Influential Albums: 638-644
Sun., Feb. 13. 2022 6:20pm 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.
638. The Doors – The Doors
Although I'd purchased a couple Doors compilations and their fifth album, Morrison Hotel, in high school, I didn't get into their debut disc (which I bought on cassette) until the fall of 1987. By that time, I already owned six of the 11 tracks. Most longtime album-rock-radio listeners at least know the opening track, "Break on Through (To the Other Side"), and the closing tracks on sides one and two, "Light My Fire," and "The End." Ironically, when it was released as the first single, "Break on Through" did nothing of the sort; it barely bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100, stalling at #126. The second single, "Light My Fire," did light a fire, though, blazing a trail the whole way up to #1. Two additional songs on this album that I knew and loved from the aforementioned compilations were "Soul Kitchen" and "The Crystal Ship." I also already owned "Back Door Man" and "Take It as It Comes." Of the songs I didn't previously possess, "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" and "Twentieth Century Fox" were the two I wound up playing the most, although "I Looked at You" has a great sound, too. ApologetiX released a spoof of "Break on Through" in 2020. Our version didn't hit the Billboard Hot 100, either.
639. Tuff Enuff - The Fabulous Thunderbirds
The Fabulous Thunderbirds seemed to burst onto the scene in 1986, but this was actually their fifth LP and their second one to hit the album chart. Their third album had gone to #176 in '81. However, Tuff Enuff went to #13 and sold a million copies, largely on the strength of two singles, "Tuff Enuff" (#10 pop, #4 rock) and "Wrap It Up" (#50 pop, #8 rock). I dearly loved them both and sang "Tuff Enuff" in my first secular band out of college. "Wrap It Up" was a cover version of an old Archie Bell & The Drells song that originally went to #93 in 1970. A third track, "Look at That, Look at That," which was used as the B-side of the "Tuff Enuff" single, also hit #20 on the rock chart. ApologetiX spoofed "Tuff Enuff" twice in 2021 ... first as a biblical parody and then as song about the old TV show H.R. Pufnstuf. As many of you probably know, Thunderbirds lead guitarist Jimmy Vaughn was the older brother of the late legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. The Thunderbirds weren't the only Fabulous group to hit the Billboard charts; there was also The Fabulous Continentals, The Fabulous Counts, The Fabulous Five, The Fabulous Flippers, The Fabulous Poodles, and The Fabulous Rhinestones. Three other charting artists came oh-so-close to being fabulous: Fabu, Fabulon, and Fabolous. That last one is a rapper who's had more Top 40 hits than all the other artists I mentioned combined. His real name is John Jackson, which I personally think is a pretty fabulous name, too, although I may be a little biased.
640. Crowded House - Crowded House
Of course I appreciate Crowded House; I'm a married man with five kids, aren't I? But I liked that band long before I had a wife or kids ... or a house, for that matter. My apartment-mate Tom Dellaquila bought this album on cassette in 1987, although I did own a 45 of its first single, "Don't Dream It's Over," which went #2 pop, #11 rock that year. The band we were in together, Nice Piranha, covered it. The second single, "Something So Strong," also hit the Top 10, going to #7 pop, #10 rock. The third single, "World Where You Live" only went to #65 pop, but I still thought it was an interesting song, as was "Now We're Getting Somewhere." The album itself went to #12 on the U.S. chart and sold a million copies. Crowded House never had another Top 40 hit, but they did have three more songs hit the rock Top 10: "Chocolate Cake" (#2) and "It's Only Natural" (#5) in '91, and "Locked Out" (#8) in '93.
641. Georgia Satellites - The Georgia Satellites
Released in October 1986, The Georgia Satellites' eponymous debut LP went to #5 and sold over a million copies. It's best remembered for its first single, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," which went to #2 on the pop chart in February '87. That song had already gone to #2 on the rock chart, too. The follow-up single, "Battleship Chains," only went to #86 on the pop chart, but it hit #11 on the rock chart. We performed both of those tunes in my last secular band, Nice Piranha, and they were both a lot of fun. ApologetiX spoofed the bigger of the two hits in 2011, and it became one of our most popular numbers in concert. I know what you're saying: "Keep your bands to yourself." A third track, "Railroad Steel," hit #34 on the rock chart, and the album closes with a cover of one of my favorite Rod Stewart songs, "Every Picture Tells a Story." The closest The Georgia Satellites would come to the Top 40 again was a cover of the old Swinging Blue Jeans song "Hippy Hippy Shake," which went to #45 after it was released as a single from the Cocktail movie soundtrack in '88. Georgia Satellites lead singer and rhythm guitarist Dan Baird later had a solo hit in 1992 with the song "I Love You Period" (#26 pop, #5 rock).
642. The Thin Red Line – Glass Tiger
Released in June 1986, The Thin Red Line was the debut LP by Canadian band Glass Tiger and borrowed its title from a 1962 World War II novel by James Jones. The album generated three hits: "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" (#2 pop, #17 rock, #30 adult contemporary), "Someday" (#7 pop, #4 AC), and "I Will Be There" (#34 pop, #21 rock). I collected #2 hits, and I did like "Don't Forget Me," but I already owned that on 45; "Someday" was the song that prompted me to buy the album. If you listen closely to the backing vocals near the end of "Don't Forget Me," you'll recognize the voice of another Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams. His distinct, raspy vocal style cuts like a knife through the call-and-response section, providing a startling contrast to the smooth crooning of Glass Tiger's lead singer, Alan Frew. Not surprisingly, that song went to #1 in Canada. Glass Tiger went on to score one more U.S. Top 40 hit, "I'm Still Searching" (#31 pop, #12 rock), in 1988. That song went to #2 in Canada. In fact, the band had a total of 14 songs that hit the Canadian Top 40 between 1986 and 1993.
643. Sign o' the Times – Prince
Sign o' the Times was Prince's ninth studio album and his second double-album, hitting the stores at the end of March 1987. I didn't own it, but I did own the first three singles: "Sign o' the Times" (#3), "If I Was Your Girlfriend" (#67), and "U Got the Look" (#2). I was such a big Prince fan at the time, I purchased the first single as soon as it hit the record racks, even before I heard a note of the song. The same thing with the second single, because I was intrigued by the title. I purchased the third single because it was a #2 hit, although I came to appreciate its funky feel. Ironically, my favorite song was the fourth single, "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" (#10), which I never owned, although I did have it on a cassette. I probably would have purchased it eventually, but it peaked on the charts in February 1988, and by that time some changes were happening in my life that would radically affect my record-buying patterns.
644. Under a Raging Moon - Roger Daltrey
As a longtime Who fan, I always rooted for Roger Daltrey to do well. I really liked (and eventually bought) his 1980 single, "Without Your Love" (#20 pop, #4 adult contemporary) before I even got into The Who or knew he was their lead singer. Unfortunately, that was his only solo song to hit the U.S. Top 40, although he did have a #5 U.K. hit in 1973 with "Giving It All Away," written by David Courtney and Leo Sayer (before he hit it big in the States). That was a nice tune, too, but it only went to #83 on the Billboard Hot 100. I bought Daltrey's 1984 single "Walking in My Sleep" (#56 pop, #4 rock), too, but I really thought he could do a lot better. He finally proved me right the following year with his sixth solo album, Under a Raging Moon. None of its songs hit the Top 40, but two of them were Top 10 hits on the rock chart: "After the Fire" (#3 rock, #48 pop) and "Under a Raging Moon" (#10 rock). Another song, "Let Me Down Easy," just missed (#11 rock, #86 pop). Those three tracks were written by notable songwriters: Who guitarist Pete Townshend wrote "After the Fire," Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance wrote "Let Me Down Easy," and Julia Downes and John Parr (of "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Naughty Naughty" fame) wrote "Under a Raging Moon." I particularly liked "After the Fire" and "Under a Raging Moon," a tribute to Keith Moon that featured solo sections by seven drummers: Martin Chambers (The Pretenders); Roger Taylor (Queen); Cozy Powell (Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Emerson, Lake & Powell, Black Sabbath); Stewart Copeland (The Police); Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son); Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Asia); and Mark Brzezicki (Big Country). I also very much enjoyed Daltrey's 2018 autobiography, Thanks a Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story.
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.