Friday, June 29, 2018

I wanna rock

Just one day remains before I receive some well-deserved time off.

There are any number of ways to celebrate breaking the chains of societal demands and I'm sure I'll imbibe in all of them -- food, booze, babes (well, one babe) -- in the week to come.

But as for right now, it's quite simple:

I wanna rock.

Recently, I received a sizable chunk of the 1991 Pro Set SuperStars MusiCards series from The Writer's Journey. I've made no secret of my love for music trading cards -- I wish there were more of them, there should be more of them (and if there were more of them this would be a baseball blog no more) -- and lately have been focusing more on finding them.

One of the easiest sets to find is the 1991 Pro Set ... uh, set (stupid Pro Set and its stupid name).  And it is my goal to complete it fairly quickly. I will be posting a want list just as soon I can figure out what I received from J.T. here.

I bought a number of MusiCards ... uh, cards (sheesh) in 1991 because it was 1991. That's what people did in 1991: buy cards. The local drug store shelves were like nothing you see today. They were filled with card product. Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Score, Upper Deck, Bowman and Pro Set's many dabblings in several areas of entertainment, NFL, NHL and nonsports.

I liked the look of the MusiCards and I especially liked the selection. Pro Set really tried to cover the spectrum of the music scene. The set of 340 cards is broken up into Legends, Pop, R&B/Rap, Rock and some old-school psychedelic posters. The design is color-coded, too, with gold for legends, light green and pink for pop (yes, this is the early '90s), green and purple for R&B and pink and black for rock.

I've already gone on far too much for a set that is almost as ubiquitous as 1991 Donruss, but, man, music is more of my life than baseball, so you'll have to suffer through this.

Let's start with the beginning and a Legends card.

The legends are who you would expect: Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the Allman Brothers, etc.

My selection of Jefferson Airplane is related to my fascination with the band. Due to many changes in the band lineup (and many band name changes), it went from "White Rabbit" to "We Built This City" with a stop over at "Count On Me". Listening to the queen of '60s psychedelia, Grace Slick, sing "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" from the Mannequin soundtrack will never stop blowing my mind. The weird thing is, I like it all. (P.S.: "Winds of Change" is awesome and very '80s).

Part of me wishes the set wasn't numbered by genre, as musicians really dislike categorization, but that could be a little jarring to view. You get a bit of an idea when the card numbers turn over from Legends to Pop. Card No. 25 is Led Zeppelin. Card No. 26 is Paula Abdul.

Because it's 1991, the set is heavy on who was popular in 1991. Paula Abdul, head over heels for MC Skat Kat at this time, appears on multiple cards. So does Debbie Gibson (I still can't figure out how she got on the radio). So does Madonna. And Janet Jackson.

And ...

Rob Van Winkle.

This is a definite disadvantage of the set. But with such a wide-range of musical acts, I'm willing to take the good with the bad and I'm having a great time going through some of the groups and singers forgotten by the public at large but not by me.

When The Cult's first single -- "She Sells Sanctuary" -- popped up on radio or video (I don't remember which), in 1985, I became obsessed with owning it. I was still making the transition to CDs at the time, so I bought the 45, placed it on my phonograph and wore it out. I'm convinced that if you go back to where I was living at the time and walk into where my bedroom was, you will hear "and the world, and the world drags me down" over and over.

I am a fan of the freestyle music craze of the late 1980s. I'm a bit disappointed not to see Miami Sound Machine or Lisa Lisa or Expose or Company B in this set (although I don't have the checklist memorized). Basia sang on several latin-flavored hits, although most know just "Time and Tide". I still play her songs on the regular today. Tremendous voice.

Alannah Myles is in this set because of "Black Velvet," and is known as a one-hit wonder in the U.S., although she generated a few more hits in her native Canada. Another tremendous singer who was victimized a bit by formulaic recording, but "Rockinghorse" still kills.

For me, the set is a little bit thin on alternative acts, which is too bad because that's where my musical interests resided from the late 1980s into the '90s. Nothing from the Cure, Love and Rockets, Tears for Fears or New Order. Too bad.

Morrissey helps a bit. There is also a Sonic Youth card.

I tried to get into them. Bought one of their albums during my '93 alternative phase. Just couldn't handle it -- after many listenings it was just too much noise -- and went back to the Smashing Pumpkins and the like.

Let's take a look at some of the rock cards:

Kind of all over the board there. A Buckingham-less Fleetwood Mac. A bespectacled Idol.

For me, Soundgarden is the undisputed king of the grunge era. Nobody did it better than Chris Cornell. Then you plummet all the way down to Europe. You may be sick of "The Final Countdown" and I understand completely, but every time I hear that song, that's three minutes-and-whatever that I'm not hearing that other song, possibly the worst thing ever: "Carrie". If I was a girl named Carrie, I'd change my name instantly for fear some guy would come at me with that song.

Too absolute legends. The Legends cards, for the most part, cover a period before my time. I was a little kid when Hendrix and Page were doing their thing. My legends are people like Petty and Chrissie Hynde. These cards need some gold on them.

This is why I like this set, why I like music trading cards in general. How cool is it to have a card of U2? I don't get that feeling when I pull a card of Mike Trout. I don't. U2 and many musicians are on a whole other level.

The rock portion of the set gets weighed down with too many hair bands, most of which I had no idea existed. (Trouble, Lord Tracy, Vio-lence). You see all that "who?" and you get a bit miffed there's no card of Heart or Rush.

Just a few more of these:

If I were you, I'd take pre-caushuuuuuuuunnns.


Too legit.



(Also, thank goodness there's only one Richard Marx card).

Here are four examples of the concert posters (I mis-cropped the right side). The fonts used for the posters are virtually unreadable but I selected four that you can make out.

Going through these cards has been a great time and I'm not sorry to say it's a much better time than going through the latest baseball card sets on the shelves, even something like Stadium Club (which may be at my nearest big box stores right now, but I have no inclination whatsoever).

The Pro Set MusiCards also produced a set in the United Kingdom in 1991. The set is smaller, but features lots of notable artists who aren't in the U.S. set (the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Annie Lennox, for example). I've already got my eyes on a box of UKs because I want all of the cards that are offered.

So if you have any extra of these lying around and they're on my want list, let me know.

And if you're wondering where the baseball cards are, here you go:

Everybody's talking all this stuff about me, why don't they just let me live.


  1. To this day I'm amused at how badly dated a lot of popular music from the early 90's became and how a lot of these acts became obsolete by the time Cobain held a mosh pit.

  2. When I saw your small thumbnail on my sidebar blogroll, it looked like Spinal Tap, so I was all ready to make a clever comment about the number 11.

  3. I think there is a Heart card or two on the checklist, but I didn't have doubles.

    Also, there is no such thing as "too many hair bands."

    JT, The Writer's Journey

  4. Replies
    1. "Why should I change? He's the one who sucks!" I was hoping someone would reference that. Well done!

    2. Chris, your quote sounds more accurate. (I was trying to recall what he said.) :)

  5. I'm pretty sure I still have a set or two partials back home. just email me your needs list.

  6. After also lostening yo them since the mod 80s, I saw the cult a few years ago in a small club. It was a great show. Ian astbury still has the voice

  7. LOL, man, this set. The kids at my school had these coming out of their ears and I still have a bunch in a box someplace. When you post your wantlist I'll dig them out. But I'll never let go of my Chrissie Hynde card. Never. Ever.

  8. U2 is the best concert I have ever been to. and "hey Bobby Brown why did you swing at that pitch?"... "it's my prerogative .

  9. Great post. I'm not usually excited to read about non-sports cards but this is definitely an exception.

    I definitely saw a lot of Pro Set MusiCards in stores back then, but I don’t know if I ever purchased a pack. The singles were abundant for sure. (Speaking of singles, "She Sells Sanctuary" is a killer track!)
    Agree with you 100% on the lack of Alternative acts. Man, if that set had come out a year or two later..

    I bought a few cards from COMC last year-Clapton, U2, Soundgarden. I had the Morrissey card years ago. Not sure what happened to it. I’ll have to get that one again-and the Jimi Hendrix. Now I've got to chase a UK set?!? Hopefully that has a better checklist. There's way too many obscure/awful acts in the US set.

  10. One more favorite song by Jefferson Airplane/Starship ,Miracles.

  11. I think I have some Tiffany cards somewhere.

  12. and whats ProSet without error cards--

  13. I caught myself thinking "Someone should make a set like that", but then it occurred to me that the set would be full of Drake, Cardi B and Ed Sheeran, and the "Legends" would probably be Paula Abdul and Vanilla Ice.

    ...and I'm going to have to look into the UK version of this set...

    Bonzo Dog Band opened for Led Zeppelin? How odd.

  14. There definitely needs to be more music cards....I love the variety in that set. The Rolling Stones are in Germany this week....all is good!

  15. Man - I loved this post! Laughed out loud at your Bell Biv Devoe crack!

  16. Wasn't collecting when these came out, but have seen them in a shop or two recently. I'm just after the metal bands (you're right JT - no such thing as too many, though there are a few that weren't worthy to be in this set). Also will keep Basia, Alannah, and Sheena Easton in series 2.
    There are variations too. Several groups shots have the logo in the opposite corner.

  17. These cards might be cheap and overproduced... but they're also really cool. I've picked up a few unopened boxes over the years. Hopefully I'll be able to help you complete this set.