Influential Albums: 393-399
Fri., Jun. 11. 2021 12:44pm EDT
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. Rather than listing the albums in order of preference or excellence, I've been listing them in chronological order of when they influenced me, as best as I recall. We were well into 1987, and you'll start seeing a lot of Christian albums once we get to 1988.
However, in May 2021, I realized that I'd neglected to include many influential albums along the way, so I've been catching up on those for a while before we get to that momentous moment in '88 when my life and musical trajectory was forever changed. You'll still see plenty of secular albums after that, but music was never the same for me after.
393. The Odd Couple – Soundtrack
Don't laugh. Well, at least wait until you listen to the album, which includes a number of very funny dialogue sequences from the 1968 film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau 25 years before they became Grumpy Old Men, along with music from the original motion-picture score. This LP was among the leftovers in our basement that I reheated once I was old enough (and aware enough) to use a turntable. I liked the TV show and the famous theme song, so I figured I'd give the record a spin, even though the Felix and Oscar I knew were Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Lemmon and Matthau fit just fine with Lennon and McCartney in my record collection. In between the brilliant skits written by Neil Simon, there are jazzy instrumental pieces written and conducted by Neal Hefti, who also composed the famous theme music for the Batman TV series in the 1960's. If you watched The Odd Couple on TV with any regularity, you'll probably recognize a good bit of the music on this album, even though it's from the movie. I've slipped quotes from the dialogue into conversations before, but nobody ever picks up on the references.
394. Greatest Hits 1972-1978 - 10cc
Here in the United States, we remember 10cc for two big hits, "I'm Not in Love" (#2) and "The Things We Do for Love" (#5), but in their native England, they had 11 Top 10 hits, including three #1's: "Rubber Bullets," "I'm Not in Love," and "Dreadlock Holiday." There was also "Donna" (#2), "Good Morning Judge" (#5), "Art for Art's Sake" (#5), "I'm Mandy Fly Me" (#6), "The Things We Do for Love" (#6), Life Is a Minestrone" (#7), "The Dean and I" (#10), and "The Wall Street Shuffle" (#10). Greatest Hits 1972-1978 had every single one of them, plus their other U.K. Top 40 hit, "Silly Love," which only went to #24. Ironically, their other U.S. Top 40 hit, "People in Love," never charted in the U.K. Two of the members left and formed Godley & Creme in 1977 and had a #16 hit in 1985 with "Cry." The boys in 10cc were very witty writers. Aside from their two big U.S. hits, my other favorites were "Rubber Bullets," "Life Is a Minestrone," "Good Morning Judge," and "Dreadlock Holiday." I remember singing "The Things We Do for Love" on the school bus while it was still a hit. Tom Dellaquila owned this cassette and let me borrow it.
395. Cruisin' 1973 – Various Artists
Here's another Cruisin' compilation I bought in college. It featured three more hard-to-find #1 hits: "Love Train" (The O'Jays) "Midnight Train to Georgia" (Gladys Knight and The Pips) and "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" (Vicki Lawrence). I like that pattern — two songs about trains and two about Georgia. ApologetiX has spoofed four of the 10 songs on this album: "Rock On" (David Essex), "Your Mama Don't Dance" (Loggins & Messina), "Drift Away" (Dobie Gray), and "My Maria" by B.W. Stevenson. For the latter two, we covered the versions by Uncle Kracker (with Dobie Gray) and Brooks & Dunn. The other hits were great, too — three songs I remembered from my childhood — "Last Song" (Edward Bear), "Cover of the Rolling Stone" (Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show), and "I'm Doin' Fine Now" (New York City). There wasn't a single song I'd want to skip, and that's good, because I had it on cassette.
396. 15 Big Ones – The Beach Boys
Here's another entry from the Dave Rhodes collection. If I remember correctly, he picked it up at the store in 1978. We were starved for more Beach Boys music at the time, and the cover, title, discount price, and sheer amount of music on this record made it pretty enticing. Originally released in July 1976, the same month as America's Bicentennial, 15 Big Ones was supposed to herald the return of Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson to an active role and the producer's chair. Unfortunately, he only wrote four songs for it, and eight of the 15 tracks wound up being cover versions. That being said, one of those covers, "Rock and Roll Music," went to #5 on the pop charts, and I like it a lot better than Chuck Berry's original and The Beatles' 1964 version. Of the originals, the song I liked best was "That Same Song." The second single, "It's O.K." was also an original, and the title is pretty accurate. It was catchy enough to make it to #29. "Susie Cincinnati" is decent, too. Of the other covers, the two songs that interested me the most were "Palisades Park" and "Blueberry Hill." Dave also brought the 1973 double album The Beach Boys in Concert after this. It made for decent background music, but the only thing I remember about it was the opening track, "Sail On, Sailor," which I thought was a pretty cool tune. Well, one other thing I remember was that one of the guys in The Beach Boys' lineup on that album was drummer/guitarist/singer Ricky Fataar, who was also one of The Rutles in the movie All You Need Is Cash! Fataar played Stig O'Hara, a character loosely based on George Harrison. Ironically, Harrison himself played a role in the film … but not himself.
397. Wrap Around Joy – Carole King
More melodic bliss from my sister Kris. Released in 1974, Wrap Around Joy went to #1 on the Billboard album chart but wasn't quite as influential on me as Tapesty (1971) and Really Rosie (1975). However, it spawned two wonderful Top 10 singles, "Jazzman" (#2) and "Nightingale" (#9). Other memorable moments for me were "You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine" and the title track. Carole cowrote all 12 tunes with David Palmer, the original lead singer of Steely Dan. That's his voice you hear singing lead on their song "Dirty Work" and singing along with Donald Fagen in the choruses of "Reelin' in the Years."
398. K-Tel's 36 Super Gold Hits – Various Artists
I bought K-Tel's 36 Super Gold Hits at a thrift store during my junior year in college. It was scratched to heck and the songs faded out early, but it was still worth it! Released in 1975, this double album featured six #1 songs, although I think I already had just about all of them except possibly "Bad Blood" by Neil Sedaka (with uncredited backing vocals by Elton John), a song that brought back fond memories of sixth grade. However, it contained a number of other songs I wanted and didn't own or hadn't been able to find for a reasonable price elsewhere at the time, including "Get Up and Boogie" (Silver Convention), "Jackie Blue" (Ozark Mountain Daredevils), "Lorelei" (Styx), "Long Tall Glasses" (Leo Sayer), "Sky High" (Jigsaw), "Love Is the Drug" (Roxy Music), "More More More" (Andrea True Connection), "Paloma Blanca" (George Baker Selection), and the timeless theme from Laverne & Shirley, "Making Our Dreams Come True" by Cyndi Greco. The only reason I didn't list "Junk Food Junkie" by Larry Groce with those other songs is already had it on a 45, thanks to a trade with Dave Rhodes. But the sleeper hit on 36 Super Gold Hits was "The Last Game of the Season (Blind Man in the Bleachers"), a forgotten Top 20 hit by David Geddes. And you thought his only hit was "Run Joey Run," the #4 song from 1975? Think again! This is another story song but much less morbid, with a twist ending you won't see coming. There were 21 Top Ten hits among the 36 tracks. I can't list 'em all in this entry, but here's the link, in case you're curious: https://hercsktelalbums.blogspot.com/2014/01/36-super-gold-hits-1976.html
399. His 12 Greatest Hits – Neil Diamond
Selective greatest-hits albums are a Diamond a dozen. This 1974 collection of Neil numbers is missing some significant songs I love from early in his career: "Cherry Cherry" (#6), "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" (#10), "Thank the Lord for the Night Time" (#13), "You Got to Me" (#18), and, of course, "Kentucky Woman" (#22). But that kind of stuff happens when artists record for multiple record labels as Diamond did (Bang, Uni, Columbia, and Capitol). There's still plenty to love on this album, including a pair of number-one hits — "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Song Sung Blue" — plus Sweet Caroline" (#4), "I Am … I Said" (also #4), "Holly Holy" (#6), and "Play Me" (#12). My two favorite tracks on it just missed the Top 20: "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show" (#22) and "Shilo" (#24). ApologetiX spoofed "Song Sung Blue" in 1992 and again in 2015. I'm not the type of person who's going to wait in line for concert tickets to see Neil, but I have immense respect for his songwriting skills, and I did buy a book about him (Neil Diamond Is Forever) with my own money and enjoyed reading it. I really like all of those tunes I mentioned. Of his hits that came out after this album, my favorites are "Longfellow Serenade" (#5), "Desiree" (#16), "Forever in Blue Jeans" (#20), and "America" (#8). I think my neighborhood friend Jeff Henry was the first person I knew who had this album in his house; it belonged to his mom … surprise, surprise.