Influential Albums: 596-602
Fri., Dec. 31. 2021 9:52pm 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.
596. Riptide - Robert Palmer
I was quite surprised when Robert Palmer left The Power Station to resume his solo career. After all, they'd just had a very successful debut single — "Some Like It Hot" hit #6 in May '85 — and their second single (which I bought immediately after its release) looked to be a surefire smash as well. "Get It On" reached #9 in August '85, but Palmer was already gone by then. He didn't even stick around long enough for a tour to support their Top 10 debut album or to sing lead vocals for the band when they played at the history-making Live Aid concert in July '85. I knew he'd had a couple Top 20 solo hits before joining that supergroup (which also featured two members of Duran Duran and one member of Chic), but it seemed like a step down for me. Well, apparently, Palmer knew what he was doing. Released in November '85, Riptide appeared to stumble out of the gate; the first single, "Discipline of Love (Why Did You Do It)" stalled at #82. I never heard it on the radio. But the second single, "Addicited to Love," was massive, hitting #1 and selling a million copies. I bought that 45 and the third and fourth singles, "Hyperactive" (#33) and "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" (#2). Palmer's next album yielded another #2 hit, "Simply Irresistible." ApologetiX has spoofed both "Addicted to Love" (which I also sang in a secular band in '86-87) and "Simply Irresistible" ... plus one of his earlier hits, "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)."
597. Point of Know Return - Kansas
I borrowed this album from my friend Jeff Henry. It had a cool cover, and I already loved the first two singles, "Point of Know Return" (#28) and "Dust in the Wind" (#6). The third single, "Portrait (He Knew)" (#64), took a while to grow on me, but I ended up liking it a lot, too. Released in October 1977, Point of Know Return became the highest-charting LP (#4) of the band's career. With sales of over four million copies, it was their second best-seller, after Leftoverture, which sold five million. ApologetiX released a spoof of the big hit from that album, "Carry On Wayward Son," in 2009. A few years ago, I also read and enjoyed the book Seeds of Change, the autobiography of Kansas' lead guitarist and principle songwriter, Kerry Livgren, in which he recounts his spiritual journey to Christ. I always thought Kerry and lead singer Steve Walsh should have hooked up with David Paich and Steve Lukather ... at least for a short time ... just so they could say, "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
598. Knee Deep in the Hoopla - Starship
I listed Jefferson Starship's Gold album earlier on this list, but the band had plenty of songs I liked after that album, including "Jane" and "Freedom at Point Zero" (I owned a 45 with both of those songs on it); "Find Your Way Back" (it's hard to top that one); "Winds of Change"; and "Layin' It on the Line." Nevertheless, when former members of that band rolled out the new Starship identity with the single "We Built This City" in August '85, I was taken aback by how poppy it was. But resistence was futile; I grew to love it. Both that and the second single, "Sara," boldly went someplace Jefferson Airplane/Starship had never gone before — the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. I bought them both, and "Sara" came on blue vinyl. A third single from Knee Deep in the Hoopla (I love that title, by the way), "Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight," went to #26, and a fourth and final single, "Before I Go," stalled at #68. But Starship was at it again in early '87 with "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," which became their third chart topper. I went through a similar experience with that single before buying it, too, but I like it now as well.
599. Welcome to the Real World - Mr. Mister
The first person I remember liking Mr. Mister was a fraternity brother of mine named Karl Kirkpatrick. He didn't talk a lot about music, so I paid attention. Released in November 1985, Welcome to the Real World was Mr. Mister's second LP, and it spun off three Top 10 singles: "Broken Wings" (#1), "Kyrie" (#1), and "Is It Love" (#8). I owned the first two on 45, including "Kyrie" on purple vinyl. The album itself went to #1, too, but the band wasn't able to sustain their momentum when they released their second album, Go On..., in September 1987. That one only got as high as #55. It featured their final Top 40 hit, "Something Real (Inside Me/Inside You)," which went to #29. I don't think it helped that the lettering on the album cover was close enough that it almost looked like the title was Goon. ApologetiX spoofed "Broken Wings" in 2021.
600. Built for Speed - Stray Cats
The Stray Cats inspired me in the same way The Romantics inspired me ... with old-fashioned, do-it-yourself rock and roll. And I do mean old fashioned! Released in June 1982, Built for Speed hit #2 on the Billboard album chart, thanks to two Top 10 singles, "Rock This Town" (#9 pop, #4 rock) and "Stray Cat Strut" (#3 pop, #41 rock). I owned both of those songs on 45, and sang "Rock This Town" in a band in the summer of '83. I may have played bass on it, too. I do remember learning the main riff, but I was never great at singing and playing bass simultaneously. ApologetiX spoofed "Rock This Town" in 2000 and "Stray Cat Strut" in 2014. The trio's follow-up album, Rant n' Rave with The Stray Cats, featured two more Top 40 singles, "She's Sexy + 17" (#5 pop, #2 rock) and "I Won't Stand in Your Way" (#35 pop).
601. Frampton Comes Alive - Peter Frampton
This live double-album inspired me from afar. I wasn't nearly hip enough to like Peter Frampton when Frampton Comes Alive first topped the album chart in April 1976, but I was at least aware that it was what the cool kids in my school were listening to. Someday, given enough time, perhaps I would be cool enough to listen to it, too. Frampton Comes Alive spent 10 weeks at #1 and yielded three Top 15 singles — "Show Me the Way" (#6), "Baby, I Love Your Way" (#12), and "Do You Feel Like We Do" (#10). That last one is my favorite, ApologetiX spoofed "Baby I Love Your Way" in 2016. Not only that, we spoofed the title and the cover of this album for our first full-length DVD, Samson Comes Alive, in 2006. I also enjoyed the two Top 20 hits on Frampton's follow-up album in '77, "I'm in You" (#2) and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" (#18). Then a starring role in a '78 film with The Bee Gees called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band changed everything ... all of a sudden you didn't have to be cool to like Peter Frampton anymore. Quite the opposite, in fact.
602. Beatitude - Ric Ocasek
The Cars' first four albums came out in 1978, '79, '80, and '81. Then the motorcade stalled. Instead, in the winter of '82-83, Cars leader Ric Ocasek released his first solo album, Beatitude (pronounced "beat-itude"). It wasn't The Cars, but it did feature Ocasek's quirky vocals and quirkier lyrics — and his guitars — plus keyboards by Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes, so it kept us placated. The lead single, "Something to Grab For" went to #47 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the rock chart. The opening track, "Jimmy Jimmy," also hit #25 on the rock chart. Those were my two favorites. "I Can't Wait" is a very pleasant tune and may be the closest thing to a pop song on the entire record. Other memorable tracks included "Prove" and "A Quick One." Beatitude went to #28 on the album chart. We wouldn't get a new Cars album till March '84, but Heartbeat City proved worth the wait.
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.