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The Expanding Album Challenge: Week 36
Fri., Jan. 15. 2021 3:04pm EST

J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here again.

It has become apparent that I'll need more than 365 days in the "albums that influenced me" series that I started in May 2020. Here are entries from this past week:

247. The Unforgettable Fire U2
I loved "Pride (In the Name of the Love)" from the moment I heard it in September 1984. I taped it off the radio immediately and bought the 45, too. It was my favorite song of all time at the time. Much later, I'd buy the album, although I think my old college roommate Lance had it long before I did. Anybody who watched U2 at Live Aid the following summer remembers their epic performance of "Bad." Other peak moments for me were "The Unforgettable Fire," "Wire," and "Elvis Presley and America."

248. When We Rock We Rock, When We Roll We Roll Deep Purple
I bought this for my brother-in-law Bob. I could have gotten him Deepest Purple: The Very Best of Deep Purple, but it didn't have their big #4 hit from 1968, "Hush," at the time. That was a deal breaker for me. Note: "Hush" eventually made it onto the 30th anniversary edition of Deepest Purple in 2010, but I didn't want to wait 26 years. Other highlights on When We Rock We Rock included "Space Truckin'" and "My Woman from Tokyo." It also had "Smoke on the Water" and "Highway Star," but they were live versions. I know Purple is known for some great live stuff, but I prefer the studio versions of those two tunes. This album does have the studio version of "Burn," though, and "Kentucky Woman," their forgotten Top 40 cover version of the Neil Diamond song about my wife Lisa.

249. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. The Monkees
One day Don Vargo, a friend at the printing company where I worked, informed me that he owned four old Monkees albums I didn't know even existed! You couldn't look up things like that on the internet back then, and this was a couple years before MTV and Nickelodeon sparked a Monkees revival in 1986. I already owned their first three albums, but they'd actually released nine before they broke up for the first time in 1970. Pisces was their fourth, released in November 1967, and it hit #1, as their previous three had. It contained two big hits, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Words," but there were plenty of other great tunes, including some of their best: "Star Collector," "Daily Nightly," "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?," "Cuddly Toy," "Salesman," "Love Is Only Sleeping," and "The Door into Summer."

250. The Birds, the Bees & The Monkees The Monkees
More gold from Don Vargo's vault. The Monkees' fifth album "only" went to #3, but it contained two huge hits, "Daydream Believer" (#1) and "Valleri" (#3), and the lesser-known (but still great) hit "Tapioca Tundra" (#34). Other noteworthy tunes included "Dream World," "Auntie's Municipal Court," "I'll Be Back Up on My Feet," "P.O. Box 9847," and "Zor and Zam." Oh, and have you heard about Bill Chambers' mother?

251. Head The Monkees
Don Vargo strikes again! This one took a little while to grow on me, but it was well worth the time investment! It's the soundtrack from the avant-garde 1968 movie The Monkees released after their television series ended. The biggies were "Porpoise Song," "As We Go Along," and "Circle Sky," but we also liked "Ditty Diego War Chant," "Can You Dig It," "Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" and "Daddy's Song." And the snippets of crazy dialogue in between the songs were priceless. I'll bet Tom Dellaquila can still quote 'em; I know I can. Supernatural? Perhaps. Baloney? Perhaps not.

252. The Monkees Present The Monkees
And then there were three. This is actually the second Monkees album after Peter Tork left, but we didn't know there was a first at the time, because Don Vargo didn't own that one. I got it two or three years later. There was also yet another album after this that only featured Micky and Davy. In my opinion, the best songs on this one are "Listen to the Band" and "Good Clean Fun," both written and sung by Michael Nesmith. He also wrote and sang another one of the album's better tracks, "Oklahoma Backroom Dancer." My two favorite Micky tracks are both bizarre — "Mommy and Daddy" and "Pillow Time." I wouldn't classify Davy's "The Ladies Aid Society" as a favorite, but it is bizarre. I think "Looking for the Good Times" was his best contribution to this record. Amazingly, three songs on Present hit the Billboard charts, although none hit the Top 40 — "Listen to the Band" (#63), "Good Clean Fun" (#82), and "Mommy and Daddy" (#109). Oh, you didn't know Billboard went farther than 100? Yes, that was called the "Bubbling Under" chart.

253. Hey Jude The Beatles
I owned this album in high school but forgot to include it earlier on the list. That's ironic, seeing as ApologetiX has spoofed six of the 10 tracks on it. Originally titled The Beatles Again, this 1970 record was released between Abbey Road and Let It Be, although it wouldn't make it onto CD until 2014. It featured a bunch of hits from singles that had never appeared on an album before, including three #1's — "Hey Jude," "Paperback Writer," and "Can't Buy Me Love" — and two other Top 10 hits, "Lady Madonna" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko." Furthermore, it included four non-album B-sides that hit the Top 40 — "I Should Have Known Better," "Rain," "Revolution," and "Don't Let Me Down". All that and "Old Brown Shoe," the only song here that didn't make the Billboard charts.

Note: The albums are not listed in order of preference or excellence, but in chronological order of when they influenced me. Also, just because the albums on my list influenced me back then doesn't mean I give them all a blanket endorsement now.

I started actively listening to music in the early 70's and didn't become a born-again Christian until early 1988, so it's going to be a while before we get to the Christian albums, but there will be many of those when the time comes (literally).