The Never-Ending Album Challenge: Week 43
Fri., Mar. 5. 2021 12:05pm EST
J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here again.
Here are the latest entries in the "albums that influenced me" series I started writing in May 2020. They are not listed in order of preference or excellence, but in chronological order of when they influenced me, as best as I can recall:
295. Honky Chβteau Elton John
Somebody — I think it may have been Kebo or Flick (two of my roommates from sophomore year) — gave me three Elton John albums from 1972-74. Even though I'd grown up with Elton's Don't Shoot Me album (from 1973) album, and I knew how great that was, it had never dawned on me that his other albums from that period might be worth checking out. I already knew the hits from this one, "Rocket Man" and "Honky Cat," but there were tons of other great tunes, including (but not limited to) "Salvation," "Amy," "Hercules," and the classic "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," which Cameron Crowe used to great effect in the movie Almost Famous.
296. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Elton John
It has been argued that many good double-albums could be condensed into great single-albums, but there aren't a lot of tracks on this one I'd be willing to part with. There are a least six songs on it that are classic-rock radio staples: "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Bennie and the Jets," "Candle in the Wind," "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," and "Harmony." Some of my other favorites included "This Song Has No Title," "Grey Seal," "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (190934)," All the Girls Love Alice," and "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n Roll)."
297. Caribou Elton John
This 1974 album had two U.S. Top Five hits — one of which appears on Greatest Hits ("Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me") and one of which appears on Greatest Hits Volume 2 ("The B**** is Back"). The other eight tracks are a mixed bag, but I have four favorites: "Pinky," "Grimsby," "Dixie Lily," and "Ticking." Furthermore, even the weaker tracks still have that classic mid-70's Elton sound that makes them worth a listen. The Rocket Man was starting to show some strain, but he would come back with what may be his strongest album of all, as we'll see a little later on this list.
298. Bookends Simon & Garfunkel
Let me tell you a secret: Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits didn't include all of their greatest hits. Three of the songs on Bookends hit the Top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 but never made it onto Greatest Hits: "A Hazy Shade of Winter" (#13), "At the Zoo" (#16), and "Fakin' It" (#23). Making matters more confusing, those songs first came out on singles between November 1966 and July 1967, and Bookends didn't come out till April 1968. Anyway, they're all great tunes. Three of the tracks on this album did make it onto Greatest Hits, though: "Mrs. Robinson," "America," and "Bookends Theme." My other favorites were "Save the Life of My Child" and "Punky's Dilemma."
299. 5150 Van Halen
This was one of the other new albums I had to critique for our campus newspaper during my senior year. Before listening to 5150, I didn't have much hope for Van Halen without David Lee Roth. After listening to it, I was convinced they were doomed. Although both Van Halen line-ups were hedonistic, I felt like Roth was winking but Sammy was leering. My review was not very kind. It closed with these comments: "Don't be fooled by the single ("Why Can't This Be Love"), which is pretty good — it's just a tease. And as Sammy Hagar could probably tell you, a tease just gets you all worked up for nothing. To quote vintage Van Halen, 'Where have all the good times gone?'" In retrospect, I may have misjudged Sammy. I'm still not a fan of some of his phraseology, but the songs "Dreams" (which ApologetiX has since spoofed) and "Love Walks In" were pretty majestic and had a level of seriousness seldom seen or heard from Diamond Dave. The lyrics to "Best of Both Worlds" and "Summer Nights" make me cringe, but the music was powerful, and the dude could really sing. I read his autobiography, too — it was pretty entertaining.
300. Dirty Work The Rolling Stones
This album is a sore spot for me, which I'll explain in a moment, but it did provide a prelude for a summer of Stones albums, as you'll see later on the list. I was asked to review Dirty Work for our campus newspaper. I did my due diligence — even drew an illustration of Mick and Keith that the paper included with the article (drawing was my other "thing" back then) — but one of the editors changed the spelling of "Jagger" to "Jaggar" in each of the first two paragraphs. Made me look like an idiot. Trust me, I know how to spell Mick's last name, which is proven by the fact that they somehow left the "Jagger" in the seventh paragraph unchanged. As far as the tunes go, I thought it the album was OK. The hits were "Harlem Shuffle," which I thought was decent, and "One Hit (to the Body)," which I liked a lot. Other noteworthy tracks included "Winning Ugly," "Sleep Tonight," and "Too Rude."
301. Then and Now: The Best of The Monkees The Monkees
I finished my college years at IUP with a summer internship as a reporter for the local newspaper, The Indiana Gazette, but I still kept writing for our campus paper, Penn. Meanwhile, The Monkees were back in the news with a reunion tour (which I attended July 9, 1986 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena) and a new album later that month. Sure, it was an anthology, but it had three brand-new recordings, "That Was Then, Then Is Now," "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere," and a remake of the old Paul Revere and the Raiders hit "Kicks." I wasn't really impressed with any of the new tracks, but "That Was Then" grew on me over time, and it even hit the Top 20 on Billboard's Hot 100. I just dug out my old news clippings to read my review, and this excerpt summarizes how I still feel about Then and Now: "This album isn't exactly a revolutionary concept. Monkees anthologies have been available for years. Unfortunately, they have almost always been missing important songs, even major hits. The few good collections were scarce. Arista's newest compilation doesn't even come close to capturing the best of The Monkees: there isn't enough space. Luckily, for the curious, Rhino records has also re-released all nine of the original Monkees albums. Also luckily, for the not-so-curious, Then and Now contains all of The Monkees' major hits. It's not a good collection of Monkees songs, but it is a collection of good songs."
Note: 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).