up my alley and I'm surprised I haven't heard more from them. So hey, this blog continues to help me find new things to listen to. Pretty cool.

Any of you regular readers familiar with the Hoodoo Gurus? Let me know in the comments if you've got any favorite songs of theirs.

The Return of MusiCards, kinda

Changing gears, 2021 saw the return of new ProSet Super Stars cards in the form of Leaf autographs. Yep, looks like the entrepreneur guy who bought the Leaf name also brought in the rights to ProSet, and 2021 Leaf Metal Pop Century features stickergraphs inspired by the early MusiCard promos.

The checklist is a dozen subjects deep, with a range of musicians (plus a couple ladies known more for their work in front of the camera but also do some signing.. so, close enough).

Debbie Gibson
Edwin McCain
Fetty Wap
Jesse McCartney
Lindsay Lohan
Mark McGrath
Sean Kingston
Tone Lōc
Traci Lords

I can't see myself trying to go after that entire set, but I figured I'd pick up a couple of them as extracurriculars for my MusiCards "master set" I've got going.

Lōc-ed After Dark, boasting the crossover hits "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina", was one of the first cassettes I ever bought with my own allowance money back as a young'un. Loved that album start to finish and still have a soft spot for it today, even if Tone hasn't done much to be proud of since Ace Ventura. He's got OG MusiCards so we'll talk more about him later, starting at card #137.

As for Traci Lords... well, she's a very attractive woman. She was pretty good in the 1990 John Waters movie Cry-Baby, which I think is the source material for this photo. Leaf really flooded the market with her autos this year, it seems, with Traci having a ton of different autos in 2021 Leaf Metal Pop Century.

I thought it'd be interesting to see these new cards side-by-side with original Pro Set Super Stars promo cards from 1990 that provided the inspiration. I think Leaf did a fine job on their revamp. The 2021 cards are refractors or prizms or whatever the Leaf-equivalent is for a card that's on a Chrome-like cardstock and gets some rainbow shine in the light. But anyways, there are many different parallels, as you could imagine.. various colors and/or sparkly action.

The backs are reasonably faithful to the originals, too. An alternate photo would have been a nice touch rather than repeating the front, but oh well.

And notice that the word "MusiCards" never appears on the 2021 versions? I wonder if perhaps that's a separate trademark that Leaf doesn't own? 

I personally would love to see Leaf show 1991 MusiCards some love, such as more new cards like these, but using the main, more familiar MusiCard design for current musicians, preferably a decent base set in addition to autos and even buyback autos of the 1991 cards. That would be cool, but I won't hold my breath.

This Month in 1991

Woo!, we've made it through the end of this year-long lookback at what my life was like as a middle school kid in 1991. Pretty sure this is the only childhood calendar I've held onto over the years. I must have had an inkling that someday I'd be writing a blog involving the year 1991, lol.

December '91 was a glorious month of no school for me.

My wife and I decided against having children of our own, and it's not often that I have any regrets about that, but if I had a kid of my own one thing I'd be excited about is celebrating St. Nick's Day. It's essentially a little bonus holiday where you put out your shoes in front of your bedroom door, and you'd awaken to them filled with stocking stuffers like little gifts and candy. At least that's how it went down at my house. Made me feel like hot shit to have a bonus gift-getting holiday that none of my friends knew about. High five, Mom! Always lots of fun "pre-funking" the holiday season, so to speak, though some years we forgot to do it. But we were on top of it in 1991, written in on 12/5.

Other than a painful trip to the gum doctor, Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for me, getting a new Nintendo game, Super C (Contra 2) and beating it later that day (surely with Genie codes, because that's not that easy of a game!). I also got a Play Ball puzzle that I finished the next day; I don't remember much about it but I think it was a generic baseball scene. Also on the 14th, another new video game with Adventure Island and we got a Christmas tree. Man, I haven't had a real Christmas tree in a long time! I don't miss the hassle, but it was kinda fun and the Christmasy smell is nice. The next day we decorated the tree and made cookies. Always loved getting creative decorating the Christmas cookies! "You bet your ass there's gonna be a rainbow turkey this year! Lots of red hots for wreath berries and tree ornaments!"

Baseball card relevance! I can say with no doubt that I got my first 1992 Donruss baseball cards on 12/19/91. That must've been a nice pick-me-up after the orthodontist tightening my braces that day.

Cracker - "Happy Birthday to Me" (this song was released in March '92, so hey, it was probably written in 1991)

On my birthday I went with my mom and possibly other family to the candle-lighting service at her church. I was never much into church, and I'd usually just go once a year for the Christmas Eve thing as like a "gift" for my mom (ok, and the 4th of July BBQ because the church was right across the street from the high school field where the local firework display launched).

Here's a photo of me and my haul from Christmas morning '91 (wearing a robe over the swapmeet bootleg Bart Simpson shirt that I used as pajamas for a while), though I can tell from other photos that this trove also includes birthday gifts from the day before. I think the Sears catalog offered 3-packs of team-branded soft cushion balls.. I mainly wanted Chicago for the Bulls b-ball that came with a plastic hoop you could install. (Not sure I ever got around to putting it up.) There are a few new video games here, including 4 for the Sega Master System and a pair of NES games with Double Dragon III showing. The big money items here are the Reggie Jackson signed plaque and baseball (I had picked them out earlier at the overpriced card/memorabilia shop in the mall). Reggie was "my guy" at the time, and it was pretty cool to now have his autograph (twice). I eventually sold the ball years later, but still have the plaque. Card-wise, we can see minor league team sets from 1990 Pro Cards (the wood border ones).. I think one is the Tulsa Drillers and there's one with Scott (Gavin) Erickson in the Twins chain. I don't see it visible, but I know I also got a Blue Jays affiliate team set with an early Carlos Delgado card (that I still own today) and a Phillies one with Mike Lieberthal as the top card. And behind some cash there's a box of Topps Traded.. I believe that's the recently-released 1991 Topps Traded set. Loved the Olympic cards in there, plus first Topps cards of Bagwell and Pudge. Finally, a 365 Sports Facts A Year desk calendar-- not sure I kept up with it for all of 1992, but might have. Oh, and I think that's a little mail-order "1991 draft picks" set behind the baseball. By the Sega games are some stocking stuffing, including candy plus my mom would often throw in crap like fruit and walnuts because that's the kind of stuff she got as a kid in her stocking and I guess she wanted to keep that tradition going... though I didn't care too much about getting oranges and nuts as gifts, lol.

We had Christmas dinner with family friend Ken, whom I talked a bit about back in the August calendar segment. I remember this as possibly the lowest-key Christmas of my life. My mom and I just hanging out with a buddy in his small apartment, not the usual big family meal I was more used to with Christmas music playing and lots going on. But it was still a good time. I think we all played a board game together.

I ripped my first 1992 Topps on 12/28/91, then New Years Eve was celebrated at a party of a friend-of-a-family-friend in a real nice house in Leucadia, a fancy beach community Encinitas. I remember some epic hide-and-seek games on the property with the other kids. Honestly, it was so much fun, it's one of those memories I'd like to tap into in a crazy sci-fi way to relive again!

And so it's fitting I closed out 1991 on a high note. It really was a great year for me. I probably should have posted more photos in this segment over the year, and maybe then it would have helped it resonate a bit better. But the thing is, 1991 was me in peak "awkward stage" with bad acne, braces, questionable fashion and hair choices... so there's not a ton of shots I'm eager to share with the internet.

Thanks For a Great Year

But anyways, thanks for indulging me these past 12 months. I'm never going to "write my memoirs" or anything like that, so rambling about my childhood on a blog a couple dozen guys will ever read helps me feel like I've "told my story" to some degree, and there's some record of my life floating around somewhere in space after I'm gone. Again, no kids for me, so this saga will not produce a sequel to carry on the tale. But I'm just late night rambling, perhaps having partaken in something recreational this evening, on the night of my last day before the big 44. (Always been a favorite number of mine.. Aaron! Reggie! McCovey!)

Back a year ago I said I wanted to do a big year-long contest type thing to thank the folks who take a moment to read and comment on the blog. I'm not sure if anyone remembers who was gonna call me on it, but even though my grand plans haven't come together yet, I'm still intending to make good on my word and formerly thank the top commenting people with a little something.

Time to scan through the posts from the past year and confirm who are the folks who commented on the majority of the posts. With 15 posts, that means commenting on 8 or more posts got you onto the winners' podium.

drum roll...

Fuji and Night Owl tied for the title of top commenter, followed closely by Brett Alan and Billy Kingsley.

Special thanks to you four guys for engaging and being generous enough to share your thoughts here at least 50% of the time! You're going on my nice list and I'll get something neat sent your respective ways soon to show my appreciation.

You other readers are still appreciated, don't get me wrong!, but please don't be shy to chime in with your perspective on these artists and songs and stuff as we cover another batch of pop stars in 2022 here on the blog, and maybe next year I'll be working on something special to send you!

Thanks again for reading.. Happy Holidays and all the best in the new year.

Here's the Hoodoo Gurus covering "Little Drummer Boy" to close us out for the year.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

#48-49 Hall & Oates

Today's forecast calls for a double dose of Hall & Oates. We start with 1991 Pro Set MusiCards #48. This photo feels cramped, like it probably should have been zoomed out instead of blocking out chunks of the duo's heads. John Oates smirks while Daryl Hall seems a little out of focus. Best thing about this photo might be how you can kinda see the photographer in the sunglasses reflection.

The glasses are off on the back photo featuring a classic back-to-back pose. The write-up reminds you they were a hit-song powerhouse from the late 70s through the 80s. Their days lingering in the Top 10 were behind them by the time this card was being pulled from packs, though their current LP at the time, Change of Season, did spawn the #11 single "So Close", their final Top 40 hit.

I liked "So Close" a lot.. not enough to buy the CD or single, but enough to tape it off the radio in my waning days of tuning to pop music stations. In fact, the version I'm most familiar with features the local San Diego DJ chatting over the intro section (not the slow part in the video, but the main part that starts with the drum hit), smugly talking about how the Dodgers lost... but he stumbles on his words a bit and ends up finishing his sentence over the first line of the song-- one of the worst sins a DJ can make!

Here's card #49. The guys seem to be bored of posing for the photoshoot. Oates smirking in the background again, while Hall shows off the unusual guitar in his possession.

The back photo is from the same shoot, but now Hall is messing around on the ax (Is that an 8-string guitar? crazy), while Oates dares you to talk smack about his seahorses t-shirt.

The text basically repeats the previous card by listing their popular songs, but now you also get to know some of the non-#1s, such as "Sara Smile" (#4), "She's Gone" (#7), "Did It in a Minute" (#9), and "Everything Your Heart Desires" (#3). The biggest snub here by the Pro Set employee tasked with writing the back is "Say It Isn't So", which went to #2 in 1983.

Only the coincidentally titled "Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney featuring Michael Jackson managed to keep "Say It Isn't So" from the top spot for a span of four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

Things quieted down for the band after these MusiCards came out, not releasing another studio album until 1997's Marigold Sky, which didn't make much of a splash. (I'm listening to it for the first time while drafting this post, and it's not too bad.) But they're still at it all these years later. They've both put out a few solo albums, too. I've heard good things about Live from Daryl's House, the show where Daryl Hall jams with other great musicians, though I haven't watched much of it yet.

What's your favorite Hall & Oates song? "You Make My Dreams" (peaked at #5) is probably mine. 

Just a fun song that always seems to improve my mood, even if somewhat overplayed at this point.


Licking lions preside over November '91.

Lots of NES action for me this month, playing through Double Dragon II, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, Legend of Zelda, Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, Street Fighter 2010, and Bart vs. the Space Mutants. You can see I wasn't above cheating using a Game Genie. If you're not familiar, it's a device you plug a game into that lets you enter cheat codes for stuff like infinite lives or mega jump. I've never been that great of a gamer, or had the patience to play games for hours on end to really get better at them, so I was happy to get a leg-up thanks to cheat codes, and still to this day I'm not above codes and save-states when I play video games. I realize it's more rewarding to beat a tough game fairly, but for me it just doesn't outweigh all the time and frustration of dying a hundred times. But I feel guilty enough to notate "(w/ Genie)" when I make the claim to have beaten a game, even though that's usually my default, lol. Bart vs. the Space Mutants (the first Simpsons game on Nintendo) is an especially brutal game to complete, even with Genie codes, so it's worthy of the all-caps and exclamation point I've given it here on the 20th.

Oh hey, cool for me to discover the specific day I got Dan Walters' autograph (11/9/91). I wrote a big ol' post about it on Baseball Card Breakdown last year after he passed, but I had misestimated the timeline as summer of '92. I've now added a little note with the card in the Walters PC so I won't forget again. I got a total of 4 in-person baseball autographs during my childhood stint of collecting, but my memory is blurry as to the order I got them, and I'm hoping to one day have it all sorted out. At least now I can confirm Dan Walters came before the still-unidentified old-timer Indians coach I got at a spring training game in '92.

Dodgers fans like Night Owl may be pleased to see I acquired a Los Angeles jersey on 11/16. I really was a "baseball fan" first-- back then and still today but less so-- rockin' gear of several different teams, naively unburdened by any rivalries.

Then we took a vacation to Louisville for a big family Thanksgiving. That trip was notable for meeting my cousin's newborn Alexis. She's all grown up now, finally getting married next year to her long-time baby-daddy. (I only remember this trip now from looking at my old photo album. I bust it out to confirm '92 was a year I went to Arizona and therefore the year I caught a spring training game in Yuma. I was also curious if the smiley face I doodled by my orthodontist [11/15] signified me getting my braces off that day, but no, looking at photos from Xmas '91, I was still a metal-mouth.)

Anyways, we'll close out this old calendar shtick next month with December 1991 and another MusiCard. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to let me know what you think about Hall & Oates in the comments if you wanna.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

#47 The Go-Go's

Card #47 in the 1991 MusiCards set features the Go-Go's. Nice huddled-together group shot with some big smiles. It's their only card in the set, though you may recall lead singer Belinda Carlisle also had a pair of solo cards back at #36 and 37.

The back features a stylized wordmark rather than a photo along with the write-up.

The Go-Go's had pretty much already had their heyday by the time I was really getting into music as a kid, but their hits "Our Lips Are Sealed", "We Got the Beat", and "Vacation" were unavoidable, then and still today. In fact, I think I liked them more back in the 90s; at this point I'm kind of sick of those three songs, honestly. I've just heard them so much in my life, lol! And I don't think I could name another Go-Go's song off the top of my head.

But I poked around on Spotify in the interest of this post, listening to a dozen more songs of theirs trying to check out some deeper cuts, and while the songs were fine, I didn't find anything I felt compelled to add to my library. But still, the Go-Go's are A-OK in my book.

Looks like they still regroup for a tour every so often, so that's cool. In fact, they've got a tour kicking off later this year.

I've always thought Jane Wiedlin was especially badass. She did a little acting, but never quite popped as much as she probably could've/should've.

On the subject of popular 80s rock bands comprised by women, I'm surprised The Bangles never got a MusiCard. I'll have to spotlight them in a future Custom Corner. (That segment of mine has kinda been paused this year due to technical difficulties, but it should be returning to the blog in 2022. In the meantime, here's the bonus feature that's been filling in...)

This Month in 1991

Chimpanzees rule the roost in October 1991.

Not a very exciting month for middle school me. The novelty of these old calendar pages of mine has kinda worn off, but dang it, I've come this far, I want to close out the year! Just a couple more after this one. Don't worry, there will be no more old calendar pages in 2022!

So looks like October '91 featured some birthdays to go along with the Halloweentime later in the month. You also get a look at my report card grades, which I'd say are representative of my entire academic career. That's pretty good when you consider how many "sick" days we've seen on this calendar over these past few months. Goes to show you I've always been a slacker. Not a dummy, but not driven enough to ever really make something of himself. And I'm ok with that.

I believe the minor league set received on the 1st must've been 1991 Classic Best, which as I mentioned in a recent Baseball Card Breakdown post, is the only full-length set from my childhood collection that survived "the great possessions purge" as I prepared to move out-of-state years back. But I'm not sure what the checklist received on the 12th was. I wanna say it was maybe a big checklist for the 1990 Pro-Cards minor league cards. I was really into those for a few months back then.

Ok, I'd better hurry and get this published so I can keep up my quota of at least one post per month here. Next month will be Hall & Oates.. oh yeah! 

Any of you readers big Go-Go's fans? Any lesser-known favorite songs of theirs to recommend?

Sunday, September 26, 2021

#46 Gipsy Kings

I wasn't familiar with the Gipsy Kings outside of putting this set/blog together, but turns out they've been at it with a poppy interpretation of flamenco music since well before this card came out and they're still active today.

Their recordings have been used in popular movies, so I'm sure we've all heard them even if we don't realize it. The Big Lebowski ("Hotel California"), Toy Story 3 ("You've Got a Friend in Me"), and 2016's Sing ["Bamboleo"].

I don't mind this type of music, though I don't typically seek it out or know much about it. I've listened to a couple Gipsy Kings albums on Spotify while drafting this post, and I've enjoyed it all fine, but not sure they'll stick in my regular rotation or anything.

So yeah, not a lot for me to say about MusiCard #46 here. You can read more about this long-running family band at the Gipsy Kings Wikipedia entry.

Oh, here's something I whipped up for a quick Custom Corner...

How could I not?! Had to make a Gypsy Queen Gipsy Kings card. I believe these gentlemen are the remaining original members.

Now it's time for This Month in 1991.

Ha, I had no idea that note was hiding in this old calendar of mine until I went to take a photo of September. Must've stuck it there for semi-safe keeping. I generally don't save "thanks for the trade" notes (though I appreciate them, don't get me wrong), but this one is from a famous person, so it was too cool for me to throw away. Craig here is Craig McCracken, best known as the creator of The Powerpuff Girls and other very successful animation work. We were online acquaintances for a few years back around the turn of the millenium, brought together by our shared love for the music of Frank Black. I traded him plenty of rockin' live recordings and oddities I'd collected of Mr. Black, and Craig hooked me up with lots of cool Cartoon Network swag and other fun stuff, such as a copy of the Heroes & Villains compilation CD he put together with some of his favorite bands contributing songs about the Powerpuff Girls, which I believe is the context of this note.

Craig also drew a couple original pictures for me and gave me a PPG animation cel, all among my most-treasured collectable keepsakes. (I've showed off some of these a few years ago on my other blog.) His new show on Netflix is called Kid Cosmic and I don't think you can find a better "for the whole family" cartoon out there these days. Very well done all around and worth doing yourself a favor by watching. (I'm still finishing up season 1, though season 2 recently dropped to rave reviews, and a third season is forthcoming.)

Anyways, let's remove the sticky note and take a look at what I was up to 30 years ago..

Pretty slow month compared to August from a couple posts ago. Summer fun gave way to back-to-school. On the 5th, I got to endure sore teeth from a braces tightening before tuning into the Video Music Awards on MTV later that evening.

Highlights from the VMAs that year included the return of Pee-wee Herman after the unpleasantness in the naughty movie theatre. Notable music numbers performed at the Arsenio-hosted show were "Poundcake" by Van Halen, "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, and "Gett Off" by Prince with his butt-cheeks out.

I bought a box of Line Drive minor league baseball cards on the 8th for $20. It was probably a situation where I was browsing at the local card shop, PV's Baseball Cards, and I made Paul an offer of $20 for the remainder of an open retail box. I remember doing that occasionally as a kid. Not quite ponying up for a sealed box, but getting a nice per-pack discount by taking a half-full box. This was the 1991 Line Drive "Pre-Rookie" set that mixed AA and AAA players. The above 7 cards might be all I've hung onto from the 30-year old purchase-- a few guys who went on to solid careers-- found in an old binder of mine.

Then on the 15th, I beat the NES game Strider again (so, not for the first time, but not sure if 2nd, 3rd time, or what). Strider is still one of my all-time favorite video games. I just played through it yet again one evening last month. I consider it almost a companion game to Bionic Commando, another late 80s game Capcom put out for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Both have great music, engaging action, semi-non-linear gameplay, and are a lot of fun. The jumping control might be what prevented both games from being more popular. Your guy can't jump in Bionic Commando, but rather you swing around with a go-go-gadget robotic arm, sort of like Spider-Man and his web slinging. In Strider, you can jump, but the game designers kinda shit the bed on the jumping control and it gets a little glitchy at times. But besides that occasional frustration with tricky jumps, and perhaps some bugs with special item usage, it's a terrific game. It's not exactly a well-remembered game today, at least not the Nintendo version, though the arcade and Genesis versions (both plenty different than the NES port) tend to get more respect.

I didn't have it marked on the calendar, but 9/26/91 would become kind of an important date for me because it marked the final concert of Jane's Addiction, who I would get really into as the 90s progressed. Basically for the years that I wasn't collecting baseball cards, I was collecting Jane's Addiction bootlegs instead. At my peak, I owned damn-near every live recording of theirs that was in circulation amongst fans (and several super-rare ones that hardly anybody else had). Over the years, my obsession faded and the band has done various half-hearted reunions, but 9/26/91 still sticks in my head as an important date, and since I notice it's the 30 year anniversary as I write this, figured I'd mention it.

That's it for this post. Any of you readers into the Gipsy Kings? Ever rip any '91 Line Drive packs? Ever play Strider?

Sunday, September 19, 2021

#42-45 Debbie Gibson (+ addressing the "1991-92" question)

Ready for an onslaught of Debbie Gibson cards? By my count, there are 6 different Debbie Gibson cards in the 1991 MusiCards master set: 4 consecutive base cards, plus a variation and a promo card. We'll be taking a look at all of them in this post. 

MusiCard #42 features a live photograph of Deborah at the piano, likely performing a ballad such as "Lost In Your Eyes", by the looks of it. It's an interesting shot-- Can you think of another instance where you get 2 angles of the subject from the same moment in time on one trading card?-- but feels like it was taken by a fan in the audience, a bit washed-out and far away.

Oh my, I really like that headshot on the back. Attractive young woman, no doubt! As this blurb reminds us, Debbie Gibson actually wrote her own songs and was a skilled musician, unlike most teenage pop princesses you might be tempted to lump her in with. Gotta respect that!

Debbie Gibson - "Only In My Dreams"

Here's card #43. Apparently she's working out a charley horse in her foot, lol. It almost appears as though Debbie is rocking dreadlocks, which isn't really on-brand for her. But I think it's more of a "bedhead" look. A somewhat weird card.

And there are 2 different versions of this weird card.

Yep, for Series II, the project manager assigned to the MusiCards product at Pro Set at the time decided that white-dread Debbie's sexy foot-fondling was TOO HOT for the kids of '91, and called upon a censored version. Nah, I'm just being silly, of course. I'm not sure why they made a variation that just moves the Super Stars logo box from one corner to another (The photo has been moved slightly too-- compare the white space above her name). But the back reveals why an updated variation of this card was called for. Let's flip them over; Take a look for yourself and see if you can spot it....

Did you catch the mistake? It's at the last line of text.

Yes, this isn't a simple case of "alternate" variations, but rather a good old fashioned "Error vs. Corrected" situation. Debbie's history-making #1 single was titled "Foolish Beat", not "Foolish Heart" as the initial version of the card erroneously states.

Debbie Gibson - "Foolish Beat"

Oh yeah. While "Foolish Beat" didn't ring a bell for me at first (nor did "Foolish Heart" for that matter, unless we're talking about Steve Perry-- great song), after listening to it, I now definitely remember hearing it on the radio a lot back then, though it was never one of my favorites. But still, very impressive that the track made the Gibson the youngest female artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, a feat that I don't believe has been matched or bested yet.

Back to the card back above, notice the second pressing also adds a tiny copyright line under the back photo (which, like the prior card, features a gorgeous headshot of the young pop star), crediting it to 1991 Gibson Productions. This is slightly notable because these cards generally don't tell you what year they're from (the retail boxes and packs don't mention a specific year-- this would appear to be planned as a one-and-done product right from the start). Sometimes folks mistakenly put the cards down as being released in 1992 or "1991-92". It's a bit confusing because it seems there isn't a consensus in the hobby world on what exactly to officially call this set. Should "Super Stars" be written as one word or two? Same question for "Pro Set". Hell, even on this blog, I refer to it by several different names, though I mostly keep it simple with just 1991 MusiCards.

TCDB lists it as 1991 Pro Set SuperStars MusiCards
COMC currently calls it 1991-92 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards
Beckett Marketplace calls it 1991-92 Superstars MusiCards
PSA dates it as 1991, though beyond that isn't always consistent.

See? Nobody can agree what exactly to call it. As for the year, the cards were released in 1991 and I think trying to squeeze "-92" on there like this is a basketball or hockey set is just dumb. Maybe Series 2 was released in early 1992, you suggest? Nope. Just check the "Instant Win" game inserts that came in every pack. The Series 1 contest (Grand Prize: a trip to London) ran from March 1, 1991 through December 31, 1991. The Series 2 contest (Grand Prize: a trip to Australia) ran from September 15, 1991 through October 1, 1992. Perhaps Pro Set tried to "rebrand" the cards as being "1991-92" when selling Series 2 boxes to dealers in late 1991 and early 1992, you know, in an effort to make them seem relevant longer, kinda like how comic books and magazines typically come out weeks before the official date printed on them just to try to extend the window to keep them on retail shelves. But yeah, these cards are from 1991 and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anyways, sorry for that tangent. I do want to try to look into narrowing down timeframes with the set as we continue on. I'm curious, for example, which album or single or event mentioned was the most recent. It'd be interesting to try figuring out the deadline for the write-ups. If Series 1 was on shelves starting in or around March '91, they must have been finalized for the printers around late '90.. but how late are we talking here?

But back to the card at hand, this is the first error card we've come to in the set so far... well, not counting uncorrected errors. The other "move the logo to the other corner" variations we've seen have not featured a similar typo-correction as far as I can tell. I spent a solid minute comparing the #17 Jimmy Page variations, and the backs seem to be exactly the same. But at least with #43 here, Pro Set actually had a good reason for updating the card: fixing a dumb mistake. (I wonder how they caught it. Do you think Debbie herself complained? "Hey guys, my song was called 'Foolish Beat'! And by the way, that photo is copyrighted by Gibson Productions, 1991. Please make these updates at your earliest convenience.")

I need to quickly mention that as of drafting this post, TCDB lists a 3rd variation for #43: with the logo box moved to the bottom but no changes to the back. I'm 98% sure this is just a mix up caused by the person who originally uploaded the back photo to TCDB in 2013 not realizing they were different on the back so he reuploaded his other scan instead of scanning anew. Hey, I'd love if there were another rare MusiCard for me to track down, so please prove me wrong, but I just don't believe it. Similar to the #15 John Lennon fictional 3rd variation that used to be listed on TCDB when I started this blog but has since been correctly removed because it doesn't actually exist.

Next up..

Here's card #44. I'm going to go on record selecting this one as my favorite of Debbie's several MusiCards. You get a nice clear look at her, without a bad hair day to distract you. A little more of a smile would have been nice, but I'm not the type to make the mistake of telling a woman she should smile more. I hear that she's super cool with her fans and is a generous through-the-mail autograph signer, so I've been meaning to send her a copy of this card to sign one of these days. I think it'd look nice with a signature on it. And sure, I might not be able to name more than 3 or 4 Debbie Gibson songs off the top of my head, but I like her just fine.

Debbie Gibson - "Shake Your Love"

"Shake Your Love" is my favorite song of hers. Just a fun, booty-movin' pop song.

Wow, yet again, ProSet puts the more-appealing (IMHO) photo on the back. I wouldn't have minded seeing that fun shot on the front of a card instead of confined to a tiny thumbnail. Way better than the "dreads" photo, right?! Oh well, what's done is done.

The write-up talks about her childhood and is what I imagine is one of the very few trading cards to refer to its subject as "extraordinarily precocious".

Hey, we've now come to the finale of Debbie's run in the checklist. Card #45 here features a heavily makeuped cutie apparently posing with some sort of cycle. Makes me think of Dottie from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel." If I hadn't seen this photo before and you asked me to identify the person, I don't think I'd guess it was Debbie Gibson. Cute, though. I probably wouldn't use this card for a TTM autograph attempt due to all the dark area that might hide the ink (in addition to the fact that I don't think it looks much like her).

Haha, ProSet's streak of putting the, um, sultrier photo on the back comes to a screeching halt with this one! Looks like she's on her way to equestrian class or someshit. Say hi to Butterscotch for us, Debbie. What's with that hat? Dude, is she wearing her grampa's jacket? And that crouch doesn't look very comfortable.

The text opts for lists of her releases rather than a narrative blurb. Her days lingering near the top of the charts were starting to wane by the time this set was on shelves ["1991-92"], but she's kept on with her music career over the years. Here's the link to her Wikipedia entry if you wanna read more. Thanks to writing this post, I had a thought I didn't expect I'd ever have: "I want to listen to the new Debbie Gibson album." Yeah, her 10th album The Body Remembers came out just a month ago and I'm checking it out right now. It's some finely-crafted pop! Too bad it seems like she's gotten pigeonholed as a 80s teen star and couldn't quite remain relevant in the pop music scene. It's hard to do, I suppose. Not a lot of Beyonce-type careers for young singers. She went by Deborah for a while, but is back to Debbie now.

"Lost In Your Eyes" stands as her biggest song, so I'd better throw that into the post before we wrap up here. Personally, I'd be fine never hearing that song again.. not that it's bad, just a bit sappy and way overplayed by this point. It's gotten stuck in my head several times over the weekend I've been working on this post.

And back to the card, this one also has a promo version. Here they are side by side...

The difference here is the text in the logo box. The promo version (right) has a more Comic Sans type of font, but they decided on a no-nonsense font for the finished product. 

Flipping them over...

The back of the promo is different, as we can see above. The write up was not repeated on a base card, but calls to mind card #42, mentioning her debut single, while the back photo would appear on that dreaded card #43 (see what I did there?). Note the solid colors in the design were swapped. I think they should have kept it the way it was on the promo. The name is easier to read in lime green than hot pink.

There are 11 of these "no-number" promos: 10 artists and 1 header card (which is hard to find-- I'm still looking for the header, but I've got the others). This is the second such promo we've come to so far, the first being #24 Led Zeppelin back in the opening Legends subset. These unnumbered promos should be distinguished from the other promos that are numbered and feature an alternate design, but we'll take a look at those down the line.

She was not featured in the UK edition of the set despite 1989's Electric Youth reaching #8 on the UK charts, so this is a wrap on Debbie for the blog.... unless I end up with a TTM success to show off at some point.

WS1988 Gm1: Debbie Gibson performs national anthem

One fun fact to mention about her, here on this blog whose readers are mostly baseball card collectors, Debbie sang the national anthem for Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Seriously?! Yep, the Gibson magic was in full effect on October 15, 1988, with Debbie's strong performance surely setting the stage for Kirk (no relation) to eventually come off the bench and hit his improbable home run off Dennis Eckersley.

Another choice fun fact about Debbie Gibson is that she made her film debut (uncredited) as a little kid playing the "birthday girl" in Ghostbusters in the scene where Rick Moranis' character is overtaken by the demon dog and gets possessed by Vinz Clortho.

Ok, that's enough for this long post. Thanks for reading and please consider yourself invited to comment below with any relevant thoughts to share. The next card on-deck is a "who?" situation for me, so I'm looking forward to digging into an unfamiliar group. Chances are that'll be short, but we'll also hit September's "This Month in 1991" segment, so that'll help fill up the post. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 30, 2021

#41 Dino (+ a busy August 1991)

Here's #41 in the 1991 MusiCards set. When I see this card featuring a smooth young dude in a bandana peering over his sunglasses, it makes me think of the guy who did that "Rico Suave" song. But no, that was Gerardo (who isn't in the US set, but has a MusiCard in the UK edition). Dino on the other hand is best remembered for his (That's the Way it Has to Be, Because That's the Way) "I Like It" song, as well as his (I'll Be Your) "Romeo" song.

Dino - "Romeo"

When old-timers hear the name Dino, they might first think of Dean Martin. That's probably the suave vibe Dean Esposito was going for when he decided on his stage name. But I think most of us probably think of the Flintstones' pet. I remember chuckling about that with my friends when Dino started getting airplay, though I admit I did kinda like both "I Like It" and "Romeo". 

Dino - "I Like It"

Dino released one more album after this card came out, 1993's The Way I Am, scoring another Top-40 hit with a spunky cover of "Ooh Child", the soft soul classic from 1970. After that, his singing career sputtered out and he focused on writing and producing, working with the likes of Sheena Easton. "Broken Promises", a song he wrote for singer Tonya Mitchell, reached #38 on the US Top 40 in 2001.

The back photo reminds me of a Zelda 2 poster I got from Nintendo Power magazine back in the day:

See? Throw some pointy ears on Dino in that back photo and you've got Link come to life.

Or maybe I'm just a weirdo. LOL. I attempted to do a Link drawing based off that poster as a kid (and think I still have it in storage somewhere), so it's stuck in the back of my brain.

I'm tempted to ramble about Zelda 2 for a while now, but that'll have to wait for another day. It's time for the 30-year rewind.

This Month in 1991

A cute pair of cuddly lynx kittens in a hollow log preside over August of 1991.

I'm totally confused what my actual summer vacation was in '91, because it seems like we've already seen at least at least a couple "back to school :( " days in the middle of this calendar. But regardless, looks like I packed in some fun before my summer came to an end.

August 2nd saw me add a new NES game to my video game collection with Hoops. I think that's the only basketball game I've ever played much. It's decent. Looks like I played through to the end a few days later-- pretty sure that says "Hoops Won" on 8/6-- though it's not really that kind of game,  more for one-offs. I remember lots of "pick up games" versus my buddy Doug. In later years, we'd also occasionally head down to the old middle school to shoot hoops on the outdoor courts after school hours or on the weekends. Neither of us were all that good, but it was a fun way to kill an hour or two. Even deep into my 20s, I'd sometimes clear my head shooting hoops alone. These days, I've got a box attached to a tree in the backyard that I try to throw pinecones into. It's not exactly a basketball hoop, but still a thrill when I make a deep "3-pointer". 

8/5 says "Sent for checklist".. I wanna say that was for a minor league card set checklist? Don't really remember.

Then that Friday 8/9, a few family members and I went to Balboa Park and then saw Doc Hollywood in the theater. The Michael J. Fox film had debuted the week prior. I liked it fine, though it weren't no Back to the Future. My lasting memory of the experience was when the audience is graced with a tasteful scene featuring the lovely female lead (Julie Warner) walking out of a body of water with her funbags out-- very intriguing to a teenage boy, but a bit awkward while sitting in a theater next to your mom.

Went to a ballgame at Jack Murphy that Sunday, 8/11/91. It was a good one, with my Padres breaking the team record with 5 homers on their way to roughing up the Reds 13-0. Bip Roberts went 4-4, going deep twice, cementing himself as one of my favorite players. Other Friar favorites I got to watch that day included Tony Gwynn, Fred McGriff, and Benito Santiago. Notable names I witnessed in action from the Away team included Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, Billy Hatcher, and Paul O'Neill skippered by Lou Piniella, who probably wasn't thrilled with his squad's performance that afternoon.

Cincinnati's front office didn't forget the boppin' Bip gave their team, and after the season, in a black day for Padres fans, they traded jerk-ass Randy Myers to San Diego in exchange for the renowned Mr. Roberts. Man, such a dumb move by then-GM Joe McIlvaine.

But back to the calendar, on 8/13, I was buying more baseball-related stuff, though I can't recall the specifics today ("MLB" doesn't seem to be a video game I remember owning, so I'm not sure what it was; and I don't remember what I was ordering from Beckett, but probably a couple back issues). Then a couple days later I got the 1991 Score 100 Hottest Rookies box set I had sent away for. Frank Thomas was the big card there, but I liked that it had many lesser-known rookies too that I welcomed into my collection.

Haircut on the 21st. Around this time, I usually got my hair cut at the barbershop where family friend, the late, great Ken Driscoll worked. Shout out to Ken! Sort of like an unofficial godfather to me for much of my childhood. He was a good guy. Used to help organize ballgames for underprivileged Mexican youths and other generous stuff like that. A very positive personality though he dealt with a lot of painful issues and poor health. He passed away in the mid 90s and that was a major bummer. Rest in Peace, Ken.

Received whatever "MLB" was (another boxed card set, maybe? book?) on the 23rd. Then I acknowledged Cal Ripken, Jr's birthday on the 24th.. which seems funny to me because I don't recall Cal being among my top tier favorites growing up. Maybe this was around the time I pulled a rookie card of his from an old pack of 1982 Topps.. possibly my best pull ever.

Winding down the month, we saw City Slickers in the theater on Sunday the 25th (the film originally opened June 7, 1991, so this was likely near the end of its theatrical run). I don't have any strong memories from the experience, so there must not've been any nudity in the movie. Then it was back to school on the 26th.

That'll wrap us up for this post. Thanks for reading and please share in the comments if you've got any thoughts regarding Dino or whatever else. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

#40 Taylor Dayne (+ MusiCards master set update)

This is 40. Number 40 in the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards set, that is. Taylor Dayne is looking good here in a sepia shot that fills the photo area of the design nicely.

Flipping the card over reveals some background on Taylor's origins as a performer, name-checking Jacques Brel ("Carousel") and Stevie Wonder ("Mon Cherie Amour"). That's a cool looking picture on the back, one of the more "artsy" images we've seen in the set so far.

Taylor Dayne - "Tell It to My Heart"

These days Taylor Dayne is remembered with "Every Beat of My Heart" as her popular song, but I've always known her for 2 songs, with the other being "Tell It to My Heart". Ha, wait-- reverse that! Looks like "Tell It to My Heart" is the bigger song. It's far-and-away her top track according to Spotify, with over 124 million listens. Compare that to "With Every Beat of My Heart", which doesn't even make her top 5 list on Spotify, with only around 2 million listens. I remember hearing both a ton back when I listened to pop radio circa '87-91 and it's kinda blowing my mind that one is a much more popular song than the other today.

Oh hey, turns out the photo on the front of her MusiCard was originally used as the cover for the "With Every Beat of my Heart" single. (pic from eBay)

Taylor Dayne - "With Every Beat of My Heart"

Apart from those 2 songs-- both guilty pleasures of mine in the 80s pop area of my music collection-- I don't know much about her, so I'll go skim her Wikipedia entry.

Taylor's first two albums, Tell It to My Heart (1988) and Can't Fight Fate (1989), both went double platinum. 1993's Soul Dancing found a tougher reception in the post-Nevermind era, but still went to #2 in Australia. Naked Without You followed with little fanfare in 1998, and her latest LP to-date is 2008's Satisfied, though she's put out a few singles since. She still performs occasionally and competed on season 4 of The Masked Singer in 2020.

I'm listening to more of her stuff while working on this post... "Love Will Lead You Back" was her only #1 single in the US. Oh yeah, now I remember this ballad. It's just meh for me, though it does transport me back to riding in the car with my mom and the adult contemporary station on that played the crap out of this stuff when I was a kid. "I'll Always Love You" is another one of these from Taylor-- very familiar to me though I haven't heard it in decades. I like this one better. I appreciate a good sax solo. "Heart of Stone" is another good song I had forgotten about.

Please let me know if you've got any feelings either way to share about Taylor Dayne in the comments below.

My big COMC shipment included a few MusiCards for my attempt at a "master set" of the things. I needed to upgrade my reversed Lennon, but accidentally bought 2 of them, lol. So now I have 3 counting the scuffed one. Bo Diddley (1st card of Series 2) was another condition upgrade for me. The bottom row are all promos. I've now completed all the promo cards ...well, all that feature artists, not just text/ads. Some of these I scored on eBay in nice lots in the time between when I bought them on COMC and when I finally received them. So if anybody out there is working on a MusiCards master set, I've got several of the (relatively) rare promo cards available for trade, including the Madonna error, which is probably the most desirable of the promo cards to land, though I don't think I'd go as far as to throw around the "holy grail" term. (The holy grail of MusiCards has got to be the hologram, right?)

I also sorted my base MusiCards recently. Verified that I've got complete sets of Series 1, Series 2, the UK Edition, plus both series of the Yo! MTV Raps MusiCards. Always good to confirm.

I might put together a second set of Series 1 Super Stars with my dupes (and have plenty of triples too), and if I did that I'd be tempted to go after another set of Series 2, but that one's tougher. Maybe it's sadistic of me, but I'd kinda like to try building Series 2 from packs. Might have to keep an eye out for deals on a sealed box or two. I need a Series 2 box for my master set anyways, if'n I decide to include more than just cards. (I have hung onto empty boxes of Series 1 and the UK Edition, plus I've got a sealed box of Series 1 and an open but seemingly-full box of Yo! Series 2.) And I've got an ulterior motive that I'll get into another day.

But as for my master set of cards, I'm down to just dumb stuff that mostly got thrown away back then:
NNO Promo Pack Header
NNO Advert - Pro Set MusiCards Collector Files binder ad (from UK Edition)
NNO Borden's Promo Pack Header (Fairy God Dude poster offer)
NNO Diamond Comic Distributors promo card
NNO 10¢ Coupon - Pink Spots (from Series 2)

If I was going to the National this year, it's crap like this I'd be hoping to find. lol
Not that they keep me up at night, but the completist in me would love to track them down and be crowned the undisputed king musicard dork.

Anyways, now onto the thing where we take a quick look at my old calendar from 1991.

Rhinos enjoying a nice day.

Not a very eventful July for me 30 years ago. Back to school on the 1st, sadly. Looks like I bought a new video game on the 7th.. no doubt during a Sunday evening Target trip with my mom. I only vaguely remember the Mission: Impossible NES game today, but maybe I'll play it via emulation one of these days for old times' sake. The meaning behind the little boxes on the 5th and 11th is a mystery now lost to time. Looks like my grandfather visited at the end of the month. He and my grandmother moved out from Florida to be near us and my aunt in San Diego not too long after this. Perhaps he was in town checking out retirement homes.

Then an orthodontist appointment on the 31st and that's it. For what it's worth, I peeked ahead and August has more action. That's coming up in the next post.. featuring the MusiCard of a forgotten singer who shares a name with a cartoon dinosaur dog. So stay tuned.