Influential Albums: 800-806
Fri., Jul. 22. 2022 4:37pm 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.
800. Under a Blood Red Sky – U2
This eight-song live album came out in late November 1983, while I was a sophomore in college, and I remember seeing a video or two from it at the time, but I didn't really listen to it till after college. Tom Dellaquila owned the cassette, and I borrowed it. I gravitated toward the tunes I didn't already know, "Gloria," "11 O'Clock Tick Tock," "Party Girl," and "The Electric Co." Under a Blood Red Sky reached #2 on the U.K. album chart, where it sold almost a million copies, and #28 in the United States, where it sold three million. The album title comes from a line in the penultimate track, "New Year's Day" (#53 U.S., #10 U.K.), the studio version of which first appeared on U2's previous album, War. One song was released as a single in the United States, "I Will Follow" (originally from the band's debut album, Boy) and it went to #81.
801. The Distance - Bob Seger
Bob Seger followed up his 1980 chart-topping Against the Wind LP with his second live album, Nine Tonight (#3), in '81. His next studio project, The Distance, came out in late December '82. It didn't quite go the distance to #1 on the Billboard 200 (peaking at #5), but it did contain his biggest hit to date at the time, "Shame On the Moon" (#2 pop for four weeks, #1 adult contemporary for two weeks, #15 country). The album contained two additional Top 40 hits, "Even Now" (#12 pop, #2 rock) and "Roll Me Away" (#27 pop, #13 rock). I especially liked "Shame On the Moon" and "Roll Me Away." A couple other cuts that weren't released as singles made the rock chart: "Boomtown Blues (#11 rock) and "House Behind a House" (#29 rock). Seger's pal Glenn Frey of The Eagles sang backing vocals on both "Boomtown Blues" and "Shame On the Moon." That makes at least four #2 hits Frey sang on, when you add in "Lyin' Eyes," "The Heat Is On," and "You Belong to the City." The Distance sold a million copies, including some on 8-track. By the end of '82, Capitol Records wasn't making their new albums available in that format, but Seger specifically requested they do it for The Distance, because he knew many of his old-time rock-and-roll fans were still using 8-track players.
802. Freedom at Point Zero - Jefferson Starship
My brother-in-law Bob had this record, and I thought it had one of the coolest covers ever. Released in November 1979, Freedom at Point Zero was Jefferson Starship's fifth LP (not counting the "best of" collection, Gold) and their first with new lead singer Mickey Thomas, who had sung with The Elvin Bishop Group from 1974-76, most notably on the hit single "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" (#3). When he joined Jefferson Starship, Thomas replaced departing singers Marty Balin and Grace Slick. Another new crew member boarding the Starship on this album was Aynsely Dunbar, who had played on Journey's first four albums from 1975-78 and would also appear on the next two Starship albums, Modern Times (1981) and Winds of Change (1982). I couldn't afford the Freedom at Point Zero LP, but I bought the lead single, "Jane" (#14 Billboard, #6 Cash Box), on 45. The flip side was "Freedom at Point Zero." Both of those tunes got plenty of turntable time in my basement. Each has an awesome intro — a keyboard/guitar combo for "Jane" and drums for "Freedom at Point Zero." A second single, "Girl with the Hungry Eyes," hit the lower regions of the Hot 100 (#55 Billboard, #70 Cash Box). Although it didn't hit the Billboard chart, "Rock Music" was a popular track, too. I also enjoyed Marty Balin's first solo hit, "Hearts" (#8), which came out in May '81. Freedom at Point Zero hit #10 on the Billboard album chart and sold half a million copies. ApologetiX spoofed "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" in 2015 and "Jane" in 2019.
803. The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Music from the Original Soundtrack
I bought a used copy of this record in college for one reason: "The Time Warp." I was always looking for fun tunes for party tapes, and I'm sure I heard that song at somebody else's party first. There were plenty of other catchy numbers ... some of which have long since lost their luster for me, but two tunes worth mentioning here are the Bowie-esque "Science Fiction/Double Feature" by Richard O'Brien and "Hot Patootie/Bless My Soul" by Meat Loaf. Both O'Brien and Meat Loaf acted in the movie along with Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick. Of course, the latter three also have prominent vocals on the soundtrack. One of my old high-school friends and I went to a local showing of the film while we were home on college break. I was really looking forward to it at the time, and he had all the prerequisite props for participation in the spectacle, but I didn't think it really lived up to the hype. Nevertheless, the hype sure helped with the soundtrack's success. Although it didn't do much upon its initial release in 1975, the album eventually reached #49 on the Billboard 200 in 1978 and sold half a million copies. ApologetiX has never spoofed anything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but my wife did challenge me to spoof a particular song from the movie when we were courting. I only did the title, but is was autobiographical and quite accurate: "I'm Just a Saved Transgressor from Transgressional Pennsylvania."
804. Genesis - Genesis
In October 1983, the British prog-rock group Genesis released their eponymous 12th studio LP. It spun off four singles, but only one hit the U.S. Top 40. Yes, "That's All," folks. However, seven of the nine tracks hit the rock chart: "That's All" (#2 rock, #6 pop), "Mama" (#5 rock, #73 pop), "Just a Job to Do" (#10 rock), "It's Gonna Get Better" (#16 rock), "Illegal Alien" (#21 rock, #44 pop), "Home by the Sea" (#24 rock), and "Taking It All Too Hard" (#41 rock, #50 pop). Two of those tunes also hit the adult contemporary chart, "That's All" (#7 AC) and "Taking It All Too Hard" (#11 AC). Consequently, the Genesis album sold over five million copies worldwide, including four million in the United States alone, where it reached #9 on the Billboard 200. It went the whole way to #1 on the U.K. album chart but only generated two Top 40 singles there — "Mama" (#4) and "That's All" (#16) — although "Illegal Alien" went to #46. One of my housemates junior year in college was a guy named Jorge from Venezuela, and I can still hear him saying, "Genesis ... 'Illegal Alien' ... oh, I hate that song." ApologetiX spoofed "That's All" in 2018, but my favorite track from the album was actually "Home by the Sea." And if you thought the music was good, check out the cover photo; it's Perfection. Literally.
805. High Voltage - AC/DC
Before the release of the song "Highway to Hell," AC/DC was just one of those bands I would come across while leafing through the albums at local record stores. I specifically remember seeing Let There Be Rock (1977) and Powerage (1978), but the early AC/DC album that proved the most influential for me was High Voltage (1976), because ApologetiX ended up spoofing the first track on each side, "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" and "T.N.T." I had a long history with the latter. As I've stated elsewhere, the first time I ever sang rock and roll live was with my first rock band, Terminal, at a high-school event during my senior year. One of the other bands that night had trouble with their lead singer's voice and asked if I could sing "T.N.T." with them. I was flattered but politely declined the invitation, because I didn't want to offend the guys in Terminal, plus I wasn't that familiar with "T.N.T." anyway. By the time I got done writing and singing our parody of "T.N.T." 35 years later, I knew that song far better than I ever wanted to. Although High Voltage was technically AC/DC's third LP, it was their first one to be released internationally and contained tracks from their first two albums, the similarly titled, Australia-only High Voltage (1975) and T.N.T. (1975). Even the repackaged '76 version of High Voltage didn't hit the Billboard 200 until 1981. It only made it to #146 but went on to sell three million copies in the United States. Of course, as I learned in eighth-grade electronics class, it's not just about the volts ... it's also about the amps. I'm sure Angus Young could attest to that.
806. The Secret of Association - Paul Young
Released in March 1985, The Secret of Association was Paul Young's second studio LP, topping the U.K. album chart but only going to #19 on the U.S. chart. However, one of its singles, "Everytime You Go Away," did hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. I was already familiar with the song, because it was a remake of a Daryl Hall and John Oates tune from their 1980 album Voices, which had been a part my cassette collection since '81. I collected #1 hits and bought the 45 of Young's version, too, but I was actually a bigger fan of The Secret of Association's second single, "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" (#13 U.S., #9 U.K.). A third single, "Everything Must Change," missed the Top 40 in the States (#56), but hit the U.K. Top 10 (#9). A fourth track, "Tomb of Memories," was a #16 hit across the pond but was not released as a single here. The Secret of Association sold over half a million copies on each side of the Atlantic. Some of my college roommates during sophomore year liked Young's first U.S. Top 40 hit, "Come Back and Stay" (#22), in '84. He went on to have two more U.S. Top 40 hits, both in the '90s: "Oh Girl" (#8 in '90) and "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" (#22 in '92). Those last two both also topped the U.S. adult contemporary chart, as did "Everytime You Go Away." All five of his U.S. Top 40 hits were cover versions, but with a voice like that, nobody minded. Young's version of "Everytime" also played a prominent role in one of my favorite movies, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and John Candy, which I first saw in the theater in late '87 but have watched a number of times and quoted countless times since.
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.