Influential Albums: 891-897
Fri., Oct. 21. 2022 1:58pm 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.
891. Joe Cocker's Greatest Hits - Joe Cocker
British blues belter Joe Cocker first hit the big time in 1968 thanks to his cover of The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" (#68 U.S., #1 U.K.) and only got bigger with his appearance at Woodstock in '69 and his Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour in '70-71. Released in 1977, Joe Cocker's Greatest Hits featured that and six of his Top 40 hits: "You Are So Beautiful" (#5 U.S.), "The Letter" (#7 U.S., #39 U.K.), "Cry Me a River" (#11 U.S.), "High Time We Went/Black-Eyed Blues" (#22 U.S. as a double-sided single), "Feeling Alright" (#33 U.S.). It also included the Top 10 U.K. hit "Delta Lady" (#69 U.S., #10 U.K.) and "Woman to Woman" (#56 U.S.) later prominently sampled in the 1996 hit "California Love" by 2Pac (with Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman). There's also a non-charting (but great) cover version of one of my favorite Lovin' Spoonful songs, "Darlin' Be Home Soon." Cocker had four other Top 40 hits not accounted for here: "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" (#30 U.S.), "Midnight Rider" (#27 U.S.), "Up Where We Belong" (#1 U.S., #7 U.K.), and "When the Night Comes" (#11 U.S. pop, #6 U.S. rock, #65 U.K.). The first two had already been around for many years by the time Greatest Hits came out, but the last two weren't released until in 1982 and 1989, respectively. I owned the 45's of "High Time We Went" and "Up Where We Belong" back in the day, but my favorite Cocker song is "Feeling Alight," although "When the Night Comes" is a pretty incredible tune, too. He also had some other big hits on the rock charts in the late '80s and early '90s "Shelter Me" (#11 rock, #91 pop), "Unchain My Heart" (#11 rock), "Two Wrongs" (#11 rock), and "Love Is Alive" (#7 rock). ApologetiX has never covered Cocker, but we have spoofed three songs Cocker famously covered: "With a Little Help from My Friends," "The Letter," and "Love Is Alive."
892. Super Hits - The Box Tops
In a 24-month span from July 1967 through June 1969, Memphis blue-eyed-soul group The Box Tops cranked out seven Top 40 hits: "The Letter" (#1), "Cry Like a Baby" (#2), "Soul Deep" (#18), "Neon Rainbow" (#24), "Choo Choo Train" (#26), "Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March" (#29), and "I Met Her in Church" (#37). Released in 1970, Super Hits had all of 'em, plus "Turn on a Dream" (#58), "I Shall Be Released" (#67), and three others. The only Hot 100 hit missing was their final chart entry, "You Keep Tightening Up on Me" (#92). I briefly sang the group's final Top 40 hit, "Soul Deep," in a band called Bebaru in 1986, and ApologetiX spoofed their first hit, "The Letter," in 2015. Box Tops lead singer Alex Chilton was only 16 years old when he recorded "The Letter," but he sounded about three times older on those songs. He formed his next group, Big Star, in 1971. Ironically, he sounded much younger on their recordings. Big Star never had a Hot 100 hit, but they were a huge influence on later artists, most notably REM and The Replacements. Two Big Star songs, "September Gurls" and "Thirteen," were voted to Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Meanwhile, three of their albums were named to that publication's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time." I also like these other Big Star tracks: "I'm in Love with a Girl," "The Ballad of El Goodo," "Thank You Friends," and "Kanga Roo."
893. Watts in a Tank - Diesel
Dutch studio group Diesel only had one U.S. hit, but the world wouldn't be the same without it ... "Sausalito Summer Night" (#25 U.S. pop, #27 U.S. rock, #1 Canada pop) ... five full minutes of fun from Rob Vunderink, Mark Boon, Frank Papendrecht, and Pim Koopman. It's got an irresistible hook, an engaging storyline, easy-to-follow harmonies, and many musical twists and turns, all polished to perfection. I loved that song when it was on the radio and was delighted to discover the album it came from in my friend Dave Anthony's collection freshman year in college. Watts in a Tank was Diesel's debut LP, released in the Netherlands in 1980, although it didn't make it to the United States until '81. When keyboardist Bill Hubauer first hooked up with ApologetiX, he and I bonded over "Sausalito Summer Night," and I eventually bought him his own vinyl copy of Watts in a Tank for Christmas in 2018. Diesel never had a U.S. Hot 100 hit again, but the album did produce three other singles: "Goin' Back to China" (#105 U.S., #34 Netherlands), "Down in the Silvermine" (#16 Netherlands), and "Alibi." Of the 11 tracks on Watts in a Tank, "Down in the Silvermine" is the one that's most in the vein of "Sausalito Summer Night," but there are some other catchy tracks, like "My Kind of Woman," "Good Mornin', Day," "Ready for Love," and "Remember the Romans." Some people think "Sausalito Summer Night" sounds like Steve Miller. If I had to pick another artist the overall album reminds me of, it would be The Outfield, which I consider quite a compliment. Watts in a Tank only made it to #68 on the Billboard 200, but it reached #19 in Canada. Unfortunately, the 1982 follow-up album, Unleaded, stalled out of the starting gate, despite such intriguingly titled tracks as "Safety-Belt Romance" and "Leader of the Pac-Man."
894. A Collection of Great Dance Songs - Pink Floyd
I know ... who buys a Pink Floyd album for the "hits"? The group only had two Top 40 singles anyway, and one of them, "Money" (#13), isn't even here in its original form ... it's a rerecorded version with David Gilmour on not just vocals and guitars but also keyboards and bass. Floyd's other big hit, the chart-topping "Another Brick in the Wall (Pt. II)," is present in its original form with just five seconds shaved off, so it's still over 40 seconds longer than the single version was. The other tracks on A Collection of Great Dance Songs were: "Wish You Were Here," "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," "Sheep," and "One of These Days." Released for the Christmas market in late November 1981, it went to #31 and eventually sold two million copies, and I eventually bought one of them on cassette. ApologetiX spoofed "Another Brick in the Wall (Pt. II)" in 1992 and '99 and "Wish You Were Here" in 2010.
895. Andy Gibb's Greatest Hits - Andy Gibb
The first person I knew who liked Andy Gibb was my youngest older sister, Gayle. As was the case with most boys my age back then, I didn't sit around listening to his records, but I heard them all the time, because he was all over the radio, and now they can instantly take me back to 1977-79 ... should I ever wish to travel there. The Bee Gees' baby brother came out of the gate swinging, with three monster #1 singles: "I Just Want to Be Your Everything," "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water," and "Shadow Dancing." His next three releases all hit the Top 10, too: "An Everlasting Love" (#5), "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Way" (#9), and "Desire" (#4). Released in 1980, Andy Gibb's Greatest Hits had every one of his solo hits, including the ones I mentioned above and two new songs, "Time Is Time" (#15) and "Me (Without You)" (#40). In spite of all that, the album itself only went to #46 and didn't even go gold, as Andy's time on the charts was about over. His only Hot 100 singles not included on this compilation were his duets with Olivia Newton-John ("I Can't Help It," #12) and Victoria Principal ("All I Have to Do Is Dream," #51). The former came out six months before Greatest Hits, and the latter came out the following year.
896. Foot Loose and Fancy Free - Rod Stewart
I first heard and taped the song "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" (#4) on a year-end countdown in December 1977. I remember replaying it later and calling out to my sister Gayle in the next room and asking her who sang it. "Rod Stewart," she hollered back. Since I was unfamiliar with the artist and his name, I somehow subconsciously thought she was referring to Rod Serling, the host of The Twilight Zone. An ode to soccer disguised as a ballad, "You're in My Heart" was the first single from Rod's eighth LP, Foot Loose and Fancy Free, released in November '77. Two subsequent singles from the album also hit the Top 30 and became Stewart classics: "Hot Legs" (#28) and "I Was Only Joking" (#22). Foot Lose and Fancy Free made it to #2 on the Billboard 200, kept out of the top slot by those pesky Bee Gees and their ubiquitous Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. In a classic case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," the first single on Stewart's next album, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" was a disco tune that knocked The Bee Gees' "Too Much Heaven" out of #1. Ironically, although the accompanying Stewart album Blondes Have More Fun did make it to #1, it was in turn knocked out of the top spot by The Bee Gees' next LP, Spirits Having Flown.
897. 2 Hot! - Peaches & Herb
Peaches and Herb (Francine "Peaches" Barker and Herb Fame) had five Top 40 hits from 1967-68: Close Your Eyes" (#8 pop, #4 R&B), "For Your Love" (#20 pop, #10 R&B), "Two Little Kids" (#31 pop, #25 R&B), "Let's Fall in Love" (#21 pop, #11 R&B), and "Love Is Strange" (#13 pop, #16 R&B). They had six more Hot 100 hits between '68 and '71, but none got any higher than #46, although the one that reached #46, "United," made it to #11 on the R&B chart. A decade later, the duo was back and bigger than ever in a discofied incarnation ... but with a new Peaches, Linda Green, who'd hooked up with Herb in 1977. Released in late '78, their second album together, 2 Hot!, went to #2 for six weeks on the Billboard album chart and generated a couple massive hits: "Shake Your Groove Thing" (#5 pop, #4 R&B) and "Reunited" (#1 pop, #1 R&B), which harkened back to the aforementioned hit "United." A third single, "We've Got Love," did just OK (#44 pop, #25 R&B). Today "Shake Your Groove Thing" and "Reunited" bring back fond memories of '79 for me. Even though I wasn't a big disco fan at the time, my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates were, and they won the World Series that year. In retrospect, I find "Shake Your Groove Thing" to be fiercely funky, and it's probably one of my favorite pop songs from that year. Peaches & Herb's follow-up album, Twice the Fire, produced their final Top 40 single, "I Pledge My Love" (#19), and one other Hot 100 single, "Roller-Skatin' Mate (Part I)." That was it for the hits, but I have good news: Peaches & Herb are technically still together. Herb turned 80 in October 2022 and is now with his seventh Peaches!
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.