Influential Albums: 758-764
Fri., Jun. 10. 2022 12:03am 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.
758. The Best of ZZ Top – ZZ Top
I think I bought this collection in 1987 to learn some song we were considering for the band I was in at the time, Nice Piranha. I'm guessing the song would have been "Tush" or "La Grange," the tracks that open side one and two, respectively. The Best of ZZ Top was released in 1977 and features songs from 1971-75. I stayed overnight in La Grange in 2000, but not the town in Texas with the infamous brothel that the guys in ZZ Top were talking about. No, La Grange KY is decidedly tamer, but it brings back fond memories, because that was the halfway point on my first road trip to visit the woman who would become my wife, Lisa Thompson. Other songs on The Best of ZZ Top that stuck with me for better or worse were "Waitin' for the Bus," "Jesus Just Left Chicago," "Francine," and "Heard It on the X." We have a station called the X in Pittsburgh, too, but it's an alternative-rock station, so I've never heard "Heard It on the X" on the X. But I have heard it on our mainstream-rock station, WDVE, just three notches to the left on the dial. The first person I ever knew who liked ZZ Top was a classmate named Mike Komarinski, the same guy who introduced me to "Bohemian Rhapsody." It must have been in fifth or sixth grade, because he owned ZZ Top's fourth LP, Fandango! (1975). That's the album where "Tush" originally appeared. I can't remember if Nice Piranha ever got around to playing that tune, but ApologetiX released a spoof of it in 2014. After I posted this entry on Facebook, Tom Dellaquila who was also in Nice Piranha, said the following: "I'm sure we played "Tush" in that band. I knew all three chords!"
759. Great Gonzos! The Best of Ted Nugent - Ted Nugent
Love him or hate him, the Motor City Madman made a number of notable contributions to hard-rock history, going back as far as "Journey to the Center of Your Mind" with The Amboy Dukes in 1968. My first exposure to him was probably his 1977 solo hit "Cat Scratch Fever" (#30), thanks to a neighborhood guitarist friend, who also liked "Great White Buffalo." Later, I encountered "Scream Dream" and "Wango Tango," and I can still hear them ringing in my ears, although I found them to be less melodic than I would have liked. A college friend named Rich Cade introduced me to "Journey to the Center of Your Mind" freshman year. As a regular browser at local record stores, I clearly remember seeing Nugent's albums Weekend Warriors, Scream Dream, and Double Live Gonzo! However, my favorite album title of his (and one of my favorite titles by anybody) is the live LP Intensities in 10 Cities. The only Nugent LP I ever owned was a used cassette copy of his 1981 compilation Great Gonzos! The Best of Ted Nugent, which I picked up at Jerry's Records in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. ApologetiX has spoofed two of the tracks, "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold." The other songs on Great Gonzos! that most caught my fancy were "Free-for-All" and "Dog Eat Dog." Both of those songs originally appeared on Nugent's 1976 album, Free-for-All, which included five songs with Meat Loaf on lead vocals, although none of them appear on Great Gonzos!
760. Beverly Hills Cop II - The Motion Picture Soundtrack Album
I saw this movie in the theater shortly after it came out, in the late spring of 1987. I also bought two of the four singles on the soundtrack album — "Shakedown" by Bob Seger (#1) and "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael (#2) — because I collected #1 and #2 hits. In fact, that was the only reason I bought the George Michael song. I didn't like the music or the lyrics, even though I was probably at the most morally ambiguous point in my life, and being at the mercy of Billboard magazine was starting to really get to me. "Shakedown" was originally offered to Glenn Frey, who'd already had a hit on the original Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack with "The Heat Is On" (#2). He didn't like the lyrics to "Shakedown," though, and then got laryngitis, which opened the door for his old friend and fellow Michigan native Seger to sing it. It became Seger's first and only #1 pop hit. Meanwhile, "I Want Your Sex" won the 1987 Razzie award for worst song written for a film, although it also became the first of six Top 5 hits on Michael's debut solo album, Faith. The other two singles on the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack were "Cross My Broken Heart" by The Jets (#7) and "Be There" by The Pointer Sisters (#42). The album itself went to #8, whereas the original had gone to #1 in 1984. That's still a lot better then the soundtrack album for Beverly Hills Cop III, which only went to #158 in 1994. By that time, Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop had long since been eclipsed by Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses.
761. K-Tel's Looney Tunes - Various Artists
In the early stages of this list, I wrote about K-Tel's Goofy Greats album, which came out in 1975. Apparently that compilation of novelty songs did well enough to warrant this follow-up in 1976. I didn't own it, but my cousins did, and I've owned most of the 24 songs on it at one point or another. The track listing included four #1 hits — "The Witch Doctor" by David Seville, "The Chipmunk Song" by The Chipmunks (and David Seville again), "Mother-in-Law" by Ernie K-Doe, and "The Streak" by Ray Stevens — plus three #2 hits — "Charlie Brown" by The Coasters, "Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh" by Allan Sherman, and "Lil' Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs. Other favorites for me (and my kids many years later) included "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" by Napoleon XIV (#3), "Along Came Jones" by The Coasters (#9), "Tip-Toe Thru' the Tulips with Me" by Tiny Tim (#17), "I Love Onions" by Susan Christie (#63), "Little Eefin Annie" by Joe Perkins (#76), and two songs by Nervous Norvus: "Transfusion" (#8) and "Ape Call" (#24). ApologetiX spoofed "LIl' Red Riding Hood" in 2003. For a complete listing of the tracks on Looney Tunes, go to: https://www.discogs.com/release/1620030-Various-Looney-Tunes
762. La Bamba - Soundtrack by Los Lobos and Various Artists
Although Los Lobos seemed to be popular with critics when I was in college, their first two LPs had each stalled at #47 on the Billboard 200 and had only yielded one Hot 100 entry, "Will the Wolf Survive?" (#78 pop, #26 rock), and a few other Top 40 rock hits, "Don't Worry Baby" (#28 rock), "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes" (#4 rock), and "Set Me Free (Rosa Lee)" (#21 rock). Then came La Bamba. The soundtrack arrived on June 23, 1987, a month and a day before the film. It topped the Billboard 200 and sold two million copies. Eight of the 12 songs were performed by Los Lobos, and two of them were released as singles: "La Bamba" (#1 pop, #11 rock) and "Come On, Let's Go" (#21 pop, #33 rock). Both were covers of Ritchie Valens songs, and each outperformed the original. Valens' version of "La Bamba" had gone to #22 in 1959 and his version of "Come On, Let's Go" had hit #42 in '58. Like Los Lobos, Ritchie Valens had a total of two Top 40 hits in his career. The biggest was "Donna," which hit #2 on February 23, 1959 ... 20 days after the plane crash that killed him, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper on "the day the music died." Los Lobos performed "Donna" on the soundtrack, but it was not released as a single. I saw the movie in the theater and bought the "La Bamba" 45, which I really liked, even before it hit #1. ApologetiX spoofed that song in 2000, and we did the Los Lobos version.
763. Bat Out of Hell - Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf's debut LP, Bat Out of Hell, didn't exactly fly off the shelves when first released in October 1977. Sure, it was a fine feat for a freshman to make it as far as #13 on the Billboard 200, but who could've predicted that Bat would eventually become one of the bestselling albums of all time — over 43 million copies worldwide, including 11 million in the United States? Maybe Jim Steinman. He wrote all seven of the tracks and wanted equal billing but had to settle for a tagline at the bottom of the cover that said "Songs by Jim Steinman." Musically, lyrically, vocally, and sonically, the record is nothing less than epic. I remember hearing about the first single, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," from my sister Gayle, who thought the chorus was pretty amusing. Later, I made a recording of it along with a brief interview with Steinman during my local radio station's New Year's Eve countdown. "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" hit the Top 10 on the Record World (#7) and Cash Box (#9) charts, just barely missing on the Billboard (#11) chart. But don't be sad, 'cause ... well, you know. Not too long after that, I remember hearing a radio ad for an issue of People magazine that featured Meat Loaf and Leif Garrett and used the tagline, "Meet Leif ... and Meat Loaf." A couple years later, I finally heard the album's epic second single, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" on late-night radio and was captivated by all the twists and turns. I think the next time I heard it was at a frat party in college. "Paradise" hit the Top 40 on Cash Box (#37) and Billboard (#39), but once again poor ol' Meat missed a triple play by one notch, stalling at #41 on the Record World chart. Man, that "two out of three ain't bad" thing really came back to haunt the dude, didn't it? The third single, "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" broke the trend, but in a bad way ... it only hit the Top 40 on one of the big three charts (#39 Billboard, #42 Cash Box, #49 Record World). Although not released in the United States, the title track from Bat of Hell became a U.K. hit single twice, hitting #15 in '79 and #8 when rereleased in '93. That same year, Meat Loaf finally got his first and only U.S. #1 hit with "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)." It went to #1 on both Billboard and Cash Box, but unfortunately, Record World had ceased publication in '82. So, once again, he had to settle for two out of three. Sigh.
764. Missing Links - The Monkees
Missing Links was the first in a three-volume set of rare and previously unreleased Monkees tracks. I bought a cassette copy soon after it hit the stores in June 1987. If they'd put it out a couple years earlier, when I was the high point of my Monkeemania, I would have memorized the thing, but my interest was waning by the summer of '87. However, several of the 16 songs have stuck with me through the years: "Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears," "I Don't Think You Know Me," "Carlisle Wheeling," "All of Your Toys," and the downright embarrassing "Teeny Tiny Gnome." The penultimate track on Missing Links is "Lady's Baby," one of the few Monkees songs with lead vocals by Peter Tork. The album ends on a nice note with the melancholy "Time and Time Again," which actually leaves you wanting more. Speaking of which, Missing Links Volume Two and Volume Three followed in 1990 and '96. I didn't buy them at the time, but I did purchase Volume Three in 2001 when ApologetiX was spoofing "Theme from The Monkees" and needed a version that had the ending they used on the T.V. show and not the fade-out they used on Greatest Hits. I recently took a listen to the first volume of Missing Links again on iTunes, and, considering how many times Rhino Records had already been to the well to get Monkees material, the overall quality of the songs and the audio production is pretty decent. That can be a rarity when it comes to rarities, which is why the ApologetiX rarities collections are titled Rare Not Well Done Vol 1 and Vol. 2.
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.