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.