Influential Albums: 519-525
Fri., Oct. 15. 2021 6:37pm 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'd 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.
519. Cosmo's Factory – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released in July 1970, Cosmo's Factory was CCR's second #1 album and their most successful, spending nine weeks at #1 and selling four million copies. I bought a used one at Backstreet Records while I was at IUP. It featured three double-sided singles that hit the Top Five: "Travelin' Band/Who'll Stop the Rain" (#2), "Up Around the Bend/Run Through the Jungle" (#4), and "Lookin' Out My Back Door/Long as I Can See the Light" (#2). It also contained Creedence's 11-minute cover version of the Motown classic "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," which became a hit on album-rock stations and was later released as single in 1976 and went to #43. I have fond memories of my sister Gayle singing "Lookin' Out My Back Door." I got a chance to sing "Travelin' Band" in 2009 when ApologetiX spoofed it. Other memorable tracks included the seven-minute opener, "Ramble Tamble," the equally rhymey "Ooby Dooby," and "Before You Accuse Me." The album's title refers to a warehouse where the band used to practice. CCR's drummer, Doug "Cosmo" Clifford nicknamed it "the factory," because lead singer/lead guitarist/lyricist John Fogerty made them rehearse there almost every day.
520. The Sound of Music - Original Soundtrack
This soundtrack album was released in 1965 and went to #1 for two weeks, but the original cast album came out in 1959 and stayed at #1 for 16 weeks! Then again, Mary Martin and the original cast weren't competing for the top spot with The Beatles like Julie Andrews was. Come to think of it, Julie had two #1 albums that year, thanks to Mary Poppins. When I was growing up, my family owned the movie soundtrack. As with most musicals, I can thank my sister Kris for my familiarity with the contents. Yeah, I know it has classics like "The Sound of Music," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," and "My Favorite Things," but my favorite things were "The Lonely Goatherd," "Do-Re-Mi," and "Maria." It's hard for me to hear the song "Edelweiss" now without thinking of the creepy version they used as the theme song on the dystopian alternate-history TV series The Man in the High Castle. Meanwhile, thanks to my wife, it's hard for anybody in our family to hear "Do-Re-Mi" now without thinking of the Animaniacs version, which includes the classic line, "Dough, some cash, a wad of cash … Ray, a guy who fixes cars." With apologies to Julie Andrews and Johnny Mathis, my favorite version of "My Favorite Things" is Will Farrell's imitation of Robert Goulet doing it.
521. Tango in the Night – Fleetwood Mac
Poor Fleetwood Mac. How many other bands could put out an album with four Top 20 singles and have it regarded as a sidenote to their career? But that was the price they paid for setting the bar so high with four Top 10 singles on Rumours. Then again, Tango in the Night did manage to sell 15 million copies worldwide … which is extremely impressive until you compare it with 40 million copies of Rumours. Those hits were great: "Big Love" (#5), "Seven Wonders" (#19), "Little Lies" (#4), and "Everywhere" (#14). I especially liked the last three, and I bought "Seven Wonders" on 45 soon after its release, in the summer of 1987. A fifth single, "Family Man," only went to #90. Two other tracks hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart: "Isn't It Midnight" (#14) and "Tango in the Night" (#28).
522. Never Mind the Bullocks Here's the Sex Pistols - The Sex Pistols
I remember one of my eighth-grade classmates, Jay Beltz, showing me a magazine devoted to the British punk-rock movement in 1978. He said it was going to take over the United States, too. I was horrified and terrified. Of course, the planned revolution never happened on this side of the pond. But in eleventh grade, one of the kids in my art class, Gerard Dominick brought in Never Mind the Bullocks Here's the Sex Pistols for us to listen to. I distinctly remember the last song on the album, "Problems," because I had trouble figuring out what Johnny Rotten was saying; I thought the song was called "Rob Roy." Punk didn't seem nearly as scary by then, although I still didn't like it much. College expanded my tastes a bit, and I actually grew to like the sound of The Sex Pistols' U.K. hits (they didn't have any in the U.S.) on this album, "Anarchy in the U.K." (#38), "God Save the Queen" (#2), "Pretty Vacant" (#6), and "Holidays in the Sun" (#8). I still didn't like the lyrics to "Anarchy in the U.K.," but ApologetiX eventually fixed that problem for me when we spoofed it in 2018.
523. Baby Boomer Classics: Lovin' Fifties – Various Artists
I bought this album in college as part of my continuing quest for #1 hits. Eight of the 12 tracks reached the top of the charts. My favorite was Tommy Edwards' 1958 classic "It's All in the Game," the only #1 song written by a former U.S. Vice President or Nobel Peace Prize winner. Charles G. Dawes, who wrote the melody almost 50 years earlier, was both. Three other tracks on Lovin' Fifties hit the Top Five. The remaining track, "True Love Ways" by Buddy Holly, never charted for him. Nevertheless, it's considered a classic. It was one of four songs recorded at his last-ever recording session and has since been covered by many artists, three of whom had significant hits with it: Peter & Gordon (#14 pop in 1965), Mickey Gilley (#1 country in 1980), and Cliff Richard (#8 pop U.K. in 1983). For a complete track listing, go to https://www.allmusic.com/album/baby-boomer-classics-lovin-fifties-mw0000112892
524. Baby Boomer Classics: Electric Sixties - Various Artists
As its cover plainly states, this cassette featured "12 electrifying hits of the sixties." The Baby Boomer Classics series was released during the latter half of my college years. The main attractions to me on this one were "Time Has Come Today" by The Chambers Brothers and "I Got a Line on You" by Spirit, a song ApologetiX eventually spoofed in 2020. By that time, we had already redone two other songs on this cassette: "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream and "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf. I also really liked the two songs Steve Winwood sang: "Well All Right" by Blind Faith (a cover of the old Buddy Holly song) and "Dear Mr. Fantasy" by Traffic. For a complete track listing, go to https://www.allmusic.com/album/baby-boomer-classics-electric-sixties-mw0000196939
525. Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi
I'll level with you: I thought "You Give Love a Bad Name" was very noisy song when it first came out in the fall of 1986. I remember a reviewer writing about how the lyrics were laden with cliches … and they sure were. But it hit #1, so I had to buy the single. The second single, "Livin' on a Prayer," was written by the same three people and also hit #1, but I probably would have bought that 45 regardless. I fell for the dramatic intro, the catchy chorus, the underdog storyline, and that crazy talkbox, which conjures up images in my mind of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. If you've been following this list for a while, you know that an album's third single often turns out to be my favorite, and Slippery When Wet was no exception: "Wanted Dead or Alive," man. I thought that song was ultracool. It only went to #7, but I bought the single and got the guys in my band at the time, Nice Piranha, to learn it so we could play it live. A fourth song on the album, "Never Say Goodbye," managed to make it to #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart without ever being released as a single, which was almost unheard of at the time. I thought that one was kind of noisy, too, though. In time, ApologetiX would spoof all three singles. In fact, we did a couple of them two different times, because I wasn't satisfied with our first attempts, although in each instance we waited over a decade to do so. In case you're wondering, my favorite Bon Jovi songs not on this album are: "Keep the Faith," "Blaze of Glory," "Lay Your Hands on Me," and "It's My Life."
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.