Influential Albums 1115-1121
Sat., Jun. 3. 2023 3:57pm 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.
Note: Just because an album appears on this list doesn't mean I give it a blanket endorsement. Many of the secular albums on this list are mainly there because they wound up being spoofed by ApologetiX.
1115. Batman Forever: Original Music from the Motion Picture - Various Artists
Released in May 23, 1995, Batman Forever: Original Music from the Motion Picture hit the streets almost a month before the movie, which I saw in the theater soon after it came out on June 16. The album went to #5 on the Billboard 200, selling two million copies, and its first two singles featured some amazing music — "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2 (#16 pop, #1 mainstream, #1 alternative for four weeks) and "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal (#1 pop for 1 week, #1 adult contemporary for 12 weeks). A couple other cuts charted: "The Riddler" by Method Man (#56 pop, #41 R&B, #4 rap) and "Smash It Up" by The Offspring (#47 pop airplay, #16 alternative). There are a lot of cool-sounding tunes on this album, including: "8" by Sunny Day Real Estate, "Bad Days" by The Flaming Lips. "Where Are You Now" by Brandy, "Nobody Lives Forever Without Love" by Eddi Reader, "Tell Me Now" by Mazzy Star, "There is a Light" by Nick Cave, and "Crossing the River" by The Devlins. Alas ... some soundtracks surpass the substance of the cinematic scripts they support.
1116. Vs. - Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam's second LP faced the considerable challenge of following up their legendary debut, Ten. Released in October 1993 — just a little over two years after its predecessor — Vs. did all right for itself, selling over 950,000 copies in its first week, the most ever for an album at the time. It went on to sell 7 million in the United States. That's six million fewer than Ten sold, but Vs. did top the Billboard 200 for five weeks, whereas Ten had peaked at #2. Both albums predominantly featured one-word song titles — nine apiece — but my favorite track on Vs. was a touching tune with an eight-word title, "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" (#23 mainstream rock, #17 alternative). It stuck out like a sore thumb on the track listing, although I think that was deliberate on the band's part. The other charting cuts on Vs. were "Daughter" (#1 mainstream for eight weeks, #1 alternative, #33 pop airplay), "Go" (#3 mainstream, #8 alternative), "Dissident" (#3 mainstream, #118 pop), "Glorified G" (#9 mainstream), and "Animal" (#21 mainstream). I wrote a parody of "Daughter" in the mid '90s although ApologetiX didn't record and release it till 2016.
1117. Cracked Rear View - Hootie & the Blowfish
How successful was Hootie & the Blowfish's first album? Only two other artists had bigger-selling debut LPs — Guns N' Roses and Boston. Released in July 1994, Cracked Rear View went to #1 on the Billboard 200 five different times (for a total of eight weeks) in '95 and eventually sold 16 million copies in the United States alone. It generated four smash singles (three of which hit the Top 10 on the pop, mainstream rock, and adult contemporary charts): "Hold My Hand" (#10 pop, #4 mainstream, #6 AC), "Let Her Cry" (#9 pop, #9 mainstream, #9 AC, #34 alternative), "Only Wanna Be with You" (#6 pop, #2 mainstream, #3 AC, #22 alternative), and "Time" (#14 pop, #26 mainstream, #4 AC). A fifth cut, "Drowning," wasn't released as a single but charted on rock stations (#21 mainstream). However, my favorite track may have been the opener, "Hannah Jane," which wasn't released as a single in the United States, although it did go to #24 in Iceland. I finally picked up a used CD copy of Cracked Rear View at Jerry's Records in the fall of '95. The group's follow-up album, Fairweather Johnson, went to #1 for two weeks in May '96 and sold three million copies, but the group never had another Top 10 pop hit, although one track came close — "Old Man & Me (When I Get to Heaven)" (#13 pop, #6 mainstream, #18 AC, #33 alternative). Lead singer Darius Rucker became a country music star in 2008 and has since released eight #1 country singles as a solo artist. Four of his LPs have topped the country album charts, and two of those made it to #2 on the Billboard 200. ApologetiX released a live parody of "Hold My Hand" in '96 and a studio version in 2016. We also put out a studio parody of "Only Wanna Be with You" in '97.
1118. Throwing Copper - Live
Throwing Copper was the second LP by Live (pronounced with a long "i"), an alternative rock band from York PA. Released in April 1994, the album topped the Billboard 200 and sold over 8 million copies in the United States, largely because of the song "Lightning Crashes" (#1 alternative for nine weeks, #1 mainstream for 10 weeks, #12 pop airplay) plus four others: "Selling the Drama" (#1 alternative, #4 mainstream rock, #43 pop), "I Alone" (#6 alternative, #6 mainstream, #38 pop airplay), "All Over You" (#4 alternative, #2 mainstream, #33 pop airplay), and "White, Discussion" (#15 alternative, #12 mainstream, #71 pop airplay). I especially liked the music for "I Alone" and "Selling the Drama." ApologetiX has released parodies of "Selling the Drama" ('95 and 2017), "Lightning Crashes" ('97 and 2022), and "All Over You" (2018). Technically, that's five Live, although only one of those recordings was "live."
1119. New Miserable Experience - Gin Blossoms
Released in August 1992, New Miserable Experience was the second LP by Arizona alternative-rock band Gin Blossoms, but the general populace didn't pay much attention till about a year later ... as a result of the hit single "Hey Jealousy" (#25 pop, #4 mainstream), which didn't enter the Hot 100 until late July '93. Once the album established a foothold, however, three subsequent singles had similar success: "Found Out About You" (#25 pop, #5 mainstream, #1 alternative), "Until I Fall Away" (#21 pop airplay, #40 mainstream, #13 alternative), and "Allison Road" (#24 pop airplay, #20 mainstream, #39 alternative). Although "Hey Jealousy" was the group's first Hot 100 hit, another cut from the album, "Mrs. Rita," was technically their first hit on the rock chart (#36 mainstream). New Miserable Experience only made it to #30 on the album chart but sold over four million copies in the United States. Gin Blossoms had two significant hits after that — "Til I Hear It from You" (#11 pop, #4 mainstream, #5 alternative) and "Follow You Down" (#9 pop, #6 mainstream, #8 alternative) — but their chart run was done by mid-'96. ApologetiX alum guitarist Andy Sparks once told me about a friend of his who called a local station to request Metallica or Megadeth and the D.J. declined but told him, "If you say, 'Gin Blossoms,' I'll put you on the air.'" According to Andy, his friend acquiesced, but when the DJ asked him on the air what artist he wanted, he said "Gin Blossoms" very unenthusiastically. I can still hear Andy giggling as he shared the story. ApologetiX spoofed "Hey Jealousy" in 2020.
1120. River of Dreams - Billy Joel
Released in August 1993, River of Dreams was Billy Joel's twelfth LP and the last rock album he has released to date. I first became aware of it after one of my nieces brought her copy to the house. It generated three singles: "The River of Dreams" (#3 pop, #1 adult contemporary for 12 weeks); "All About Soul," featuring Color Me Badd on backing vocals (#29 pop, #6 AC); and "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" (#77 pop, #18 AC). One other cut, "No Man's Land," reached #18 on the mainstream rock chart. Other interesting tracks included "Blonde Over Blue," "Two Thousand Years," "Famous Last Words," and "The Great Wall of China." The River of Dreams album topped the Billboard 200 for three weeks and sold five million copies. The cover art was painted by Christie Brinkley, who was Joel's wife at the time. I wrote a parody of "The River of Dreams" in the mid-'90s, and ApologetiX finally recorded and released it in 2022.
1121. CrazySexyCool - TLC
Released in November 1994, CrazySexyCool was the second LP by Atlanta female R&B trio TLC. The title was intended to represent the personalities of the three members — "Crazy" being Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (who came up with the title and assigned the identities), "Sexy" being Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas (who thought she should have been "Cool"), and "Cool" being Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins (whom Thomas thought should have been "Sexy"). It featured four singles that hit the top five: "Creep" (#1 for four weeks), "Red Light Special" (#2 for three weeks but way too risqué for my tastes), "Waterfalls" (#1 for seven weeks), and "Diggin' on You" (#5). The album itself went to #3 and sold 11 million copies in the United States (15 million worldwide), which made TLC the first female group ever to have an album certified diamond (sales of more than 10 million). I was a fan of "Waterfalls" and bought the cassingle and even considered spoofing it (We didn't, but "Weird Al" Yankovic did, in '96). That rap at the end was pretty cool. TLC's 1999 follow-up album, FanMail, sold "only" six million; however, it did top the Billboard 200 for five weeks. FanMail featured just two Top 40 hits, although both of them went to #1 — "No Scrubs" (for four weeks) and "Unpretty" (for three weeks) — and both had thought-provoking lyrics and innovative music. I love The Supremes and The Go-Go's, but these were not your typical "girl group" songs.