Influential Albums: 463-469
Fri., Aug. 20. 2021 12:04am 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.
463. Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits – Alice Cooper
Released in 1974, this album compiled all of the hits Alice Cooper had when Alice Cooper was still the name of a band (1970-73) and not just a solo artist. I think I picked up a used copy at some point in college. Go ask Alice ... I think he'll know. I loved the implied joke of the cover. ApologetiX has spoofed three songs on it, "Eighteen," "School's Out," and "No More Mr. Nice Guy." But my favorite song on this album is "Under My Wheels." I also like "Billion Dollar Babies" and "Elected." Def Leppard did a nice job covering that one. Alice went on to have a bunch of successful solo singles after Greatest Hits. I had one of them, "You and Me," on a K-Tel album. Among those, my favorites were "Only Women," "I Never Cry," and his late-80's comeback smash, "Poison." My favorite Alice song from 1970-73 not on this album is "Generation Landslide." His scariest for me was "Ballad of Dwight Fry." Alice later released a series of albums that explored his Christian faith: The Last Temptation (1994), Brutal Planet (2000), and Dragontown (2001). ApologetiX bassist (and my buddy) Keith Haynie used to play the latter two quite a bit while driving ApologetiX vehicles. The illustration on the cover of Greatest Hits was done by Drew Struzan, who has been responsible for more than 150 movie posters in his career, including (but not limited to) An American Tail, Blade Runner, Coming to America, E.T., First Blood, The Goonies, The Muppet Movie, and Risky Business; plus films in the such successful series as Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Police Academy, and Star Wars. He also did the cover art for Alice's 1974 solo debut album, Welcome to My Nightmare, along with albums by artists as diverse as The Beach Boys; The Bee Gees; Black Sabbath; Earth, Wind and Fire; Iron Butterfly; Liberace; Glenn Miller; Roy Orbison; and Tony Orlando and Dawn.
464. K-Tel's Disco Fire – Various Artists
This is one of those rare instances where I can't remember the person I knew who owned this album, but I think it was either somebody in my neighborhood or my cousins. This album is significant to me because it includes some of my favorite disco songs not done by The Bee Gees. It's not that I was ever a huge fan of disco, but I sure did like these songs: "Dance with Me" by Peter Brown, "I Can't Stand the Rain" by Eruption, "Let's All Chant" by The Michael Zager Band, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Santa Esmerelda, "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" by Chic, "Best of My Love" by The Emotions, "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer, "Boogie Shoes" by K.C. & The Sunshine Band, "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps, and "Flash Light" by Parliament. For a complete track listing, go to https://hercsktelalbums.blogspot.com/2014/07/disco-fire-1978.html
465. K-Tel's The Hot Ones – Various Artists
I'm pretty sure I came across this album through my friend Jeff Henry and/or my cousins the Paceks. The Hot Ones featured 18 tracks, all of which reached the Top 40. Some of the songs here were also on Disco Fire, so I'll mention the ones I liked that weren't: "Thunder Island" (Jay Ferguson), "Imaginary Lover" (Atlanta Rhythm Section), 'The Name of the Game" (ABBA), "Thank You for Being a Friend" (Andrew Gold), "We Just Disagree" (Dave Mason), "Sometimes When We Touch" (Dan Hill), "Don't Worry Baby" (B.J. Thomas), "Living Next Door to Alice" (Smokie), and "If I Can't Have You" (Yvonne Elliman). For a complete track listing, go to https://hercsktelalbums.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-hot-ones-1978.html#more
466. Young and Rich – The Tubes
Released in 1976, Young and Rich was The Tubes' second LP. Dave Anthony bought it during our freshman year in college. The immediate attraction was a song called "Proud to Be an American," which I taped from Dave. Its title may make you think of "God Bless the U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood, but the similarities end there. The Tubes seldom did anything that wasn't tongue in cheek, and this song rattled off a list of dubious reasons to be proud of America. Sample line: "There's revolution, constitution, land, sea, and air pollution — cold wars, hot wars, gas wars, and confrontations — constipation, consternation, open-hearted palpitations." This album also contained The Tubes' first Hot 100 hit, "Don't Touch Me There," which went to #61, and "Slipped My Disco," both of which I knew from their "best of" album, T.R.A.S.H. Furthermore, it had the studio version of "Stand Up and Shout," a song I really l liked from their concert album What Do You Want from Live, which also included a live version of the title track. But my favorite song on Young and Rich is the outrageous, autobiographical opening track, "Tubes World Tour," one of my top 10 Tubes tunes overall.
467. American Fool – John Cougar
I've already mentioned two other albums by Mr. Mellencamp earlier on my list, but this was the one that first put him on my radar. I'd heard of the guy, because he'd opened up for my beloved Kinks when they'd played in Pittsburgh the time before I finally got to see them in concert (Bryan Adams was the opening act when I finally saw them), but I'd somehow missed his three earlier hits, "I Need a Lover" (#28), "This Time" (#27), and "Ain't Even Done with the Night" (#17). There was no way, however, to escape his next two singles, "Hurts So Good" (#2) and "Jack & Diane" (#1), in the summer of 1982. I loved both at first listen. He followed them up with another Top 20 single, "Hand to Hold On To" (#19), that fall. Those three singles were the first three tracks on American Fool. Interestingly, they appeared on that album in the same order as they were released as singles. Two of my future college roommates' roommates were impacted by American Fool during our freshman year at IUP. Tom Dellaquila's roommate, Rocco Collangelo, was the first person I knew who owned a copy of it. Unlike Tom, he didn't own a lot of albums. The only other two I remember him owning were Business as Usual by Men at Work and Eye of the Tiger by Survivor — all on cassette, if I correctly recollect. Meanwhile, Lance Craig's roommate, Kevin Hughes, had hair that reminded me of John Cougar's. I casually mentioned that to Tom and Lance and some other guys on the floor, and Kevin was henceforth known as "Cougar," which was later shortened to "Coug." ApologetiX eventually spoofed "Jack & Diane," in 2008.
468. Greatest Hits of All Times – Gene Pitney
This was another album in the bonanza my brother-in-law bestowed upon me in early 1983. Perhaps you've never heard of Gene Pitney, but he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Pitney had 16 U.S. Top 40 hits from 1961-68, including four that hit the Top 10: "Only Love Can Break a Heart" (#2), "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance" (#4), "It Hurts to Be in Love" (#7), and "I'm Gonna Be Strong" (#9). Although an American, he was even bigger across the pond, with 22 U.K. Top 40 hits (including 11 in the Top Ten). He also wrote the U.S. Top 10 hits "He's a Rebel" (The Crystals), "Hello, Mary Lou" (Rick Nelson), and "Rubber Ball" (Bobby Vee). Greatest Hits of All Times contains 12 tracks, and the only song that didn't hit the Top 40 on it came oh-so-close, conking out at #42. My favorite tracks: "Liberty Valance," "24 Hours from Tulsa," "It Hurts to Be in Love," and "Town Without Pity."
469. For the Roses – Joni Mitchell
Here's another from my sister Gayle's collection when I was growing up. Released in 1972, For the Roses is the bridge between Joni's two most acclaimed albums, Blue (1971) and Court and Spark (1974), and like them, it has a great sound and sensational, cerebral, psychoanalytical lyrics. It also contained Joni's first Top 40 hit, "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" (#25). I liked that song a lot but didn't get all of the clever wordplay till years later. My other favorite tracks are "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," "Banquet," and the title track. However, this little lad was shocked when he looked at the lyrics to "Woman of Heart and Mind" and discovered a certain four-letter word he'd never heard uttered in our house. I felt it was my moral responsibility to make my parents aware of it. I didn't relish ratting on my sister; I was trying to save her from herself. In Gayle's defense, I think it's the only time Joni swore on any of her 10 classic records from 1968-79. In my defense, I was a Catholic boy in parochial school with a very strong conscience. Gayle may have forgiven, but she has never forgotten.
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.