Influential Albums: 421-427
Sat., Jul. 10. 2021 12:50am 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.
421. Some Girls - The Rolling Stones
I never owned this album, but it had quite an impact on me, because it was the one that first made me aware of the existence of The Rolling Stones. "Miss You" was a #1 hit, so I eventually got that, and I'd already read about its flip side, "Far Away Eyes," which was getting glowing reviews. I remember seeing the Stones perform the second single, "Beast of Burden" (#8), on Saturday Night Live in October 1978. I grew to like "Miss You" quite a bit, but I was blasé about "Beast of Burden." It was the third single that really captivated me (that seems to happen quite a bit on this list): "Shattered" only went to #31, but it topped my personal chart at the time. I also eventually become familiar with "When the Whip Comes Down" and "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" from our local rock station. Another song, "Respectable," was a U.K. Top 40 hit (#23), whereas "Beast of Burden" and "Shattered" were not. Ironically, despite my overall lack of enthusiasm for it, "Beast of Burden" is the only song of the bunch I remember ever singing with a band. ApologetiX also spoofed a brief snippet of it in another Stones parody we released.
422. Out of the Blue – Electric Light Orchestra
Here's where the generation gap between my wife and me becomes apparent (even though each of us has become a parent five times): When you mention the Out of the Blue album, she thinks you're talking about Debbie Gibson's debut! To her credit, Debbie's disc sold more copies in the United States than ELO's (three million vs. one million) but everybody sold more albums in the late 80's, and ELO's charted higher (#4 vs. #7). This 1977 masterpiece was the first title I ever remember seeing as a "cut-out" album. I couldn't believe a cool two-record set with three U.S. Top 40 hits — "Turn to Stone" (#13), "Sweet Talkin' Woman" (#17), and "Mr. Blue Sky" (#35) — was suddenly selling at such a ridiculously low price. Just because it had a notch in the spine? Surely there had to be skullduggery afoot! Maybe that's why I never got around to buying it, although I did own the 45 of "Mr. Blue Sky," which was my all-time favorite song at one point in 1978. Plus I got all three of the aforementioned songs on ELO's Greatest Hits. But I did borrow my friend Jeff Henry's copy of the album. Other memorable tracks for me included "Standing in the Rain," "Sweet Is the Night," "Birmingham Blues," "Wild West Hero," and "It's Over," the forgotten fourth U.S. single, which only went to #75. This album was even bigger in England, where the highest-charting U.S. hit, "Turn to Stone," only went to #18, but three other songs went to #6: "Mr. Blue Sky," "Sweet Talkin' Woman," and "Wild West Hero." ApologetiX released a spoof of "Mr. Blue Sky" in 2020.
423. Timepieces: The Best of Eric Clapton – Eric Clapton
My first conscious awareness of Eric Clapton (when I actually realized he was the guy playing and singing a particular song) was the Slowhand album in the winter of 1977-78. The first three tracks on that album — "Cocaine," "Lay Down Sally," and "Wonderful Tonight" — are all on Timepieces. I liked them all, but my favorite of those was "Lay Down Sally," which went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ironically, it was the only one of the three that I never performed with a band; I sang "Wonderful Tonight" in Terminal and a spoof of "Cocaine" in ApologetiX. Released in 1982, Timepieces only hit #101 on the album charts but went on to sell 7 million copies in the United States and over 13 million worldwide! I got access to it in college, thanks to Tom Dellaquila. I needed "I Shot the Sheriff," since that was Clapton's only #1 hit, but the tune I was especially interested in at the time was "After Midnight." That still may be my favorite Clapton solo hit. Other tunes I really enjoyed on this record include "Willie and the Hand Jive," "Let It Grow," and "Promises." At the time, I was bummed that it didn't include "Motherless Children," which HBO used as the theme song for its popular comedy show Not Necessarily the News from 1982 until 1985. Timepieces didn't have "Let It Rain," either. How are you supposed to "Let it Grow," if you won't "Let it Rain"? When I posted this on Facebook, one of my friends said, "Blame the Sheriff, who said, 'Kill it before it grows.'"
424. Three Dog Night ("One") – Three Dog Night
I got my copy of Three Dog Night's eponymous debut (also sometimes called "One") from my brother-in-law Dan. I already had the hit singles, "One" (originally written and performed by Harry Nilsson) and "Try a Little Tenderness" (a remake of Otis Redding's #25 hit from 1967, although the song was first recorded by multiple orchestras and artists, including Bing Crosby, in 1932-33). However, I didn't realize at the time how many great album tracks TDN had. This record is full of them, including their first single, "Nobody," which "bubbled under" at #116, plus awesome cover versions of songs by Neil Young ("The Loner"), Traffic ("Heaven Is in Your Mind"), The Band ("Chest Fever"), Tim Hardin ("Don't Make Promises"), and Cilla Black (The Lennon-McCartney composition "It's for You"). I usually prefer Three Dog Night's take on a song to that of the person(s) who originally wrote and/or recorded it. Those guys were tremendous interpreters of other peoples' music; it was like having three Linda Ronstadts behind the mic with four more Linda Ronstadts on keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. I could have used James Taylor in that analogy, but Linda sang a lot more rock and roll than James.
425. Greatest Hits - Sly & Family Stone
Some would say Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart's work with Sly & the Family Stone in the late 60's and early 70's provided the prototype for Prince in the late 70's, 80's and beyond. I'll buy that, but I didn't buy this album; I borrowed it from Tom Dellaquila instead. Yeah, I should have bought stock in Maxell and TDK cassette tapes. I was especially interested in getting the two #1 hits on it, "Everyday People" and "Thank You (for Lettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." Those two tunes are very different from each other, but they're equally excellent. Technically, there are three #1 hits on Greatest Hits, because "Everybody Is a Star," the flip side of the "Thank You" single, was listed on the charts along with it, resulting in of the rare double-sided #1 hits in pop history. But there was plenty more to enjoy on this LP, including the lovely #2 hit "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and the rockin' #38 hit "I Want to Take You Higher," the song that finally revealed to me where Bill Murray got the chant he used when training the troops in the movie Stripes, a movie I saw three times in the theaters in the summer of '81. Other standouts included "Dance to the Music" (#8) and "Stand" (#22). Sly still had one more #1 hit up his sleeve, "Family Affair," but that wasn't released until a year after this LP. The album it came from, There's a Riot Goin' on, also went to #1. Greatest Hits went to #2, not bad at all for a compilation album in 1970.
426. Pipes of Peace – Paul McCartney
This album came out in the fall of 1983, and Tom Dellaquila was the only person I knew who owned it. I borrowed it from him at some point or another while we were in college and made my own "best of." I wouldn't classify Pipes of Peace as vintage McCartney, but it did have some songs I really liked, including the title track (a #1 hit in the UK), "So Bad" (a U.S. Top 25 hit), and "Average Person," one of those saccharine Macca ditties that won't leave your head once you let it inside. "The Other Me" and "Keep Under Cover" ain't bad, either. Pipes of Peace also features two duets with Michael Jackson, one of which you've almost certainly heard ("Say Say Say," a #1 U.S. hit for six weeks) another which you probably haven't ("The Man").
427. This Is the Modern World – The Jam
Released in November 1977, The Jam's second album probably has the fewest favorites of any Jam album for me, but the U.S. edition does have five tracks I'd include on my Jamthology: "The Modern World" and "All Around the World" (their second and third U.K. Top 40 singles), plus "Standards," "Life from a Window," and a punkish cover of "In the Midnight Hour." I'm a sucker for that song, no matter what the style or speed. There are albums from at least four different artists on this list with cover versions of it.
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 '88. However, I hope you'll see (as I do) how God's hand was at work behind the scenes from the start, preparing me for the work I believe He intended for me to do.