Influential Albums: 575-581
Sat., Dec. 11. 2021 4:26pm EST
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.
575. Get Lucky - Loverboy
Released in October 1981, Loverboy's second album is best known for two things: its opening track — the quintessential Friday-afternoon quitting-time anthem, "Working for the Weekend" — and its iconic cover. ApologetiX spoofed both of those in 2011. Two singles from Get Lucky hit the U.S. Top 40, and you might be surprised to discover which one charted higher. "Working for the Weekend" went to #29, whereas "When It's Over" went to #26. A third single, "Jump," bubbled under the Hot 100 at #101. The Billboard rock chart tells a different story, though ... "Working for the Weekend" hit #2, "When It's Over" hit number 21. Two other tracks also did reasonably well on the rock chart: "Take Me to the Top" (#23) and "Lucky Ones" (#36). I was extremely fond of "Take Me to the Top," which closed the album as strongly as "Working for the Weekend" had opened it. ApologetiX has led off two different albums with a Loverboy spoof, the other one being a a parody of their Top 40 debut, "Turn Me Loose" (#35 pop, #6 rock). My first Loverboy purchase was actually "Hot Girls in Love" (#11 pop, #2 rock) the lead single from their third album. I bought that 45 in the summer of '83 soon after it came out. Loverboy only had two Top 10 hits in the United States, but four of their singles hit consecutive slots on the pop chart: "Lovin' Every Minute of It" (#9), "This Could Be the Night" (#10), "Hot Girls in Love" (#11), and "Heaven in Your Eyes" (#12). I also liked their final hit, "Notorious" (#38), from 1987. Our old college friend Kurt "Cubby" Erich thought Loverboy was the greatest band ever. The song that did it for him was the only one of their Top 40 singles that I haven't mentioned already, "Queen of the Broken Hearts," which went to #34 in 1983.
576. The Romantics – The Romantics
Here's a factoid I'll bet you didn't know: The Romantics' eponymous debut LP was the very first album released in the 80's. It came out on January 4, 1980. Here's something else that might surprise you: That album's signature song, "What I Like About You," only went to #49 on the pop chart. The first time I recall hearing it was during my freshman year at IUP, 1982-83. By then, it was already on its way to being a college party classic. My friends Rick Cosgrove and Dave Johnstone, roommates who lived on the same floor of the same dorm as I, had this album. I don't know which one of them it belonged to — I'm guessing it was Rick — but they let me tape it. The second single, "When I Look in Your Eyes," didn't chart at all, but I liked it even better. I also really liked "Tomboy," the opening track on The Romantics' second album, National Breakout, which was released in December '80. Rick and Dave had that one, too. The thing I personally liked best about The Romantics back then was that they gave me the feeling that maybe making meaningful music wasn't that complicated or difficult after all. The Romantics finally got their first Top 40 hit with "Talking in Your Sleep," which reached #3 in January '84. "What I Like About You" eventually hit the Top 40, too — reaching #28 in October '89, so it took an entire decade — but that was a cover version by Michael Morales. ApologetiX spoofed The Romantics' version in 1993.
577. Private Dancer - Tina Turner
My first awareness of Tina Turner's impending comeback was in the summer of '84, when a high-school kid I worked with told me about her opening up for the Lionel Richie concert he'd just attended. Since he was several years younger than I, he'd never heard of her before, but he instantly became a fan. At the time, her new hit was "Let's Stay Together" (#27), a cover of the old Al Green classic and the first single from her new album, Private Dancer. It was her first Top 40 solo hit, but that was nothing compared to what came next. The second single, "What's Love Got to Do With It," went to #1 for three weeks. I underestimated its power until one of my old neighborhood pals was facing a break-up with his girlfriend and it became his "go to" song. I collected #1 hits, so I got that one, but it wasn't until the third single that Tina got to me. Although it *only* went to #5, I thought "Better Be Good to Me" was a piece of pop perfection. The follow-up single, "Private Dancer" was interesting, too, having been written by one of my all-time favorite lyricists, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. It hit #7. A fifth single, "Show Some Respect," went to #37. All in all, the album sold over 10 million copies worldwide, five million in the United States alone. Over the next couple years, Tina would have two #2 singles, "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" and "Typical Male," which I owned, but my favorite Tina Turner tunes from that era were "One of the Living" (#15) — a fabulous song to work out to — and "What You Get Is What You See" (#13").
578. Miami Vice - Television Soundtrack
Released in October 1985, this LP hit #1 for 11 weeks and sold over four million copies. I didn't own it, but I bought its two big singles — "Miami Vice" by Jan Hammer (#1) and "You Belong to the City" by Glenn Frey (#2). I also bought the single for "Smuggler's Blues" by Glenn Frey (#12), which came out earlier the same year and is included on the Miami Vice album and even had an entire episode built around it. Moreover, I was a fan of the song "Vice" by Grandmaster Melle Mel, because my college frat brother Chris O'Hara used to do that rap and crack me up. And don't forget "Better Be Good to Me" by Tina Turner, a song I've already raved about in my entry for her Private Dancer album. I didn't watch Miami Vice (I barely watched any TV shows in college), but I did experiment with the slightly unshaven look and the suit jacket without the tie. It worked a lot better for Crockett (Don Johnson) and Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) than for me. Then again, it looked a lot better on them than on me.
579. Foreigner – Foreigner
I remember seeing commercials for Foreigner's first LP on television, which was kind of rare back in 1977, aside from K-Tel records and special "not available in stores" compilations. I have no way to gauge how much that advertising campaign may have helped, but the album sold 5 million copies and went to #4 on the album chart. All three singles culled from it hit the Top 20 — "Feels Like the First Time" (#6), "Cold as Ice" (#4), and "Long, Long Way from Home" (#20). ApologetiX has already spoofed the first two. I don't know if we'll ever spoof the third one, but it may be my favorite of them all. My friend Jeff Henry had this album. The other two most memorable tracks for me were "Starrider" and "Headknocker," two similarly titled songs that appeared back-to-back on side one. I always thought they went well with the final track on Foreigner's second album, "Spellbinder." People who think Foreigner started wimping out in the 80's with "Waiting for a Girl Like You" and "I Want to Know What Love is" should listen to the songs "Woman Oh Woman" and "Fool for You Anyway." But those tunes are nicely counterbalanced by rockers like "At War with the World."
580. The Bridge - Billy Joel
Released in July 1986, The Bridge was Billy Joel's 10th studio album. My friend Dave Rhodes bought the cassette and let me borrow it, although I already owned the first single "Modern Woman," which was released in conjunction with the movie Ruthless People. That song went to #10, as did the second single from The Bridge, "A Matter of Trust." I used to sing that one in a secular band I was in not too long afterward. The third single, "This Is the Time," was decidely more mellow and went to #18. It also went to #1 for three weeks on the adult comtemporary chart. The fourth and final single, "Baby Grand," was a duet with Ray Charles that only went to #75 on the pop chart, but it went to #3 on the AC chart. Those four songs appeared back to back on side one. The opening track, "Running on Ice," is pretty catchy, too. Brother Ray wasn't the only guest vocalist on The Bridge; sister Cyndi provided her distinct Lauper-esque backing vocals on "Code of Silence."
581. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
I bought Tom Petty's debut LP for one reason, but it was a big reason: "American Girl." What a way to close an album! I thought it was one of the greatest rock songs ever, and time hasn't changed my mind. That tune was used to great dramatic effect in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982. Unfortunately, it was also used to chilling effect in the movie The Silence of The Lambs in 1991. Actually, I bought this album for two reasons. The second reason is that it was in the discount 8-track bin and only cost me about a buck. Believe it or not, "American Girl" was never released as a single, but this album did contain Petty's first U.S. Top 40 hit, "Breakdown," which went to #40 exactly. It also features his first U.K. hit, "Anything That's Rock and Roll" (#36). The opening track, "Rockin' Around (With You)," is a nice song, too, as is "The Wild One, Forever."
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.