Influential Albums: 379-385
Sat., May. 29. 2021 4:21pm 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. Rather than listing the albums in order of preference or excellence, I've been listing them in chronological order of when they influenced me, as best as I recall. We are well into 1987 now, and you'll start seeing a lot of Christian albums once we get to 1988.
However, I've recently realized that I neglected to include many influential albums along the way, so I'm going to catching up on those for a while before we get to that momentous moment in '88 when my life and musical trajectory was forever changed. You'll still see plenty of secular albums after that, but music was never the same for me after.
379. True Blue – Madonna
My first Madonna purchase was a 45 of "Borderline" in 1984. It was the fourth single from her eponymous debut album and her first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #10 exactly. She would go on to have 37 more Top 10 hits! I really liked "Borderline." The third and fifth singles were also hits — "Holiday" (#16), and "Lucky Star" (#4) — but I merely tolerated them. The first two singles, "Everybody" and "Burning Up," missed the Hot 100 but were hits on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart. Because I collected #1 and #2 hits (and eventually #3's, #4's, and #5's), I wound up buying a lot of Madonna singles over the years, sometimes willingly and sometimes grudgingly. I think True Blue is the only one of her albums I ever owned. It featured three #1 hits ("Live to Tell," "Papa Don't Preach," and "Open Your Heart") and two other top 5 hits ("La Isla Bonita" and "True Blue"). "Live to Tell" came out three months before the album, and I wrote a review of it for my college newspaper. My favorites of the aforementioned five songs were "Open Your Heart" and the title track. My other favorite Madonna songs through the years were "Material Girl," "Crazy for You," "Oh Father," "Vogue," and "Beautiful Stranger." I have a playlist of Madonna songs on iTunes that I titled "This Used to Be My Playlist." If you don't get the joke, you wouldn't like the songs anyway. ApologetiX spoofed "Like a Virgin" in 2016. We also released a Beatles spoof in which she figured prominently, "Maybe Madonna," in 2017.
380. Greatest Hits – Petula Clark
I got a hold of this in college, probably from the IUP library. Two of my all-time favorite songs from my earliest childhood memories were done by Petula Clark — "Downtown" (#1) and "Don't Sleep in the Subway" (#5). She had another #1 U.S. hit, "My Love," which I had already purchased on an old 45. All three of those songs are on this collection, as are the #3 hits "This is My Song" (written by Charlie Chaplain) and "I Know a Place" (another favorite of mine). Greatest Hits also features two other smash singles I really like, "A Sign of the Times" (#11) and "Colour My World" (#16). The only U.S. Top 20 hits missing are "I Couldn't Love Without Your Love" (#9) and "Kiss Me Goodbye" (#15). Known as "the First Lady of the British Invasion," Petula was big in the United States from 1965-68, but that was nothing compared to her popularity and longevity in France, Italy, and her native England, where she first hit the Top 10 in 1954.
381. Against the Wind – Bob Seger
It seemed like they played just about every song from this 1980 album on our local FM stations, even though Capitol Records only released four singles from it. I bought the first one, "Fire Lake," which went to #6. The other three were "Against the Wind" (#5), "You'll Accompany Me" (#14), and "The Horizontal Bop" (#42). Three of the flip sides of those singles got a lot of airplay, too, and I liked them all: "Long Twin Silver Line," "Betty Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight," and "Her Strut." The album itself went to #1 for six weeks — Bob Seger's first and only chart-topping LP — unseating Pink Floyd's The Wall from throne. I appreciate the songwriting that went into the title track more and more as I grow older. Ironically, Seger's two highest-charting singles — "Shakedown" (#1) and "Shame on the Moon" (#2) — didn't even make it onto his first Greatest Hits album in 1994. Maybe they were too pop ("Shakedown") and too country ("Shame") for his rocker image. Maybe he just had a thing against songs that start with the letters S-H-A. Regardless, they were included on Greatest Hits Volume 2 in 2003, as was the previously passed-over #5 live hit, "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You."
382. Beatles VI – The Beatles
Another album specifically designed for the North American market, Beatles VI came out in June 1965. It was one of only two Beatles records available for borrowing at my local library in Greensburg PA when I first got into the lads from Liverpool, in the winter of 1977-78. There are just two Top 40 hits on this record — the #1 single "Eight Days a Week" (one of the first Beatles songs ApologetiX ever spoofed) and its flip side "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," which went to #39. But my personal picks are "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey," "You Like Me Too Much," "Bad Boy," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "Words of Love," "Every Little Thing," and one of my all-time favorites, "Tell Me What You See." A cover version of that song will appear on an album later on this list.
383. In the City – The Jam
As I mentioned a long time ago on this list, in the summer of 1984 I bought a career-spanning collection by The Jam called Snap! Although that double-album included 29 songs, the band still had many other tunes great tunes left for me to discover. My old high-school friend Michael Ranieri owned all six of their albums and made me collections of his favorites later at my request. Released in May 1977, In the City, was The Jam's first album. My favorite tracks were "Art School," "In the City" (their first U.K. Top 40 hit) and an absolutely crazy cover they did of the old Larry Williams song "Slow Down." I've always loved The Beatles' version, but I like The Jam's punky version a whole lot, too. Other memorable tracks on In the City included: "I Got by in Time," "Away from the Numbers," "Sounds from the Street," and "Batman Theme." Yes, that Batman theme.
384. Mary Poppins – Original Cast Soundtrack
OK, any shred of rock credibility I had left just went out the window (or up the chimney) with this one. It's from my childhood, and I forgot to mention it earlier. My family owned the record, and I remember seeing the film in the theater, but obviously not during its first run, since it came out in 1964, the year I was born. But what kid doesn't like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"? And I cite Mary Poppins and quote from the song "A Spoonful of Sugar" in the ApologetiX song "Strangest Folks." Furthermore, I might not have known what David Bowie was singing about in "Suffragette City" if I hadn't already heard "Sister Suffragette." My favorite song on this album, however, is "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)"; the music really pulls on my heartstrings. And you'd have to be as cold as a pre-Poppins Mr. Banks to resist the charms of "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and "Let's Go Fly a Kite." So, back off, ye haters! Incidentally, this record was the #1 album of the year in 1965 (14 weeks at #1), beating out three Beatles albums, Beatles '65 (#2), Help! (#3), and Beatles VI (#5). The other album in the year-end Top Five was Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass (#4).
385. The Super Hits Vol. 4 – Various Artists
The compilation of hits from the Atlantic Records label came out in 1969. I think I bought it at a flea market while I was in college, mainly to get the songs "People Got to Be Free" by The Rascals and "Fire" by Arthur Brown. This was also where I first heard the sultry sounds of "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield. Other favorites were "Can I Change My Mind" by Tyrone Davis and "See Saw" by Aretha Franklin. I liked "White Room" by Cream a whole lot, too, but already owned it on a Cream compilation. The pop-art-style pictures on the front of this album were great. Tom Dellaquila and I used to joke about the picture they used for the song "Slip Away." A fish head? We found it so funny that I actually wrote an original song called "Slip Away Like a Fish." While we're on the subject, Tom later owned the album Fish Heads: Barnes & Barnes Greatest Hits on a picture disc shaped and illustrated like a fish head. One half of Barnes & Barnes was former child actor Bill Mumy from the old TV show Lost in Space. I liked the title track, and so do my kids, but the rest of the songs were too over the top to share with my kids or on this list. Danger, Will Robinson!
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 '88. However, I hope you'll see (as I do) how God's hand was at work behind the scenes from the start, preparing me for the work I believe He intended for me to do.