Influential Albums: 526-532
Fri., Oct. 22. 2021 1:17pm 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.
526. Super Stars Super Hits – Various Artists
I can't remember where I picked this one up, but I obtained a used copy somehow, probably either from some flea market or my brother-in-law Dan. Super Stars Super Hits crammed 24 songs onto one record. Surprisingly, it wasn't a K-Tel concoction but an exclusive from Columbia House Record Club, issued over a decade before I signed up. This was the LP where I got my first copy of songs like "Psychotic Reaction" (The Count Five), "Walk Away Renee" (The Left Banke), "98.6 (Keith), "Sunny" (Bobby Hebb), "Mr. Dieingly Sad" (The Critters), "Sock it to Me, Baby" (Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels), "G.T.O." (Ronny & The Daytonas), "Baby Don't Go" (Sonny and Cher), "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" (Neil Diamond), "Break on Through" (The Doors), and "Hold On! I'm Comin'" (Sam & Dave). The last two are songs ApologetiX eventually spoofed. For a complete track listing, go to
527. Rock's Greatest Hits – Various Artists
I borrowed this collection from Tom Dellaquila as part of my continuing rock-and-roll education program. Like Super Stars Super Hits, it was put out by Columbia Musical Treasuries as an exclusive for Columbia House Record Club. It's funny how they managed to get 24 songs onto one LP for Super Stars Super Hits, but they spaced out the 30 songs on Rock's Greatest Hits over three records. Two extra LPs for just six extra songs. Anyway, it contained five #1 songs, three of which I needed for my collection: "I Can See Clearly Now" (Johnny Nash), "Brandy" (Looking Glass), and "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me" (Mac Davis). Other cool tunes on this album included: "Are You Ready" (Pacific Gas & Electric), "The Witch Queen of New Orleans" (Redbone), "Time of the Season" (The Zombies), "Atlantis" (Donovan), "Evil Ways" (Santana), "I'd Love to Change the World" (Ten Years After), "Hallelujah" (Sweathog), "House at Pooh Corner" (Loggins & Messina), "Silverbird" (Mark Lindsay), "Hold Your Head Up" (Argent), "We've Got to Get it on Again" (The Addrisi Brothers), "All the Young Dudes" (Mott the Hoople), "Heart Full of Soul" (The Yardbirds), and "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" (Scott McKenzie). For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/Various-Rocks-Greatest-Hits/release/3013483
528. The Age of Aquarius – The Fifth Dimension
One of the first parodies I ever remember enjoying was a Mad magazine spoof of "The Age of Aquarius" called "The Smog of Los Angeles." I'm no stargazer, but The Age of Aquarius album featured two #1 hits, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)" and "Wedding Bell Blues," plus a couple other singles that hit the middle of the Top 40, "Workin' on a Groovy Thing" (#20) and "Blowing Away" (#21). I can't recall whether I owned this LP or just borrowed it and taped what I wanted, but I remember the cover and the Soul City label on the actual record. From 1967-73, The Fifth Dimension released 20 singles that hit The Top 40, including five others that made the Top Ten: "One Less Bell to Answer" (#2), "Stoned Soul Picnic" (#3), "Up, Up and Away" (#7), "Last Night I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" (#8), and "If I Could Reach You" (#10). Years later, I bought some of those selections from a compilation called The Ultimate Fifth Dimension, which has all but one of their Top 40 hits. When I was growing up, my sisters owned two Fifth Dimension 45's that I remember vividly, the aforementioned "If I Could Reach You" (my favorite Fifth Dimension song) and one of their songs that missed the Top 40, "Ashes to Ashes" (#52). We even had the sheet music for that one. In 1975, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. (who had been married since 1969) left the group for a solo ... er duo ... career, scoring a #1 hit in 1977, "You Don't Have to be a Star (To Be in My Show)." I had that one on K-Tel's Music Machine.
529. Sound Affects – The Jam
I wonder how many poor spellers missed the clever pun in the title of The Jam's fifth LP? Released in November 1980, Sound Affects was the band's highest-charting album in the United States (#72) and tied for their second-highest charting in the United Kingdom (#2). It leads off with the first Jam song I remember Michael Ranieri ever playing for me, "Pretty Green." I have a feeling he played the whole album, because a few of us were hanging out at his house. It also includes the #1 U.K. single, "Start!" That was actually the band's second U.K. #1 hit, but their first one to be included on an album. Like The Beatles, The Jam had many singles that were released independently of albums. That wasn't the only things similar to The Beatles about "Start!" — it sounds an awful lot like George Harrison's "Taxman." Another song on Sound Affects also was a U.K. hit; "That's Entertainment," went to #21. Other Jam gems on this album included: "Boy About Town," "Set the House Ablaze," and "Man in the Corner Shop."
530. K-Tel's Starflight – Various Artists
You know what? I had a lot more K-Tel albums than I initially remembered. And I don't know if I ever paid full price for any of them! Starflight had three #1 singles, including one I already had on 45, "Pop Muzik" by M. But the other two were ones I needed: "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb and "Sad Eyes" by Robert John. Additional selling points for me were "Mama Can't Buy You Love" by Elton John and "Heaven Must Have Sent You" by Bonnie Pointer. All 16 tracks on this album hit the Top 20. Some I liked but already had elsewhere. Some I didn't have elsewhere but didn't like. But that was then, and this is now. Over four decades later, every track is covered in the fairy dust of nostalgia. For a complete track listing go to https://www.discogs.com/Various-Starflight/release/1986053
531. Van Halen II – Van Halen
Although a number of other Van Halen albums were more influential to me, Van Halen II was the one that first made me aware of their existence, thanks to the hit "Dance the Night Away," which went to #15 on the pop charts. Listening to that song on my local pop station in the disco-dipped summer of '79, I had no idea they were a hard-rock band. Actually, I didn't even know Van Halen was a band. After all, Van Morrison was just one guy, right? Those two artists do have one other thing in common besides the Van, though; Ted Templeman produced multiple albums for each of them. I read his autobiography in January 2021. Anyway, my old neighborhood friend Chris Marsh was a budding young electric guitar whiz and he clued me into the fact that Eddie and the boys were a force to be reckoned with. This album's second single, "Beautiful Girls," only went to #84, but it's a classic-rock radio standard, and seldom has hard rock been so catchy. Other notable tracks included: "You're No Good" (although I greatly prefer Linda Ronstadt's version), "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," and the amazing acoustic instrumental "Spanish Fly."
532. Sessions Presents 55 Original Hits – Various Artists
This three-record sent from Sessions Records was originally released in 1975 and re-released with a revised track listing in 1978, which is when I discovered it. I never owned the actual album, but I saw the infomercial so many times that I memorized the medley of songs they used to promote it, and I can still sing it to this day. For the record, it was "Mony Mony" (Tommy James & the Shondells), "Peppermint Twist – Part I" (Joey Dee & the Starlighters), "Young Girl" (Gary Puckett & the Union Gap), "My Boyfriend's Back" (The Angels), "The Wanderer" (Dion), "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (Blood, Sweat & Tears), "A Lover's Concerto" (The Toys), "Down in the Boondocks" (Billy Joe Royal), "Just Walk Away Renee (The Left Banke), "Easier Said Than Done" (The Essex), "Last Kiss" (J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers), "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" (The Walker Brothers), "Tighter, Tighter" (Alive and Kickin'), "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" (The Swingin' Medallions), "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (The Byrds), "Kicks" (Paul Revere & The Raiders), "98.6" (Keith), and "Hey Paula" (Paul & Paula). Just like the medley of the #1 songs from 1964-78, I didn't deliberately set out to commit it to memory … it just stuck in my mind. In fact, I wasn't familiar with many of the songs and was delighted in the years that followed when one would come on the radio and I'd get to hear the full-length version for the first time. Ironically, one of the songs on the album they didn't include in the medley was by J.J. Jackson. His big hit was "But It's Alright," which went to #22 in 1966 and was later redone by Huey Lewis & News, who took it to #54 in 1994. Don't confuse that with Huey's cover of the similarly titled "It's Alright" by The Impressions, which he took to #37 in 1993. But back to 55 Original Hits ... ApologetiX has spoofed three of the songs in the medley — "Mony Mony," "Last Kiss," and "You've Made Me So Very Happy" — and we also released our own medley of 80's songs, "Octagon but Not Forgotten," which went on to become one of the most popular things we've ever done. For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/Various-55-Original-Hits/release/8173988
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.