Influential Albums: 807-813
Fri., Jul. 29. 2022 2:09pm 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.
807. Street Talk - Steve Perry
Believe it or not, Journey lead singer Steve Perry's first solo album produced as many Top 40 hits as each of Journey's two biggest albums, Escape and Frontiers. Released in April 1984, Street Talk reached #12 on the Billboard 200 sold two million copies. The aforementioned hits were: "Oh Sherrie" (#3 pop, 1 rock), "She's Mine" (#21 pop, #15 rock), "Strung Out" (#40 pop, #17 rock), and "Foolish Heart" (#18 pop, #2 adult contemporary). A fifth song, "I Believe," reached #43 on the rock chart although it was not released as a single. But Perry's first Top 40 entry out from under the Journey umbrella had actually occurred almost two years earlier. The 1982 single "Don't Fight It" (#17 pop, #4 rock) was credited to "Kenny Loggins with Steve Perry." That's yet another song I remember from our dorm freshman year at IUP.
808. Keep the Fire - Kenny Loggins
I've liked a lot of Kenny Loggins songs in my lifetime, and I've owned a number of his singles, but this was the one album of his that I wanted to buy. Released in October 1979, Keep the Fire was Kenny's third studio LP. It went to #16 and sold a million copies. The first single, "This Is It," won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. I don't know if that was just for Kenny's vocals or also for Doobie Brother Michael McDonald's prominent backing vocals, too. "This Is It" did decently on the charts (#8 Cash Box, #11 Billboard), but I would have thought it was even more popular, considering how many times our local radio station played it. However, the reason I wanted Keep the Fire was the second single, the title track, which barely scraped into the Top 40 (#36 Billboard, #42 Cash Box). I just thought the vocoder in the intro section sounded so cool. My favorite Kenny Loggins song is actually the first single he put out after this album, "I'm Alright" (#7), from the movie Caddyshack. My neighborhood friend Dave Rhodes had that single. As a collector of #1 and #2 records, I later owned "Footloose" (#1 in 1984) and "Danger Zone" (#2 in 1986). In between those two, I also bought and enjoyed one of his forgotten 45's, "Vox Humana" (#29 in 1985), another tune with a very cool intro. All told, Loggins had 14 Top 40 hits in his solo career, plus three previously as a part of Loggins & Messina. I first became aware of him through an older neighborhood kid named John, whose two favorite artists were Kenny Loggins and Kenny Rogers ... yes, Kenny aplenty. The first Loggins song I was consciously aware of was his hit duet with Stevie Nicks, "Whenever I Call You 'Friend'" (#5 Billboard, #1 Radio & Records) in 1978. ApologetiX has spoofed "Footloose," "Danger Zone," and "Your Mama Don't Dance" (#4).
809. Anne Murray's Greatest Hits - Anne Murray
We didn't have any Anne Murray albums in my house growing up, but we did have some of her singles on 45 — "Danny's Song" (#7 pop, #1 adult contemporary, #10 country) and "Send a Little Love My Way" (#72 pop, #10 AC, #79 country). The former was a particular favorite of my sister Gayle, who sang and played acoustic guitar, but my sister Kris liked it, too. Consequently, I knew all of the words at a young age. I don't remember us owning the single for "Love Song" (#12 pop, #1 AC, #5 country), but I heard that one a bit as a kid, too. I also remember Gayle liking the song "You Needed Me" (#1 pop, #3 AC, #4 country) when she was in college and I was a freshman in high school, although I didn't grow to appreciate the powerful lyrics until later in life. As a Monkees fan, I was also pleased when Murray covered their #1 hit "Daydream Believer" in 1979. Her version only went to #12 on the pop chart, but it did hit #1 on the AC chart and #3 on the country chart. Those are all great tunes, and I'm also a big fan of her first hit, "Snowbird" (#8 pop, #1 AC, #10 country) from 1970. Aside from "Send a Little Love My Way," each of the aforementioned songs was included on Anne Murray's Greatest Hits, which came out in October 1980. The other five tracks on that collection were all hits as well: the Beatles cover "You Won't See Me" (#8 pop, #1 AC), "I Just Fall in Love Again" (#12 pop, #1 AC, #1 country), "Shadows in the Moonlight" (#25 pop, #1 AC, #1 country), "Broken Hearted Me" (#12 pop, #1 AC, #1 country), and "Could I Have This Dance" (#33 pop, #3 AC, #1 country). That last one was recorded especially for Greatest Hits, although it first appeared on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack four months earlier. ApologetiX has never covered Anne Murray, but we did spoof The Monkees' version of "Daydream Believer" in 2021.
810. Foghat Live - Foghat
Released in August 1977, Foghat Live was the British band's seventh LP and their biggest seller. It reached #11 on the Billboard album chart and sold two million copies in the United States alone. I'll bet a lot of them were on 8-track tape. I have no empirical data on that ... just a hunch. Foghat Live only had six tracks, but it featured three of their best known songs: "Slow Ride" (the studio version went to #20 in '76), "Fool for the City" (the studio version went to #45 in '76), and "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (the live version from this record went to #33 in '77). The studio version of that last tune (written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Muddy Waters) was the first Foghat I ever remember hearing on the radio, and I thought it was abrasive, obnoxious, and a little bit scary at the time. Shortly thereafter, I remember my Grandma Jackson complaining about how some rock and roll music was too noisy and rude. I agreed, and "I Just Want to Make Love to You" was the song that came to my mind. Of course, like many other things having to do with rock, it grew on me big-time. When I was in eighth grade in the spring of '78, a classmate named Roy Clemmons let me borrow his homemade cassette of The Beatles 1962-1966, and the rest of the tape had Foghat on it. Back then, I figured their name surely must have had something to do with drugs, but it's actually a made-up word that came out of a Scrabble-like game played by the band's original lead singer/rhythm guitarist and his brother. ApologetiX has never officially covered Foghat, but we used to occasionally spoof a portion of "Slow Ride" in concert at the end of our parody of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky." My favorite Foghat song is probably "Fool for the City." The group had two other Top 40 hits after Foghat Live, "Stone Blue" (#36) and "Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)" (#23).
811. Zoo's Next - WMMR 93.3 FM's The Morning Zoo (Various Artists)
My college cohort Allison Faulk grew up in Philadelphia and let me borrow a collection of comedy bits from WMMR 93.3 FM's The Morning Zoo. They released two albums I know of, Abbey Dirt Road (1985) and Zoo's Next (1986). The photo I posted is of the former; the cassette Allison let me borrow was the latter. There were 20 tracks, but my favorite bits were "Happy Boy" by The Beat Farmers, "A Day in the Life of Phil Collins" (Chip Horaneck), "You're Still Not Safe in a Japanese Car" (Jumpin' John Goldsmith), "Walk on the Mild Side" (Big Daddy Graham), "A Cowboy Needs a Horse" (The Rhino Brothers), and "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard" (Blotto). Many of those songs may have also made their way onto The Dr. Demento Show, but I heard 'em here first, folks (with the exception of "Happy Boy," which our local rock station in Pittsburgh also played). It was 1987, and I haven't heard most of them in 35 years, but they stick with me to this day. If you're old enough to remember all the musical multitasking Phil Collins did in the mid-80's, I highly recommend you check out "A Day in the Life of Phil Collins." I found it for you on YouTube: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=750661009221354
812. Look What the Cat Dragged In - Poison
Although they first found fame on West Hollywood's Sunset Strip, glam-metal rockers Poison got their start in my home state of Pennsylvania, albeit about 170 miles east of where I grew up. Their debut LP, Look What the Cat Dragged In, came out in May 1986. I didn't hear about it till the spring of '87, when the rhythm guitarist for the band I was in commented on the cover art and started raving about the song "Talk Dirty to Me," then currently climbing the pop charts. That was actually the second single the feline fetched. The first, "Cry Tough," didn't do anything in America, although it reached #97 on the U.K. chart. "Talk Dirty to Me," however, hit #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of the last "new" songs I ever performed in a secular band. The third single, "I Want Action," wasn't as active (#50), but the fourth, "I Won't Forget You," proved more memorable (#13). The hits would get even bigger on the band's next two albums. Look What the Cat Dragged In reached #3 on the Billboard 200 and sold three million copies. ApologetiX spoofed "Talk Dirty to Me" in 2017. Tom Tincha, who played lead guitar on our parody, was born in the same town (Butler PA) and the same year (look it up on Wiki) as Poison lead singer/rhythm guitarist Bret Michaels. But my old college friend Lori Callaway could top that. She's from Mechanicsburg, where Poison first coagulated, and Bret grew up in her neighborhood. Not only that, the band's drummer, Ricky Rocket, used to cut her best friend's hair!
813. Black Sea - XTC
Shirley, Keith, Laurie, Danny, Chris, and Tracy aren't the only Partridges on this list. Andy Partridge and his band, XTC, released their fourth studio LP, Black Sea, in September 1980. My friend Michael Ranieri owned that record and put a number of songs from it on mix tapes for me, including "Generals and Majors" (#104 U.S. pop, #28 U.S. rock, #32 U.K.), Respectable Street," and "Living Through Another Cuba." I loved the first two, but the third one didn't do as much for me. Black Sea yielded two more U.K. Top 40 singles, "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" (#16 U.K.) and "Towers of London" (#31 U.K.). Although XTC had five U.K. Top 40 hits, only one of their singles hit the U.S. Hot 100 — the irresistible "Mayor of Simpleton" (#72 pop), which also hit #1 on the U.S. modern rock chart and #15 on the U.S. mainstream rock chart. Even my youngest kids like that one. Three years later, XTC topped the U.S. modern rock chart again with "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead," which also went to #46 on the U.S. mainstream rock chart. The Black Sea album rose to #41 on the Billboard 200, making it the group's highest-charting LP in the States. XTC's biggest U.K. hit single was "Senses Working Overtime" (#10 U.K.), which hit #38 on the U.S. mainstream rock chart. ApologetiX spoofed "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" in 2019.
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.