Influential Albums: 533-539
Sat., Oct. 30. 2021 2:44pm 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'd 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.
533. The Best of George Harrison – George Harrison
Parlophone/Capitol Records didn't show the quiet Beatle a whole lot of respect with the track listing on this 1976 compilation. Although all 13 tracks were composed and sung by Harrison, seven of them are songs he recorded and released with The Beatles, including everything on side one! They're all great songs ("Something," "Here Comes the Sun," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Taxman," etc.), but even Ringo Starr's "best of" from 1975 featured only post-Beatles material. The six solo selections on The Best of George Harrison were all legit hits, including two #1's — "My Sweet Lord" and "Give Me Love - (Give Me Peace on Earth") — and four other Top 25 songs: "What Is Life" (#10), "Dark Horse" (#15), "You" (#20), and "Bangla-Desh" (#23). My favorite of the bunch is "Dark Horse," followed by "What Is Life." For better or worse, they ignored Harrison's other Top 40 hit up till that point, the New Year's ditty "Ding Dong; Ding Dong" (#36). Two of the singles included on the album were originally double-sided hits but their flip sides aren't included, either — "Isn't It a Pity" (the B-side of "My Sweet Lord") and "Deep Blue" (the B-side of "Bangla-Desh"). Harrison went on to have six more Top 40 hits, including "Got My Mind Set on You" (#1), "All Those Years Ago" (#2), "Blow Away" (#16), "Crackerbox Palace" (#19), "When We Was Fab" (#23), and "This Song" (#25). The Best of George Harrison had two different covers: The British version showed Harrison posing in front of a classic car, whereas a more cosmic-looking cover featuring his face was used in North America, France, Australia, and Asia.
534. Oliver! - Original Soundtrack Recording
I think I saw the 1968 movie version of Oliver! in the theater as a kid ... probably not when it first came out, though, since I was only four years old at the time. I believe I also saw it on stage at Civic Light Opera in Pittsburgh in 1977. My family owned the soundtrack album when I was growing up, and I remember my sister Kris playing me the song "I'd Do Anything," probably in an effort to get me to sing Oliver's and Dodger's parts while she did Nancy's. I liked that song a lot. Meanwhile, "Food, Glorious Food/Oliver!," "Consider Yourself," "Where Is Love" seemed to be ubiquitous in pop culture when I was a young lad; I don't think I just picked them up from the album. However, I do remember "Oom-Pah-Pah" and "As Long as He Needs Me" from our record. When I saw Oliver! on stage in '77, Fagin stole the show with "Pick a Pocket or Two," "Be Back Soon," and "Reviewing the Situation," and that's when I grew to appreciate those great songs. Somewhere down the line, I watched the movie again, and was just blown away by "Who Will Buy?" What a beautiful song, and what an incredible production they made of it in the movie! I got my wife and kids to watch the movie years later, and it became a certified Jackson family classic, and we played the soundtrack in our car many times over. The last film footage I have of my dad shows him attentively watching my son, T.J., sing "I'm Reviewing the Situation" while visiting him just a few months before he died. As my dad said at the end T.J.'s performance, "Wonderful!" Maybe ApologetiX should spoof The Beach Boys' "Be True to Your School" as "Bring Gruel to Your School." If somebody had told Oliver it was BYOG, he could have saved himself a lot of trouble.
535. Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross
Grammy grabber Christopher Cross (born Christopher Charles Geppert) hauled in five of 'em with his self-titled debut LP, including Album of the Year. Those five gilded grammophones resulted in 5 million copies sold in the United States alone. All four singles released from this record reached the Top 40. The first, "Ride Like the Wind," went to #2 for four weeks, kept out of the top spot by Blondie's "Call Me." The second, "Sailing," went all the way to #1. I favored the former, but my sister Gayle loved the latter, and it eventually grew on me. I associate that song with a vacation we spent (along with our parents) in Myrtle Beach SC with the Partridge family (Jim and Marge and their sons — not Shirley and her brood) in the summer of 1980, while it was sailing up the charts. The third single, "Never Be The Same," only went to #15, but it hit #1 on the adult contemporary chart. That one didn't do much for me, but I really liked the fourth single, "Say You'll Be Mine," with Nicolette Larson on backing vocals. Cross had to settle for just four more Top 40 hits over the rest of his career, but one of them was an absolute monster: "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," hit #1 on both the pop chart and the adult contemporary chart ... and, believe it or not, #13 on the rock chart!!! And here's an even bigger shocker: Christopher Cross once filled in for Ritchie Blackmore on lead guitar at a Deep Purple concert. I am not making that up. You can read it for yourself in this interview: https://www.songfacts.com/blog/interviews/christopher-cross#?1%23?1%23WebrootPlugIn%23?1%23?1%23PhreshPhish%23?1%23?1%23agtpwd
536. Encore of Golden Hits – The Platters
I borrowed this one from the IUP library, primarily because it featured four #1 hits — "The Great Pretender," "My Prayer," "Twilight Time," and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." I was already familiar with the first and last songs on that list, but the one that I'm most likely to spontaneously start singing now (when no one else is around, of course) is "Twilight Time." Released in 1960, Encore of Golden Hits also featured the Top Five smashes "(You've Got) The Magic Touch" (#4) and "Only You (And You Alone)" (#5). The Platters had one other Top 10 hit, "Harbor Lights" (#8), but you won't find it here ... it's on the sequel, More Encore of Golden Hits, which came out later that same year. All told, the group had 40 singles that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1955-67, including 21 that hit the Top 40. Fifteen of those hit the Top 20.
537. Got My Own Bag of Tricks – Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley only had one Top 40 hit, "Say Man" (#20 in 1959), but he is generally recognized as one of rock's founding fathers. In fact, he was a member of the second class inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987. A few years before that, the accountant at the place where I worked urged me to borrow his copy of this double-album from 1972. The accountant's name was John Kokonaski, and Bo Diddley's real name was Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel. He must have really liked his stage name, though; he used it in the titles of 25 percent of the 24 tracks on Got My Own Bag of Tricks, including "Bo Diddley," "Diddley Daddy," "Hey Bo Diddley," "Story of Bo Diddley," "Bo's Blues," and "Bo Diddley is Loose." I was already familiar with some of the other songs, as they had been covered by other rock artists I liked: "I'm a Man" (The Yardbirds) "Before You Accuse Me" (Creedence Clearwater Revival, later by Eric Clapton), "Who Do You Love" (The Doors, later by George Thorogood), and "Road Runner" (The Who). All of those were originally written and recorded by Diddley himself. Other memorable tracks for me on this album were "Bring It to Jerome," "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover," "Mona (I Need You Baby)," "Hush Your Mouth," "500% More Man," and "Whoa, Mule (Shine)."
538. Endless Flight – Leo Sayer
Released in November 1976, Endless Flight was Leo Sayer's fourth album. It gave birth to two #1 songs, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" and "When I Need You," and another Top 20 hit, "How Much Love." I was starting to actively listen to the radio at the time, so hearing those songs today brings a wave of nostalgia upon me, as does seeing the album cover, which I remember seeing a lot in the record racks of local stores back then. Over three decades later, my two oldest daughters saw Leo perform on an old episode of The Muppet Show and became instant fans of "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing," so we added that to our drivetime iPod playlist. When I was in college, Tom Dellaquila introduced me to the title track on Endless Flight. It reminds me of some of Elton John's great songs from the early 70's. I also really dug Leo's first hit, from two years (and two albums) before that — "Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)," which went to #9. Furthermore, he wrote two other songs I like a lot: "The Show Must Go On," which Three Dog Night covered and took to #4, and "Giving It All Away," the first big solo hit for The Who's Roger Daltrey. It went to #5 in the U.K., but failed to chart in the states. Although Leo was unable to sustain the success he enjoyed with the Endless Flight album, he did have a gigantic comeback hit a few years later with his cover of the old song "More Than I Can Say." Bobby Vee's 1961 version went to #61, but Leo's version went to #2 for five weeks in late '80 and early '81. It was kept out of the #1 spot Kenny Rogers' "Lady" and John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over." The photo of Leo on the cover of Endless Flight always reminds me a little bit of fitness guru Richard Simmons, whom I met briefly in the hallway when we did The Rick & Bubba Show in Alabama in 2005. He stopped to shake our hands, looked at me and said, "You're a tall one, aren't you?"
539. Silk Degrees – Boz Scaggs
Boz Scaggs first found fame with The Steve Miller Band, playing guitar and singing backing vocals (and occasional lead vocals) on that group's first two albums, in 1968. Although Silk Degrees was the first album of his own to hit the Top 40, it was actually his seventh solo LP overall. Released in February 1976, Silk Degrees sold over 5 million copies in the United States alone and went to #2 on the album charts, held out of the top spot by Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. I first became aware of Boz thanks to "Lido Shuffle," which went to #11 on the pop charts. I first heard it, loved it, and recorded it when it was played on our local radio station's year-end Top 100. However, "Lido" was actually the fourth single from Silk Degrees and didn't come out until February '77 (the countdown was a the end of '77). The first three singles were "It's Over" (#38), "Lowdown" (#3), and "What Can I Say" (#42). Scaggs co-wrote all four of those songs with keyboardist David Paich of Toto, although Toto didn't exist yet at the time. As a matter of fact, three future members of Toto played on Silk Degrees: Paich and bassist David Hungate throughout and drummer/percussionist Jeff Porcaro on "What Do You Want the Girl to Do" and "Love Me Tomorrow." Another song that got significant airplay was "We're All Alone," which Boz wrote all alone, of course. Frankie Valli's cover version became a minor hit (#76 pop, #27 adult contemporary) later in '76, but Rita Coolidge lifted it higher and higher (#7 pop, #1 AC) in '77. The song "Georgia" is also very catchy. The "Lowdown" single sold over a million copies and was featured in the movie Looking for Mr. Goodbar, but it could have been even bigger. The producers of Saturday Night Fever had intended to use it in that movie, but Columbia Records denied them permission, because the label was saving the song for another disco project which never came to fruition. As John Travolta said years later in an article published in The New Yorker, "The Bee Gees weren't even involved in the movie in the beginning ... I was dancing to Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs." Yep, once again, Boz came in right behind Stevie.
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.