Influential Albums: 975-981
Sat., Jan. 14. 2023 12:19am EST
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:
975. In Another Land - Larry Norman
On the other side of the cassette he gave me with Only Visiting This Planet, Dana put the third installment of Larry Norman's "Trilogy," the 1976 LP In Another Land. I liked it just as much as Planet, and apparently so did a lot of other people; In Another Land was ranked #38 on CCM magazine's 2001 list of The Best Contemporary Christian Albums of all time. My favorite tracks were "The Rock That Doesn't Roll," "UFO," "I've Searched All Around," "The Sun Began to Rain," "Shot Down," "Six, Sixty, Six," "One Way," "Song for a Small Circle of Friends," and "Hymn to the Last Generation," but all 14 songs were fine by me. ApologetiX performed "The Rock That Doesn't Roll" at our very first concert in March 1992, and the song "Six, Sixty, Six" probably helped lay the groundwork for our parodies "Revelation Man" (in 1999) and "Won't Get Born Again" (in 2006), both of which were written in the mid-90's.
976. The Best We Could Find (Plus 3 That Never Escaped) - Steve Taylor
By the time Sparrow Records put out this compilation in September 1988, I already had the vast majority of its songs, culled from Steve Taylor's first three releases (with nothing from his fourth, I Predict 1990). However, as the title suggests, there were three previously unreleased tracks: "Under the Blood," "Bouquet," and "Down Under." No, that last one was not a Men at Work cover. The new songs were all decent, but none of them moved me to the extent of his previous material. That was OK; I liked Taylor enough that I was content to own a shiny new cassette with those three and a bunch of his older tunes together in a different order. The following year, he formed a rock band called Chagall Guevara with Dave Perkins, Lynn Nichols, Wade Jaynes, and Mike Mead and they released a self-titled album in 1991. We'd have to wait till 1993 for another all-new Taylor solo project. I'll get to that one later on this list.
977. Beat the System - Petra
I think Dana actually gave me his store-bought cassette copy of Petra's late-1984 LP, Beat the System, to keep. It runs in my mind that he wasn't super-impressed with it. As a complete project, I probably prefer the band's previous LP, Not of This World, but the high points for me on Beat the System are way up there: "Speak to the Sky," "Adonai," "Voice in the Wind," "It Is Finished," and the title track. "Witch Hunt" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" (an old Argent song Petra had already covered in 1977 and Kiss would cover in 1991) are pretty good, too. And "Hollow Eyes" addressed the topic of world hunger (specifically citing Nigeria and Haiti) at about the same time as Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" and months before USA for Africa's "We Are the World." The weakest moment for me — and I know ApologetiX bassist Keith Haynie agrees — was "Computer Brains." The intro music was interesting, but the vocal treatment just got a little over the top and silly for my tastes. Even so, it's not terrible.
978. Phil Keaggy and Sunday's Child - Phil Keaggy
Perhaps the most beloved guitarist in the history of contemporary Christian music, Phil Keaggy hails from Youngstown OH, about an hour's drive from Pittsburgh PA. After finding some success with the band Glass Harp from 1968-72, Keaggy left that group and released his first solo project, What a Day, in 1973. He released this — his 12th studio LP — in October 1988, and I purchased the cassette. With cover artwork that brought to mind With the Beatles (the Fab Four's second U.K. LP), Phil Keaggy and Sunday's Child had a sound that often emulated both The Beatles and The Byrds. In fact, according to the liner notes, Ringo Starr's old drum kit was used in the recording process. Keaggy's natural singing voice sounds a bit like Paul McCartney's, so that didn't hurt, either. Notable CCM guest stars included Randy Stonehill, Russ Taff, Mark Heard, and Ric Cua. I bought it for the song "Sunday's Child," but all 13 tracks kept me coming back. My other favorites were "Tell Me How You Feel," "I Always Do," and "I'm Gonna Get You Now," although I also liked "This Could Be the Moment," "Ain't Got No," and "Big Eraser." Other friends of mine were particularly fond of "Walk in Two Worlds" and "Talk About Suffering."
979. Shot of Love - Bob Dylan
While it's generally considered by Dylan fans to be the third installment in a trilogy of Christian LPs, Shot of Love (1981) included a couple cuts that didn't quite fit that mold, "Heart of Mine" and "Lenny Bruce," although they're both fine tunes. Other selections, like "Shot of Love" and "Trouble," are general enough that they could be seen as typical Dylan protest songs, but they still contain lines like "What I got ain't painful; it's just bound to kill me dead — like the men that followed Jesus when they put a price upon His head" and "Since the beginning of the universe man's been cursed by trouble." The remaining six tracks don't leave much room for doubt as far as Dylan's spiritual state of mind, even though they're not quite as overt as the material on Slow Train Coming (1979) and Saved (1980) ... with the exception of "Property of Jesus" (lot of great lines in that one, but how about this couplet: " You can laugh at salvation, you can play Olympic games — You think that when you rest at last you'll go back from where you came"). Another number, "Watered-Down Love," talks about love in a way comparable to the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13. "Dead Man, Dead Man," and "Groom's Still Waitin' at the Altar" make use of obvious New Testament imagery, but Bob saves two of his most beautiful expressions of faith for the latter half of side two, "In the Summertime" (my favorite section: "And I'm still carrying the gift you gave — It's a part of me now, it's been cherished and saved — It'll go with me unto the grave — and into eternity") and "Every Grain of Sand" (my favorite section: "I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame — and every time I pass that way I always hear my name — Then onward in my journey, I come to understand — that every hair is numbered like every grain of sand"). As a complete album, I wouldn't put Shot of Love on par with Slow Train Coming and Saved, but it still made some significant spiritual and scriptural statements.
980. Greatest Hits - Mylon & Broken Heart
I know it may seem like a cop out to pick Greatest Hits as my favorite Mylon Lefevre album, but it has so many great songs! Six of the 12 tracks came from 1985 LP, Sheep in Wolves' Clothing, which I didn't own. I probably would have purchased it eventually, as I had the albums before (More) and after (Crack the Sky), but Greatest Hits came out in late 1988, and I scooped it up as soon as it appeared on the shelves. Among the tracks I didn't already have, my favorites were "Trains Up in the Sky," "I Will Rejoice," "Gospel Ship," "He Is Strong," and "Freedom." The first four of those came from Sheep in Wolves' Clothing. Some of my friends were partial to the song "Morning Star," which also appeared on both of those albums. I'd first heard "Gospel Ship" months earlier, performed by a group called The 101 Band, based out of a large local church called Orchard Hill. They used to perform at monthly Christian singles cruises (in conjunction with the local Christian station at the time, 101.5 FM WPIT) aboard the Gateway Clipper fleet on Pittsburgh's three rivers — the Monongahela, Ohio, and Allegheny. I went on many of those Christian singles cruises, and they must have been effective, because I remained Christian and single throughout every cruise. But I learned some great tunes and got to see a Christian band in action, up close and personal.
981. On Fire! - Petra
I was pretty thrilled to walk into my local Christian record store in late '88 and find an all-new Petra LP — the group's first release since I'd starting to listening to them — so I purchased it immediately. I was even more excited when I heard tracks one and two, "All Fired Up" and "Hit You Where You Live," which reminded me of all the things I liked about Def Leppard ... without the calories. Other earworms on this album included "Minefield," "First Love," and "Counsel of the Holy," and "Somebody's Gonna Praise His Name." I confess that I didn't listen to On Fire! as much as my other Petra albums, but I had it on cassette and rewound it many times to hear those first two songs on side one. They really pumped me up.