The Never-Ending Album Challenge: Weeks 38-41
Fri., Feb. 19. 2021 8:06pm EST
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. They are not listed in order of preference or excellence, but in chronological order of when they influenced me, as best as I can recall:
261. Bridge Over Troubled Water Simon & Garfunkel
Here's another classic album I overlooked earlier in my music-listening career because I already had Greatest Hits. All four of this album's Top 20 hits — "The Boxer," "Cecelia," "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)," and the title track — were included on that collection, but they weren't the only reason Bridge sold over 25 million copies. Yes, the other seven tracks are great, too! Sometimes I'll spontaneous break into song with snippets of "Keep the Customer Satisfied," "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright," or "The Only Living Boy in the New York." ApologetiX has done parodies of three songs from this album, but you've probably only heard the one of "Cecelia." In the early days, we also did spoofs of "Bye Bye Love" and "Baby Driver."
262. Colour by Numbers Culture Club
I have never owned a Culture Club album. I loved some of their hits and loathed others. But their second album had my three favorites: "Church of the Poison Mind," "Karma Chameleon," and "It's a Miracle." I wrote and sang a parody of "Karma Chameleon" at my church with the worship team once. I thought the other single on Colour by Numbers, "Miss Me Blind," was kind of "meh." I would have gladly swapped it out for "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" from their first album or "Move Away" from their fourth album. Don't even get me started on "The War Song" or "Mistake No. 3" from their third album.
263. Die 30 Grφίten Hits The Rolling Stones
I bought this German import as a Christmas gift for brother-in-law Dan one year, and he gave it back to me when he got rid of his record collection in early 1983. I just forgot to list it earlier. Although I already owned Hot Rocks 1964-71, and there is significant overlap here, this two-record set contained 13 other Stones standards not on Hot Rocks: "Not Fade Away," "It's All Over Now," "Tell Me," Good Times Bad Times," "Little Red Rooster," "The Last Time," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?," "Lady Jane," "Dandelion," "We Love You," "She's a Rainbow," and "2000 Light Years from Home."
264. 90125 Yes
Here's another album I never owned, but four of the songs were unforgettable parts of the soundtrack to my college years: "Owner of a Lonely Heart," "Leave it," "It Can Happen," and "Changes." The first three hit the Top Five on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and I've never tired of any of them. "Changes" just missed the Top, stalling at #6, and how could anybody get that crazy intro out of their head? Speaking of intros, I still remember the first time I heard an aspiring guitarist play the opening chords to "Owner of a Lonely Heart" in a local music store. That was my first clue Yes had a bigger hit on their hands than I had ever imagined. In fact, it went the whole way to #1 on the pop charts. Be-lieeeve it!
265. Eliminator ZZ Top
Some people think ZZ Top "sold out" with this album, but they also sold over 10 million copies of it in the United States alone. At the time, I thought the first three tracks and singles — "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Got Me Under Pressure," and "Sharp Dressed Man" — were the most accessible music the Texas trio had ever released. And that was before they released Eliminator's final single, a track that literally gave the album "Legs" and gave ZZ Top their first Top 10 hit. Believe it or not, that was the album's fifth single. There was also a fourth — "T.V. Dinners," best known for its video. Yeah, I know the other songs from this album were known for their videos, too, but this one had a Claymation alien rather than supermodels. ApologetiX released a parody of "Sharp Dressed Man" in 1999, but we've had a parody written of one of the other singles since the mid-1990's, patiently waiting its turn. In the meantime, we also released a parody of an earlier ZZ Top hit, "Tush," in 2014.
266. Greatest Hits Aerosmith
Gosh-oh-rootie, I don't know where this album should fall on the list. I liked "Walk This Way" the first time I ever heard it, back in 1976. I didn't hear "Sweet Emotion" till I was on the bus in high school a few years later, but I loved that one instantly, too. In fact, it was one of four songs I sang when I made my debut as a rock-and-roll singer with Terminal in early 1982. ApologetiX has spoofed both of those songs — two times apiece! We've also spoofed "Back in the Saddle," plus a couple late-80's Aerosmith tunes. Other tracks on this album I remember first hearing and enjoying on that the high-school bus were "Same Old Song and Dance" and "Last Child." I didn't hear "Draw the Line" till I bought this album, but I liked that one, too. And, yes, this disc also contains the biggest hit from the first era of Aerosmith, "Dream On."
267. Stop Making Sense Talking Heads
I first heard of the band Talking Heads in early 1979 from John Chrisman, a guy in the neighborhood who was a year older than I and rode my bus. I thought it was the funniest band name ever. That was before it became such a commonly used term. The band members got the name from a television-studio expression they read about in an issue of TV Guide. I also loved the title of their album More Songs About Building and Food and their strange, laid-back cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River." Of course, I didn't know at the time that it even was a cover version or who Al Green was. I bought the single "Burning Down the House" in the fall of 1983. This live album came out in the fall of 1984. It has versions of other famous Heads songs like "Psycho Killer" and "Life During Wartime (This Ain't No Party... This Ain't No Disco... This Ain't No Foolin' Around)," but the song that got everyone's attention was "Once in a Lifetime" with that classic video of David Byrne in the oversized suit. Earworms included "What a Day That Was" and "Girlfriend Is Better."
268. Word of Mouth The Kinks
This one was a Christmas gift from Tom Dellaquila, who was my roommate at the time (1984). The first single, "Do It Again," just missed the Top 40 by one notch, but it reached #4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. Another great track on this album, "Living on a Thin Line," hit #29 on the Mainstream Rock charts and was later used three times in an episode of The Sopranos. In fact, it's been called the series' "most asked-about song." Those two tunes were easily among The Kinks' strongest 80's efforts. And in a case of "saving the best for last," the last track on side two (back when I had this on vinyl) was a wonderful, wistful number called "Going Solo."
269. Reckless Bryan Adams
This album spawned six singles that reached the Top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, including Bryan's first #1 hit, "Heaven." My favorites were "Run to You," "One Night Love Affair," and "Summer of '69." ApologetiX recorded a spoof of that one in the summer of '99. I also used to sing "Somebody" in my last secular band back in '87. The other single was "It's Only Love," a duet with Tina Turner. Reckless came out in the fall of my junior year in college, and I'm pretty sure my old housemate Dave Anthony was the first person I knew who owned it. I seem to recall hearing "Kids Wanna Rock" blasting out of his room.
270. Building the Perfect Beast Don Henley
I'd always appreciated The Eagles, and I really liked "Dirty Laundry," Henley's first big solo hit. However, this album's lead-off single, "The Boys of Summer," took it to a new level for me. What a well-crafted track — the words, the music, the performances — wow! And then there were three excellent subsequent singles, all of which hit the Top 40: "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," "Not Enough Love in This World," and "Sunset Grill." Other tunes I turned to on this one included "You Can't Make Love," "Man with a Mission," "Drivin' with Your Eyes Closed," and "A Month of Sundays," which initially was only available on the cassette or as the flip side of the 45 single version of "The Boys of Summer." Henley is one heck of a songwriter; he has collaborated with a lot of other writers over the years, and the songs are always strong.
271. Ricochet Days Modern English
I made myself a cassette copy of this one in college, courtesy of the Dave Anthony archives. It doesn't contain Modern English's signature hit, "I Melt with You" (that was on their previous album) but the songs that kick off sides one and two are equally incredible — "Rainbow's End" and "Hands Across the Sea." Loved 'em! I'd give the title track the bronze medal. "Spinning Me Round" is pretty good, too. ApologetiX went on to spoof "I Melt with You" in 2015.
272. East Side Story Squeeze
Michael Ranieri recommended this one, and since I owned and loved Squeeze's previous two albums, Cool for Cats and Argybargy, I bought it, too. I already knew a couple of the songs — "Tempted" and "Is That Love" — from Singles - 45's and Under, but that was just scratching the surface. Other delightful pop confections on East Side Story included "In Quintessence," "Someone Else's Heart," "Piccadilly," "Labeled with Love" (a #4 hit in the the UK), "Woman's World," and "Messed Around."
273. Solid Gold Party Rock II Various Artists
I felt like Indiana Jones when I discovered this five-record treasure trove of 52 oldies (from the late 50's, 60's, and early 70's) in the "used" section at Backstreet Records at IUP. Well, come to think of it, the college and store were in Indiana PA, so maybe I could be Indiana Jackson. Tons o' hits, as seen in this TV commercial from 1983: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUbqXkSdNzI I could be wrong, but I think my housemate (and future roommate) Lance Craig had already obtained the first Party Rock collection in similar fashion.
274. Best of Herman's Hermits Vol. 2 Herman's Hermits
I remember having this album and an earlier Hermits album, On Tour, in my last two years of college. I know I somehow had all of their other hits from "I'm Into Something Good" through "Dandy," too, but I can't remember how I got them. I'm pretty sure I taped the songs I needed off of records from the IUP library. That's 11 Top 10 hits (including the #1 hits "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and "I'm Henry VIII, I Am") and two others that went to #12 and #13. ApologetiX spoofed "Henry VIII" in 2014 as "Herman's Sermon."
275. Love Over Gold Dire Straits
This album was much bigger worldwide than in the States. It only went to #19 here, but it hit #1 in Australia, Austria, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. I don't know where it should appear chronologically on my list. I heard "Industrial Disease" long before any other song on it, and I thought that tune was just the coolest. Years later, I'd learn about "Private Investigations," a #2 hit in the UK that was unreleased and criminally ignored here. The title track is a fine song, too. But the opening track, a 14-minute masterpiece called "Telegraph Road," is simply stunning.
276. Greatest Hits Elton John
It's a little bit funny that I took so long to get Elton John's Greatest Hits album, seeing as Greatest Hits Volume 2 was one of my first record purchases ever. I think I got this one at a flea market. Of course, as any Elton fan can tell you, his full-length albums from the first half of the 70's are filled with other songs that are just as good as the hits. And I think it's NOT gonna be a long, long time till you start seeing some of those albums appear on this list. Actually, one of them already did, much earlier: Don't Shoot Me (I'm Only the Piano Player). More to come.
277. Cruisin' 1974 Various Artists
In the days before iTunes, it was hard to find the original recordings of many 70's pop hits. This 10-track cassette packed a real punch at a discount price, including five #1 hits: "Billy Don't Be a Hero," "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)," "I Can Help," "Rock the Boat," and "Rock Your Baby." It also had the exquisite #2 hit "When Will I See You Again." I never get tired of that one. In fact, the only two songs on Cruisin' 74 that didn't hit the Top 5 still went to #6 — "Midnight at the Oasis" and the breathtaking (literally and figuratively) Hollies hit "The Air That I Breathe."
278. Around the World in a Day Prince
Prince put out his psychedelic follow-up album to Purple Rain in mid-April 1985, but he wouldn't let his record company release any singles from it till almost a month later. It eventually yielded two Top 10 hits, "Raspberry Beret" (#2) — which propelled the album to #1 — and "Pop Life" (#7). The third single, "America," only went to #46. Another track I really liked, "Paisley Park," was released as a single in the UK only and went to #18 there. In fact, I think it may have been the first song from this album that I heard on the radio. The title track and "Tamborine" were also pretty catchy.
279. Make It Big Wham!
I was a proud non-owner of this album, but I must confess that I did own all four of its singles. I collected any 45 that went to #1, and that's what "Wake Me Up Before Your Go-Go," "Careless Whisper," and "Everything She Wants" did. But I really liked "Wake Me Up" and "Everything" and might have bought them anyway. And I loved the fourth single, "Freedom," which *only* went to #3. Furthermore, if you must know, I bought two of the singles from their next album, too — "I'm Your Man" (#3 but kind of redundant) and "Edge of Heaven (#10)." And I even liked and taped the song "Bad Boys" from their first album. ApologetiX has never released a Wham! spoof, but we did do a George Michael spoof in our early days, and I did perform a Wham! spoof at the IUP journalism department banquet in my earlier days.
280. Songs from the Big Chair Tears for Fears
Here's a much more fashionable duo for you rock lovers. It's another album I didn't own, but, as I stated before, I collected singles that went to #1 — and eventually expanded my purchasing to ones that went to #2, #3, #4, and #5. Consequently, I owned "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (#1), "Shout" (#1), and "Head Over Heels" (#3). But I didn't merely like them because they charted so high; they were great tunes. In fact, ApologetiX has already spoofed one of those songs and I've written partial parodies of the other two. I also appreciated the fourth single, "Mother's Talk," which only went to #27. My first taste of Tears for Fears was "Change" from their previous album. And what's not to like about the first single from their subsequent album, the #2 hit "Sowing the Seeds of Love"?
281. Television's Greatest Hits Various Artists
This double album contained 65 TV theme songs from the 50's and 60's — everything from sitcoms to sci-fi, cartoons to cop shows, early morning (Captain Kangaroo) to late night (The Tonight Show). Some tracks were the original recordings, some were re-recordings, but the latter were well done and had better sound quality. Unfortunately, none of them were apparently made to be cranked at a house party, and we may have blown out a speaker (or two) of housemate Dave Anthony's stereo system. Sorry, Dave!
282. Nervous Night The Hooters
My old neighborhood pal Dave Rhodes (who, by this time was also attending IUP) bought this album before I did. But that was after I bought the first single, "All You Zombies," and got him hooked on The Hooters. The next three singles were even better: "And We Danced," "Day by Day," and "Where Do the Children Go," a song Tom Dellaquila and I would sing together in a bar band a couple years later. Of course, our Philly friends from the other side of the state already knew how terrific their hometown Hooters were. Like many albums, this one started strong — with three of the singles. But it also finished strong, with three of my favorite tracks: "South Ferry Road," "She Comes in Colors" (a cover of a song by the 60's band Love) and "Blood from a Stone."
283. Sounds of Silence Simon & Garfunkel
I taped this one from Dave Anthony. I already knew "The Sounds of Silence," "I Am a Rock," and "Kathy's Song" from Greatest Hits, but I was again surprised by how great the album tracks were, especially "Leaves That Are Green," "Somewhere They Can't Find Me," "Richard Cory," "April Come She Will," and "We've Got a Groovy Thing Goin'." Dig it, man.
284. Brothers in Arms Dire Straits
Lance Craig was my roommate senior year in college. We often played his cassette copy of this quiet classic (although it was brand new at the time) as the last album of the day. The long, laid-back tracks at the end of each side, "Why Worry" (8:31) and "Brothers in Arms" (6:59), are two of the best ballads Mark Knopfler ever wrote. You know the three hits, and I've sung 'em all in bands: "So Far Away" in my last secular band, and parodies of "Money for Nothing" and "Walk of Life" in ApologetiX. My other favorite was "The Man's Too Strong," but it's all killer, no filler.
285. Scarecrow John Cougar Mellencamp
The one-time "American Fool" really started to hit his stride as a serious songwriter on this album, including three Top Ten hits ("Lonely Ol' Night," "Small Town," and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.") and two additional Top 40 hits ("Rain on the Scarecrow" and "Rumbleseat"). A couple other songs I really enjoyed hit the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, "Justice and Independence '85" and "Minutes to Memories." I sang "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." in my last secular band, and ApologetiX spoofed "Lonely Ol' Night" in 2017." The first single Mellencamp released after Scarecrow would be "Paper in Fire." I wonder if he was inspired by the words of the Wicked Witch of the West: "How about a little fire, Scarecrow?"
286. White City: A Novel Pete Townshend
This was another store-bought cassette my roommate Lance owned before I did. But we were both already longtime bigtime fans of Pete Townshend and The Who. Although I preferred Pete's two previous albums, this one had some excellent tracks, most notably the two singles, "Face the Face" and "Give Blood." Rounding out my fave five were "White City Fighting," "Secondhand Love," and "Brilliant Blues."
287. Strength The Alarm
The first song I heard from this album was the title track, and that was all it took. The first person I knew who bought this album was Dave Anthony, and that was all it took. After all, what are dual-deck cassette systems for? The opening track, "Knife-Edge" was awesome, too. I also really liked "Spirit of '76," "Dawn Chorus," and "Father to Son." Back then, The Alarm seemed like the Welsh answer to U2. Maybe they still do. I also liked "Sixty Eight Guns" from their previous album, and "Rain in the Summertime" and "Rescue Me" from their subsequent album. "Rescue Me" was later covered by Christian rockers Geoff Moore and the Distance. I like both versions a whole bunch.
288. Born Yesterday The Everly Brothers
During my senior year in college, I had a brief career as a music critic for our campus newspaper, The Penn. This record was my first assignment. I'd enjoyed The Everly Brothers' classic 50's and 60's hits, but Born Yesterday was the second of three comeback albums they did in the 80's. I listened to it a lot, so I'd be able to give an informed opinion. It had some pretty decent songs, including "Amanda Ruth," "Always Drive a Cadillac," "Born Yesterday," "Abandoned Love" (a Bob Dylan cover), and "Why Worry" (a Dire Straits song I mentioned earlier on this list). I gave it a thorough-but-mixed review, and that's when I got my first taste of complaint letters. Apparently, there were more die-hard Everly fans at IUP than I'd anticipated. ApologetiX has recorded two Everly Brothers spoofs, but unless you were a fan in the 90's, you've probably only heard one of them.
Note: 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).