Influential Albums: 603-609
Fri., Jan. 7. 2022 7:00pm 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.
603. 20 Greatest Hits - The Turtles
The Turtles were a band that proved you could be successful without taking yourself too seriously. I'm pretty sure my college radio-show partner/mentor Brian Wolfe had this record, although the Turtles album I associate with him the most is The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, a 1968 album on which they performed 12 different songs under 12 different group names ... to great humorous effect. Battle of the Bands produced a pair of #6 hits, "Elenore" and "You Showed Me." Both of those also appear on 20 Greatest Hits, along with The Turtles' three earlier Top 10 hits — "It Ain't Me Babe" (#8), "Happy Together" (#1), and "She'd Rather Be with Me" (#3) — plus their other four Top 40 hits: "Let Me Be" (#29), "You Baby" (#20), "You Know What I Mean" (#12), and "She's My Girl" (#14). This 1982 collection also includes an additional half dozen interesting songs that hit the Hot 100 but missed the Top 40 ... most notably, "Grim Reaper of Love" (#81).
604. The Big Chill - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released in September 1983, the soundtrack album for The Big Chill ushered in a wave of nostalgia for mid-to-late 60's and early 70's music ... similar to what the American Graffitii soundtrack had done for mid-to-late 50's and early 60's music 10 years before. The American Graffiti soundtrack had hit #10 on the album chart and sold over three million copies in the United States alone. The Big Chill soundtrack only hit #17 but sold over six million copies in the United States alone. However, the Big Chill soundtrack was only one record, whereas the American Graffitii soundtrack was a two-record set, so technically The Big Chill soundtrack sold four times as many albums as American Graffiti. I'll explain that math in tomorrow's entry. Geeks like me had been buying oldies collections and reissue 45's for years by then, but now everybody was diggin' the stuff. I saw the movie on VHS a year or two later with a group of guy and girl college friends. I think my brother-in-law Bob was the first person I knew who owned this record. His wife, my sister Jeannine, may even have been the one who bought it. I distinctly remember a friend of mine in the mid-80's referring to that era and genre of oldies as "Big Chill music." The 10 tracks included some of my favorites — "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye (I'd already bought a reiussue 45 of it a few years earlier), "I Second That Emotion" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "My Girl" by The Temptations, "Good Lovin'" by The Young Rascals, and "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night. The only song I was not previously familiar with was "Tell Him" by The Exciters, a #4 hit in early 1963. A second volume of songs from the film, The Big Chill (More Songs from the Original Soundtrack), was released in April 1984 and only went to #85, but it sold a million copies.
605. The Wall - Pink Floyd
The first Pink Floyd album I ever owned was their second LP, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), thanks to my brother-in-law Dan. I think he may have also given me their fourth LP, Ummagumma (1969), but let's just say I never had either in heavy rotation. The first Pink Floyd record I ever bought myself was the 45 of "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II," which went to #1 for four weeks in 1980. The flip side was "One of My Turns." I also liked the second single from The Wall, "Run Like Hell," which only went to #53. I may have owned that one, too. The third single, "Comfortably Numb," didn't hit the Billboard Hot 100, but it received tons of airplay on rock stations, as did its flip side, "Hey You." Pittsburgh rock station WDVE spoofed that one and gave it a hilarious local twist as "Hey Yinz." In case you don't know, "yinz" (short for "you ones") is a Pittsburghese term akin to the Southern term "ya'll" (short for "you all"). Both seem to have originated with Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants who came to America in the 19th century and needed a second-person plural pronoun, because the Irish language had one but the English language didn't. It's like how French has the singular you, "tu," and the plural you, "vous," but English only has "you" for both singular and plural use. "Yinz" is actually used in various places throughout Appalachia, an area covering 13 states, as far northeast as Southern New York and and as far southwest as Northeastern Mississippi. I didn't know that till we heard people using the term at an ApologetiX concert in Greeneville TN once. Sorry for the lessons in history, geography, and linguistics. I know what you're saying: "We don't need no education ..." The Wall spent 15 weeks atop the Billboard album chart and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, but double-albums are counted twice — one for each disc — so that number represents 15 million x 2 discs. Argh, now I'm giving you (or yinz) a lesson in math!!! ApologetiX has released spoofs of "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II" and "Wish You Were Here" (from the album of the same name). We also spoofed the cover of The Wall for our 1999 album Biblical Graffiti.
606. Full Moon - Charlie Daniels Band
My friend Jeff Henry owned this album. We'd all loved the #3 hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" from Charlies' previous LP, Million Mile Reflections, in 1979. I also had a cassette recording from the radio of Charlie's #9 hit from 1973, "Uneasy Rider." I really liked it but didn't know what the title was at the time. Then along came "In America," stirring our patriotic spirit and name-checking our Pittsburgh Steelers on its way to #11 on the pop chart and #13 on the country chart. That song was included on the Full Moon album, which arrived a month and a half later, in mid-July 1980. The follow-up single, "The Legend of Wooley Swamp," told a ghost story about an old miser named Lucius Clay and went to #31 on the pop chart. We enjoyed that one, too. A third track, "Carolina (I Remember You)," hit #44 on the U.S. country chart and #20 on the Canadian country chart. Full Moon went to #11 on the album chart and sold a million copies. ApologetiX spoofed "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" in 2002. I also used to sing "Long Haired Country Boy in my first rock band, Terminal. That tune hit #56 on the pop chart in 1975 but was re-released in 1980 and then went to #27 on the country chart.
607. So - Peter Gabriel
Before this album came along, Peter Gabriel freaked me out a bit. I didn't become familiar with Genesis until after he had left, and my first exposure to his solo work was an extremely disturbing (to me at the time, at least) video for the song "Games Without Frontiers," which hit #48 in 1980. Even when he finally hit the Top 40 with "Shock the Monkey" (#29) in the winter of 1982-83, it wasn't exactly a conventional pop song. Consequently, I was taken totally by surprise in 1986 when Gabriel released his fifth album, So, and the first single, "Sledgehammer," became his first and only #1 hit, thanks to an unbelievably entertaining and funny video. As some of you may already know, that song knocked Genesis out of the top spot the week after they had scored their first and only #1 single, "Invisible Touch." Then Gabriel in turn was knocked out of #1 by another Peter who used to sing lead for a famous band — Peter Cetera of Chicago and his first #1 solo single, "Glory of Love." Of course, I owned all three of those #1 singles ... but back to the So album: The beautiful second single, "In Your Eyes," hit #26 on the pop chart and #1 on the rock chart. In fact, it almost hit the Top 40 a second time in '89, going to #41 after it was used in a famous scene featuring John Cusack in the Cameron Crowe movie Say Anything. The third single, "Big Time," was a blast as well, with another great video that helped push it to #8 pop, #3 rock. My favorite part may be the "Hi there!" at the beginning. If I'm in a situation with the right kind of reverb, I still like saying it myself. The opening track, "Red Rain," also hit #3 on the rock chart, and another album cut, "That Voice Again," went to #14 on the rock chart. The final single, "Don't Give Up," a duet with Kate Bush, stalled at #72, although it hit the U.K. Top 10. All those factors combined to make So a #2 album, selling over 5 million copies in the United States alone. I can't end this entry without mentioning Gabriel's very first solo single, "Solsbury Hill," which went to #68 in '77 and #84 in '83. Now, that's a wonderful song, and I totally missed it both times it charted. If you think the use of "In Your Eyes" in Say Anthing was powerful, check out the use of "Solsbury Hill" is in this movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6QgNuZcxTw
608. Crimes of Passion - Pat Benatar
Released in August 1980, Crimes of Passion was Pat Benatar's second album and went to #2 on the U.S. album chart, selling four million copies in the States. One of my old friends got a copy on cassette from Columbia Record House ... whether he wanted it or not. I think I may have listened to it more than he did. The first single, "You Better Run," was a cover of an old Young Rascals Top 20 hit from 1966, but Pat's version stalled at #42. The second single, "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," became her first Top 10 hit (#9). The third single, "Treat Me Right," was also successful (#18 pop, #31 rock). Another famous track, "Hell Is for Children" — which dealt with child abuse — was not released as a single but still received a lot of airplay on rock stations. This album also included a cover of "Wuthering Heights," Kate Bush's #1 U.K. hit from 1978. Although Pat trained to be an opera singer, she was primarily known as a rocker, but she finally got an adult contemporary hit in 1984 with the song "We Belong" (#5 pop, #34 AC). Ironically, that single also hit #3 on the rock chart. But even easy-listening radio programmers who usually couldn't stand Pat couldn't stand pat where that particular tune was concerned. It's probably my favorite song of hers, although 1983's "Love Is a Battlefield" was an even bigger hit. That anthem of amorous angst peaked at #5 on the pop chart, too, but also went to #1 on the rock chart for four weeks. I also liked a couple of her later hits — "Invincible" (#10 pop, #4 rock), and "Sex as a Weapon" (#28 pop, #5 rock).
609. The Best of Isaac Hayes - Isaac Hayes
I bought this album to get the classic "Theme from Shaft," which Isaac Hayes took to #1 in 1971. I would have been content with that, but The Best of Isaac Hayes featured four other Top 40 hits — "Never Can Say Goodbye" (#22), "Walk On By" (#30), "Do Your Thing" (#30, #3 R&B), and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" (#37) — and another song that came oh-so-close, "I Stand Accused" (#42). It also featured the #7 R&B hit "Joy." Although ApologetiX has never spoofed any songs on The Best of Isaac Hayes, we have spoofed two songs he co-wrote, "Soul Man" and "Hold On I'm Comin'." But getting back to Shaft: That movie spawned two sequels, Shaft's Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973). And the latter of those two had a hit of its own, "Are You Man Enough" by The Four Tops, which went to #15 on the pop chart and the whole way to #2 on the R&B chart. I'm not sure I ever had that one on an album, but I do own it on iTunes. Improbable as it seems for many people my age, a large portion of the population probably knows Isaac Hayes better for "Chef" (a character he voiced on South Park from 1997-2006) than Shaft.
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.