Influential Albums: 688-694
Sat., Apr. 2. 2022 12:03am 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.
688. We Are the World - USA for Africa
The mid-80's stretched the concept of "supergroups" to the extreme. In early December '84, a bunch of British biggies brought us Band Aid and the benefit single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" It became the biggest seller of all time in the U.K. up until that point and even moved a million copies in the States. In early March '85, a mess of American artists responded as USA for Africa with the single "We Are the World," which held down the #1 spot for four weeks and sold over 20 million copies. Then in late April '85, a full-fledged album followed — also titled We Are the World — topping the Billboard 200 for three weeks and selling three million units itself. In addition to the song "We Are the World," it included "Tears Are Not Enough," a new collaboration by Canada's crème de la crème, recording under the group name Northern Lights. Although not released as a single in the States, that tune went to #1 in Canada. The We Are the World album also featured tracks performed and donated by Prince (who hadn't participated in the "We Are the World" single), Bruce Springsteen, Steve Perry, The Pointer Sisters, Tina Turner, Kenny Rogers, Huey Lewis & The News, and Chicago. The Springsteen song, a live version of the Jimmy Cliff song "Trapped," hit #1 on the Billboard rock chart for three weeks and was unavailable elsewhere at the time. The Huey Lewis and The News offering, "Trouble in Paradise," hit #11 on the rock chart. The Chicago contribution, "Good for Nothing," is notable as the last song by the band to feature bassist Peter Cetera on lead vocals before he left for a solo career. In mid-July '85, artists from all over assembled for the famous Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia. Then in late September '85, there was the first Farm Aid concert, in Champaign IL. Other musical group efforts for charity appeared afterward. One of my favorites as far as names go was Hear 'n Aid, an album by a whole bunch of heavy-metal heavyweights who donated tracks and recorded a song together called "Stars" under the group name Hear 'n Aid as well. That track only went to #39 on the rock chart and the album only went to #80 on the Billboard 200, but by that time it was already late May '86, and people were probably getting a little worn out, if we're giving them the "benefit" of the doubt.
689. Barry White's Greatest Hits - Barry White
When you're talking about deep voices, Barry White made James Earl Jones sound like a choirboy. In his career, White had 11 Top 40 hits under his own name, including six that reached the Top 10: "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" (#1), "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" (#2), "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby" (#3), "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me" (#4), "Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up" (#7), and "What Am I Gonna Do with You" (#8). None of those songs had fewer than six words in the title, so you might assume the man was a little wordy. However, Barry's biggest hit was actually an instrumental with a two-word title — the #1 hit "Love's Theme" by The Love Unlimited Orchestra — a song he wrote and produced that was performed by a 40-piece group he led. I had "Love's Theme" on a 45, but I had to borrow Barry White's Greatest Hits in college to get songs like "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" and "You're the First, the Last, My Everything." I'm guessing I got it from the campus library. Greatest Hits was released in 1975, so it didn't include "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me" from '78, but that tune was on K-Tel's The Hot Ones. Although White's heyday was from 1973-78, he had a late-career comeback hit in 1994 with the million-selling single "Practice What You Preach" (#18). If you want all of Barry's Top 40 hits, including "Love's Theme," you can find them on the 30-song posthumous collection Gold, released in 2005.
690. The Clash (U.S. Version) - The Clash
The Clash's self-titled debut album was released in the United Kingdom in April 1977 but wasn't officially released in the United States until over two years later, because the powers that be decided it wasn't radio friendly. In all honesty, they were probably right. Consequently, it was only available as an import here for over two years, although it did sell over 100,000 copies that way. In the meantime, The Clash's second album, Give 'Em Enough Rope, came out on both sides of the pond in November '78. When Epic records finally did release the first album over here in July '79, they replaced four songs from the original with five singles and B-sides. Sorry, punk purists, but the version I heard was the U.S. edition. In fact, two of my favorite tracks weren't on the U.K. edition: "Clash City Rockers" and "I Fought the Law," a cover of The Bobby Fuller Four's Top 10 hit from 1966 (The last secular band I was in covered that song, too). My other favorite, "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A.," was on both. I remember my high-school classmate Gerard Dominick doing an outstanding ink rendering of this album's cover, although my friend Michael Ranieri was the first person I knew who owned it. I think my college housemate Mikey Brechbill may have owned it, too. Although none of the songs on the U.S. edition troubled the Hot 100 in the States, four of them were Top 40 hits in the U.K.: "White Riot" (#38), "Complete Control" (#28), "Clash City Rockers" (#35), and "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" (#32). However, none of those were on the original U.K. album. The U.S. edition of The Clash went to #126 and sold over half a million copies. But bigger and better things lay ahead.
691. Santana - Santana
Santana's debut LP sold two million units, one of which was apparently purchased by my brother-in-law Dan, who eventually gave his copy to me. Released on August 30, 1969 — two weeks after the group's appearance at Woodstock — the eponymous album went to #4 on the Billboard 200 and generated two singles, "Jingo" (#56) and "Evil Ways" (#9). It also contained the instrumental "Soul Sacrifice," which became one of the highlights of the Woodstock festival and the subsequent film. Santana's next two albums, Abraxas (1970) and Santana III (1971) both went to #1 (for six weeks and five weeks, respectively) and spawned four more hits: "Black Magic Woman" (#4), "Oye Como Va" (#13), "Everybody's Everything" (#12), and "No One to Depend On" (#36). The group's next two Top 40 hits were cover versions of 60's classics: The Zombies' "She's Not There" (#27) and The Classics IV's "Stormy" (#32) in '77 and '78. With all that being said, my favorite Santana singles made their mark in the early 80's: "You Know That I Love You" (#35 in '80) and "Winning" (#17 pop, #2 rock, in '81). Another Top 20 hit, "Hold On" (#15), followed in '82. Of course, Santana would have an unexpected comeback in 1999 with the band's biggest album of all, Supernatural, which went to #1 for 12 weeks and has sold an estimated 30 million copies worldwide. It also generated two humongous hits, "Smooth" with Rob Thomas (#1 for 12 weeks) and "Maria Maria" with The Product G&B (#1 for 10 weeks). ApologetiX parodied"Smooth" and its parent album's title in 2000 on our Spoofernatural CD. In the new millennium, Santana has released seven more Top 10 albums, including 2002's chart-topping Shaman, and has scored three more Top 40 hits: "The Game of Love" featuring Michelle Branch (#5), "Why Don't You and I" featuring Alex Band or Chad Kroeger (#8), and "Into the Night" featuring Chad Kroeger (#26).
692. Fore! - Huey Lewis and The News
In the summer of 1985, Huey Lewis and The News followed up their enormously popular third LP, Sports, with their first #1 pop single, "The Power of Love," from the Back to the Future soundtrack. That album also included a non-single called "Back in Time," which hit #3 on the rock chart. By the time the band's fourth LP was ready for release in September '86, fans were clambering for more ... er ... Fore! The first single, "Stuck with You" became Huey's second #1 pop hit (it also hit #1 on the adult contemporary chart and #2 on the rock chart), and the third single, "Jacob's Ladder" (written by Bruce Hornsby and his brother John), became his third pop chart-topper. Fore! produced a total of five Top 10 singles. The others were "Hip to Be Square" (#3 pop, #1 rock), "I Know What I Like" (#9), and "Doing It All for My Baby" (#6 pop). The only one of those singles that didn't also hit the rock top 40 was "Doing It All for My Baby," but that song hit #2 on AC chart. One other track from Fore! hit the rock chart but wasn't released as a single — "Whole Lotta Lovin'" (#38). That was actually the second song I ever heard from the album, and I was disappointed when it wasn't released to pop radio. Fore! topped the Billboard 200 for one week, just like Sports ... but Sports sold twice as many copies. Nevertheless Fore! did sell over three million copies in the United States alone and over a million combined in the U.K. and Canada. That certainly beats workin' for a livin'.
693. Behind Closed Doors - Charlie Rich
Released in 1973, Behind Closed Doors made Charlie Rich a household name (even in homes like ours that rarely, if ever, tuned in to Hee Haw) and earned him the Country Music Association's Album of the Year. Not surprisingly, it hit #1 on the country album chart, but it also hit #8 on the Billboard 200, selling four million copies. That success was largely due to two huge crossover hits: "Behind Closed Doors" (#15 pop, #1 country, #8 adult contemporary) and "The Most Beautiful Girl," which hit topped the U.S. pop, country, and AC charts and the Canadian pop and country charts ... and even hit #2 on the U.K. pop chart. Both of those singles sold a million copies each. In fact, "Behind Closed Doors" sold two million! That was enough to make Charlie rich ... and famous. Another track on Behind Closed Doors, "I Take It On Home," went to #6 on the U.S. country chart and #3 on the Canadian country chart, but it was released as a single over eight months before the album. If you're not familiar with that song, I highly recommend this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgg5uOLZORk. Although he seemed to be an overnight sensation, Rich was in his early forties and had been recording for years. However, he'd only had two Top 40 country hits up till then — and not until 1970 and '71 — and neither had gone higher than #35. Believe it or not, he hit the pop chart long before that and with more success — "Lonely Weekends" (#22 in 1960) and "Mohair Sam" (#21 in '65). And he'd been doing session work at the famous Sun Records as early as 1958. Nevertheless, Behind Closed Doors changed his career trajectory. He only had four more Top 40 pop hits after that album, but the man known as "The Silver Fox" wound up with a total of 17 Top 10 country hits (nine of which hit #1) and six Top 10 AC hits (four of which hit #1). Of those, his biggest crossovers were "A Very Special Love Song" (#11 pop, #1 country, #1 AC), "There Won't Be Anymore" (#18 pop, #1 country, #15 AC), "I Love My Friend" (#24 pop, #1 country, #1 AC), and "Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High)" (#19 pop, #3 country, #1 AC).
694. Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits - Olivia Newton-John
Released in November 1977 — just seven months before Grease took her to an even greater level of popularity — Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits featured 11 Top 40 hits, five of which hit the Top 10: "Let Me Be There" (#6), "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)" (#5), "Please Mr. Please" (#3), "I Honestly Love You" (#1), and "Have You Never Been Mellow" (#1). Each of those singles sold a million copies. Furthermore, Greatest Hits contained nine #1 adult-contemporary hits. Among those, here are the six that weren't previously mentioned (along with their peak position on the pop charts): "If Not For You" (#25), "Something Better to Do" (#13), "Let It Shine" (#30), "Come On Over" (#23), "Don't Stop Believin'' (#33), and "Sam" (#20). Most of the songs on Greatest Hits also did well on the country chart ... 10 of them reached the Top 40, and seven of those hit the Top 10. And Livvy wasn't even halfway home. In the years that followed, she would garner 17 more Top 40 pop hits. Ten of those reached the Top 10, and three made it to #1, including the biggest hit of the 80's, "Physical," which spent 10 weeks at the top. I eventually bought Magic: The Very Best of Olivia Newton-John, a 21-track collection released in 2001 that includes all 15 of her Top 10 hits and even has her final Top 40 hit, "The Grease Megamix," which hit #25 in 1996. The first ONJ song I ever remember hearing on the radio was her first Top 40 hit, "If Not for You," at my neighborhood friend James' house. I also remember some of the girls in our neighborhood having 45s of some of the Top 10 hits off this album, which I also liked. But most of the guys in our neighborhood didn't pay Olivia Newton-John as much attention ... until the end of the Grease movie.
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.