Influential Albums: 582-588
Sat., Dec. 18. 2021 3:01pm 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.
582. 1999 - Prince
Released in October 1982, 1999 was Prince's fifth studio album, but I'd never heard of him before that ... even though he'd already had a million-selling #11 hit with "I Wanna Be Your Lover" in the winter of 1979-80 and had opened some shows for The Rolling Stones in '81. My first exposure to Prince was during my freshman year in college; my roommate, Kevin, liked the song "1999" and played it often. That single originally peaked at #44 when it came out in October '82 (that's when he started playing it) but then went to #12 after it was re-released in June '83 to capitalize on the success of the album's second single, "Little Red Corvette," which went to #6 in May '83. As often happens, the third single from the album was my favorite. In this case, that song was "Delirious," which went to #8 in October '83. I still remember the hand-jive motions we used to do it at parties. There was even a fourth single, the infectious "Let's Pretend We're Married," but it wasn't as successful, stalling at #52 in January '84. Little did we know the heights the purple one would attain later that year. Interestingly, the first four songs on this two-record set (all three tracks on side one, and the first track on side two) were also the four songs released as A-sides of the singles, and they were released in the same order chronologically as they are sequenced on the album.
583. Grace Under Pressure - Rush
Released in 1984, Grace Under Pressure was Rush's 10th studio album. I can't remember where I got my copy, but it was used. The band was in full synthesizer mode for this one, and because of that, I thought a lot of the songs kind of blended and blurred together. The main songs that have stuck with me are "Distant Early Warning," "The Body Electric," and "Kid Gloves." I was surprised to discover that "The Body Electric" actually was released as a single (the album's only single) and almost made the Billboard Hot 100, bubbling under at #105 (the same position as the previous album's second single, "Subdivisions") and went to #56 on the U.K. charts. It was about an escaped android in distress in the desert, a concept I found difficult to take very seriously, but I thought it was pretty catchy nonetheless. The big album cut on the rock stations was "Distant Early Warning," which went to #3 on the rock chart. Three other songs hit that chart: "Red Sector A" (#21), the aforementioned "Body Electric" (#23), and "Between the Wheels" (#39).
584. More Greatest Hits of The Monkees - The Monkees
Released in 1982 on Arista Records, More Greatest Hits of The Monkees included three Top 40 hits that should have been on Arista's 1976 Greatest Hits compilation: "Valleri" (#3), "Words" (#11), and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" (#39). What's more, it contained the song "Randy Scouse Git," which was never released as a single in the States but became a #2 U.K. hit, though it was renamed "Alternate Title" there. I bought More Greatest Hits of The Monkees at Greengate Mall in Greensburg during Christmas break in 1984-85. I already had all of the songs in one place or another, but this collection featured better recordings of them; the original Monkees albums I owned were well worn. Eleven of the 12 tracks on it were also on the 40-track Australian double-cassette Monkeemania, which I'd purchased at about the same time, but The Monkees' master tapes were unavailable in Australia when that compilation was assembled, so the sound quality on More Greatest Hits of The Monkees was superior ... although there were 28 fewer tracks. It's a great collection and includes some of my favorite Monkees songs — in addition to those already mentioned — "Take a Giant Step," "Saturday's Child," "Sometime in the Morning," "Mary, Mary," "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow," "You Just May Be the One," "For Pete's Sake," and "Cuddly Toy." Not a bad banana in the bunch!
585. Monkee Business - The Monkees
I picked up this Monkees rarities compilation album in the winter of '84-85, too, but at Greensburg's other, newer mall — Westmoreland. It was available as a picture disc, although I bought it on cassette, which is OK, because I think I got a double-deck boombox for Christmas that year. Like More Greatest Hits of The Monkees, there wasn't much in the way of material I didn't already have, but it was nice to get clean recordings of the songs. Both of those albums were released in 1982 and had 12 tracks, but there was no overlap in song selection. This collection was put together by the folks at Rhino Records, who took a lot of care with their Monkees stuff. Monkee Business contained a very different version of the song "She Hangs Out" than the one that appeared on their 1967 album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. It was originally slated to be a Canadian single, and I thought it blew the doors off the better-known version. Monkee Business also had "It's Nice to Be with You," the flip side of "D.W. Washburn," The Monkees' last Top 40 hit in their original incarnation, which is on this album, too. "D.W. Washburn" went to #19, "It's Nice to Be with You" went to #51. Don't confuse it with "Nice to Be With You" — Gallery's #4 hit from 1972 — which is a totally different, vastly superior song (unless you had a crush on Davy Jones). In addition, Monkee Business also had the single versions of "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (#3) and "Porpoise Song" (#62) which had noticeable differences from the album versions, so I appreciated them a lot. Moreover, it had two of my other favorite Monkees B-sides, "Someday Man" (#81) and "Goin' Down." I had those already, but so what? And "Goin' Down" was an alternate mono mix. All those plus reversed-channel mixes of two other favorites, "Star Collector' and "What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round." Furthermore, there was the delightful "Tema Dei Monkees." I had that on Monkeemania already, but you just can't own too many recordings of Micky singing the lyrics to "Theme from The Monkees" in Italian.
586. Blue – Joni Mitchell
I bought this album for my sister Gayle while I was in college. Years later, I got my own copy. I listened to it a lot while shoveling snow one particularly harsh winter. Released in 1971, Blue was Joni Mitchell's fourth LP and is generally regarded as her best. In fact, many critics and notable publications have hailed it as one of the greatest albums of all time. I'm partial to Court and Spark, but I can understand why they feel that way, and this is my second favorite. That lady sure knows how to write! The main song I associate on this album with my sister is "A Case of You," but my top tracks are "All I Want," "This Flight Tonight" (later covered by Nazareth, who had a #11 U.K. hit with it), and "Carey," which went to #93 when released as a single. I also like "My Old Man," "California," and "River," a song you'd recognize if you're a fan of the movie Almost Famous.
587. Hotel California - Eagles
Released in December 1976, Hotel California was the fifth Eagles studio album and went to #1 for eight weeks. It's also the seventh best-selling album of all time, with 42 million copies sold (32.5 certified). Unfortunately, that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, because the band's previous album, Their Greatest Hits 1971-75, sold even more — 44 million copies (41.2 certified). A couple of my neighborhood friends had copies in their house. I didn't buy my own copy until many years later. Hotel California produced three hit singles — the first three tracks on side one — and ApologetiX has spoofed two of them twice. "New Kid in Town" and the title track both went to #1, and "Life in the Fast Lane" went to #11. I'm kind of burned out on those three tunes, but I really like the rest of the album. Two other tracks you'll still hear on rock radio are "Victim of Love" (perhaps the hardest The Eagles ever rocked) and "The Last Resort," a well-crafted, beautifully written epic, even if I don't agree with everything it has to say. Although Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and, to a lesser extent, Don Felder got most of the attention on this album, the two songs by Joe Walsh (Pretty Maids All in Row) and Randy Meisner ("Try and Love Again") are worthy additions to the project. The other Henley-Frey composition, "Wasted Time," is good, too.
588. Control - Janet Jackson
The first five singles off this 1986 album did something crazy: Each one peaked at a different spot on the Top 5: "What Have You Done for Me Lately" (#4), "Nasty" (#3), "When I Think of You" (#1), "Control" (#5), and "Let's Wait Awhile" (#2). As if that weren't enough, a sixth single, "The Pleasure Principle," went to #14. Five of those six singles also went to #1 on the R&B chart. The only one that didn't, "When I Think of You," went to #3. That song was my favorite of the batch, even though it's probably one of the last songs people remember when they think of Janet. Nevertheless, it became her first #1 hit. But she was only getting started. Her 1989 follow-up album, Rhythm Nation 1814, became the first and only album in history to contain seven Top 5 hits ... including four #1's, two #2's, and one #4. Control went to #1 on the album chart and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Rhythm Nation 1814 also went to #1 and sold 12 million. The album after that, 1993's Janet (a.k.a. janet.), also went to #1 and sold 14 million, but it was a double album, which gets counted as two units, so it was actually 7 million copies each of two discs. But it did include six more Top 10 hits. My poor oldest daughter, Janna, has been mistakenly called Janet countless times, because when you say "Janna Jackson," it sounds almost identical to "Janet Jackson." I'd love to have her sing an ApologetiX spoof of Janet Jackson someday.
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.