Influential Albums: 505-511
Sun., Oct. 3. 2021 3:19pm 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.
505. 42 Classic Hits – Various Artists
Cue the mildly manic infomercial announcer's voice; "Sessions presents … 42 classic hits!" Don't be fooled by the unbelievably bland cover; this three-record set was anything but banal. I got it in college at the same time and place I got Party Rock II and Teen Idols. Released in 1978, 42 Classic Hits featured pop classics from the 50's and 60's, including 11 number-one songs. Among those, the ones I needed were "Moody River" (Pat Boone), "Incense and Peppermints" (Strawberry Alarm Clock), "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" (Connie Francis), "Cathy's Clown" (Everly Brothers), "Running Bear" (Johnny Preston), and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (The Righteous Brothers). But there were so many great songs on this collection. My favorites: "Sally, Go 'Round the Roses" (The Jaynettes), "Baby I Love You" (Andy Kim), "Gimme Little Sign" (Brenton Wood), "Macarthur Park" (Richard Harris), "Lay a Little Lovin' on Me" (Robin McNamara), "Remember Then" (The Earls), "Dear One" (Larry Finnegan), "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (The Silkie), "Stand by Me" (Spyder Turner), and "My Heart Is an Open Book" (Carl Dobkins Jr.). That last song was a #3 hit in 1959. Dobkins' sister, Gaylene, was an ApologetiX fan and later gave me a CD personally autographed by him. Sadly, both are no longer with us.
For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/Various-42-Golden-Classics/release/4557908
506. Piano Man – Billy Joel
Released in 1973, Piano Man has that great early 70's sound, which makes it just a bit different than Billy Joel's run of hit albums from the late 70's through the 80's. It reminds me a little bit of the classic Elton John albums from the early 1970's. I got it from by brother-in-law Dan. The big hit was obviously "Piano Man" (#25 pop, #4 AC), although two subsequent singles hit the lower reaches of the Hot 100, "Travelin' Prayer" (#77, with prominent banjo-playing by Eric Weissberg of "Dueling Banjos" fame) and "Worst Comes to Worst" (#80). My favorite other track was "The Ballad of Billy the Kid," and I'd imagine that many other people would say the same. Other noteworthy tracks are "Captain Jack" and "You're My Home." ApologetiX has spoofed four Billy Joel songs, but we've never done "Piano Man," although I have written two spoofs of it — one for mom for Mother's Day back in the 1980's (she loved the original and used to make me sing it for her while she played) and one for New Community Church director of music Greg Macaluso's going away party in 2018. We gave it the "We Are the World" treatment, with worship team members past and present taking turns singing solo and together. In case you missed the video, it's worth a look and a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ofT6NJZGBc&feature=youtu.be
507. K-Tel's Top Star Festival 20 Dynamic Hits Volume Two - Various Artists
The title says it all … and so much more, right? Good old K-Tel Records. My copy had definitely seen its better days by the time it came into my possession, but this 1972 collection has an interesting mix that makes it worth exploring. Three #1 hits, but only one I didn't already have: The Bee Gees' melodramatic "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." A recycled Coca-Cola commercial: "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" by The Hillside Singers. A post-Morrison Doors song with lead vocals by keyboardist Ray Manzarek: "In the Eye of the Sun." The only "hit" by the wonderfully/terribly named group It's a Beautiful Day: "White Bird" (#118 — yes, you read that right). Some all-time favorites of mine: "Handbags and Gladrags" (Rod Stewart), "Let Your Love Go" (Bread), and "Only You Know and I Know" (Delaney & Bonnie). Lesser-known singles by famous artists: "Birds of a Father" by The Raiders (#23), "Ring the Living Bell" by Melanie (#31), "Until It's Time for You to Go" (#53) by Neil Diamond, "Keep the Customer Satisfied" by Gary Puckett (#71), and "Celia of the Seals" by Donovan (#84). Oh, and Aretha does Sinatra: "My Way," a version that did not chart. For a complete track listing, go to
508. The Flamingo Kid – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The Flamingo Kid was a Matt Dillon movie released for the Christmas market in 1984. It was the first film ever to receive a PG-13 rating, although four other PG-13 film got released before it came out. Set in the summer of 1963, the film had a great soundtrack, which included three #1 hits that were pretty hard to find on vinyl at the time — the classic doo-wop-ditty ditty "Get a Job" by the Silhouettes, the luxurious instrumental "Stranger on the Shore" by Acker Bilk, and the irresistible "Runaround Sue" by Dion, a song I'd first heard performed by Leif Garrett, who had a #13 hit with it 1977. It also featured another #1 song, which I already owned, "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons. Furthermore, it had The Chiffons' follow-up hit, "One Fine Day" (#5). They did such a fine job with those two "fine" songs that their record label released "A Love So Fine" as their next single, but that one only went to #40 and is not on The Flamingo Kid soundtrack. There were 12 tracks in all: two new originals (neither of which became a hit), and 10 oldies, including "Good Golly, Miss Molly" by Little Richard, "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas, and "It's All Right" by The Impressions. For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/Various-The-Flamingo-Kid-Original-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack/master/253853
509. Ronco's Star Trackin' '76 – Various Artists
It blows my mind how many K-Tel albums I owned. The more I think about it, the more I remember. I'm surprised nobody ever attempted to stage an intervention! But this record was actually released by K-Tel's competitor, Ronco. I bought an unused copy in college, rescuing it from the bargain bins at a local store, probably National Record Mart. I've seen a couple different versions of track listings for Star Trackin' 76 online. My copy had two important #1 hits: Theme from S.W.A.T." by Rhythm Heritage and "Keep on Truckin'" by former Temptation Eddie Kendricks. Plus two great #2 hits: "Dancing Machine" by The Jackson 5 and "Ramblin' Man" by The Allman Brothers. It also had a solo hit by Greg Allman, "Midnight Rider" (#19), and three other southern-rock classics, "Keep on Smiling" by Wet Willie (#10), "This Old Cowboy" by The Marshall Tucker Band (#78), and "Green Grass and High Tides" by The Outlaws. That last song never hit the charts, but it's an album-rock staple. Other highlights included "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate (#3), "Love Won't Let Me Wait" (#5), "Could it Be Magic" by Barry Manilow (#6), "Waterloo" by ABBA (#6), "Sideshow" by Blue Magic (#8), "Cut the Cake" by Average White Band (#10), and "Squeeze Box" by The Who (#16). For a complete track listing, go to https://alanpringle.com/ronco-presents-star-trackin-76/
510. Pickwick's Super Hits – Various Artists
If K-Tel and Ronco didn't have the hits you were looking for, you could also try Pickwick! This compilation had a relatively small track listing (nine songs) but contained some great big hits (with the emphasis on "great") — and they were full-length (unlike some other labels) — "Rock Me Gently" by Andy Kim (#1), "When Will I Be Loved" by Linda Ronstadt (#2), "Last Song" by Edward Bear (#3), and "Go All the Way" by The Raspberries (#5). It also featured "Wildflower" by Skylark (#9), a band whose 23-year-old keyboardist, David Foster, would go on to become one of the most successful producers in the history of pop music. Super Hits featured two mid-range hits that I really liked "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" by The Raspberries (#18) and "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)" by Glen Campbell (#11). There were also two songs that missed the Top 40: "Rock Me on the Water" by Linda Ronstadt (#85) and the FM rock classic "Fresh Air" by Quicksilver Messenger Service (#49).
511. K-Tel's The Seals & Crofts Collection – Seals & Crofts
Sometimes it takes an informercial to get you to realize how much you like a particular artist. My sisters didn't own any Seals & Crofts albums, but they did bequeath me the 45 "Summer Breeze" when they left for college. I think that one belonged to Gayle. It's a great tune and the first of three #6 hits Seals & Crofts had, along with "Diamond Girl" and "Get Closer." Those were their only Top Ten songs, but they had five others that hit the midsection of the Top 40: "I'll Play for You" (#18), "You're the Love" (#18), "Hummingbird" (#20), "We May Never Pass This Way (Again)" (#21), and "My Fair Share" (#28). All eight hits were on this 1979 K-Tel compilation, which was far more complete than Seals & Crofts' Greatest Hits album, prematurely released in 1975, before three of those hits came out. I didn't own The Seals & Crofts Collection, but I eventually owned all eight of those hits, and it's largely because of this album and K-Tel's infomercial promoting it. There were 16 tracks in all, including four songs that missed the pop Top 40 but hit the adult-contemporary Top 40. They had seven Top 10 hits on that chart, including three that went to #2 and three that went to #4. Jim Seals and Dash Crofts have an interesting musical family tree. Both were members of The Champs, joining eight months after that band had its big #1 hit, "Tequila," in 1958. Jim is also the brother of "England" Dan Seals, who himself was part of another hitmaking duo, England Dan and John Ford Coley, and later became a country music star. Furthermore, the Seals brothers are cousins to several other country stars — Troy Seals of Jo Ann & Troy; Brady Seals of Little Texas, and Johnny Duncan.
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.