Influential Albums: 435-441
Sun., Jul. 25. 2021 12:08pm 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.
435. Once Upon a Time – Simple Minds
As much as I'd loved their #1 song from The Breakfast Club, "Don't You (Forget About Me)," I wasn't expecting Simple Minds to follow it up with anything extraordinary. After all, they not only hadn't written it; they hadn't even wanted to record it. Then, eight months later, came the first single from Once Upon a Time. "Alive and Kicking" almost equaled its predecessor's impact on the charts (#3) and in my heart. On a humorous note, I knew a guy who actually thought Jim Kerr was singing, "I love you, Kiki." The second single from this album, "Sanctify Yourself," *only* went to #14, but I liked it every bit as much. We had a threepeat! The next single, "All the Things She Said," went to #28. It didn't move me like the previous ones, but it was nice enough. The first three, however, still rank high on my list of essential 80's tunes. "Alive and Kicking" and "Sanctify Yourself" are enough to make Once Upon a Time live happily ever after on my list of influential albums. Incidentally, ApologetiX spoofed "Don't You" in 2018; I don't want to forget about that.
436. The Kingston Trio at Large – The Kingston Trio
My old friend Dave Rhodes owned this LP — it belonged to his mom first — and he used it for background music while we played in his basement. The Kingston Trio had such a great sound. I'd heard of them before but had no idea at the time just how popular they'd once been. In a five-year span from 1958-63, they had five #1 albums … and two #2's, three #3's, one #4, and three #7's! Released in June 1959. The Kingston Trio at Large was the biggest of them all, spending 15 weeks at the top spot. It leads off with their fourth-biggest hit, "M.T.A.," which hit #15 on the pop charts. I loved that tune, and now my kids do, too. Other highlights included "Early Mornin'," "I Bawled," "Blow Ye Winds," "Corey, Corey," "Remember the Alamo," and "All My Sorrows." The Christian singing group I sang with in 1986-88, Oremus, did a version of that last one. Dave also occasionally played The Limeliters' album Sing Out! from 1962. I presume he got that one from his mom, too. She must have really been diggin' the folk scene back in the day. In all sincerity, she was the hippest mom on the block and was still in touch with popular music in the late 70's and early 80's. And she never talked down to us.
437. Cruisin' 1975 – Various Artists
I bought Cruisin' 1973 and Cruisin' 1974 on cassette, but I bought Cruisin' 1975 on vinyl. It included these hard-to-find #1 hits: "Lady Marmalade" by LaBelle, "Kiss and Say Goodbye" by The Manhattans and "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" by Freddie Fender. There were 35 songs that hit #1 in 1975; that's tied with 1974 for the most ever! Compare that with the amount of #1 songs in 1985 (26) and 1995 (11). In the new millennium, things got even more selective; there were only eight #1 songs in 2005 and another eight in 2015. Cruisin' 1975 also had a great #2 hit that wasn't easily accessible elsewhere, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" by Lou Rawls. Plus two of the greatest story songs of the 70's, "Rocky" by Austin Roberts and "Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murphy. And they somehow found a way to put "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" by Willie Nelson, "Feelings" by Morris Albert, and "Dream On" by Aerosmith on the same LP! But at least those songs had all been legitimate hits in 1975. The head-scratcher was "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)." Oh, yes, it was a Top 5 hit that year for James Taylor. Unfortunately, the version here was performed by Sam & Dave, and it never charted, nor was it released as a single. Hey, I like Sam & Dave — ApologetiX has spoofed their two biggest hits — but I'm not sure what they were doing on this record. If you want to give me an alternate version of one of the hits on this record, give me Carol Burnett's version of "Feelings" that she did in character as Eunice Higgins on The Gong Show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTkwILDnvTk
438. Tattoo You – The Rolling Stones
Tattoo You will celebrate its 40th anniversary in August 24, 2021. That story will probably get a lot of ink, but I'm mentioning it beforehand so you can have your party hats (or tats) ready. The cover certainly made an indelible impression back then. These days, if you were to see somebody who looked like that, you might not even blink. It took me a while to notice it was Mick Jagger ... probably until I saw a similarly illustrated Keith Richards on the back. I didn't own Tattoo You, but I had the cassette on long-term loan from one of my friends. I did own its first single, "Start Me Up" (loved it), which had "No Use in Crying" on the B-side (meh). "Start Me Up" went to #2 for three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 for 13 weeks on the Billboard rock chart. ApologetiX spoofed it in 2009. The second single, "Waiting on a Friend" (#13 pop, #8 rock) was fabulous, and its catchy flip side (a Keef song that casual listeners probably thought was called "She's My Little Rock and Roll") got played a lot on our local rock station. In fact, it went to #5 on the rock chart. I loved the third single, "Hang Fire" (#20 pop, #2 rock) and its flip side, "Neighbours," too. You won't find the Stones album that preceded this one, Emotional Rescue, on my list, because I never heard the whole thing. But I really liked its two singles, "Emotional Rescue" and "She's So Cold." And "Dance Pt. 1" was OK, too. I also bought "Going to a Go-Go," the first single from Still Life, the live album the Stones released after Tattoo You.
439. Arrival – ABBA
My friend Jeff Henry insisted on buying this album. I could understand when he'd bought Greatest Hits, but I thought Arrival was a frivolous purchase, even though he got it a year or two before Greatest Hits Vol. 2 came out. That was a lot of money to shell out for only two hits, "Dancing Queen" and "Knowing Me, Knowing You." Four decades later, I'll admit I was wr-r-r-r ... I was not exactly right. Arrival had a big impact on me: "Knowing Me, Knowing You" became my favorite ABBA hit, and ApologetiX eventually spoofed "Dancing Queen," which became ABBA's only #1 U.S. hit. Both of those songs hit #1 in the U.K. A third single, "Money, Money, Money" only hit #56 in the U.S. but reached #3 in the U.K. Three of the non-hits rank among my favorite ABBA songs: "Tiger," "When I Kissed the Teacher" and "That's Me."
440. Mirage – Fleetwood Mac
I really liked the first single from Mirage … and so did a lot of other people, apparently. "Hold Me" went to #4 on the pop chart (maintaining that position for seven weeks!), #3 on the rock chart, and #7 on the adult contemporary chart. We had a piano in my living room, and it seemed like every time my neighborhood friend Chris Marsh visited in the summer of 1982, he would play the signature piano intro to that tune. The second single, "Gypsy," only went to #12 on the pop charts, but it went the whole way to #1 on the chart put out by Radio & Records, which was the preferred publication for most radio stations, because it specifically monitored what was getting the most airplay and wasn't concerned about single sales. I liked that song a lot, too. The third single, "Love in Store," went to #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, but Radio & Records had it in their Top 10, too. The fourth single, "Oh Diane" did not chart in the United States but became a Top 10 hit in the U.K. Like Tusk before it, Mirage only sold two million copies in the United States — a precipitous fall from the glory days of Rumours. But the Mac would be back a little farther down the track.
441. Help! – The Beatles
This is one of the used records I got from my brother-in-law Dan in the winter of '82-83. The old U.S. edition of Help! featured a 20-second James Bond-style instrumental right before the title track (it also used to be on the 1962-66 compilation). That made the entire album for me, and it's a shame they eventually took it off. Here in the United States, half of Help! was instrumentals from the movie — pretty forgettable stuff, although "Another Hard Day's Night" was kind of cute. But the actual Beatles songs are top notch. There are two #1 hits — "Ticket to Ride" and "Help!" (both of which have been spoofed by ApologetiX). My three other favorites are "The Night Before," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," and the song that would be used to conclude the #1 "Stars on 45" medley in 1981, "You're Gonna Lose That Girl." The other two songs, "I Need You" and "Another Girl" are solid, too. By the way, "The Night Before" (which I originally heard on The Beatles' Rock and Roll Music compilation) was the first rock song I ever had the courage to sing in front of my friend Chris Marsh, who was a great guitarist and had a lot to do with my eventual career path as a singer in a rock band. He was planning to perform "The Night Before" and "It Don't Come Easy" by Ringo Starr at a big neighborhood picnic, and I wanted so badly to have the guts to get up in front a crowd and sing. I'd been a choirboy throughout grade school, but that was singing with a bunch of guys, not being the lead singer. I never did sing at that picnic, but Chris and I went on to be in other bands together, and he was the first person who ever told me I was a good rock and roll singer.
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.