Influential Albums 1059-65
Sat., Apr. 8. 2023 3:48pm 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:
1059. Brave Heart - Kim Hill
Early one evening at Creation '92, I got to see and hear singer-songwriter Kim Hill do a soundcheck and perform in concert. Her voice was cool and clear, and her stage presence calm and confident. Later that summer, I bought a cassette of Hill's most-recent album at the time. Released in '91, Brave Heartwas her third and highest-charting LP (#11 on the BillboardContemporary Christian Albums chart). It was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album. I didn't know any of that at the time; I just knew it sounded great. There's a full band, including electric guitars, but Brave Heartleans more toward an acoustic sound, even on rockers like "Words" and "Round and Round." Those were two of my favorite tracks, as were "Satisfied" (which she performed at the soundcheck and in concert), "I Will Wait," "She'll Come Around," and "Mysterious Ways." This album may be the closest thing to Joni Mitchell I've heard in CCM, and that's pretty high praise.
1060. Nu Thang - DC Talk
I'm pretty sure I first heard about DC Talk in 1989 after some friends from our Bible study saw them at Fishnet Festival in Virginia. I had started listening to rap in '82 and was getting into it quite a bit in '87, right before I became a born-again Christian. Consequently, I liked the concept of Christian rap. Believe it or not, I'd even written and performed some Christian rap ("Old T. Rappin'") with Oremus at IUP in '87. It was very well received by audiences, although I was still seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord at the time (actually, I think Hewas the One seeking a deeper relationship with me). Anyway, I finally got to see DC Talk for myself at Creation '92. The group knew how to make an entrance; they arrived via helicopter and ran up to the stage from there. Soon after I got home, I purchased their second LP, Nu Thang (1990), mainly for the title track, although I also enjoyed "When DC Talks" "He Works," and "I Luv Rap Music." The other most memorable tracks for me were "Walls" and "Talk It Out." Even though I already appreciated the talents of this trio, I would be blown away by what they would come up with later in their collective career ... as I'll elaborate upon later on in this list.
1061. Steps of Faith: 1987-91 - Margaret Becker
Say it with me: "Peter Piper picked a peck of Margaret Becker records." Released in 1992, Steps of Faith: 1987-91 was the first "best of" collection by the singer-guitarist-songwriter, who went on to have over 20 #1 Christian radio hits. I purchased it on cassette in the summer of '92 and was impressed by her uncompromising, introspective, confessional lyrics. I'd first heard of Becker in '88 through some of my friends in Bible study, who were big fans of her second LP, The Reckoning, and the songs "Streets of Innocence" and "Who Am I." Both of those tracks and another from that album, "Find Me," are on Steps of Faith. In addition to those three, my favorite selections were "Never for Nothing," "Solomon's Shoes," "All I Ever Wanted," and "Never Be an Angel." Other Becker songs I like that are not on Steps of Faith include "This Flame," "Simple House," and "Deep Calling Deep."
1062. Pure and Simple - Geoff Moore and the Distance
I was inspired to buy this cassette after seeing Geoff Moore and the Distance perform with Petra and a couple other artists at a big Pittsburgh concert event called The Day '92. I'd previously seen The Paradise Club Band (featuring future ApologetiX drummer Keith Harrold) perform one of the songs on Pure and Simple, "Passionate Man," multiple times at the Paradise Club. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I already knew another track, "Rescue Me." I'd heard it on the Saturday Night Light radio show on WPIT FM, hosted by Greg McAtee. I instantly loved that song, which is actually a cover version of a tune by The Alarm ... I just hadn't known who performed it till I purchased this album. As I mentioned long ago on this list, I like The Alarm, but I think Moore and his men did a really nice job with it. Other tracks I especially enjoyed on Pure and Simple included: "Over Emotional," "Peace," "The Keeper," "Simple Heart," and "One Brand of Truth." ApologetiX opened up for Geoff Moore at a concert in Lansdale PA in April 2001. He didn't have The Distance with him, but I can tell you that the distance between our home base of Pittsburgh and Lansdale (near Philadelphia) is about 300 miles.
1063. Beyond Belief - Petra
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I saw Petra and Geoff Moore and The Distance perform in Pittsburgh at an event called The Day '92. While there, I got to catch up on the two most recent Petra albums at the time, Beyond Belief (June '90) and Unseen Power (November '91). I'd seen Beyond Belief in stores when it first came out, but for some reason had never purchased it. They obviously didn't need my help ... it still became Petra's most commercially successful album and their first Grammy award-winner. I thought the title track was great. Other memorable cuts include "I Am on the Rock," "Creed," "Armed and Dangerous," and "Seen and Not Heard." ApX bass player Keith Haynie, who used to play a good bit of later Petra stuff in our band vehicles when he drove, thinks the chorus of "Seen and Not Heard" has a melody that sounds a lot like "Heaven's on Fire" by Kiss. I don't disagree with that assessment. The songs I most clearly remember from Unseen Power are "Destiny" and "Who's on the Lord's Side." I also like "Dance."
1064. Adam Again - Michael Omartian
When I finally found my own copy of Michael Omartian's White Horsein a Christian bookstore, it was paired with his follow-up LP. That turned out to be a very good thing for me. Originally released in 1976, Adam Again continued the musical and lyrical excellence established on White Horse. When you put them together, they make a great double album, and if I hadn't known better and had just heard each disc for the first time played back to back, I probably would've just assumed it was all one project. My favorite tracks on Adam Again were "Ain't You Glad," "No Matter What Shape You're In," "Whachersign," "Alive and Well," and "Here He Comes." There was also a Christian alternative-rock band called Adam Again led by Gene Eugene from 1982 until his death in 2000. I'm not sure if their name was inspired by this album or not, but I wouldn't be surprised to discover it was. Eugene was also a member of Christian groups The Swirling Eddies and The Lost Dogs.
1065. The Commitments - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Although the hilarious 1984 "rockumentary" This Is Spinal Tap is far better known and quite worthy of its iconic status among rock and rollers, the 1991 film The Commitments also does a fine job of humorously presenting the perils and pressures of being in a band. In this case, it's the unlikely scenario of an Irish group specializing in soul music. Lest this be taken as a blanket endorsement on my part, let me state that the film does have some edgy moments, and certain characters ought to have their mouths washed out with Irish Spring soap. But the characterization, comedy, and heart of the story rise above it. I rented the video in the summer of '92 and soon after bought the soundtrack, which consisted of remakes of soul classics as performed by The Commitments in the movie. The album did quite well, reaching #8 on the Billboard 200 and selling three million copies worldwide, including two million in the States, despite the film not being a box-office success. My favorite selections were "Mustang Sally," "Take Me to the River," "Destination Anywhere," "In the Midnight Hour," "Mr. Pitiful," "Try a Little Tenderness," "Treat Her Right," and "Bye Bye Baby," although all 14 tracks were well done ... excellent interpretations, not merely covers. In fact, I liked The Commitments' versions so much that we spoofed two of them: "In the Midnight Hour" in 1994 and "Mustang Sally" in 2014. More music from movie was released on a second volume, The Commitments - Vol. 2, in 1992. I didn't buy that one (it only went to #118), but I did purchase a couple of its tracks, "Too Many Fish in the Sea" and "Show Me," which I'd greatly enjoyed in the film.