Wednesday, March 6, 2024

#85 New Edition (+ New Order bonus)

New Edition here at #85 is a rare case of an inactive act getting a MusiCard in 1991. Besides the gold Legends subset with the likes of Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, I can't think of other examples off hand.

New Edition - "If It Isn't Love"

We've already seen Bobby Brown in this set at #35, but these photos seem to be from the post-Bobby lineup from the late '80s as a 5-piece with Johnny Gill added. Gill gets his own MusiCard coming up at #121, with Bell Biv DeVoe having a pair at #109 and 110. Ralph Tresvant has to wait until Series 2, but we'll eventually see him at #297 and 298. So considering Pro Set was fully covering the fellas, I suppose it made sense to also give a card to their group that was splintering at the time.

All six men have reunited as New Edition after years apart, still occasionally touring and even doing Vegas residencies as recently as right now. That's pretty impressive, especially since they started out as a "boy band" after all. From looking at a recent show's setlist on YouTube, the fellas mix in their non-New Edition hits as well, such as Bobby's "Every Little Step" and Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison", so looks like they give you good bang for your buck when you see them live.

New Edition - "Can You Stand the Rain"

New Edition's heyday was a little before my time, though I've always liked "Can You Stand the Rain" and "If It Isn't Love". For further reading, here's their Wikipedia entry link.

Changing gears for some Photoshop fun, my favorite "New (something)" artist has got to be New Order (...though I also like the New Pornographers a lot). I've mentioned before that receiving the New Order cassette Substance as a Christmas gift from my older cousin circa 1989 was a turning point in my musical journey or whatever. Kind of surprising they didn't receive any MusiCards. "Blue Monday" was unavoidable in the mid 80s, while their latest album at the time, 1989's Technique, had gone to #1 in the UK (#32 US), so New Order was definitely popular enough to warrant inclusion, but perhaps Pro Set wasn't able to secure licensing. Let's at least give 'em a custom mock-up here these many years later.

They were still riding high in the early 90s, with 1993's Republic being a big hit, and stands as New Order's best chart position in the States, hitting #11 on the US Billboard 200.

New Order - "Regret"

I bought Republic on CD when it was new and listened to it a ton, later going back and getting into their early stuff too (not to mention Joy Division). Frontman Bernard Sumner is a bit hit-or-miss for me, with his vocals and lyrics sometimes falling short (I have no idea what any New Order song is about, as the lyrics generally seem to be random phrases thrown together willy-nilly), but overall I'm a big fan. His side-project with Johnny Marr called Electronic had a few bangers in the 90s, too.

I haven't done it in a while, but the blog's Desert Island Disc recurring feature is where I fill up a theoretical CDR with my favorite songs from one band I love. I'm dusting it off with a name change for this post. These songs are not ranked in order, but rather it's just a playlist of songs to help me to cope with the ol' desert island isolation, were I limited to about an hour of New Order material to bring with me. Actually, I'm cheating here as I would probably just bring Substance (disc 1, which is the same as the cassette; the CD release included a second disc of b-sides), so this is a "besides that" playlist.

New Order - Desert Island Playlist

1. Dreams Never End
2. Age of Consent
3. Your Silent Face
4. Love Vigilantes
5. Elegia
6. Face Up
7. Regret
8. World
9. Special
10. Hellbent
11. Restless
12. Love Less
13. Round & Round
14. Run
15. Vanishing Point
16. Touched By The Hand Of God
17. 1963

Yeah, that could maybe use a little tweaking, but a good enough mix of songs for me. Length comes to just about 80 minutes, so that would likely squeeze onto a CDR.

I figured I'd change this feature to a "playlist" rather than "disc" to update for the times. My new car now is the first for me that doesn't have a CD player-- well, I suppose my first car didn't have a CD player either, just radio and cassette player-- so it's an end of an era for me spinning discs as I drive. I dislike commercials too much to listen to the radio very long these days, but I've been making myself "best of" playlists on Spotify for a while now, mainly for tunes when I walk the dog, and looks like I'll be using these playlists in the car now too.

As a card collector, I similarly like having a "music collection"-- like a stockpile of CDs, or even folders upon folders of mp3s backed up on an external hard drive-- but that doesn't jive with streaming services like Spotify (who have a reputation for being terrible at compensating artists). But oh well. Gotta get with the "new order" of things, I guess. lol

New Order - "1963"

Back on topic to wrap up, New Order still exists as a band today, but they're not quite the same since acrimoniously parting with bassist Peter Hook years back. At least the gal on keyboards, Gillian Gilbert, returned to the fold after taking a decade off to be a mom.

Are any of you readers into New Edition or New Order? Got favorite songs of theirs? Sound off in the comments if you wanna, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 29, 2024

#82-84 Nelson

Nelson has 3 consecutive cards in Series 1 plus a "different font" promo for a total of 4 MusiCards for us to check out in this post. Above is the only card where the rest of the band is featured in the photo, not just the titular twins. The redhead in the middle looks a bit like Emma Stone, but don't let the long hair fool you; that's a man, baby.

Entering today, I know just a couple Nelson songs: "(I Can't Live Without Your) Love & Affection" (which I could live without) and "After the Rain" (which I do like). They seemed like the last new "big hair" rock band to emerge before that genre went the way of the dodo in the wake of Nevermind.

Nelson - "After the Rain"

I was intrigued by the SNL tidbit on the back of the card. Wikipedia has some more context on that early performance:

During the 1980s, Matthew and Gunnar played as Strange Agents and as The Nelsons, with which they played the Los Angeles club scene. A year after the death of their father in a plane crash, Lorne Michaels agreed to have the Nelsons as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, at the request of their manager at the time. They became the first unsigned band to play on the show. During this iteration of the band, Matthew was the lead singer and bassist, while Gunnar played the drums. As they returned home from the show, Gunnar claims he had what he called "an epiphany", which he shared with his brother. He told him that they should break up the band as it was and start sharing the front stage together. Gunnar promised to learn to play guitar and did so in a year. (source)

Here's a shot of them holding their guitars.

The band members get name-checked on the back of card 83. If it were me putting the set together, I'd maybe swap backs with the full-band photo of the previous card (that actually shows all those guys), but whatever.

Deja vu. The unnumbered promo version of card 83 can be distinguished by the casual "Pro Set MusiCards" font in the black box. The crop is also slightly different, with that box touching hair here, plus we see the tip of the lower guitar now. And of course the back is different:

The blurb is a little more.. effusive?.. than we're used to with this set. That opening sentence, jeez! "Uniquely 1990s music" was close, but turned out to be uniquely 1990, specifically. Done by '91.

Nelson - "Love & Affection"

Nelson's last card features a tight headshot of the duo split by a beam of flowing blond hair.

The other band members bookend the Nelson cards, showing up again on the back photo of card 84.

I really doubt the other fellas are still in tow, but the Nelson brothers never stopped rocking. I gotta admit I could've sworn I remember hearing about Gunnar Nelson passing a few years back, but I may have conflated him with someone like Jani Lane from Warrant, because yep, at least as of Leap Day 2024, they're both still kicking. Nelson has released new music as recently as the mid 2010s and still perform live on occasion. They also have a separate tribute act for their dad called Ricky Nelson Remembered, and sometimes play in a celebrity all-star rock band called Scrap Metal.

Let me know in the comments if you've got any thoughts or memories connected to Nelson to share.

Monday, January 29, 2024

#80-81 Alannah Myles (+ Alanis Morissette bonus)

Alannah Myles parlayed her #1 hit "Black Velvet" into a pair of MusiCards in 1991.

Per ASCAP, it was the most played song on radio for 1989 and 1990, so that's pretty impressive. Like most Americans, I liked the song, but never really heard from her again after it faded from the airwaves.

I hadn't realized (or maybe I just forgot) she was Canadian, but I guess her being known for that bluesy Elvis tribute tricks you into thinking maybe she's from down south. She's got a robust Wikipedia entry with lots of accolades from north of the border, though in the US she just could never get out of "Black Velvet"'s shadow.

Here's the other card Alannah Myles got. Neither was reprised in the UK edition, so she's just got the two regular MusiCards. Not much to say about the photos used-- typical promotional headshots-- though both cards look like they would have been better served by having the Super Stars logo bumped to the opposite corner (but for some reason Pro Set only dared do that for the UK edition, or for the occasional Series 1 cards that got an updated variation included in Series 2 packs).

Alannah turned 65 this past Christmas and seems to have slowed down her music career, though she still works on music here and there, in recent years re-recording her old songs, sorta like the Taylor Swift thing, re-recording your music so then you own the recordings instead of slimy industry dudes.

I'd be curious if any of you regular readers have heard an Alannah Myles song besides "Black Velvet"..? I took a curious listen to some of her other songs on Spotify and they were solid but nothing else really stood out too much for me. Here's one that's not too bad:

Alannah Myles - "Why Have Angels Denied You"


Feels like I gotta pair up Alannah Myles with another female singer from Ontario who also did some child acting before becoming a rock star, and who coincidentally happens to have a similar name.

This custom fudges not only Pro Set's borders, but also the timeline of Alanis becoming a star. Her debut album didn't come out until 1991, with a quick follow-up in '92, but those were Canada-only releases. Then in 1995, Jagged Little Pill was a worldwide smash, selling over 33 million copies. You gotta imagine that had MusiCards endured as an annual release instead being one-and-done, Alanis would have likely been all over those theoretical mid/late-90s MusiCard sets, probably even featured on the box.

I still remember when she burst onto the scene with "You Oughta Know". For a guy like me mainly into alternative rock back then, the track was notable for featuring Flea and Dave Navarro, bandmates at the time in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The story I remember hearing is that they only agreed to do it as anonymous session work, and after a bit of legal posturing when the news leaked, the two guys ended up getting points on the album, resulting in Navarro making more money from that one song than the entirety of the rest of his tenure in the Chili Peppers, funny enough.

I'd consider myself a casual fan of Alanis Morissette, but have never bought an album or seen her live. "Hand in My Pocket" and "Ironic" are a couple other hits of hers I dig, both also off Jagged Little Pill. Acting-wise, she was cool to see in Dogma and a run on the show Weeds, plus a recurring part on the fun animated show The Great North. I also watched a lot of You Can't Do That on Television as a kid (despite it being kinda controversial at the time), though I don't particularly remember young Alanis' brief stint in the cast.

Anyways, her most recent album came out in 2022. For further reading, you can peruse her Wikipedia entry.

"Thank You"


I wanted to do a little reader appreciation now that 2023 is in the books. I hit my MusiCards Blog goal of posting at least once a month for the year.. though fell short of my stretch-goal of posting more than once per month. But I still count it as a victory after only 5 posts in all of 2022.

I like to offer a vague incentive for readers to chime in about the artists we cover here, so sometimes I get around to doing a little mail-blast to the regulars. Thanks and congrats to these five fellas who all commented on at least half of the 12 posts here in 2023:

Brett Alan
Matt (Red Sox)
Night Owl

It goes without saying I appreciate anyone who reads this little blog, and especially these 5 guys for their continued active participation. If there's a chance I don't have a current mailing address for any of you guys, please hit me up. Nothing too exciting, but I'm planning to send out thank-you cards your way soon/eventually.

No promises for a similar promotion next year, but definitely maybe. If you're a reader who doesn't comment much, well, the count is reset for 2024, so feel free to pop in more this year. Let me know in the comments if you've got any thoughts/memories to share regarding Alannah Myles and/or Alanis Morissette. Thanks!