Influential Albums: 484-490
Sun., Sep. 12. 2021 2:56pm 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.
484. Bob Dylan and The Times They Are A-Changin' (Two Hit Albums on One Cassette) – Bob Dylan
This cassette combined Dylan's first and third albums. It was a big influence on me while I was learning to play acoustic guitar. My favorites from his eponymous debut album: "You're No Good" (no relation to Linda Rondstadt's 1975 #1 hit), "Talkin' New York," "In My Time of Dyin'" (a distant relation to Led Zeppelin's 1975 album cut) "Pretty Peggy-O," "Highway 51 Blues," "Gospel Plow," and "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down." Released in 1962, that album has some pretty funny stuff on it, and Bob's voice sounds young and playful. Released in early 1964, The Times They Are A-Changin' had a more serious tone overall and wasn't quite as catchy. My favorites on that one included "Ballad of Hollis Brown," "With God on Our Side," "North Country Blues," "Only a Pawn in Their Game," "When the Ship Comes In," and the title track, which I already had on Greatest Hits.
485. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Blood, Sweat & Tears
This album went to #1 and spawned three singles that went to #2 — "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel," and "And When I Die" — all in 1969. But the album versions are longer and way cooler. ApologetiX has spoofed the first two, and I'd like to spoof the other. Furthermore, we've spoofed another song that sounds like it came from that album, "Vehicle" by Ides of March. I owned a used copy of Blood, Sweat & Tears at one point. Of the non-hits, the standout for me was "God Bless the Child," BS&T's cover of the famous Billie Holiday song. "Sometimes in Winter" is a pretty song, too. I also owned a copy of, "Lucretia Mac Evil," one of two Top 40 singles from their #1 follow-up album, Blood, Sweat & Tears 3. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: Where was Blood, Sweat & Tears 2? Well, technically, that was this album. Their first album was actually Child Is Father to the Man.
486. Beverly Hills Cop – Soundtrack
Back when I was in college, Eddie Murphy was the man. We loved his 1983 HBO comedy special, Delirious, and quoted it from it frequently. I'd really enjoyed his first cop movie, 48 Hours, in December 1982, and Beverly Hills Cop took it to a whole new level in December 1984. The soundtrack album contained three of my favorite songs from the mid-80's, "The Heat Is On" by Glen Frey (#2), "Axel F" by Harold Faltermeyer (#3), and "Neutron Dance" by The Pointer Sisters (#6). It also had two spawned two singles by Patti LaBelle, "New Attitude" (#17) and "Stir It Up" (#41). The album eventually hit #1 in June 1985. In December of that same year, Eddie had a big hit single of his own, "Party All the Time," which went to #2 for three weeks. ApologetiX spoofed that song in 2021. My kids love Crazy Frog's remake of "Axel F" from 2005. It only went to #50 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was #1 for four weeks on the UK charts.
487. Vision Quest – Original Soundtrack
I never saw this movie and never owned this album, but I loved the opening and closing tracks, "Only the Young" by Journey and "Crazy for You" by Madonna, which were both released as singles to promote it. "Only the Young" went to #9 and "Crazy for You" went to #1. Back then, if you missed the singles, the only way to get those two songs was to buy this LP, which also included "She's on the Zoom," a song by Don Henley you couldn't get on anywhere else. It's a pretty catchy tune, and I was such a big Henley fan that I was tempted to buy the LP. Instead, I settled for the two singles. Other highlights of this album included "Lunatic Fringe" by Red Riders, "Hungry for Heaven" by Dio, and "Shout to the Top!" by The Style Council.
488. The Game – Queen
I can't remember if I deliberately bought this album or if the Columbia House Record Club "selected" it for me. The first and third singles went to #1 and you know them by heart: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust" (ApologetiX has spoofed of them). The second and fourth singles just barely missed the American Top 40: "Play the Game" (#42) and "Need Your Loving Tonight" (#44), which was my favorite. The main FM station I listened to played that song a lot, but it didn't make it onto Greatest Hits. The other tracks from The Game that linger in my memory are "Dragon Attack," "Don't Try Suicide," and "Save Me."
489. No Jacket Required – Phil Collins
One of my friends in college jokingly referred to this album as "No Talent Required," but we all knew Phil had plenty of ability … so much that he seemed to be everywhere in 1985, including both London and Philadelphia on July 13, the day of the Live Aid concerts. No Jacket Required featured two #1 songs, "One More Night" and "Sussudio" (so you know I had to buy both of those on 45) and another Top Five hit, "Don't Lose My Number." But my jam was the fourth single, "Take Me Home," which only went to #7. I also enjoyed the non-single "Only You Know and I Know." And "Who Said I Would" was an effective earworm. I liked Phil Collins before I knew he was the drummer and lead singer for Genesis, but while everybody else was going gaga over "In the Air Tonight" on his solo debut album, I preferred "I Missed Again." During my college career, I also bought the singles "You Can't Hurry Love," "Against All Odds," "Easy Lover" (with Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire), and "Separate Lives" (with Marilyn Martin).
490. Heart – Heart
Heart's eponymous ninth album was the group's first and only LP to hit #1 (although their next two went to #2 and #3, respectively). Released in July 1985, it yielded five singles, including four that hit the Top 10. The first, "What About Love" (#10) was a little too bombastic for me. I liked the second, "Never" (#4), better. I really liked the third, "These Dreams," which became Heart's first #1 single (ApologetiX spoofed it in 2014). But the fourth was my favorite by far, even though it was literally "Nothin' at All" (#10). The fifth single, "If Looks Could Kill," only went to #54. "These Dreams" was the first Heart single ever to feature guitarist Nancy Wilson on lead vocals rather than her sister, Ann, despite the fact that Nancy had a cold when she sang it. Ann finally got to sing lead on a #1 song, "Alone," two years later on their follow-up album, Bad Animals. She also sang lead on the #2 hit "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You," the first single from the album after that, Brigade. Nancy went on to sing lead vocals on three other Top 40 Heart hits: "There's the Girl" (#12), "Stranded" (#13), and "Will You Be There in the Morning" (#39). She also went on to marry film director/producer Cameron Crowe, who was literally almost famous himself in 1986. Unfortunately, they got divorced in 2010. "These Dreams" was the second #1 single in a four-month span to be co-written by Elton John's famous lyricist Bernie Taupin, following "We Built This City" by Starship.
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.