Influential Albums: 414-420
Thu., Jul. 1. 2021 9:54pm 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 were well into 1987, and you'll start seeing a lot of Christian albums once we get to 1988.
However, in May 2021, I realized that I'd neglected to include many influential albums along the way, so I've been 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.
414. 16 of Their Greatest Hits - The Mamas & The Papas
The Mamas & The Papas had 10 songs that hit the Top 40, and they're all on this album, including six that hit the Top Five: "Monday, Monday" (#1), "Dedicated to the One I Love (#2), "California Dreamin'" (#4), "I Saw Her Again" (#4), "Creeque Alley" (#5), and "Words of Love" (#5). I thought Tom Dellaquila owned this record, but he says he had Farewell to the First Golden Era, so I'm not sure where this one came from. If I recall correctly, one of his favorites was "Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)," which went to #20. That's a pretty good one. So is "Go Where You Wanna Go," which didn't chart but was later a Top 20 hit for The 5th Dimension. I remember "Monday, Monday" from my childhood, but my first recollection of hearing "California Dreamin'" was actually a cover version released by America in 1979. It was recorded for and featured in a movie called California Dreaming but only went to #56. You can't even get it on iTunes now, but I used to own it on 45. I also had "I Saw Her Again" by The Mamas & The Papas on 45, but my favorite tune by them is probably "Creeque Alley" (named after a place in the Virgin Islands — the first word is pronounced "creaky"), although I thought they did a great job with "Dedicated to the One I Love," which had already been a #3 hit for The Shirelles in 1961.
415. Grootste Hits – Cliff Richard
I got a used copy of Groostste Hits at Backstreet Records while I was in college. It was an import from the Netherlands and contained 18 tracks. The grootste hits I was most interested in were the last three, "Devil Woman" (#6 in 1976), "We Don't Talk Anymore" (#7 in 1980), and "Dreaming" (#10 in 1980). Sir Cliff Richard was a megastar in England, with over 125 U.K. chart hits, including 14 chart-toppers. Here in the United States, he had nine that hit the Top 40 from 1959-80, and only the three I mentioned above actually hit the Top 10. His other two singles that hit the U.S. Top 20, "Suddenly" (with Olivia Newton-John) and "A Little in Love" (both released in late 1980), were either too recent for this 1981 collection or they weren't considered "grootste" enough. Richard's first U.S. Top 40 hit, "Living Doll" (#30 in 1959), did make it, though. I knew how popular he was in England, so I tried to get into the older tunes, but they just didn't do much for me. However, those three U.S. Top 10's still made this a worthwhile purchase. I know he's Sir Cliff Richard now, but he looks like Dr. Cliff Richard in the cover photo. For a a look at the cover and a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/Cliff-Richard-Grootste-Hits/release/2317936
416. Meet the Beatles! – The Beatles
This was the album that took America by storm the year I was born. My brother-in-law Dan gave me his old copy, and I liked owning a piece of history, but Meet the Beatles! was "hit or miss" on my musical scorecard. You can't go wrong with the first two songs, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There," and the last song on side one, "All My Loving," but there are several tracks that might not make the cut for my top 100 Beatles tunes. Exhibit A: "Till There Was You." I love the Broadway musical The Music Man, and I love Paul McCartney, but I also love peanut butter, and I love tuna fish. That doesn't mean I want to have them on the same sandwich. Having said that, Meet the Beatles! still provides plenty of fun for the whole family, including yours truly. My favorite lesser-known numbers are probably "It Won't Be Long," "Little Child," "Don't Bother Me," and "I Wanna Be Your Man."
417. John Denver's Greatest Hits and Greatest Hits Vol. 2 – John Denver
This is one of the few greatest-hits tandems where I'm more familiar with the songs on the second volume. That said, I think one of my sisters owned the first, which came out in late 1973. If I'm not mistaken, my college friend Barb Hunter owned Volume 2. But John Denver's big breakthrough single, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" (#2), was my jam long before either of those compilations, back in '71. It's one of the first pop songs I can remember singing along to, although I thought the place was called "West Bejoonia." ApologetiX spoofed that song in 2017. My childhood friend Chris Marsh, who would later introduce me to bands like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, and Rush, was into John Denver before moving on to those heavyweights. He was a big fan of "Rocky Mountain High" (#9), another one of my favorite Denver tunes. My sister Kris had a 45 of "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," and I played and sang that one a lot and still remember all the words. The flip side was "My Sweet Lady," which later became a Top 40 hit, too. I occasionally sing love songs to my wife, Lisa, and "Annie's Song" is one of her favorites, except for the line that says, "let me die in your arms." John Denver had four #1 hits (technically five, because one was a double-sided single): "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "Annie's Song," "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and "I'm Sorry/Calypso." Respected Billboard chart historians differ in the way they classify the last one; Joel Whitburn considers "I'm Sorry" a #1 hit but "Calypso" a #2 hit, while Fred Bronson lists them as a double-sided #1. Of course, I had to have recordings of all those for my #1 and #2 songs collection (which later expanded to #3, #4, and #5). My favorite was "Calypso," which was not about the style of music Harry Belafonte made famous but the research ship of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau. Other highlights include "Follow Me," "Back Home Again" (a #5 hit), "Sweet Surrender," and "Grandma's Feather Bed."
418. Greatest Hits, Volume 2 – Linda Ronstadt
Unlike many artists, Linda Ronstadt had plenty of hits left over for Greatest Hits, Volume 2. It picked up where Greatest Hits left off, in late 1976, and went the whole way through mid-1980. All 11 tracks had been previously released as singles, with nine of them hitting the Top 40 and the other two just barely missing ("Someone to Lay Down Beside Me" went to #42 and "Just One Look" went to #44). Five of them were Top 10 hits: "Blue Bayou," "It's So Easy," "Ooh Baby Baby," "How Do I Make You," and "Hurt So Bad." My favorite track on the album, "I Can't Let Go," only went to #31. I'd purchased that single before I bought Greatest Hits, Volume 2. It's a cover version of an old U.K. #2 hit by The Hollies. Interestingly, The Hollies' version of the aforementioned "Just One Look" was also a U.K. #2 hit, although theirs was a cover version of U.S. #10 hit by Doris Troy. Linda Ronstadt was the queen of the cover versions, but she did always give them the royal treatment. I read her autobiography in 2020. She seemed to spend as much time talking about horses as she did about her pop/rock career, but there's a hilarious story in there about the time she was performing Pirates of Penzance live in Central Park and a mosquito got stuck on her lipstick just as her leading man, Rex Smith, was about to kiss her. They both had to stay in character and proceed with the script, and the mosquito stayed on her lips through it all … and afterward.
419. Greatest Hits, Volume 2 – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
I mentioned very early on this list how the first Greatest Hits album by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (released in 1970) was some of the first music I remember hearing at home as a young lad. Well, while I was in college, I borrowed (and recorded) that album and Greatest Hits, Volume 2 (released in 1973) from the IUP library. And I still play many songs from both of them when I need instrumental background music. Ironically, the biggest hit on this album wasn't an instrumental; "This Guy's in Love with You," which features vocals by Herb himself, went all the way to #1. Other hits on Volume 2 include "What Now, My Love?" (#24), "Work Song" (#18), "Flamingo" (#28), "A Banda" (#35), "and "Wade in the Water" (#37). "Bittersweet Samba" and "So What's New" didn't chart, but those are great tunes, too. Another Herb hit I really like from this era that's not on either album is "Casino Royale" (#27). I have that one on iTunes. A lot of people today don't realize how popular Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass were in the 1960's — 14 Top 40 singles and nine Top 10 albums, including five that went to #1! Then in 1979, Herb had a comeback hit that went the whole way to #1, "Rise." Finally, in 1987, he had a #5 hit with "Diamonds," which included vocals by Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith.
420. I Can't Stand Still – Don Henley
Everybody knows this album's big hit, "Dirty Laundry," the million-selling single that went to #1 on the rock charts and #3 on the pop charts. It took me a while to pay attention to that tune back in the winter of 1982-83. You see, I didn't realize at the time that Don Henley had been singer, songwriter, and drummer for The Eagles, and I wasn't familiar with the expression "dirty laundry," so I assumed it was something racy. Although I was a freshman in college, I'd led a relatively sheltered life. Once I listened to the lyrics, I understood … and, man, was that song good! And I still feel that way after having been a bubble-headed bleach blond (and journalism major) myself for 20 years. "Dirty Laundry" was actually the second of three singles on Henley's solo debut LP. The first and third singles just missed the Top 40: "Johnny Can't Read" (#42 and pretty catchy, plus there's a teensy little Eagles preference on the fadeout if you listen closely) and "I Can't Stand Still" (#48). I bought a used copy of this album in the second half of my college career, sometime after I fell in love with Henley's second LP, Building the Perfect Beast. Other memorable songs for me on I Can't Stand Still included "You Better Hang Up," "Nobody's Business," "Them and Us" and "The Unclouded Day." The closest you'll get to an Eagles song on this one is probably the ballad "Talking to the Moon." Fans of that band's country side will also appreciate "Lilah," another beautiful ballad, with an instrumental intro, "La Eile," that sounds like it came from the Titanic soundtrack, even though it predates it by 15 years.
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.