Influential Albums: 470-476
Fri., Aug. 27. 2021 9:27am 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.
470. Undercover – The Rolling Stones
I loved this LP's first single, "Undercover of the Night," which went to #9 in late 1983. I used to run around in college singing the opening lines, as much as I could decipher them before the internet, in my best Mick Jagger voice. I finally bought the actual album (on cassette) in 1986. Here's how that came about: My college apartment-mate Scott Cronin and I had recently rented Video Rewind, a VHS collection of Rolling Stones clips from 1972-84. Three of the 12 videos were from Undercover. In addition to "Undercover of the Night" it had clips for the second single, "She Was Hot" (#44), and the opening track on side two, an extremely disturbing tune called "Too Much Blood." Now that I knew three of the songs, I figured I'd give the album a try. The song "Wanna Hold You," sung by Keith Richards, is catchy enough, but the rest was pretty forgettable. One clever thing about Video Rewind was that it followed up the song "She Was Hot" with "She's So Cold." Make up your mind, Mick!
471. Sequel – Harry Chapin
Released in the fall of 1980, this was the only Harry Chapin album I ever owned, but long before that, I had purchased reissue 45's of his first three Top 40 hits: "Taxi" (#24), "WOLD" (#36), and "Cat's in the Cradle" (#1), a song ApologetiX eventually spoofed in 2013. Sequel contained his fourth and final Top 40 hit, also titled "Sequel," because it continued the tale Harry had told in "Taxi," with the main characters reuniting 10 years later. I think I first heard it on KDKA-AM's morning radio show — thanks to my dad — back when that station actually used to play some music. Most sequels don't do as well as the originals, but this one went to #23, one notch higher than the song that started the story. It even had a happy ending, and all signs pointed to a real-life happy ending for Harry Chapin, who was enjoying his first hit in six years. Unfortunately, he died in a tragic car crash about eight months after the song peaked on the charts. I bought an unused, discount copy of this the LP when I was in college, probably in my junior or senior year. The second single from Sequel, "Remember When the Music," failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, although it hit #47 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The album also yielded a third single — the final one released during Harry's lifetime — which went to #105. Ironically, it was titled "Story of a Life." It's a beautiful song, too. So is "I Finally Found It Sandy," a hopeful love song I presume was written for his wife, Sandy, which makes it bittersweet. The other song I remember most is "I Miss America." America misses Harry Chapin, too.
472. Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival never had a #1 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100, although they had five singles that stalled at #2, and four others that went to #3, #4, #6, and #8, and most of those had flip sides that were almost just as popular. Creedence did, however, have two #1 albums. Released in August 1969, Green River was their first chart-topper, and their third LP overall. I arrived on the music scene too late to aid in its ascent to the musical mountaintop, but I did buy a brand-new copy in the store during the fall of my sophomore year in college. It contained two #2 singles, "Bad Moon Rising" (backed with "Lodi," which went to #52) and "Green River" (backed with "Commotion," which went to #30). The other two tracks that I might find myself still singing snippets of are "Tombstone Shadow" and "Wrote a Song for Everyone."
473. Introducing … The Beatles – The Beatles
Dude, I know The Beatles defined cool and redefined it countless times throughout the sixties and beyond, but the cover photo on this album is strictly squaresville. Originally released on Vee Jay Records on January 10, 1964, Introducing ... the Beatles was technically The Beatles' first American album (Meet the Beatles! didn't come out until 10 days later), although it was eventually repackaged and retitled by Capitol Records as The Early Beatles in March 1965, making it their eighth album, although that LP omitted one song that had already been on Meet the Beatles! by that time. That chronology seems a little like the lyrics to that old novelty song "I'm My Own Grandpa," doesn't it? Introducing is the American version of The Beatles U.K. debut album, Please Please Me, with two fewer songs. Nevertheless, it features more big hits than most bands have on a career-spanning "greatest hits" collection, including: a #1 hit ("Love Me Do"), two #2 hits ("Twist and Shout" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret"), a #3 hit ("Please Please Me"), a #10 hit ("P.S. I Love You"), and a #14 hit ("I Saw Her Standing There"). I had liked "Do You Want to Know a Secret" as a young kid and was thrilled to find out it was The Beatles, even though that song didn't make it onto the 1962-66 collection (neither did "Twist and Shout"). It was the first and only Top 40 hit that George Harrison sang on (although John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it) until "Something" in 1969. My favorite these days is probably "P.S. I Love You." ApologetiX has spoofed three of the other hits, "Love Me Do," "Twist and Shout," and "I Saw Her Standing There."
474. Roadie – Original Soundtrack
The 1980 movie Roadie starred Meat Loaf as Travis W. Redfish, a truck driver who becomes a roadie. It wasn't a big success, and neither was the soundtrack, which only went to #125 on the Billboard album charts. This is yet another two-record set I didn't own (too expensive) but really wanted, because it contained two new songs I thought were incredible at the time, "Everything Works if You Let It" by Cheap Trick and "Drivin' My Life Away" by Eddie Rabbit. Other highlights included "Crystal Ball" by Styx, "You Better Run" by Pat Benatar and a "live" version of "Ring of Fire" by Blondie. I never did get the record but, thanks to iTunes, I do own those two songs I wanted. In fact, ApologetiX wound up spoofing the Eddie Rabbitt tune in 2016. See, everything does work if you let it.
475. Footloose – Original Soundtrack
Footloose (starring Kevin Bacon) came out in 1984, the same year as Terminator (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger). So why did it take Wendy's until 2007 to come up with the Baconator? And why not a breakfast sandwich called a Baconegger? The Footloose soundtrack album went to #1 and sold nine million copies in the United States alone. I don't know where and when the other 8,999,999 U.S. citizens got theirs, but I think I bought a used copy at Backstreet Records, probably in 1986. If I remember correctly, mine was autographed ... not by Kevin Bacon or Kenny Loggins but by the previous owner. It spawned six Top 40 singles: "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins (#1), "Let's Hear It for the Boy" by Denise Williams (#1), "Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson (#7), "Dancing in the Sheets" by Shalamar (#17), "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" by Kenny Loggins (#22), and "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler (#34). A seventh single, "Somebody's Eyes" by Karla Bonoff, only made it to #109 on the Billboard Hot 100 but reached #16 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. I wrote a spoof of the title track in the mid-1990's and ApologetiX finally recorded and released it in 2014. That was good news. Well, techically it was "Goodnews."
476. Song of Joy – Captain & Tennille
Released in February 1976, Song of Joy was part of a pile of 8-tracks that my future brother-in-law Dan gave to my sister Kris all at once while they were dating. As I mentioned very early in this list, I liked Toni Tennille more than a little. Apparently, I wasn't alone. This album spawned three singles that hit the Top Five: "Lonely Night (Angel Face") (#3), "Shop Around" (#4), and Muskrat Love (#4). That was an amazing accomplishment back then, although a handful of other artists had already done it. As Rocco Lampone said in Godfather II, "Difficult, not impossible." However, all three of those songs also hit #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The only other artist I can think of who had accomplished both feats with the same LP before that was another duo, The Carpenters, in 1971 with their self-titled second release, which included "For All We Know" (#3), "Rainy Days and Mondays" (#2), and "Superstar" (#2). Interestingly, The Carpenters and Captain & Tennille were both on A&M Records and each of those aforementioned albums was that particular artist's second LP. Song of Joy went to #9 and became C&T's only platinum album. It also contains their beautiful rendition of Noel Paul Stookey's "Wedding Song" (There is Love)," which was originally slated to be a fourth single. "Shop Around" was one of my all-time favorite songs in the summer of '76, and I thought "Lonely Night" was pretty awesome, too, but my feelings about "Muskrat Love" mirrored what some Styx fans feel about "Mr. Roboto" … at what price, fame? Two non-hits that I really enjoyed on Song of Joy were "Butterscotch Castle" and "Going Bananas." The latter one was mostly instrumental, but something about it appealed to me, and I liked it a whole bunch.
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.