Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Another box of 2016 Ginter X + Mercury Rev rising

I got some dental work done today, specifically getting a few old mercury fillings replaced with safer material. Stuff like that is never any fun, so to give myself something to look forward to as the dentist was tinkering in my mouth, I decided I would let myself rip a box of 2016 Allen & Ginter X when I got home. To refresh your memory on these, Topps was briefly blowing them out online for a deep discount a while back (a blaster and a half each). I grabbed 3 of them and opened the first one a month ago. So this is box #2, and I've still got one in the hole.

And since it's Rocktober here on the blog, I'll be working some music stuff into the post. Since I got the mercury out of my mouth today, the obvious choice for me here is to get out my Mercury Rev stuff to feature.

Mercury Rev are a band out of Night Owl's neighborhood of upstate New York (Kingston/Buffalo). Their first album came out in 1991. Their early stuff is generally a bit noisy and weird (they are contemporaries of the Flaming Lips), though the track "Frittering" is a nice mellow respite in the middle of the first album. 

Some big names. I'm probably gonna go ahead and try to finish the set with the 3 boxes I bought. I haven't collated my cards from the 2 boxes I've opened yet, but I gotta figure I'm close to the 300 card base set. With no inserts or parallels to worry about (besides 1-per-pack minis and 1-per-box auto), this is a setbuilder-friendly set, with really only the 50 SPs to give you any trouble. I've pulled a few base dupes between my 2 boxes so far, of course, but thankfully nothing too egregious.

Here are some young stubs. With the exception of Conforto, these guys are still in the playoff hunt as of this writing. (though if I don't finish this post by the end of the NL Wild Card game...)

Speaking of young men, "Young Man's Stride" was the lead single from Mercury Rev's 3rd album, and it's probably the most straightforward "rock" song they ever put out. I'm sure it got the mid-90s kids jumping in the mosh pits back on that album's tour.

Got 9 SPs from the box. Don't seem to be a lot of starpower here.

The minis I pulled are highlighted by a couple guys I collect, plus a Schwarber RC and a SP (d'Arnaud). I don't think I'll bother entertaining thoughts of trying to collect the entire mini set (One SP mini per box? That would take several cases to complete!), so this little stack will be split up into my player collections and my trade boxes. (If anyone's looking for any 2016 Ginter X minis to fill holes in their collection, let me know.)

Mercury Rev's most successful album was 1998's Deserter's Songs, though it mainly hit big in Europe, going gold in the UK, barely making a blip in the US.

And my auto..

Hmm. Well, definitely not on the same level as my box #1 auto (Robinson Cano), but you could do worse. (At least it's not Marlin Man, right?!) Brian Johnson has been a dependable arm out of the bullpen for the Sox this season, as is my understanding. Best of luck to him and Boston against the Astros in the ALDS, though truthfully, I'm slightly leaning for Houston here. Really though, I don't have any "hated" teams in the playoffs this year (hell, even the scrappy Yankees and downtrodden Dodgers are hard for me to hate right now), so I'm looking forward to seeing how things shake out, and I'll probably be happy with whoever ends up on top. But then again, I always say that and by the deciding game(s), I often find myself with strong rooting interests.

But back to Brian Johnson here, he's got a nice "BJ" signature. Coincidentally, Mercury Rev's first ever live performance was at a bar in Fredonia, NY called BJ's. (Have you ever been to BJ's, Night Owl?)

Let's run through some of my Rev memorabilia.

This is a huge poster I got from winning a contest from their record label on CDnow (a popular online CD store before Amazon gobbled them up) back in 1998. For scale, that's a McCutchen mini in the upper right of the photo. I never bothered hanging this up (not exactly the most visually interesting poster), but maybe someday the right situation will present itself.

Here's another poster I got from winning the contest, and a magazine ad. The contest was "promote the band in a cool way" or something like that, and I made a fansite for them. The little site, Before The War, is still around, nearly 20 years later, though I haven't really done anything with in for the past several years.. just left up as a resource for curious fans at this point. (I also got a promo CD signed by the band as part of the prize, but it's hiding away somewhere, so not pictured in this post.)

I also got some glittering stickers and tickets to see them live in Los Angeles (there was no San Diego show, so I had to drive north a couple hours to the city of angels.. eyeroll). The show was at the El Rey Theater and was pretty great. I remember they ended with a cover of Neil Young's sprawling classic "Cortez The Killer", and they also played a rarity ("Downs Are Feminine Balloons") that I believe was the only time they've ever played it since the original co-singer David Baker left the band back in 1994.

The second time I saw the band was in 2002. I think it was the only show they've ever played in San Diego. The venue was a place called 'Canes Bar & Grill which was literally right on the beach. Another cool thing about the place (since closed, sadly) is it was a restaurant, so you could show up in the afternoon and watch the band soundcheck. They'd be up on stage, looking out the door in front of them into the Pacific Ocean. I was able to catch the soundcheck this show, and it was awesome.. I think I was the only guy there besides the band and the crew. In the time between the soundcheck and the actual show, they were eating dinner at the open-air restaurant on the roof of the venue. After they had pretty much wrapped up their meal, I eventually worked up the courage to introduce myself as "the Before the War fansite guy". They were very welcoming and I helped them finish off some remaining food and shoot the shit with them for a while. The guitarist, known by the nickname Grasshopper, was super nice and I had a good talk with him. I got him to sign one of my glittery stickers (above). While the opening band was playing, I talked for a long time with Rev's lighting guy (I can't remember his name now, but he's also worked a lot with Sigur Ros), he was super cool, and as a very shy person, I don't have many quality conversations with strangers, but this was one of the few.

The show was terrific. Afterwards, I stuck around for a while and ended up grabbing a setlist. One band member I didn't have a chance to talk with during dinner was singer Jonathan Donahue. Thankfully, I was able to catch him on the way to the parking lot. We had a brief, friendly interaction and he kindly signed the setlist for me. I drove home with a big smile on my face, having seen a great show and had pleasant encounters with the primary members of the band.

See You On The Other Side (1995) might be my favorite album of theirs. And while this looks like a standard CD, it's actually the Japanese import version that's pretty damn rare (there's only one on eBay right now, with a $80 asking price). It includes a bonus track ("Cartwheel") that in my opinion really wraps up the album nicely and it's a shame it wasn't included on the regular CD. (I asked Grasshopper about this omission during our chat, and he just kinda shook his head and said the record label had the final call on the tracklist and it was basically out of the band's hands. Bummer.) But yeah, this will probably be one of the few CDs I hang onto. (If you missed my earlier post, I'm getting rid of the majority of my CD collection, offering up most of them to anyone who wants them for only the cost of shipping. Still many left, so check out that post and get in touch.)

Here are a bunch more Mercury Rev CDs, most of which I'm willing to let go to a loving home. Nearly all of these are rare/import versions, with bonus tracks or whatever.

I don't get out to many concerts anymore these days, but just last week my wife and I went to a Tears of Silver show. They're a new side band with Jonathan and Grasshopper from Mercury Rev, along with a guy from the Posies/Big Star, and a guy from Midlake. They played songs from all those bands, plus a few other covers. It was a super intimate show in a chapel. Very enjoyable and laidback. (I think the days of standing around for 2 or 3 hours at a show are behind me now-- tough on my back and feet--  so going to a show with plenty of seating and no opening bands is much more my speed these days.)

After the show, we stuck around for a little. The guys were very friendly, hanging around the merch table, meeting fans and signing autographs for them. I said hi to Grasshopper and reintroduced myself to him. He was excited to see me. I had grabbed a dummy card before I left home, just in case of an autograph situation, and he was kind enough to indulge me and sign it, complete with his little sunglasses doodle, same as from when he signed the glittery sticker for me 15 years earlier (I think that's a pair of sunglasses? Infinity symbol, maybe?). He also made a point to grab Jonathan and say, "Hey, it's the Before The War guy over here!" Jonathan was also glad to see me and graciously loaded me up with all the free merch I could take, thanking me for all my support. I wasn't expecting that at all, and it definitely made me feel like a big shot in front of the line of fans.

Jonathan also gave me a copy of the colored vinyl reissue of All Is Dream, and he and Grasshopper signed it for me. I kinda wish I would have grabbed a sharpie other than the black one that's typically in my pocket, as signatures in blue, red, or green, would probably pop better on the album cover. Hell, in hindsight, I should have asked them to sign the record itself.. that'd be cool to display on the wall. But I'm still very happy with how it looks. I've got a little record collection that I'll try to show off in a post later this month, and this is a great addition.

Thanks a bunch for reading. Time to be moving on!


  1. Never had a reason to go to Fredonia (even when the Bills had training camp there). Buffalo bar scene kept me plenty busy.

    I'm sure the members of Mercury Rev were in college in Buffalo at the same time I was, but I can't recall them playing in town during the late '80s. Maybe they were just forming then. Or maybe I'm getting old.

  2. Bring on the Rocktober posts! This was a good one!

  3. Anytime I hear Rocktober I just think of the South Park Hummer salesman.

  4. I had to do a double take at the Fredonia, NY mention - I grew up in the neighboring town of Dunkirk! I've never been to BJ's (never been one for bars) but I know where it is! Very cool that the band got it's start there!

  5. I went to the dentist on Tuesday and they told me it was time to replace two old fillings. I'm not looking forward to that. Maybe I should reward myself as well with some baseball cards.

  6. Nice pull on the Johnson! He was born I. My hometown, Lakeland, FL, as was his teammate Chris Sale.

  7. I like X Ginter so much more. Black cards appeal to me. Regular old Ginter...I can pass on easily.