The 365-Day Album Challenge: Weeks 26-30
Fri., Dec. 4. 2020 10:59am EST
J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here again.
Back in May, two friends asked me to share 10 albums that influenced me on Facebook. I narrowed it down to 365. I post the cover art for a different album every day with a brief explanation of how/why they influenced me. Fans have asked me to include them in the newsletter, too. Here are the entries for the past month:
176. All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes – Pete Townshend
I bought this album because I'd heard an awesome new Pete Townshend song in 1982 called "Dance It Away." Surely it had to be on his new album, right? Nope. But that's OK — there were plenty of tracks here that I really enjoyed, including "Stop Hurting People," "Slit Skirts," "Somebody Saved Me," "Uniforms," "Face Dances, Pt. 2," "Communication," "Stardom in Action," and "North Country Girl." Ironically, "Dance It Away" eventually made it onto the reissue edition of this album in 2006.
177. The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
This is the final entry from my pre-college period. My old friend Chris Marsh turned me on to this one in 1982. Emerson, Lake & Palmer only ever had one Top 40 hit, "From the Beginning." In true prog-rock style, it wasn't included on the original 1980 edition, although they put it on the 1994 edition. My favorite tracks were "Hoedown," "Lucky Man," "Karl Evil 9, First Impression, Pt. 2," "Fanfare for the Common Man," "Still … You Turn Me On," and "Tiger in a Spotlight."
178. What Do You Want from Live - The Tubes
I liked The Tubes' 1981 album, The Completion Backward Principal, so much that I took a flyer on the discount 8-track version of this live double album, which was recorded in London in 1977. It was the first thing I played on my stereo when I moved into my dorm freshman year in college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) — before my roommate was around — and that was the first time I ever listened to it. The Tubes sounded quite different in 1977 before producer David Foster sanitized their sound, but I was very entertained by their performances and their shticks between the songs. It sounded like fun … but not fun for the whole family … if you know what I mean.
179. It's Hard – The Who
This is the first album I remember buying as a freshman in college. I was so excited that there was a new Who release, even though I was only mildly enthusiastic about the lead single, "Athena." Just one song really captured my fancy when I played it through the first time — "Eminence Front." That became the second single, though it only reached #68. Roger Daltrey has said he thinks that was the only song on the album worthy of being released, which is really saying something, since he didn't even sing lead vocals on it. "I've Known No War" and "Cry if You Want" are probably the two other songs I like best.
180. Business as Usual – Men at Work
Oh boy, did these guys take our dorm by storm. Two #1 pop hits — "Who Can It Be Now" and "Down Under"— both of which ApologetiX has spoofed. It's crazy to think that heavy-duty rock stations were even playing Men at Work back then: "Down Under" was also a #1 mainstream rock hit, with "Be Good Johnny" going to #3 and "Underground" going to #20. I think the whole album is great, but I especially like "I Can See It in Your Eyes." I bought this album for my girlfriend at the time, but didn't appreciate it till we had broken up.
181. A Flock of Seagulls – A Flock of Seagulls
During freshman year, these guys were all the rage. We loved the name, we loved the hair, and we loved the hit. Actually, there were two hits on that album. Everybody knows "I Ran" — ApologetiX has even spoofed it — but "Space Age Love Song" was pretty good, too. That was freshman year. But sophomore year was when two of my roommates, Kevin "Kebo" Johnson and Joe "Flick" Flickinger played this album to death, especially side one. Two other favorites from that side were "You Can't Run" and "Messages." And I was a big fan of "Wishing (If I had a Photograph of You)," the lead single from their next album. I bought the 45 soon after it came out.
182. Combat Rock – The Clash
My old high-school classmate and bandmate Gerard Dominick first turned me on to "Should I Stay or Should I Go." I also loved "Rock the Casbah" and bought the 45. Of course, I already owned London Calling, as discussed earlier on this list. Aside from those two hits, I didn't enjoy this album nearly as much, but I did like "Know Your Rights" and "Car Jamming." ApologetiX spoofed "Should I Stay or Should I Go" in 2003.
183. Tommy – The Who
Sometime in my first week or two in college, I went to a frat party in some dank basement with my buddies and saw a guy in a Molly Hatchet t-shirt whom I recognized from my dorm. We introduced ourselves. His name was Tom Dellaquila, and over the next four years (plus two after college), we would introduce each other to tons of music, although I think Tom would introduce me to even more music than I introduced to him. Tom played guitar and sang, and we would also collaborate on original songs and perform together on a worship team, in a vocal group, as a duo, and in a rock band. We were roommates for a year in college (1984-85) and a year after college (1987-88). Anyway, the first album I remember Tommy D. introducing me to was, ironically enough, "Tommy." Yes, I know it's shocking that I already was familiar with seven other Who albums before I got around to this one. It was quite an amazing journey.
184. Vacation – The Go-Go's
My first semester of freshman year went by in a flash, but over Christmas break, I bought this album. I thought the title track was OK, but the song that grabbed me was the second single, "Get Up and Go," which I thought would be a huge hit. Unfortunately, it only went to #50. But the rest of the album was pretty decent. I didn't like it was much as Beauty and the Beat, but I loved the cover of the old Capitols hit "Cool Jerk." Other standouts were "Girl of a 100 Lists," "This Old Feeling," and "It's Everything but Partytime."
185. A Farewell to Kings – Rush
While I was on Christmas break, I also got into this album, first borrowing it from Chris Marsh. "Closer to the Heart" drew me in, but the epic "Xanadu" (11:05) was the one that blew my mind. This was not your sister's "Xanadu" — no ONJ, ELO, or roller skaters. I also really enjoyed "Cinderella Man," "Madrigal," and the title track.
186. Rio – Duran Duran
Tom Dellaquila was up on these guys before I was. He came back from Christmas break with a tape of this album. I dipped my toes into the water with the "Hungry Like the Wolf" 45 single first. Other tracks that floated my boat (or yacht) at the time were "Rio," "Hold Back the Rain," "New Religion," and "Save a Prayer."
187. Spring Session M – Missing Persons
When Tom Dellaquila brought back Duran Duran after Christmas, he also had a tape of this album. Standout tracks for me were "Words" (which ApologetiX has since spoofed), "Window," "Destination Unknown," and "Walking in L.A," although I seem to remember Tom playing "It Ain't None of Your Business" a lot. Maybe he was trying to subtly tell me I was hanging out in his dorm room too much? As Benjamin Franklin said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."
188. A Chorus Line – Original Cast Recording
I came back from the '82-83 Christmas break with a ton of new music, too. But it was actually old music. My parents and I flew out to visit my sister Kris and her husband, Dan, in New Jersey. My first airplane ride! Woo hoo! Kris took me on my first trip to New York City and my first (and only) real Broadway show. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was sold out, so we went to see A Chorus Line, which I loved. I taped the soundtrack from Kris and enjoyed reliving the memories. That was Kris' contribution to my album collection. But Dan would have more to add, as we'll see in days to come.
189. Greatest Hits – The Hollies
My brother-in-law Dan was downsizing his record collection and told me to take whatever I wanted. Of all the albums I got in that haul, this was my favorite. I already knew "Bus Stop" and "Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)" pretty well, and I'd heard "Stop! Stop! Stop!" and "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." But there was so much more great stuff. My favorites were "Carrie-Anne," "King Midas in Reverse" "Pay You Back with Interest," and "Long Dark Road." But I also enjoyed "Dear Eloise," "On a Carousel," "Look Through Any Window," and "Just One Look." The CD reissue even includes their last big hit (which came out after this album), "The Air That I Breathe."
190. Greatest Hits! – The Kinks
Another gem from Dan's collection. This was the perfect companion album to The Kink Kronikles, because it contained all the hits that came out before "Sunny Afternoon." That includes their first three U.S. Top 10 hits — You Really Got Me," "All Day and All of the Night," "Tired of Waiting for You" — plus four other Top 40 hits. My favorites besides the biggies: "Till the End of the Day," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," "Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy," and "Who'll Be the Next in Line."
191. Best of Cream – Cream
My brother-in-law Dan gave me this one, too. ApologetiX has done parodies of three songs on this album: "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room," and "Crossroads." But they're not even my favorites. Those would be "I Feel Free," "SWLABR," and "Badge." I also liked "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "Strange Brew," which I already had on the More American Graffiti soundtrack.
192. Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane
One of the first oldies 45s I ever purchased was a double-sided single of "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." I'd picked that one up in 1979, I think. Both of those songs were on this album, given to me by brother-in-law Dan. My favorite tracks besides that were "She Has Funny Cars" and "Plastic Fantastic Lover."
193. The Dave Clark Five's Greatest Hits – The Dave Clark Five
This was another treasure from my brother-in-law Dan's collection. Ten tracks — eight Top 10 hits, two more Top 15 hits. Their songs were so short, the total combined running time for both sides must have been 10-15 minutes. Well, I may be exaggerating a little. My favorite was "Glad All Over," which ApologetiX spoofed in 2020.
194. Who's Next – The Who
Yeah, I know, I know … what took me so long to get to this Who album, which is arguably their best? Maybe it was because I already had four of the songs on the Hooligans album: "Baba O'Riley," "Behind Blue Eyes," "Bargain," and "The Song is Over." But that collection inexplicably didn't contain "Won't Get Fooled Again." Then I heard "Going Mobile" on the radio and loved it. Tom Dellaquila also made me aware of "Getting in Tune." Rounding things out nicely were "Love Ain't for Keeping" and "My Wife." ApologetiX has spoofed "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley."
195. The Kings Are Here - The Kings
Tom Dellaquila introduced me to this underrated Canadian classic, although I first saw it in my Columbia House Record Club catalog. You may have heard "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide" (or at least the second half of it) on the radio. That double-sided single went to #43 in 1980. Those are still my two favorite songs on the album, and they are worth the price of admission, but there were plenty of other catchy tracks to be had.
196. Panorama – The Cars
Longtime fans of particular bands often seem to gravitate to less popular releases by those bands, perhaps in an effort to stand out in the crowd. Whatever the reason, I love The Cars' neglected third release, Panorama — a bridge between Candy-O and Shake It Up. I'd heard them play the "hit" on this album, "Touch and Go," on ABC's Fridays show, and thought, "Is that the best you've got?" Turns out it wasn't. Tom Dellaquila played me some other selections from it a couple years later, and I enjoyed them so much that I bought a cassette copy for myself." Great stuff.
197. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
I once got punched by a girl in high school for comparing Bruce Springsteen's singing on the song "Born to Run" to the Dick Tracy character Mumbles. But I still liked the song, so I bought the album at an indoor flea market in early 1983. Great storytelling and music.
198. Damn the Torpedoes – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
I bought this one at that same indoor flea market in early 1983, although I'd purchased the lead single, "Don't Do Me Like That," when it was a hit in late 1979. ApologetiX spoofed that song in 2017 and this album's opening track, "Refugee," in 2019.
199. T.R.A.S.H. – The Tubes
My college friend Dave Anthony bought this one at a local record store next to the campus, after we'd been discussing how much we enjoyed The Completion Backward Principle. The acronym stands for Tubes Rarities and Smash Hits. That's tongue in cheek; smash hits were a rarity for The Tubes. Released in 1981, it collected notable tracks from their albums before The Completion Backward Principle. Aside from the obvious, "White Punks on Dope," the standouts for me were the rarities — "Drivin' All Night" and a hilarious live version of "Love Will Keep Us Together."
200. The Lexicon of Love – ABC
I think I borrowed this cassette from my college friend Boomer, a musclebound-but-nice (thank goodness!) drummer from Lancaster PA who definitely didn't look like the type of guy who'd be listening to ABC. Maybe it belonged to his girlfriend, Stacey? The cover was cool, and I already liked the two U.S. hit songs "The Look of Love (Part One)" and "Poison Arrow." But the whole thing was surprisingly strong. Other favorites were "With All of My Heart," "Show Me," and "Many Happy Returns." This album was popular enough to spawn a sequel, The Lexicon of Love Pt. II, in 2016. I never had any other ABC albums, but I absolutely adored three of their later singles, "Be Near Me," "(How to Be a) Millionaire," and "When Smokey Sings."
201. Odds & Sods – The Who
Released in 1974, this collection of outtakes and rarities was arguably stronger than some of the standard Who releases. I bought it almost a decade later from a rack at some store in Indiana PA. It wasn't a record store — it runs in my mind that it was a hardware store or something like that. The most memorable tracks for me were "Postcard, "Long Live Rock," "Pure and Easy," and "Now I'm a Farmer."
202. Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Finally, a Creedence Clearwater Revival album that included all of their hits! Of the songs I didn't already have on Creedence Gold, my favorites were "Green River," "Fortunate Son," and "Lodi." But there's not a dud to be found on this double disc.
203. Synchronicity – The Police
I bought the Police's fifth album as soon as it hit the stores, just as I'd done with their fourth. I'd heard "Synchronicity II" on the radio first, then "Every Breath You Take," and the band I was in immediately started learning it. But the song that really struck me when I sat down to listen to the entire album was "King of Pain." Of course, "Wrapped Around Your Finger" became a big hit, too. The non-hits I liked were "Miss Gradenko" and "Synchronicity I."
204. Cuts Like a Knife – Bryan Adams
I'd seen a relatively unknown Bryan Adams open up for The Kinks in January 1982 and was stunned when the guy started having pop hits in the spring of 1983. The first was "Straight from the Heart," but three others I started hearing on local rock radio were the ones that motivated me to buy Cuts Like a Knife — "Take Me Back," "This Time," and the title track, which ApologetiX went on to spoof in 2014. I also enjoyed the opening tracks on each side, "The Only One" and "I'm Ready."
205. Snap! - The Jam
These guys were huge in the UK — four #1's, one #2, one #3, two #4's, and 10 other Top 40 hits — without a sniff of a hit in the USA. Michael Ranieri first made me aware of them. This double album had 29 great tunes. The Jam's main man, Paul Weller, finally did have a U.S. Top 40 hit in 1984 with his next group, The Style Council — "My Ever Changing Moods."
206. Singles 45's and Under - Squeeze
Squeeze was another group I learned about from Michael Ranieri that was a lot bigger across the pond than stateside, although at least you had a chance of hearing songs like "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," "Black Coffee in Bed," and especially "Tempted" on U.S. rock radio. "Tempted" even hit #49 on the Billboard Hot 100. I bought this in the summer of '83 after my freshman year at IUP, and one of my apartment mates, Kevin "Kebo" Johnson, played it to death our sophomore year. My faves were "Goodbye Girl," "Up the Junction," and "If I Didn't Love You." Squeeze finally nabbed two U.S. Top 40 hits in 1987-88, "Hourglass" and "853-5937."
207. Look Sharp! – Joe Jackson
I really liked "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" when it was a #21 U.S. pop hit in the summer of '79, but I didn't buy this cassette till the summer of '83. Loved it! I was learning to play bass at the time and was enthralled by Graham Maby's style. That dude knew how to make his presence known, much like The Who's John Entwistle. This was another album my old apartment mate Kebo played over and over in the fall of '83. Other highlights included "One More Time" and "Sunday Papers."
208. Duran Duran – Duran Duran
I first heard the song "Is There Something I Should Know?" on the same day my old neighborhood friends and I went to see the movie Return of the Jedi, right after college let out in 1983. The lyrics were a bit silly, but I liked it a ton anyway. I bought this album soon after. It was the 1983 reissue; that song wasn't on the original 1981 edition. Actually, the tune I was most interested in was "Girls on Film," which they played a bit on our local new-wave station. "Planet Earth" was probably my third-favorite. Those last two songs were hits in the UK and Australia but not in the USA.
209. The Best of Guess Who – The Guess Who
I already knew "American Woman," "These Eyes," and "No Time" pretty well, and I'd heard "Laughing" and "Undun" before I bought this cassette. I liked all of them, but my favorites wound up being "No Sugar Tonight," "New Mother Nature," "Hand Me Down World," and "Share the Land." Tom Dellaquila was the person who made me aware that there was much more to The Guess Who — songs like "Bus Rider," "Do You Miss Me Darlin'?" and "Hang on to Your Life," which are also included here. Guess what? I wasn't finished with The Guess Who. More to come.
210. State of Confusion – The Kinks
Man, was I excited in the summer of '83 when my boys The Kinks came out with their first Top 10 hit in 13 years! "Come Dancing" was catchy, and the band I was in at the time started learning soon after. ApologetiX eventually spoofed it in 2018. This album even had second Top 40 hit, "Don't Forget to Dance," and the local rock station played the title track a lot, too. I thought those two songs were OK, but I preferred "Definite Maybe" and "Heart of Gold."
Note: The albums are not listed in order of preference or excellence, but in chronological order of when they influenced me. Also, 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 1988, so it's going to be a while before we get to the Christian albums, but there will be many of those when the time comes (literally).