Music has always been a big part of my life. I never really panned out as a musician or singer, though I tried it one time. I had a lot of fun with a group of guys playing 90’s Alternative Covers from Smashing Pumpkins, EverClear, Tonic and others. I’ve written more than once about the Deftones and Mrs. Dub and I go to 4-5 concerts a year in Atlanta and Jacksonville. I am primarily a Rock guy (along with its many iterations) and I got my start at an early age. My dad tried to get me to be a country music guy and my mom listened to pop but Uncle Greg and my close friends pulled me in the right direction.
Rock carries a pretty wide definition and I like just about all of it. The thing about rock music is that it usually has some deep meaning to the band and listener and takes a little bit more thought to write. That’s just my opinion so don’t lose your mind over it. The musician’s are generally creating their own music in most cases as well instead of a computer generating the tune or beat. The music is mostly original with very little sampling from other songs. It’s original and unique to me and that’s why I’ve always been drawn to it. I will not quibble over the fact that I am a rock snob.
There are some instances where I prefer a heavy riff and some screaming. That’s usually when I’m about to play a basketball or softball game or otherwise need some sort of adrenaline boost. That is another thing about rock music for me; it’s visceral. A song can put me in a certain state of mind or cure the blues or even bring me down from being too amped up. I’m not extremely picky when it comes to rock music but there are certain pockets of the genre that hit me harder than others. One such pocket would be the illustrious Power Ballad of the 80’s.
I was right in the middle of the young teenage years in the late 80’s so rock music and girls were pretty high on my priority list. Dances were also pretty popular around that time so the Power Ballad was the perfect opportunity to snuggle up to a cute girl and enjoy the tunes. I remember a lot of birthday party dances that were at friends houses and all that was needed was a boom box and open floor. Well, you also needed some tight-roll, acid washed jeans and hair gel but that was with any type of party. We learned all the words to the Power Ballad and we imitated the glam rock singers because it was obviously what the chicks were into. It was a crazy time!
I have my go-to list of power ballads loaded up on iTunes that were a big part of my budding youth and I often listen to that playlist when I’m working up a blog post because the music is soothing to me. So I figured, why not write about the songs I’m listening to as I type? I could have possibly ranked these in numerical order but I had a real problem with the top 3 so I decided to just put them in relative order of good to best with some room for shifting around in the lineup. The last 3 are no doubt list toppers though and shouldn’t be confused with any of the others.
Before we get started, there are 5 that made Honorable Mention because I had to trim the list for space purposes. I didn’t want you to get bored halfway through. The songs that almost made it include:
• Mama, I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne
• The Flame – Cheap Trick
• Close My Eyes Forever – Lita Ford
• Wind of Change – Scorpions
• Patience – Guns N Roses
On to the songs that did make the cut! For your listening (and viewing) pleasure, I’ve linked the videos for these. Just click the song title!
Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone) – Cinderella
I was all about Cinderella for a short while. I really only had “Long Cold Winter” but it was a really good album from beginning to end. There were some heavy classics like “Gypsy Road” and “Last Mile” and it slowed the mood down with “Long Cold Winter” and “Coming Home”. But the best song on the entire album and still one that gets play on my iTunes regularly is “Don’t Know What You Got”. We went to see Poison in Atlanta around 2011 and Cinderella opened for them. I was super excited but the singer’s voice had blown up and he was singing everything in a lower tone so it was a bit of a disappointment.
November Rain – Guns N Roses
I was not a huge GNR fan except for “Appetite for Destruction” but I did love this one. It ran almost 9 minutes long so if you could keep your date’s attention, you could really get two slow dances out of it. It was also a very fun song to sing, as was most songs by Axel Rose. I was more a fan of their hard rock but “November Rain” is certainly on this top 10 list without hesitation!
Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue
This wasn’t exactly a love song but it was a Power Ballad in every sense of the word. You can argue that it might be sort of a love song but I don’t classify it as such. It started out with a piano and soft singing (for Vince Neal). Then the drums and guitars kick in and bring the power. It’s a classic but wasn’t one that we would always dance to. I was a bit of a Motley Crue guy thanks to Dr. Feelgood, Kickstart My Heart, Girls Girls Girls and Shout at the Devil.
18 & Life – Skid Row
While another power ballad that isn’t a love song, this has all the emotional punch you’ll ever need from a rock song. Sebastian Bach can wail and this song was a perfect display of the notes he could hit. I remember getting this cassette from my buddy, Jason Lee, for my birthday one year. I actually remember us watching the old “Rock and Roller Games” TV show when he gave it to me and another song on this list was being played at halftime. What a classic show! I think it was on Fox and was essentially roller skating + wrestling with the storylines and everything.
I Remember You – Skid Row
This was a bonus on the self titled album that I really only wanted because of “18 and Life”. This song was definitely a dance hit! I remember holding the hand of an older, hot chick named Melissa while skating to this song at the Pelham Skating Rink. But here’s the kicker, my cousin Corey was holding her other hand and she was just being nice to us younger guys and there was nothing romantic at all about it. I’m pretty sure she was dating my neighbor Bryan at the time but hey, I still remember it. I highly doubt she does but that is how most of the memories happen with girls that are considered unattainable. She was being nice while my 13 year old mind was thinking boyfriend/girlfriend. Those were the days!
Heaven – Warrant
This is the song that was playing at halftime of the “Rock and Roller Games” when Jason gave me that Skid Row cassette. I immediately considered this song as my next get because it was awesome. This was another that you could slow dance to and I remember hearing it a couple of times at a friend’s birthday dance at Plant Mitchell but I don’t really remember who I may have danced with that night. Believe it or not, your humble blogger came up snake eyes from time to time in the girl category. This may have been one of those times. I know, hard to believe.
Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
This one just missed the top 3 and some of you may heavily disagree. I loved this song, don’t get me wrong. We even performed it with our 90’s Alternative Cover band. But the top 3 are my clear favorites from the Power Ballad era. This was another heavily danceable tune and I remember this being a staple at every dance party. Heck, I even dance to this one now with Mrs. Dub if it comes on where we are at. I also remember singing this song in my bedroom with my imaginary band on a regular basis. When we went to see Poison and Cinderella in Atlanta, Bret Michaels’ voice was just fine and this one was worth the trip!
I Won’t Forget You – Poison
This is the beginning of the top 3. These 3 could really be put in about any order but I think I have them right for the moment. I liked this song from Poison more than “Every Rose” because of the electric guitar. It had a better beat for dancing than “Every Rose” too. I remember a birthday dance at my house and dancing with Misty, who was actually my “girlfriend” at the time. I’m not sure how that happened though because she was way out of my league in 1990. She claims today that I’m the one that broke things off but that’s not how I remember it. I was only 14 so I can’t be certain that it wasn’t me but it just feels like it was the other way around.
Hysteria – Def Leppard
Here is the #2 Power Ballad for me; “Hysteria”! I loved this entire album! Along with this amazing song, there was also “Rocket”, “Animal”, “Love Bites”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Armageddon It”! Come to think of it, “Love Bites” should be on this list too! I knew I would leave some good songs off. Mrs. Dub and I were fortunate enough to have seen Def Leppard in Atlanta and they were unbelievable. I was skeptical because of the way they sing. Remember, I was burned by Cinderella so I thought the Leppard might not be able to get to those high notes either. I was pleasantly surprised and I got legit chill bumps when they sang this song.
Photograph – Def Leppard
#1 is another Def Leppard classic; Photograph. This was a bit heavier than Hysteria but was still very melodic. It truly was a POWER ballad. I think it was about Marilyn Monroe but I always imagined it being about Kelly Kapowski. If I was good at videography stuff, I probably would have made a Kelly montage video for this song. These guys still had it in 2012 and I would go see them again today. I always liked Phil Collen (not the Genesis guy) and he put on a tremendous show in ATL. They also had one of my favorite “Behind the Music” episodes on VH1 back in the 90’s. Def Leppard is my #1 “hair band” and it’s not even that close. I loved Poison, Motley Crue, Skid Row and others back in the day but Def Leppard has held up better than all the others.
Speaking of holding up better than others, let’s talk about a football set that has stood the test of time. I am going to call it underrated because I had really forgotten about how good the product was until I recently went through one of my old school boxes looking for “random” hits from the past. I think that 1991 Upper Deck Football has some of the best photograph for a football set outside of some possible current releases and it deserves a comparison to Stadium Club Baseball in the fact that it was a huge step up from what the market was offering at the time. Even Fleer Ultra was pretty far behind what ’91 Upper Deck brought to the table. Let’s call 1991 Upper Deck the Def Leppard of Junk Wax Football. Most Junk Wax is really good but some just stand out more than others.
The box was fairly standard for 1991; 36 packs with 12 cards per pack. Upper Deck football did not have any filler in the packs like puzzle pieces or gum or even the hologram stickers like UD baseball. The packs were all cards. They were very similar to baseball in that they were foil and sealed on each end for that UD standard “tamper proof” feature. The only feature I question is “Limited Edition”. I’m not sure how limited any sets were in 1991.
One of the best features of 1991 Upper Deck football was the team checklist sketch Cards. Here is a Prime Time that was just awesome! You know I’m a sucker for sketch cards and these were nice. I have the full spread of what I pulled later in the post but this one deserved it’s own photo.
Photography was a highlight for 91 UD. I mentioned that in my last post and it’s what prompted me to rip this box. This was one of my favorite Cards from 1991. You may recall the similar Nolan Ryan triple exposure card in baseball. This was a great card in the early 90’s and set the bar for innovative photos in football sets.
As for other QB’s I pulled, here are some of the Stars. You may not be able to tell from this photo but the Marino was taken in the snow. There is another Dolphin shot later in the snow, which was ironic for Miami.
I pulled the usual early 90’s studs at running back with the exception of Bo but I did pull a cool team checklist sketch I’ll show off later. Ickey is doing the shuffle in his photo! You may remember Marcus Dupree from the great 30 For 30; “The Best That Never Was.”
More great photography can be found in the wide receiver selection. Flipper Anderson is making a one handed catch while Mark Jackson is about to take a big hit.
Tight End was slim but these were great ones! Looks like Novacek is the holder for a field goal. How many Tight Ends are asked to do that these days?
If you read my last post, you’ll know that this Reggie is one of my favorites. The Fridge even looks good in 91 UD. Collectors from my generation will remember Dennis Byrd. For those of you who don’t, do yourself a favor and look him up.
Look at this Matt Millen card! I was not a huge fan of Millen (especially as a GM) but this card just screams old school football! My man Percy Snow was included too so, cha-ching!
I’m still blown away by how clear these photos are! Felix is getting stretched out, Scott Case just laid Cleveland Gary out and Rod Woodson is in his Pro Bowl uni.
The headliner of the Star Rookie Class was Dan McGwire (Mark’s little brother). Todd Marinovich got a lot of hype too. But that first QB on row 3 wound up being the best of the bunch. Russell Maryland, Alvin Harper, Ricky Watters and Eric Turner all had solid careers while Browning Nagle and Aaron Craver fizzled.
Here are the great sketch Cards! These are just awesome! I love the ones with the names on them. Bo and Herschel are my favorites but I also like Flash 80 and LT. Once again, Warren Moon is pictured with an actual moon in the background just like ’90 Score Hot Guns.
The Team MVP’s didn’t have very many surprises but there were a couple. Greg Townsend got the Team MVP for the Raiders. That Raiders team had Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson and Tim Brown. Bobby Humphrey also got the honor for the Broncos over Elway. I won’t complain about André Rison for my Falcons!
The season leaders insert covered the major individual stat leaders. I remember Mark Carrier being a real ball hawk on Tecmo.
Aerial Threats showcased prolific QB and WR tandems. Here is the other Miami snow card. I’m a little surprised Steve DeBerg made it into this insert set.
As with baseball, UD focused on a legend for its “Football Heroes” insert. Joe Montana got the call in 1991 and I pulled 7 of the 9 Cards on the checklist.
I pulled one Game Breaker in the box and it was the great Barry Sanders. I may check this subset out and try to put it together. This is a striking card in person but maybe even more striking with my reflection in it!
This was a very easy set to score. The box cost me $14.95 so price is a plus. Photography is top notch and unrivaled for football at the time. One of the key rookies is Brett Favre. It’s loaded with stars and Hall of Famers. The design is clean and classy. It has great sketch cards littered throughout the checklist. This is about as perfect a set for the early 90’s as you will find. I would highly recommend you find a box and rip it just because the quality is so good for the “Junk Wax” era. This was an easy “5” on the Dub-O-Meter and may be the highest quality set I’ve reviewed for under $20 per box. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards. Just read the post and thank me later.
2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.
3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.
4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did! It has some downside but worth the ride.
5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking! What are you waiting on?