Influential Albums: 898-904
Fri., Oct. 28. 2022 12:07am 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.
898. A&M Records 25th Anniversary Classics, Vol. 9 - Supertramp
This album was originally released in 1986 as The Autobiography of Supertramp but was repackaged with three extra tracks in 1987 in the United States as the part of the A&M Records 25th Anniversary Classics series. The original title is a reference to a 1908 non-fiction book by Welsh poet-writer W.H. Davies, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, from which the band took its name in 1970. Whatever you call it, this compilation has just about anything the casual U.S. listener could want, although five of the songs are the edited versions from the singles rather than the full-length versions you might have heard on your local album-rock station. Despite being a British band, Supertramp actually had a better chart record in the States. All the biggies are here: "Dreamer (#15 U.S., #13 U.K.), "Bloody Well Right" (#35 U.S.), "Give a Little Bit" (#15 U.S., #29 U.K.), "The Logical Song" (#6 U.S., #7 U.K.), "Breakfast in America" (#9 U.K.), "Goodbye Stranger" (#15 U.S., #57 U.K.), "Take the Long Way Home" (#10 U.S.), "It's Raining Again" (#11 U.S., #26 U.K.), and "Cannonball" (#28 U.S.). Only one Top 40 hit from either side of the pond is missing: "My Kind of Lady" (#31 U.S.), but a few other non-single album-rock classics were included: "Ain't Nobody but Me," "Crime of the Century," and "Rudy." The only glaring omission on that front, "School," was added to the 1990 version, which was retitled The Very Best of Supertramp. I wrote about the Breakfast in America LP much earlier on this list, and I like everything from that. My other favorite tracks by the band are probably "Dreamer" and "Cannonball." ApologetiX spoofed "Take the Long Way Home" in 2018 and semi-spoofed "Breakfast in America" in 2008, when we did a parody of "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America" by Gym Class Heroes.
899. Champagne Jam - Atlanta Rhythm Section
Atlanta Rhythm Section's seventh LP, Champagne Jam, was their most successful, reaching #7 and selling a million copies. Released in early 1978, its first single, "Imaginary Lover," also went to #7, tying it with "So in to You" (from early '77) as their highest-charting hit. The second single from Champagne Jam, "I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight," became their third highest-charting hit (#14). I had that one on a 45, backed with "The Ballad of Lois Malone," another strong tune on this record. The title track, which does indeed feature a fine jam section, was released as a third single and almost gave them a hat trick of hits, peaking at #43. The opening track, "Large Time," rocks, too. As a young teenager, I saw that iconic Champagne Jam album cover with the cap-wearing, cigar-smoking, champagne-drinking, guitar-playing fish many times during my many visits to record stores. Listening to the songs now, I think it's the closest I've heard Southern rock get to Steely Dan. ApologetiX spoofed "Imaginary Lover" in 2022.
900. New Edition - New Edition
I first heard New Edition at my local Greensburg PA dance club, the VIP, which held under-21 nights on summer Sunday evenings while I was in college. The song was their 1983 debut hit, "Candy Girl," which only went to #46 on the pop chart but hit #1 on the R&B chart. The fact that it sounded an awful lot like The Jackson Five certainly didn't hurt its chances, especially during that year of Motown nostalgia (the label celebrated its 25th anniversary in '83 with a blockbuster TV special) and Michael-mania (Thriller dominated the charts in '83, spending 22 weeks at #1). I thought "Candy Girl" was great, and I eventually picked up a used copy of the single. New Edition's second LP, simply titled New Edition, generated three legit hits: "Cool It Now" (#4 pop, #1 R&B), "Mr. Telephone Man" (#12 pop, #1 R&B), and "Lost in Love" (#35 pop, #6 R&B). The first two have choruses I still occasionally find myself singing. The group would have other big hits later, such as "If It Isn't Love" (#7 pop, #2 R&B), "Hit Me Off" (#3 pop, #1 R&B), and "I'm Still in Love with You" (#7 pop, #7 R&B), but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Three of the members had successful solo careers: Bobby Brown (nine Top 40 hits, eight Top 10), Ralph Tresvant (three Top 40 hits, one Top 10), and Johnny Gill (three Top 40 hits, two Top 10). The others — Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe — found further fame as Bel Biv DeVoe (six Top 40 hits, three Top 10). Meanwhile, the group's manager, Maurice Starr, parted ways with them after their first album but went on to the form, manage, produce, and write songs for New Kids on the Block (11 Top 40 hits, nine Top 10) ApologetiX has never spoofed New Edition, but we did spoof Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" in 2021 and New Kids on The Block's "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" in 2022.
901. Greatest Hits of The Outlaws: High Tides Forever - The Outlaws
Lynyrd Skynyrd wasn't the only popular Southern-rock group from Florida to hit it big in the '70s. Whereas Skynyrd was from Jacksonville, The Outlaws formed in Tampa FL. I first heard about their epic song "Green Grass and High Tides" from a female high-school classmate and friend who went by the nickname "Ozone" and rode on my bus. She also clued me in to "Highway Star" by Deep Purple, so she was definitely more of a rocker than most of the girls in our class ... and probably more than I was at the time, too. The second song I ever heard by The Outlaws was their cover version of the late '40s hit "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," which they took to #31 in 1981 during my junior year. Clocking in at almost 10 minutes long, "Green Grass and High Tides" wasn't released as a single, but the group did have another Top 40 hit, "There Goes Another Love Song" (#34). Both of those tremendous tunes were on the group's eponymous 1975 debut album. Released in 1982, Greatest Hits of The Outlaws: High Tides Forever features all three of the aforementioned songs (although "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" is a live version), plus their other big classic-rock hit, "Hurry Sundown" (#60) and the popular "Stick Around for Rock and Roll." Outlaws vocalist/guitarist Henry Paul left the band in '77 and formed The Henry Paul Band. I'm a very big fan of their song "So Long," which I used to sing with a nameless group of musicians in the early 80's before I got my first gig with a real band. ApologetiX has never spoofed The Outlaws but we did play at a music festival headlined by former Outlaws bassist (1980-83) Rick Cua in Punxsutawney PA in 1995. We were one of the three bands on the second line of the poster. I know because I just dug out an old scrapbook to make sure I had my facts straight on the other info.
902. The Very Best of Canned Heat - Canned Heat
Blues-rock band Canned Heat was formed in Los Angeles in 1965 but caught the nation's attention with appearances at two legendary music festivals, Monterey Pop in '67 and Woodstock in '69. They group's co-founders, Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson and Bob "The Bear" Hite, shared lead vocals. Wilson sang on their first two Top 40 hits, "On the Road Again" (#16) and "Going Up the Country" (#11), while Hite sang on their third and final Top 40 hit, "Let's Work Together" (#26). I liked all three of those tunes. Both men had distinctive voices, but both also died far too young from accidental drug overdoses — Wilson at age 27 in 1970 and Hite at age 38 in 1981. Released in 1975, The Very Best of Canned Heat had all three of the big hits, plus their fourth-highest charting song, "Time Was" (#67), and their debut single, "Rollin' and Tumblin'" (#115). Ironically, it also included the anti-drug anthem "Amphetamine Annie," a cautionary tale in which the main character does not survive the song. The Very Best of Canned Heat didn't include the group's other Hot 100 hit, "Rockin' with the King" (#88) — a collaboration with Little Richard — or the excellent "Poor Moon" (#119), an exotic-sounding tune with really cool vocals. Neither did it include their other chart entry, a cover of "Wooly Bully" that bubbled under at #105. And if you think the idea of Canned Heat playing with Little Richard and covering Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs sounds strange, you ought to check out their 1968 collaboration with The Chipmunks, "The Chipmunk Song": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g45i9RFvHss
903. Agents of Fortune/Spectres 2-on-1 Cassette - Blue Öyster Cult
I didn't really listen to entire albums by Blue Öyster Cult, but I had a couple close friends in college who did, and I eventually bought a couple compilations of their stuff while working on parody ideas. ApologetiX has spoofed their three most popular songs: "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (#12 pop), "Godzilla," and "Burnin' for You" (#40 pop, #1 rock). I first heard "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" in the late '70s (it had already been out for a while) and taped it off the radio, playing it many times. That tune simultaneously fascinated and frightened me. It came from the band's fourth studio LP, Agents of Fortune, released in May 1976. "Godzilla" first appeared on their fifth studio album, Spectres, in November '77. In 1982, Columbia Records released both albums together on a specially priced 2-on-1 cassette. "Burnin' for You" made its debut on BOC's eighth studio album, Fire of Unknown Origin, in June '81. We've actually spoofed "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" twice — the truncated single version in 2002 and the full-length album version in 2017. Technically, we also spoofed "Godzilla" twice — as a biblical parody and as a Bob Dylan parody — both in 2016.
904. The Best of The Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers
One of my friends had this one on cassette. Released in 1981, The Best of The Allman Brothers Band originally featured 10 tracks, but later editions swapped out some of the songs and upped the total to 16 ... all from their glory years. The expanded list includes a pair of Top 40 hits, "Ramblin' Man" (#2) and "Crazy Love" (#29). Their other Top 40 hit, "Straight from the Heart" (#39) didn't come out until '81 and is not on the album. I liked that song back then when my local station used to play it, but I don't think its sound would fit as well with the other selections on this collection. Of course, the Allmans were always about much more than pop songs, and The Best of The Allman Brothers Band includes many album-rock standards, such as "Midnight Rider" (which Greg Allman later had a #19 hit with as a solo artist), "Melissa" (#86) "Jessica" (#65), "Revival" (#92), "Blue Sky," "Whipping Post," "Statesboro Blues," and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." Sadly, it's missing "One Way Out" (#86), "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" (#77) and "Dreams" (later covered by Molly Hatchet as "Dreams I'll Never See"). Consequently, I'd say their 1991 collection, A Decade of Hits: 1969-79, is superior, and that's the one I eventually purchased on iTunes. ApologetiX spoofed "Ramblin' Man" in '96. We released it on one of our early live cassettes later that year, but the performance and recording weren't even good enough to make it onto our Rare Not Well Done two-volume anthology in 2007, and that's a pretty low bar to limbo under. I hope we get to do it up right someday. We also used to fool around with "Whipping Post" in our early practices, and I sang Greg Allman's solo hit "I'm No Angel" (#1 rock, #49 pop) in the last secular band I was in, Nice Piranha. I owned the 45, too. Even though I'm a singer, my favorite Allman tune is one of their instrumentals; I like a lot their songs, but it's hard to beat "Jessica." And I'm not just saying that because it's the name of my goddaughter, either. I read and enjoyed Greg Allman's autobiography, My Cross to Bear, in 2022.
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.