Influential Albums: 449-455
Sat., Aug. 7. 2021 12:11am 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.
449. Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart - Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart
Released in 1976, Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart is an album you've likely never heard of by a "supergroup" you probably didn't know existed. It was kind of painful for me to listen to, like watching a beloved baseball slugger long past his prime step up to the plate as you hope against hope he'll hit one out of the park for old times' sake. As evidenced by many entries on this list, I was a major Monkees fan, and Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones were that group's main voices. Meanwhile, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote at least 14 songs The Monkees released on albums, including favorites like "Last Train to Clarksville," "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," "Valleri," "Words," "She," "I Wanna Be Free," and, perhaps the biggest of them all, "Theme from The Monkees." They also wrote the theme song to the soap opera Days of Our Lives and "Come a Little Bit Closer," a #3 hit for Jay and the Americans in 1964. Furthermore, they had a few hits of their own: "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" (#8), "Alice Long (You're Still My Favorite Girlfriend)" (#27), and "Out and About" (#39), which I first heard in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie. So I was pretty delighted when an old copy of this album was getting thrown out by WIUP, the college radio station where I volunteered. I gladly gave it a new home but soon realized why it needed one. The best overall song was probably "I Remember the Feeling," and that seems to be the overwhelming favorite on iTunes today. If only the others had come close to it in quality. There is a cover version of Dion's "A Teenager in Love" on this album that still makes me cringe. They seemed so old to be singing that song, even though both Micky and Davy were barely 30 at the time! Neither of those two is known for his songwriting, but they did write one song on Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart — a tune called "You and I." And here's where it gets extra ironic: The version on this album is a drag, but they rerecorded in 1996 for The Monkees reunion album Justus, and even though they were 20 years older, it sounds 20 times better! They actually turned it into a really great tune. With all that having been said, there is one track on this album that made it all worthwhile for me: a hilarious cover version of the 1959 Coasters Top 10 hit "Along Came Jones" that uses the name, voice, and acting talents of Davy Jones to great comedic effect. In this particular case, I like both the cover and the original. You can hear it for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0kEnb8Z2Ds
450. Best of Bee Gees – The Bee Gees
Many people don't realize that The Bee Gees' disco domination from 1975-79 was actually one of the most successful comebacks in the history of pop music. In fact, some would say it was The Bee Gees' second comeback, with the first being in 1971-72. Released in 1969, Best of Bee Gees assembles their initial eight U.S. Top 40 hits, from 1967-69: "New York Mining Disaster," "To Love Somebody," "Holiday," "(The Lights Went Out in) Massachusetts," "Words," "I've Gotta Get a Message to You," "I Started a Joke," and "First of May." All but one of them hit the Top 20. The other four tracks were hits internationally. My favorite by far was "To Love Somebody." It's not that I don't like the others; it's just I like "To Love Somebody" so much! It's such a beautifully produced record. As alluded to earlier, The Bee Gees bounced back in 1971-72, with five more Top 40 hits, including four that hit the Top 20, most notably "Lonely Days" (#3) and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (#1). Then in 1975, a little song called "Jive Talkin'" came along …
451. You Could Have Been with Me – Sheena Easton
I was not a huge Sheena Easton fan — I just absolutely loved the title track, and that's why I bought a used copy of this album. The song "You Could Have Been with Me" only went to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it went to #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This LP contained one other Top 40 hit, "When He Shines," which went to #30 pop, #13 AC. Of course, because I collected #1 hits, I also had "Morning Train (Nine to Five)," even though I couldn't take that song or its follow-up, "Modern Girl" (#19), seriously. Sheena also had a #2 hit, "The Lover in Me," in 1988, after I stopped collecting records. What's more, she sang backing vocals on Prince's #2 hit, "U Got the Look" which I did enjoy and buy on 45 in '87. Her other Top 10 hits were "For Your Eyes Only" (#4), "We've Got Tonight" with Kenny Rogers (#6), "Strut" (#7), "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" (#9), and "Sugar Walls" (#9). In fact, she had 14 singles that hit the Top 40 from 1981-91. Maybe you'd forgotten about all those songs and even Sheena Easton, but that's OK. She's almost over you, too. Tom Dellaquila and I used to envision a supergroup (a la CSNY) called "Martin Sheena Easton West." Oh, wow ... I just remembered that in 2007, I bought cheap used copies of Sheena Easton: Classic Masters and The Lover in Me album on CD, when I was assembling my digital collection of songs that hit the Top Five. I cannot believe I owned three Sheena Easton albums in my lifetime.
452. K-Tel's 22 Explosive Hits, Vol. 2 – Various Artists
Here's yet another K-Tel album I bought a used copy of while I was in college. My prime motivation was to get "Chick-A-Boom" by Daddy Dewdrop, a #9 hit in 1971. I remember Roger Cohen singing that song in first grade. Oh, and "Popcorn" by Hot Butter, a #9 hit in 1972. Number nine, number nine, number nine … Two other songs I discovered on it that missed the Top 40 were "A Simple Man" by Lobo (#56) and "Mammy Blue" by Pop-Tops (#57). It also included April Wine's first hit, "You Could Have Been a Lady," which hit #32 in 1972, seven years before they had their next Top 40 hit with "Roller." And two songs I always associate with each other: "Nice to Be with You" by Gallery (#4) and "Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again" by The Fortunes, sounding a lot like Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. But there were plenty of other great songs on 22 Explosive Hits (do the math). For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/Various-22-Explosive-Hits-Vol-2/release/12415077
453. All Mod Cons – The Jam
Released in November 1978, The Jam's third album has many memorable tracks, including two U.K. Top 40 hits: "David Watts" (a cover of a Kinks song I already loved) and "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" (a song I spent many hours trying to learn on bass during my brief time as an aspiring bassist). My two other favorites were "Billy Hunt" and "English Rose." Honorable mention: "To Be Someone (Didn't We Have a Nice Time)," "The Place I Love," "It's Too Bad," and the title track. The album name has a twofold meaning: "All Mod Cons" is British shorthand for "all modern conveniences" (used in housing advertisements) but also plays off of the fact that The Jam were at the forefront of England's mod revival in the late 70's. Diehard U.S. fans of The Who will remember that band's association with the original mod movement in the '60's (although the movement itself started in the late '50s). Diehard fans of The Jam can easily see the influence of The Who's early work in The Jam's early work.
454. 20 Chartstoppers Vol. 1 – Various Artists
I'm not sure how I first came across this album. It resembled a K-Tel compilation but was actually released by Salem Records. It's telling that they used the term "chartstoppers" and not "charttoppers," because only four of the 20 songs hit the Top Ten, and only one hit the Top 5. In fact, three of the songs didn't chart at all, although 14 of them did hit the Top 40. Highlights included the #9 hit "You Are Everything" by The Stylistics and the #5 hit "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" by Lobo (which I already owned on 45), plus "Big Yellow Taxi" by The Neighborhood, who took their cover of the famous Joni Mitchell song to #29 in 1970. My favorite "new" tracks were "White Lies, Blue Eyes" by Bullett (#28), "Backfield in Motion" by Mel and Tim (#10), and "She Didn't Do Magic" by Lobo (#46). These days, I'm also partial to "Mighty Clouds of Joy" by B.J. Thomas (#34), for obvious reasons. You can find a complete track listing at https://www.discogs.com/Various-20-Chartstoppers-Vol-1/master/338431
455. Big Bam Boom – Daryl Hall & John Oates
This album was released in October 1984, and I bought a discount copy a year or two later. It featured four Top 40 hits: "Out of Touch" (the duo's sixth and final #1 hit), "Method of Modern Love" (#5), "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" (#18), and "Possession Obsession" (#30). Side one kicked off with a brief instrumental (1:25) called "Dance on Your Knees" that segued into "Out of Touch." The other tracks that stick in my mind are "Go Through the Motions" and "All American Girl." I much preferred the Voices album I bought in high school, but I still can't resist singing along when the boys start spelling "M-E-T-H-O-D-O-F-L-O-V-E." Same thing goes with the chorus of "Out of Touch." As some of you know, the name of the group's primary singer was originally Daryl Hohl, but he changed it to Daryl Hall. I think it would have been wild if he'd changed it to Feral Hog, but some folks might think it's a boar.
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.