Influential Albums 1066-72
Fri., Apr. 14. 2023 2:32pm 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:
1066. Chronicles – Rush
Released in September 1990, Chronicleswas Rush's first career-spanning compilation and featured 28 tracks. I purchased this two-CD set in August 1992 at the now-defunct Century Three Mall in West Mifflin PA, not too far from original ApologetiX drummer Jeff Pakula's house, where we practiced every Monday evening. Our primary purpose for being at the mall that day was to order custom-made shirts we could wear on stage. They didn't actually say "ApologetiX," though. We thought it would be more interesting to emblazon them with the cryptic "1P315," representing our signature Bible verse, 1 Peter 3:15: "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect." Unfortunately, some people misread the "1" as an "I" and wondered what I.P.315 meant. It didn't sound great when read aloud that way. Oh well. The big Rush fans in ApX at the time were Andy Sparks and myself, although it would be many years before we felt up to the task of spoofing and replicating their music (or at least making an attempt). If you've been reading these journal entries since the beginning, you know that I had previously owned almost all of Rush's albums from their debut (1974) through Hold Your Fire(1988). Nevertheless, it was nice to have all the "hits" (and I use that term loosely when writing about a band with only one Top 40 single) from that era (plus a song from their 1989 studio LP Presto) together on CD. ApologetiX went on to spoof "Tom Sawyer" in 2002 and "Limelight" in 2010, and there are a few others I'd like to do at some point. But until then, there's no Rush.
1067. Knock, Breathe, Shine – Jacob's Trouble
I really enjoyed the first Jacob's Trouble LP, but my local Christian bookstore didn't have any other JT albums. However, they were able to special order them. When the manager of the place told me over the phone that they had one called Knock, Breathe, Shine, it sounded like she said, "Knock Three Times," the old Tony Orlando hit. Then it dawned on me that I'd misunderstood, and I proceeded with my purchase. Released in 1990, Knock, Breathe, Shine was the group's second LP and didn't lean as heavily on the chiming '60s guitars, but it still had clever lyrics and catchy melodies. Fellow Georgia CCM group Third Day covered the majestic closing track, "These Thousand Hills," on their million-selling Offerings: A Worship Album in 2000. Knock, Breathe, Shine also included "Dreammaker," which I'd heard Jacob's Trouble perform when I first saw them at Creation '92. Other favorites for me included "Further Up & Further In" (a C.S. Lewis tribute), "Islands, Buildings, and Freeways," "I'm a Little World" (with lyrics that included the line used in this album's title), "Look at U Now," "Beggars and Kings" (featuring Randy Stonehill on backing vocals), "Wounded World," and "Bad Lick Gun Shot." I think I may have inadvertently been inspired by another track, "Little Red Words," when I wrote "Little Read Bible Book," our parody of "Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs. I'm not positive Jacob's Trouble meant "Little Red Words" to be a pun. Knowing them, they probably did, and if so, I'm embarrassed that I didn't notice till years later ... long after we did "Little Read Bible Book" in 2003. The CD version of Knock, Breathe, Shine also included a remake of one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs from Slow Train Coming, "I Believe in You." Oh, and one last thing: "My shows will be the dynamic shows ever being gave."
1068. Come On Come On - Mary Chapin Carpenter
I like a lot of Harry Chapin and Carpenters songs, so it stands to reason I'd like Mary Chapin Carpenter, right? Incidentally, she's no relation to either of those acts; her dad's name was Chapin Carpenter Jr. Released in June 1992, Come On Come On was the New Jersey-born singer-songwriter's fourth studio LP and her most successful, selling four million copies in the United States alone and generating two singles that won Grammy Awards in consecutive years ('93 and '94) for Best Female Country Vocal Performance: "I Feel Lucky" (#4 country) and "Passionate Kisses" (#4 country, #11 adult contemporary, #57 pop). "Passionate Kisses" also won for Best Country Song. In total, Come On Come On generated seven Top 20 country singles, the others being: "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" (#2 country), "I Take My Chances" (#2 country), "The Hard Way" (#11 country), the Joe Diffie duet "Not Too Much to Ask" (#15 country) and the Dire Straits cover "The Bug" (#16 country). I wasn't listening to a ton of country radio then, but every time I heard something by her I seemed to enjoy it, especially "Passionate Kisses," but also "I Take My Chances," "The Bug," and "He Thinks He'll Keep Her." I also liked MCC's 1991 hit "Down at the Twist and Shout" (#2 country) from her previous album, Shooting Straight in the Dark. In 1994, she finally garnered her only #1 country hit, "Shut Up and Kiss Me," the first release off Stones in the Road, the follow-up to Come On Come On.
1069. Use Your Illusion I and II - Guns N' Roses
I first heard about these two double-albums on Bob Larson's Talk Back Christian radio show. They were released simultaneously at midnight on September 17, 1991. Ironically, Use Your Illusion I went to #2, and Use Your Illusion II went to #1. That's surprising, since Use Your Illusion I actually had more pop hits: "November Rain" (#3 pop, #15 rock), "Don't Cry" (#10 pop, #3 rock), and "Live and Let Die" (#33 pop, #20 rock). However, Use Your Illusion II featured more rock hits: "You Could Be Mine" (#29 pop, #3 rock), "Yesterdays" (#72 pop, #13 rock), "Civil War" (#4 rock), "Estranged" (#16 rock), "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (#18 rock), and "Pretty Tied Up" (#35 rock). "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "Civil War" had previously appeared in the summer of '90 on compilations featuring various artists: the Days of Thunder soundtrack and Nobody's Child - Romanian Angel Appeal, respectively. ApologetiX spoofed "Live and Let Die" in '92 (and '98 and 2015), "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (the GNR version) in '92, and "Don't Cry" in '93. There was a total of 28 tracks on the Use Your Illusion LPs — a staggering amount of music. My favorite is probably "Estranged," although I'd love to spoof "Pretty Tied Up" and "You Could Be Mine," which initially appeared in the film Terminator II: Judgment Day. Other songs I liked included "Yesterdays," "14 Years" (with guitarist Izzy Stradlin on lead vocals), and "Locomotive" — all from Use Your Illusion II.
1070. Metallica (a.k.a. "The Black Album) - Metallica
My first major Metallica memory involves a feature article I read in People magazine in 1988, the year the group's fourth LP, ... And Justice for All, became their first to reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200. I'm sure I'd seen earlier Metallica records in the store, but I was shocked that the shredders from San Francisco had suddenly become so successful. The write-up in People included a quote from a fan, lauding their straightforward, non-metaphorical approach to lyrics. He said something like, "When Metallica sings a song about a guy trapped under the ice, it's really about a guy trapped under the ice." I loved that quote and mentioned it to friends many times over the years. The album even spawned a Top 40 single that went gold, "One." Believe it or not, "One" actually peaked higher on the pop chart (#35) than the rock chart (#46). But the band's next project would take them to an entirely different level. Released in August 1991, Metallica's eponymous fifth LP (a.k.a. "The Black Album") became their first (of many) to hit #1, selling over 16 million copies in the United States alone. It generated five singles that hit the Hot 100: "Enter Sandman" (#16 pop, #10 rock, and another gold single), "The Unforgiven" (#35 pop, #10 rock), "Nothing Else Matters" (#34 pop, #11 rock), "Wherever I May Roam" (#82 pop, #25 rock), and "Sad but True" (#98 pop, #15 rock). The one that captivated me was "Enter Sandman," which ApologetiX spoofed as "Enter Samson." That parody became a fan favorite, although we never stopped tinkering with it, releasing studio versions in 1994, 1999, and 2022, and a live version in 2005. I always figured that Metallica's brand of thrash metal would be the kind of music Samson would listen to ... and they got their hair cut later in their career just like he did.
1071. Look Sharp! - Roxette
Roxette's chart-topping debut single, "The Look," was one of the few pop songs I heard in early 1989, and I thought it sounded scintillating. But I never dreamed that the Swedish duo would end up with more upper-echelon U.S. chart singles than Sweden's most famous group, ABBA. Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle eventually achieved four #1 hits: "The Look," "Listen to Your Heart," "It Must Have Been Love," and "Joyride." They also had two #2 hits: "Dangerous" and "Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)." In contrast, ABBA had just two U.S. Top Three singles: "Dancing Queen" (#1) and "Take a Chance On Me" (#3). Released in October '88, Look Sharp was their second LP and included four Top 20 hits: "The Look," "Listen to Your Heart," "Dangerous" (which also went to #1 on the Cash Box chart), and "Dressed for Success" (#14). I bought a second-hand copy in late 1993 primarily because I wanted to write a parody of "The Look," which ApologetiX released in 1994 and then redid in 2019. My other favorite Roxette hit is "Joyride," the title track from the group's second LP. As far as success on the U.S. album charts, Look Sharp! went to #23, but Joyride went to #12, higher than any ABBA release, believe it or not. Of course, advocates for ABBA might point out that nobody's made a stage musical based on the music of Roxette ... but there's actually one in the works, based on Jane Fallon's novel Got You Back. It's currently slated to debut in Sweden in the fall of 2024. Mamma mia!
1072. The End of the Innocence - Don Henley
Back in 1985, I thought Don Henley was the man, and wasn't even counting his Eagles material. "The Boys of Summer" was my favorite song, and the other three singles from his Building the Perfect Beast album were also way up there on my list. His first solo hit from the album before that, "Dirty Laundry," was a masterpiece as well. So what was the guy going do for an encore? He released his third LP, The End of the Innocence, in June '89. Although I wasn't listening much to secular radio, I looked it over in a downtown Pittsburgh record store a few times on my lunch breaks and eventually borrowed a homemade cassette copy from my friend Dana. It only produced three Top 40 singles — "The End of the Innocence" (#8 pop, #1 rock), "The Last Worthless Evening (#21 pop, #4 rock), and "The Heart of the Matter" (#21 pop, #2 rock) but two others hit the Top 50 — "How Bad Do You Want It?" (#48 pop, #8 rock) and "New York Minute" (#48 pop, #24 rock). Two additional tracks hit the rock Top 10 — "I Will Not Go Quietly" with Axl Rose on harmonies (#2 rock) and "If Dirt Were Dollars" (with Sheryl Crow and J.D. Souther on backing vocals). Four of the aforementioned cuts also hit the Top 5 on the adult contemporary chart: ""The End of the Innocence" (#2 AC), "The Last Worthless Evening (#5 AC), "The Heart of the Matter" (#3 AC), and "New York Minute (#5 AC). All of that combined to help propel The End of the Innocence to #8 on the Billboard 200 and sell six million copies in the States alone — double the sales of Building the Perfect Beast, which had gone to #13. My favorite track was "The Heart of the Matter." I even saw it effectively performed once in church (the theme is forgiveness, after all). Others I liked included the title track (political overtones aside) and "If Dirt Were Dollars."