Influential Albums: 568-574
Fri., Dec. 3. 2021 6:34pm EST
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.
568. Live at Leeds - The Who
I got Live at Leeds as part of an MCA double-pack cassette along with Who Are You in the first half of the 80's. Some critics consider it to be the greatest live album all time; I thought it was a little sparse. When it was originally released in 1970, Live at Leeds only had six songs. The 1995 CD reissue beefed it up to 14 songs. The 2001 deluxe edition has 33 songs, including a live performance of the entire Tommy album. With all that being said, every version of Live at Leeds contains the rockin' "Young Man Blues," a Mose Allison song that is one of my favorite Who tunes, and "Summertime Blues," which had already been a hit for Eddie Cochran (#8 in 1958) and Blue Cheer (#14 in '68). Released as single from Live at Leeds, The Who's version made it to #27 in '70. Alan Jackson would reach #60 when he covered it in '94. That might look like diminishing returns, but Jackson's version also hit #1 for three weeks on the country chart. I also like versions by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (#24 on the rock chart in '82) and Rush (#30 on the rock chart in 2004). In fact, I've been known to play all six of them back-to-back in the car for my kids on the last day of school, along with "Summertime, Summertime" by The Jamies, which hit the Top 40 twice, in 1958 and 1962. Live at Leeds is where The Who and The Guess Who converge; both groups did covers of "Shakin' All Over," a song Johnny Kidd & the Pirates song took to #1 in the UK in 1960. The Who's version was never released as a single, but The Guess Who's version launched their career, reaching #1 in Canada and #27 in the United States in 1965. In Randy Bachman's autobiography, Takin' Care of Business, he says that The Who's bassist, John Entwistle, told him they started playing the song in the '60's because many people confused The Who with The Guess Who and were angry if they didn't play that song. Bachman replied that The Guess Who started playing "My Generation" for similar reasons.
569. Flashdance - Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture
I saw the Flashdance movie in 1983 while it was still in theaters — it took place in Pittsburgh, after all — but I didn't own the album, although one of my neighbors, Mrs. Patterson, bought it. More about her later. I did have its two #1 hits, "Flashdance... What a Feeling" by Irene Cara and "Maniac" by Michael Sembello. I liked both of them a lot. The Flashdance soundtrack LP went to #1 and sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Now back to Mrs. Patterson. She was an extremely kind, middle-aged lady ... I just realized I'm probably older now than she was then ... yikes! She spoke in a very laid-back manner and insisted that I call her "Mary." I'd known for over a decade by then, but once I was in college, she treated me like a fellow adult. Anyway, Mary saw the movie and purchased the album and couldn't stop raving about it. She even invited me into her house to listen to it. Her favorite tracks were "Lady, Lady, Lady" by Joe Esposito and "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is" by Kim Carnes. "Lady, Lady, Lady" was eventually released as the third single from the soundtrack but only went to #86 on the pop chart and #36 on the adult contemporary chart. "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is" was never released as a single, despite the fact that Carnes had already notched seven Top 40 hits by that time, including "Bette Davis Eyes," which had been #1 for nine weeks just two years earlier. Another song from this album that I heard on the radio was the instrumental "Love Theme from Flashdance" by Helen St. John, but it was not released as a single, either. The fourth and final single was "Manhunt" by Karen Kamon, a memorable song from the movie although it did not chart. ApologetiX spoofed "Maniac" in 2021.
570. Can't Slow Down - Lionel Richie
Released in October 1983, Can't Slow Down was Lionel Richie's second solo LP and his most successful. It went to #1 for three weeks, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, and sold over 20 million copies worldwide. It seemed like everybody was jumping aboard the Lionel train. I was a huge fan (and still am) of the first single — "All Night Long (All Night)." You gotta love the extra "(All Night)" in the title ... as if there were any doubt which song it was. Maybe they were worried that people would get it confused with Joe Walsh's #19 hit from 1980, "All Night Long" — another favorite of mine — which did not have (or need) the parenthetical addition. Regardless of that, Lionel's song went to #1 for four weeks. The third single from Can't Slow Down, "Hello," which I also liked a lot, also went to #1. The album only had eight songs, but five of them were released as singles, and they all reached the Top 10. The other three were "Running with the Night" (#7), "Stuck on You" (#3) and "Penny Lover" (#8). "Stuck on You" even hit #24 on the country chart. Every one of the singles except "Running with the Night" hit #1 on the adult contemporary chart. too, but I bought the "Running with the Night" single as a Christmas gift for one of my apartment mates, who liked the song. I also very much enjoyed Lionel's first single after Can't Slow Down, "Say You Say Me, which went to #1 for four weeks in the winter of '85-86. ApologetiX has never tackled any of his solo hits, but we did spoof "Easy," a song he did with The Commodores.
571. 50 Years, 50 Hits - Elvis Presley
This three-record set came out in 1985, but was "not available in stores." My college roommate at the time, Tom Dellaquila, ordered his copy after seeing one of those classic TV ads. RCA Special Products released 50 Years, 50 Hits to celebrate what would have been Elvis' 50th birthday, if he hadn't died in 1977. It featured 16 of Elvis' 18 #1 hits and five of his six #2 hits. Curiously, it did not include "Jailhouse Rock" (#1 for seven weeks), "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (#1 for six weeks), or "Burning Love" (#2), but it did have "Old Shep" (#47) and "Danny Boy," which didn't chart at all. Tom jokingly said, "They should have called it, '50 Years, 40 Hits.'" Technically, I think it actually had 46 Top 40 hits, which isn't bad, but Elvis had 104 of them to choose from. Why stop at 46 when you could easily have had 50 ... with 54 more to spare? It even had Elvis' non-hit 1962 recording of "Suspicion," a song that Terry Stafford covered and took to #3 in 1964. Stafford's version sounded so much like Elvis that RCA Records belatedly released the King's original to capitalize on the song's success, but poor Elvis only made it to #107. If you've been following this list, you know that 50 Years, 50 Hits wasn't my first Elvis album, but it did have some stuff I'd known about but hadn't heard yet. Of those tracks, the highlights for me were three hits from Elvis' late-60's resurgence — "In the Ghetto" (#3), "Don't Cry, Daddy" (#6), and "Kentucky Rain" (#16) — and the #2 hits "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I" and "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck." It also had a nice, clean recording of his final #1 hit, "Suspicious Minds," which I appreciated (my previous recording was from Tom's old 45), except for the fact that the version on this album didn't come back after the famous false fade at the end. For a complete track listing, go to: https://www.discogs.com/release/5702989-Elvis-Presley-50-Years-50-Hits
572. My Aim Is True - Elvis Costello
Less than a month before the old Elvis left the building, a new Elvis put out his first album. That look ... that name ... they definitely left an impression on this 13-year old. I saw My Aim Is True in stores but was surprised to hear a couple of my older male Jackson cousins talking about him later at a family event. I didn't actually hear Elvis Costello for myself until a year or so later when I was watching a special on new-wave music and they played "Pump It Up" from his second album, This Year's Model. I felt a mixture of apprehension and attraction to the strange sounds pulsating from our TV. Released in July 1977, My Aim Is True was Elvis Costello's debut album. It entered the U.S. album chart in December '77 and went to #32, eventually selling a million copies in the States. Its most famous song was "Allison," although I've also heard rock radio play "Miracle Man" and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes." Furthermore, the U.S. version of the album added his first U.K. hit single, "Watching the Detectives," which went to #15 on the British charts and bubbled under at #108 on the Billboard Hot 100. My college friends Rick Cosgrove and Dave Johnstone had both My Aim Is True and This Year's Model, and allowed me to tape what I wanted in early 1983. That's what friends are for. In return, I did an illustrated poster of Elvis for Dave, combining the photo from the back cover of My Aim Is True with the checkered pattern on the front. Costello finally scored his first U.S. Top 40 hit in the fall of 1983 with "Everyday I Write the Book" (#36). I loved the video and the song instantly and Michael Ranieri let me tape it from his copy of the Punch the Clock album.
573. Coda - Led Zeppelin
By the time this album came out in November 1982, we were all desperate for something ... anything ... by Led Zeppelin. Five months earlier, lead singer Robert Plant had released his first solo LP, Pictures at Eleven. The first single, "Burning Down One Side," was nice and went to #64 on the pop chart and #3 on the rock chart, but it wasn't Led Zeppelin. It had been three years since 1979's In Through the Out Door, and with the 1980 death of drummer John Bonham, it didn't look like we'd ever hear new material by the band. Technically, Coda didn't contain anything new, but it collected eight unused tracks from previous sessions, seven of which had never been released on an official album. My favorite of the batch was "Poor Tom," an outtake from Led Zeppelin III. I also like "Ozone Baby," "Wearing and Tearing," and "Darlene," which were all outtakes from In Through the Out Door. In fact, some people jokingly referred to Coda as "In Through the Outtakes." The opening track, "We're Gonna Groove," is a hard-driving cover of a song originally released as "Groovin'" by Ben E. King in 1964. Subsequent re-releases of Coda added more songs, most notably "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do," one of the band's finest moments, originally relegated to the B-side of the "Immigrant Song" single in 1970. Incidentally, my favorite post-Zep songs by Robert Plant are "In the Mood," "Tall Cool One," "Hurting Kind (I've Got My Eyes on You)," and his two hits with The Honeydrippers — a band that also featured Zep guitarist Jimmy Page — "Sea of Love" and "Rockin' at Midnight." I also enjoyed Page's first two hits with The Firm, "Radioactive" and "Satisfaction Guaranteed."
574. Suddenly - Billy Ocean
I didn't own this album, but as a collector of #1 and #2 hits ... and eventually #3, #4, and #5 hits ... I bought its first three singles, "Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)" (#1), "Loverboy" (#2), and "Suddenly" (#4). My favorite of those three was "Loverboy," which fell out of the Top 10 the week before Teena Marie entered it with "Lovergirl" (#4). I was also familiar with the fourth single from this LP, "Mystery Lady" (#24), although I was never in any danger of buying it. I did, however, enthusiastically purchase Billy's first single after this album, "When the Going Get Tough, The Tough Get Going" (#2) and begrudingly purchased its follow-up, "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" (#1). At the time, I jokingly referred to it as "There'll Be Bad Songs (To Make You Buy)," because I resented the fact that I had to buy it, since it had hit #1. I wasn't as sentimental back then as I am now. Billy had one other #1 hit two years after that, "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car." ApologetiX spoofed "Caribbean Queen" in 2021.
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.