The Expanding Album Challenge: Week 35
Sun., Jan. 10. 2021 6:19pm EST
J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here again.
It has become apparent that I'll need more than 365 days in the "albums that influenced me" series that I started in May 2020. Here are entries from this past week:
240. Sports – Huey Lewis and the News
My college friend (and one of my eventual housemates) Dave Anthony was the first person I knew who bought this album. He already owned previous releases by Huey, too. The four Top 10 hits on Sports were part of the soundtrack of my sophomore year in college and the summer afterward — "Heart and Soul," "I Want a New Drug," "The Heart of Rock & Roll," and "If This Is It." The final single, "Walkin' on a Thin Line," came out in the fall of my junior year. It only went to #18, but I liked it a lot. "Bad Is Bad" was a little slow for me, but there's another version of that song done by another artist on an another album coming up on this list. ApologetiX eventually spoofed "I Want a New Drug." We also spoofed the single that followed up this album, "The Power of Love."
241. Don't Stop - Billy Idol
This 1981 record was actually just a four-song EP, but I played "Dancing with Myself" to death. I couldn't get enough of that song and also really liked "Baby Talk." I thought Billy's version of "Mony Mony" was great, too, until I heard it for umpteenth time. Even "The Untouchables" was decent. I was also a big fan of "White Wedding," "Hot in the City," and "Love Calling" from Billy's 1982 eponymous follow-up album. I actually heard that one before I heard this one.
242. Into the Gap – Thompson Twins
The Thompson Twins played a concert at IUP during the spring semester of my sophomore year, right about the time their biggest hit, "Hold Me Now," was cresting the charts (it went to #3). I adored that song — I'd also enjoyed their previous hits, "Lies" and "Love on Your Side" — but for some reason, I didn't feel compelled to go. Maybe I needed the money for pizza. But I bought the single and its follow-up, "Doctor! Doctor!" Then I heard "The Gap" on the local rock station. What a cool tune! I can't remember if I'd heard the third single, "You Take Me Up," before I finally bought this album, but I love that one, too. I never owned the follow-up album, but I'm a big fan of its two big hits, "Lay Your Hands on Me" and "King for a Day."
243. She's So Unusual - Cyndi Lauper
The winner of 1985's Grammy for Best New Artist had a quite a run of singles off this album in 1984-85 — each distinctly different from the others, yet each distinctly Lauper-esque —"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (#2), "Time After Time" (#1), "She Bop" (#3), "All Through the Night" (#5), and "Money Changes Everything" (#27). You play any of those tunes, and everyone knows it's Cyndi. I liked 'em all. Her cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine" was popular with some of my friends, too. Hey, I made it the whole way through a paragraph about Cyndi Lauper without using the words "quirky" or "eccentric"! Oops.
244. 1984 (a.k.a. MCMLXXXIV) – Van Halen
I'd liked plenty of other Van Halen songs along the way, but this was the one that brought them into the mainstream for me (and the rest of America). You know the four singles — "Jump," "I'll Wait" (cowritten by an uncredited Michael McDonald), "Panama," and "Hot for Teacher." ApologetiX has already spoofed a couple of them. I also liked "Top Jimmy" a lot.
245. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme – Simon & Garfunkel
Even though Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits had been a seminal (Simonal?) record in my development as a young rock fan, I'd never bothered to listen to any of their other albums. Then, one day during the summer of 1984, I heard this one playing in Camelot Records at Westmoreland Mall. I already knew the title track, plus "Homeward Bound," "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" and "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her," but most of those were live recordings on Greatest Hits. These were the studio versions, and I liked them even better. Moreover, I couldn't believe how great everything else sounded! My favorite tracks were: "Cloudy," "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall," "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine," and "A Simple Desultory Philippic." This album also includes their classic-albeit-disturbing Christmas commentary, "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night." ApologetiX eventually spoofed the title track in 2014.
246. Let's Dance – David Bowie
The title track from Let's Dance went to #1, and the follow-up single, "China Girl," went to #10, but it was the third single, "Modern Love" (#14), that did it for me. I also like the fourth single, "Without You," quite a bit, but you might not have known there even was a fourth single, since it only went to #73. I didn't hear it till I heard the album. I also dug "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)," although Bowie had already released an excellent, moodier, smoldering, slow version on the soundtrack for the Cat People movie over a year earlier. "Ricochet" was never one of my "go to" tracks, but it's hard to get out of your head once you hear it.
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).