Influential Albums: 652-658
Sat., Feb. 26. 2022 12:16am 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.
652. Pleasure Victim - Berlin
These days, the group Berlin is best remembered for their 1986 #1 hit from Top Gun, "Take My Breath Away." I first read about them several years earlier in a Rolling Stone review that lumped their Pleasure Victim LP together with Spring Session M by Missing Persons (a record I expounded upon earlier on this list). Both albums were released in October 1982 by Los Angeles-based bands that featured female lead singers and male instrumentalists playing electro pop. Pleasure Victim had three singles that reached the Hot 100: "Sex (I'm a ...)" (#62 U.S. pop, #10 U.S. rock, #4 Canada pop), "The Metro" (#58 U.S. pop), and "Masquerade" (#82 U.S. pop). The album itself reached #30 on the Billboard 200 and sold a million copies. I bought the cassette, mainly for "Masquerade," but also for "The Metro," as both of those songs got a lot of airplay on a local station I liked, WYDD, "The Heartbeat of the Street." The other hit had infectious instrumental parts, but the lyrics were a bit edgy for me, even back in my swingin' college days. Berlin eventually scored their first Top 40 hit in 1984 with "No More Words" (#23 pop, #25 rock). I also liked their follow-up to "Take My Breath Away" — a song called "Like Flames" that went to #82 in late '86. Ironically, those last two singles were the only chart hits Berlin ever had in Germany. "Take My Breath Away" went to #3 there, and "Like Flames" went to #36.
653. Friend or Foe - Adam Ant
Released in October 1982, Friend or Foe was Adam Ant's first solo album after the break-up of his previous band, Adam and the Ants. Although they never hit the U.S. Top 40, they had three Top 20 songs on the U.S. rock charts ("Dog Eat Dog," "Antmusic," and "Physical") and seven U.K. Top 10 pop hits, including the #1 songs "Stand and Deliver" and "Prince Charming." I drew a large poster of the cover of the Prince Charming LP for my friend Dave Johnstone at his request while I was a freshman in college, but I first heard of Adam and the Ants when I was in high school; my friend Victor Impink liked to play the drum beat for "Stand and Deliver" with his hands on desks and dashboards. Friend or Foe makes my list on the strength of two tunes: "Goody Two Shoes" (#12 pop, #7 rock) and "Desperate but Not Serious" (#66 pop). I owned the 45 of the former and a cassette recording of the latter. I played them both a ton when I was in college. This album also features a cover version of the Doors classic "Hello, I Love You." But the best title of the 12 songs has to be "Here Comes the Grump." ApologetiX spoofed "Goody Two Shoes" in 2015. Adam Ant would eventually achieve two other U.S. Top 40 hits, "Room at the Top" (#13 in 1990) and "Wonderful" (#39 in 1995). I knew Adam Ant's real name was Stuart Goddard, but it took me many years to realize that his stage name was probably a play on the word "adamant," even though it's pronounced differently. I think it would be cool if somebody confronted him about that and he adamantly refused to admit it.
654. Dick Clark: 20 Years of Rock and Roll - Various Artists
I borrowed this 1973 two-record set from my radio-station mentor/partner Brian Wolfe while we were in college. The 30 tracks cover the time period from 1953 through 1972, starting with "Crying in the Chapel" by The Orioles and finishing with "Nice to Be with You" by Gallery. I had a number of the songs on it elsewhere, but some that I didn't which were of particular interest to me included "Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream") by The Crew Cuts, "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets, "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash, "I'm Walkin'" by Fats Domino, "Peppermint Twist" by Joey Dee and the Starlighters, and "Superfly" by Curtis Mayfield. Yeah, I know one of those things is not like the others, but I already had most of the other stuff from 1964-72. For a complete track listing, go to
655. Reach the Beach - The Fixx
Reach the Beach floated up to #8 on the Billboard 200 album chart in 1983, buoyed by three hit singles, all of which I enjoyed: "Saved by Zero" (#20 pop, #9 rock), "One Thing Leads to Another" (#4 pop, #2 rock), and "The Sign of Fire" (#32 pop, #20 rock). Suddenly, the Fixx was in. But rock radio listeners already knew about the London-based techno-pop band long before they rode the crest of the New Wave to Top 40 success on American shores, thanks to the songs "Stand or Fall" (#76 pop, #7 rock) and "Red Skies" (#13) from their previous album, Shuttered Room (1982). I was aware of those tunes (and the title track) thanks to my friend Gerard Dominick, the bass player in my first band, Terminal. The Fixx immediately followed up Reach the Beach with two more big rock hits in 1984 — "Deeper and Deeper" (#3 rock) from the Streets of Fire soundtrack and "Are We Ourselves" (#15 pop, #1 rock) from their next album, Phantoms. I was particularly fond of "Are We Ourselves." The Fixx went on to have two more Top 40 hits, "Secret Separation" in 1986 (#19 pop, #1 rock) and "How Much Is Enough" in 1991 (#35 pop, #10 modern rock, #11 album rock). They also had another #1 rock song in 1989, "Driven Out," which only went to #55 on the pop chart. Ironically, they never had a Top 40 hit in their homeland. The closest they got was "Stand or Fall" (#54) and "Red Skies" (#57). It's hard to believe, but "One Thing Leads to Another" only made it to #86 on the U.K. pop chart. ApologetiX spoofed that song as part of our 80's medley, "Octagon but Not Forgotten," in 2011.
656. Naked Eyes - Naked Eyes
The British synth-pop duo Naked Eyes only had four Hot 100 hits, but all of them hit the Top 40 ... unfortunately, each charted lower than the one before it. The first three came from their debut album, which was released in England as Burning Bridges in March 1983, then retitled Naked Eyes with two fewer tracks for its U.S. release in April 1983. Nevertheless, both editions contained "Always Something There to Remind Me" (#8 pop, #20 rock, #31 adult contemporary), "Promises, Promises" (#11 pop, #19 AC) and "When the Lights Go Out" (#37). I had the first two on 45. I also liked their final hit, "(What) In the Name of Love" (#39), released the following year on their second album, Fuel for the Fire. Like fellow new-wave band The Fixx, Naked Eyes never hit the Top 40 in their native England, where the best they could manage was #59 for "Always Something There to Remind Me." That song, by the way, was a cover of an old Burt Bacharach & Hal David tune. Lou Johnson's version hit #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. Later that year, Sandie Shaw released her version, which became a #1 hit in the U.K. and Canada, but only went to #52 in the States. However, R.B. Greaves hit the U.S. Top 40 (#27) with his version in 1970, the follow-up to his #2 hit "Take a Letter, Maria," a single my sisters owned when I was a kid.
657. Cookin' on the Roof - Roman Holliday
British pop-rock band Roman Holliday had two minor hits in 1983 with "Stand By" (#54) and "Don't Try to Stop It" (#68), which also hit #14 in the U.K. I liked both songs and bought both singles on 45. They were first released on an EP called Roman Holliday in the summer of 1983 and then included on a full-fledged album called Cookin' on the Roof that fall. The EP went to #142 and the album went to #116. In 1985, the band had one final U.S. Hot 100 hit, "One Foot Back in Your Door" (#76) from the soundtrack album to the movie Teachers. Two other songs from that album, "Understanding" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (#17) and "Teacher Teacher" by 38 Special (#25), had considerably more success ... just as Bob Seger and 38 Special had considerably more success than Roman Holliday. But I still remember them fondly, so stand by as I'm reminiscing, and don't try to stop it!
658. Whiplash Smile - Billy Idol
It took almost three years for Billy Idol to put out a new album after Rebel Yell. When I heard the first single from Whiplash Smile in the fall of 1986, I felt it was well worth the wait and bought the 45 immediately. The song was a remake of "I Forgot to Be Your Lover," a minor hit (#49) in 1969 for R&B singer William Bell. Billy Idol's version, titled "To Be a Lover," went to #2 on the rock chart (for four weeks) and #6 on the pop chart, the same peak position that Whiplash Smile reached on the album chart. His previous LP, Rebel Yell, had also peaked at #6. The second and third singles from Whiplash Smile also did reasonably well: "Don't Need a Gun" (#37 pop, #10 rock) and "Sweet Sixteen" (#20 pop, #26 rock). But Billy's highest-charting hits were yet to come: "Mony Mony 'Live'" (#1 pop #27 rock) in 1987 and "Cradle of Love" (#2 pop, #1 rock) in 1990. Incidentally, in case you're wondering what ever happened to William Bell, he finally got his first and only Top 40 hit, "Tryin' to Love," in 1977. It even hit the Top 10 (#10).
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.