Influential Albums: 498-504
Sat., Sep. 25. 2021 2:49pm 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.
498. Black and Blue – The Rolling Stones
To me, this is The Rolling Stones' equivalent album to Led Zeppelin's Presence; it's like suffering through a mediocre season with a team you love after years of them being in contention. That's fitting, because Black and Blue came out on April 23, 1976, less than a month after Presence. No wonder punk rock was on the rise. Anyway, I bought the cassette in 1987, but there were only a few standout tracks for me: "Fool to Cry, "Hot Stuff," and "Memory Motel," although that song made the whole album worthwhile. "Hand of Fate" ain't bad, either. "Fool to Cry" went to #10 on the pop charts, and Black and Blue became a #1 album like Presence, too. In fact, I just checked, and it succeeded it at the top spot! I remember this record being advertised in comic books, an uncommon occurrence back in '76. I really didn't know who the heck the Stones were at the time or what those loathsome strangers were doing invading the adventures of my beloved heroes.
499. Something New – The Beatles
I never owned The Beatles' Second Album (which is really their third U.S. album, but their second album on Capitol Records), but I did have an old copy of its follow-up, Something New (which is really their fifth U.S. album, but their third on Capitol Records). Confused? The U.S. album in between those two was the soundtrack for A Hard Day's Night, which was released on the United Artists label, to coincide with the film. Something New comes out of the gate like gangbusters. The first side is very strong: "I'll Cry Instead" (a #25 hit), "Things We Said Today," "Any Time at All," "When I Get Home," "Slow Down," and "Matchbox." In my opinion, side two isn't quite as strong, but it does feature the beautiful ballads "And I Love Her" (#12) and "If I Fell" (#53). It also features the novelty item, "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand," the German version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
500. Avalon – Roxy Music
Wow, who knew that Roxy Music could make an LP and not put any supermodels on the cover? And it only took them eight albums to finally do it. Released in 1982, Avalon doesn't need anything to help sell its music. This album makes the list because it contains three incredible songs that I've never grown tired of. Each was released as a single and hit the U.K. Top 30: "More Than This" (#6), "Avalon" (#13), and "Take a Chance with Me" (#26). None of them even hit the Hot 100 in the States, but "More Than This" (#103) and "Take a Chance with Me" (#104) came oh so close. "More Than This" and "Avalon" did hit the U.S. mainstream rock charts, though, reaching #58 and #59, respectively. I'm definitely a lyrics kind of guy (duh), but with these tunes, it's the melancholy mood of the music that moves me. I first heard "Take a Chance with Me" in college on a mix tape my old high-school friend Michael Ranieri made for me. Don't confuse it with the ABBA song "Take a Chance on Me." That one word makes a big difference. Michael may have introduced me to the title track, too. "More Than This" is a song you may have actually heard on your local album-rock station, and it was famously re-sung karaoke style by Bill Murray in the acclaimed 2003 movie Lost in Translation, but give me Bryan Ferry's smooth-as-silk vocals any day.
501. K-Tel's Hitline, Vol. 1 – Various Artists
This K-Tel collection was originally released in late 1979 as a two-record set. By the time I bought a copy in 1984 or '85, they had chopped it in half. I only found Volume 1, but it helped me in my pursuit of #1 records, because it included both "Rock with You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." Yeah, Michael Jackson was already so popular, they gave him both the first and the last slot. And it spared me from having to buy his Off the Wall album. My sister Gayle liked "Rock with You." I preferred "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," especially that funky intro. The Hitline, Vol. 1 also had a favorite of mine that I already owned a 45, "You Can't Change That" by Raydio. But that's not all. As a longtime, longsuffering Pittsburgh Pirates fan, I stand up and salute at the sound of two other tracks on this album that were played a lot during the Pirates' glorious 1979 series-winning season. The first is the #2 hit "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge, and the second is "Makin' It" by David Naughton (yeah, the song from the Billy Murray movie Meatballs, sung by the guy who starred in the movie American Werewolf in London). But the grass is always greener on the other side of the bisected double album. Here's a few songs on Volume 2 that I would have liked: "Romeo's Tune" (Steve Forbert, I saw him open up for Bob Dylan years later), "Where Were You When I Was Fallin' in Love" (Lobo's comeback hit), "Gold" (the big hit by former Kingston Trio member John Stewart, who also wrote The Monkees hit "Daydream Believer"), "Back on My Feet Again" (The Babys), and the last #1 song of the 70's, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes. For a complete track listing, go to:
502. My Fair Lady – Original Broadway Cast
Released in July 1956, this album spent 15 weeks at #1 and knocked Elvis Presley's debut album out of the top spot. In the process, it became the most popular Broadway cast album in history. My sister Gayle was in a production of My Fair Lady in high school. She played Mrs. Pierce, the housekeeper for Henry Higgins. That's probably how I became familiar with this album. I'm probably late to the party on this, but I just realized that Rex Harrison played the teacher who worked with Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (both the Broadway and film versions) and then played Dr. Doolittle in the 1967 movie musical Dr. Doolittle. As an actor, he sure had a lot to do with Doolittles! My favorite songs were "Just You Wait" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" I also liked "With a Little Bit of Luck", "Get Me to the Church on Time," and, of course, "The Rain in Spain." The romantic standards, however, are "I Could Have Danced All Night," "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," and "On the Street Where You Live." I first became acquainted with that last song through a parody of it done by Mad magazine. Speaking of parodies, SCTV did a great spoof of My Fair Lady in 1981. You can see it at https://www.reddit.com/r/sctv/comments/ikj526/my_fair_lady_starring_pirini_scleroso/
503. American Pie – Don McLean
I bought this 1971 album as a Christmas gift for my sister Gayle in the late 70's or early 80's at her request. I thought the cover photo was pretty cool. The title track was a #1 hit (both pop and adult contemporary) I remembered fondly from when I was seven years old. Even before buying the LP, I already associated its other big hit, "Vincent" (#12 pop, #2 AC), with Gayle. She played guitar and sang, and I seem to recall "Vincent" being part of her repertoire. Those were the first and third tracks on the record, but I also have fond memories of the tune between them, "Till Tomorrow." The fourth and fifth tracks, "Crossroads" and "Winterwood" are great, too. The second half of the album isn't as strong, but it does contain the track that most closely resembles "American Pie," an upbeat, tongue-in-cheek number called "Everybody Loves Me, Baby," The final track, "Babylon," is based on Psalm 137. ApologetiX spoofed "American Pie" in 1992 and 1998. McClean's follow-up album contained his other 70's Top 40 hit, "Dreidel" (#21 pop, #7 AC). In 1975, he had a second #1 AC hit with "Wonderful Baby," although it only went to #93 on the pop charts. A lot of people probably don't realize or remember this, but half of McLean's Top 40 hits actually came in 1981, with "Crying" (#5 pop, #2 AC), "Since I Don't Have You" (#23 pop, #6 AC), and "Castles in the Air" (#36 pop, #7 AC). The first was a cover of Roy Orbison's #2 hit from 1961, the second was a cover of The Skyliners' #13 hit from 1959, and the third was a cover of McLean himself — the very first single from his 1971 debut album, Tapestry (no relation to Carole King) — a song that didn't hit the Hot 100 in its original form but did make it to #40 on the AC chart.
504. Teen Idols – Various Artists
I bought a used copy of this two-record set at the same time and place as Party Rock II, mainly because I was trying to fill in the gaps in my collection of #1 songs … and 10 of the 30 tracks were #1 hits, from 1957-62. Among those, my favorites were "It's Only Make Believe" (Conway Twitty, sounding very much like Elvis Presley), "Love Letters in the Sand" (Pat Boone, 'cause I love to croon) and "Wake Up, Little Susie" (The Everly Brothers, with a song which ApologetiX spoofed in 2003). There are also six #2 hits. Plus goofy classics like "Splish Splash" by Bobby Darin (#3) and "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)" by Edd Byrnes and Connie Stevens (#4). I know … how did I ever end up in a rock band after all that? For a complete track listing, go to: https://www.discogs.com/Various-Teen-Idols/release/9112448
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.