Influential Albums: 772-778
Fri., Jun. 24. 2022 6:59pm 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.
772. Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen
Released in October 1987, this album was a rather low-key affair after the bombastic Born in the USA and its seven Top 10 singles. In contrast, Tunnel of Love, only had two Top 10 singles, and a third single that came up a few notches short. I recorded the first single, "Brilliant Disguise" (#5 pop, #1 rock) as soon as it was released to radio, and played it over and over again so we could have a current hit to perform in my band at the time, Nice Piranha. I didn't really appreciate that song till years later. I did like the second single, "Tunnel of Love" (#9 pop, #1 rock) right away, though, and I still do. My favorite other songs were "Tougher Than the Rest," "Ain't Got You," "All That Heaven Will Allow" (#5 rock), and "One Step Up," the third single (#13 pop, #2 rock). I played a tape of this album in the background at work a lot that fall, but it didn't have a lot of songs that grabbed me, aside from the ones I mentioned. Tunnel of Love was popular enough to end the six-week reign of Michael's Jackson's Bad at the top of the Billboard 200, but Springsteen's stay at the summit lasted just one week before he succumbed to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Technically, Tunnel of Love wasn't the follow-up to Born in the USA, however. In between, the Boss released the massive five-record (or three-CD) set Live/1975-85, which stayed at #1 for seven weeks, the same as Born in the USA. As far as sales go, Tunnel of Love sold three million in the United States, whereas Born in the USA sold 17 million in the United States and 30 million worldwide.
773. All-Time Hits - The Cowsills
The real-life rock-and-roll family who inspired television's Partridge Family, The Cowsills didn't have the catchiest name, but they had some pretty catchy songs, most notably "The Rain, The Park & Other Things" (#1 Cash Box, #2 Record World, #2 Billboard) in 1967 and "Hair" (#1 Cash Box, #1 Record World, #2 Billboard) in 1969. The 1970 compilation All-Time Hits contained both of those, plus the irresistible "Indian Lake" (#6 Cash Box, #6 Record World, #10 Billboard) and their other Top 40 hit, "We Can Fly" (#17 Cash Box, #19 Record World, #21 Billboard). It also included the semi-hit singles "Poor Baby" (#33 Cash Box, #45 Record World, #44 Billboard) and "In Need of a Friend" (#50 Cash Box, #45 Record World, #54 Billboard). All that plus the theme song from Love, American Style, a television show that was part of my all-time favorite line-up as a kid, ABC Friday nights 1971-72 and 1972-73: The Brady Bunch (8 p.m.), The Partridge Family (8:30 p.m.), Room 222 (9 p.m.), The Odd Couple (9:30 p.m.), and Love, American Style (10 p.m.). You may have noticed the irony that The Cowsills did the theme song for a show that appeared the same night as the show they inspired. Both of those programs were also part of ABC's Friday line-up for the 1970-71 season. Actually, The Cowsills' version was only used for the 1969-70 season, but subsequent seasons used The Ron Hicklin Singers, who were also the singing voices behind The Partridge Family (aside from David Cassidy and Shirley Jones), so at least they kept it all in the family, even though All in the Family was running on CBS on Saturday nights in 1971-72 and 1972-73. My college roommate Tom Dellaquila and I both liked The Cowsills (and The Partridge Family), but the biggest Cowsills fan I ever knew was my old college radio partner/mentor, Brian Wolfe. I remember him playing their songs on our show numerous times. He also introduced me to their most unusual single, "The Prophecy of Daniel and John The Divine (Six-Six-Six)," which was a bigger hit than you'd expect (#56 Cash Box, #55 Record World, #75 Billboard). I picked up it up on 45 at a flea market in 1986. It's not on All-Time Hits ... maybe they were saving it for End-Times Hits.
774. Greatest Hits - The Jackson 5
The Jackson 5 had their first chart hit shortly after I started kindergarten. By the time I finished first grade they had amassed four #1 hits ("I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There") and two #2 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 ("Mama's Pearl" and "Never Can Say Goodbye"). As a matter of fact, all six of those songs hit #1 on the Cash Box chart. Furthermore, the flip side of "The Love You Save," a song called "I Found That Girl," was also counted as a double-sided #1. All seven of those songs are on Greatest Hits, which was released in December 1971 and went to #12. That album also includes the Jackson 5's next two singles, "Maybe Tomorrow" (#20) and "Sugar Daddy" (#10). I bought a used cassette copy of it many years later, but back in the day I owned second-hand 45's of "I'll Be There" and "ABC," and I equally enjoyed their flip sides, "One More Chance" and "The Young Folks." I also had a used 45 of their first hit after Greatest Hits, "Little Bitty Pretty One" (#13). The Jackson 5 had a Saturday morning TV show (on ABC, of course) when I was in second grade, and I was a faithful viewer. After all, we Jacksons had to stick together! My family also had the sheet music for two of Michael's solo hits from '72, "Rockin' Robin" (#2 Billboard, #1 Cash Box) and "Ben" (#1), so I knew all the words at an early age. The Jackson 5 cooled off a little after their initial success, but they did have four more Top 10 hits over the years, and I liked them all: "Dancing Machine" (#2 Billboard, #1 Cash Box), "Enjoy Yourself" (#6), Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) (#7), and "State of Shock" with Mick Jagger (#3). That last one took a little time to grow on me, though. Speaking of growing, when my wife, Lisa, and I had three kids, people started referring to our family as the Jackson 5. Then we had our fourth child, and they stopped. Three years later, we had our fifth child, and they started calling our kids The Jackson 5.
775. The Osmonds Greatest Hits - The Osmonds
Released in late 1977, The Osmonds Greatest Hits only went to #192 on the chart, but it has almost everything you could ever (or never, depending on your inclination) want from the first family of fresh-facedness. They're all present and accounted for on this double album: Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie, and little Jimmy. But even with two discs and 22 songs, there was still no way to fit all the hits, although most of the biggest ones made the cut. By the time this album came out The Osmonds had 10 Top 40 hits as a quintet, including the Top 15 hits "One Bad Apple" (#1 for five weeks), "Yo-Yo" (#3), "Down by the Lazy River" (#4), "Love Me for a Reason" (#10), "Double Lovin'" (#14), "Hold Her Tight" (#14), and "Crazy Horses" (#14). Meanwhile, by 1977, Donny had a dozen Top 40 hits as a solo artist, including the Top 15 hits "Go Away Little Girl" (#1 for three weeks), "Puppy Love" (#3), "Sweet and Innocent" (#7), "The Twelfth of Never" (#8), "Hey Girl/I Knew You When" (#9), "Too Young/Why" (#13), and "Are You Lonesome Tonight" (#14). Donny and Marie had five Top 40 hits as a duo by '77 (with a sixth to come in late '78), including the Top 15 hits "I'm Leaving It (All) Up to You" (#4), "Morning Side of the Mountain" (#8), and "Deep Purple" (#14). Marie had three Top 40 pop hits, including the Top 15 hit "Paper Roses" (#5 pop, #1 country). Little Jimmy had only one Top 40 hit, "Long Haired Lover from Liverpool" (#38) but it topped the U.K. charts for five weeks! In fact, among the aforementioned singles, "Love Me for a Reason," "Puppy Love," "The Twelfth of Never," and "Young Love" also were U.K. #1 hits. Years after this collection came out, Donny would have three more Top 40 hits from 1989-90, including the Top 15 hits "Soldier of Love" (#2) and "Sacred Emotion" (#13. Meanwhile, Marie would have three more #1 country hits from 1985-86: "Meet Me in Montana" (with Dan Seals), "There's No Stopping Your Heart," and "You're Still New to Me" (with Paul Davis). Growing up, I didn't watch The Donny & Marie Show if I could avoid it (it ran from 1976-79, and I was already 11 by the time it debuted), but I did watch The Osmonds cartoon on ABC Saturday mornings in '72; it came on right after the Jackson 5's cartoon, The Jackson 5ive, which had debuted the year before. My sisters had "Go Away Little Girl" on 45, although I preferred the flip side, "The Wild Rover (Time to Ride)." I think my old college radio partner Brian Wolfe had The Osmonds Greatest Hits. I remember he liked their eco-friendly, hard-rock hit "Crazy Horses," the only one to feature lead vocals by the band's drummer, Jay Osmond. Donny has said that Ozzy Osborne told him "Crazy Horses" was one of his favorite rock and roll songs. My favorite Osmond hits were "One Bad Apple," "Yo-Yo," and "Down by The Lazy River." My kids liked "Puppy Love," but they didn't believe it when I told them it was a guy singing, not a girl. Sorry, Donny.
776. December's Children (And Everybody's) - The Rolling Stones
This was yet another relic from my brother-in-law Dan's vinyl endowment to me in January 1983. December's Children (And Everybody's) wasn't the first Rolling Stones album I owned, but it was the oldest, originally hitting American shores and stores in December (of course) 1965. The 12 tracks included two Top 10 singles, the recently released "Get Off My Cloud" (#1 U.S., #1 U.K.) and their brand-new version of "As Tears Go By" (#6 U.S.), a song Marianne Faithfull had already enjoyed success with in 1964-65 (#9 U.K. #22 U.S.). Incidentally, future Led Zeppelin star Jimmy Page played 12-string acoustic guitar on Faithfull's version. The remainder of December's Children is a hodge-podge of songs that were already available in the U.K., with the exception of "Look What You've Done" and "Blue Turns to Grey." Of the other tracks, the most interesting to me is "I'm Free," a song The Soup Dragons covered (and greatly improved upon) in 1990 and took to #2 on the modern-rock chart (while reaching #79 on the pop chart). The second-most interesting is a live cover version of Nat King Cole's 1946 hit "Route 66." And did you know that the Stones recorded a song written by Sonny Bono of Sonny & Cher? It's true. That tune, "She Said Yeah," actually kicks off the album and ain't half bad ... but even if it were, it only lasts for about a minute and a half. December's Children was the band's fifth U.S. studio LP and made it to #4 on the Billboard album chart, selling half a million copies. ApologetiX has never spoofed any songs on it, but I used to play a variation of the old "king of the mountain" game with my two youngest kids in which they would try to usurp me from my position on our living room couch and I would evict them while singing, "Hey! You! Get off of my couch!"
777. Songs in the Attic - Billy Joel
Released in September 1981, Billy Joel's first live album, Songs in the Attic, went to #8 and sold three million copies in the United States. I had his three previous albums at the time (The Stranger, 52nd Street, and Glass Houses), but not this one. However, my friend Dave Rhodes did. The 11 tracks were recorded at eight venues in eight different U.S. cities in June and July 1980. Rather than performing established hits, Joel focused on songs from his first four albums (Cold Spring Harbor, Piano Man, Streetlife Serenade, and Turnstiles) that had never hit the Hot 100. Two of the new live versions became successful singles: "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" (#17 pop, #11 rock), originally on Turnstiles (1976), and "She's Got a Way" (#23 pop, #4 adult contemporary), originally on Cold Spring Harbor (1971). Dave got a copy of Cold Spring Harbor in 1984 and played it for me on a trip we took to Washington D.C. I remember thinking that Billy's voice sounded a bit sped up — borderline Chipmunky — and I later found out Joel agreed. The unfortunate effect had been created by a mastering error, which caused the songs to play faster than intended. ApologetiX spoofed "She's Got a Way" in 2021 (at proper speed). I was very pleased with the results, although my favorite of the two hits from Songs in the Attic was actually "Say Goodbye to Hollywood."
778. Bad to the Bone - George Thorogood and the Destroyers
George Thorogood's fifth album, Bad to the Bone, was released in August 1982, but I didn't hear it till the fall of '83, during my sophomore year in college. One of the three guys I shared an apartment with, Kevin "Kebo" Johnson, brought it from home. The title track is a classic, but I didn't truly appreciate it until December '83, when I saw it used to great effect in the opening scene of the horror film Christine, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. In fact, I thought it was the best part of the whole movie. Ironically, "Bad to the Bone" was not the charting single off the Bad to the Bone album. That would be "Nobody But Me" (#106 pop, #32 rock), a cover of the Isley Brothers song that The Human Beinz took to #8 in 1968. I love the Human Beinz version and bought a used copy of that 45 when I was in college. The only George Thorogood 45 I ever owned was "I Drink Alone" (#13 rock) from '85. I never was much of a drinker; I just thought the lyrics were clever at the time. The same goes for his 1977 cover of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"; the talking blues part of that song. which didn't have anything to do with alcohol, amused me. Other Thorogood songs I enjoyed were his '77 cover of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" and his '78 cover of Hank Williams' "Move It on Over." I heard all of the aforementioned songs on our local rock station, but Billboard didn't start releasing a rock chart until '81. Once it did, Thorogood had four Top 10 rock hits: "Get a Haircut (#2 rock, #125 pop), "Born to Be Bad" (#3 rock), "You Talk Too Much" (#4 rock), and "If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)" (#5 rock). ApologetiX spoofed "Bad to the Bone" in 2016, although I'd sung the original in my last secular band, Nice Piranha, almost 30 years earlier. The last place I ever sang it was in a bar called the Last Chance Saloon, which is probably appropriate when you consider the titles of some of those songs I mentioned.
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.