Influential Albums: 737-743
Fri., May. 20. 2022 9:26pm 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.
737. You Broke My Heart in 17 Places - Tracey Ullman
Released in November 1983, British actress/comedienne Tracey Ullman's debut LP makes my list for three reasons: 1. It included her Top 10 single "They Don't Know" (#8 U.S., #2 U.K.), which I purchased and cherished and eventually introduced to my daughters, who also love it. 2. The video for that song featured a surprise cameo by Paul McCartney in the closing scene, back in the days when you didn't see the guy nearly as often. 3. It was (and still is) one of my all-time favorite album titles. The second single from You Broke My Heart in 17 Places, "Break-A-Way" (also spelled as "Breakaway"), was Ullman's final entry on the Billboard Hot 100 (#70). It was actually her first hit on the U.K. chart, going to #4 there. A third cut from the album, "Move Over Darling," hit the U.K. Top 10, too (#8). Ullman even included a remake of one of my old favorites from 1974, Reunion's Top 10 hit "Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me), on You Broke My Heart in 17 Places. In fact, all 11 tracks are cover versions. "They Don't Know" sounds like something from the early 60's, but the original version by Kirsty MacColl actually came out in '79. It didn't chart for MacColl, but she went on to have seven Top 40 U.K. hits, most notably "Fairytale of New York" with The Pogues (#2 in '87, #3 in 2005). I love the title of MacColl's hit "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" (#14). I guess that shouldn't be surprising, since she also wrote the title track of You Broke My Heart in 17 Places. Her father, Ewan, wrote the song "The First Time I Ever I Saw Your Face," which became a #1 hit for Roberta Flack in '72. But, going back to Tracey Ullman, she found further fame in the States in '87 as a TV star with The Tracey Ullman Show, which also featured the first appearances of cartoon characters The Simpsons. Homer and his family spent three seasons with Tracey before landing their own series in 1990. Although The Tracey Ullman Show only lasted four seasons, The Simpsons finished its 33rd season on May 15, 2022, having already become America's longest-running animated series, longest-running sitcom, and longest-running scripted primetime television series.
738. Boy in the Box - Corey Hart
Although he'll forever be remembered in the States as the "Sunglasses at Night" guy, Canadian singer-songwriter Corey Hart's biggest U.S. hit actually was "Never Surrender" (#3 pop, #8 rock, #18 adult contemporary), the lead single from his second LP, Boy in the Box. Released in June 1985, that album produced two other Top 40 hits "Boy in the Box" (#26), and "Everything in My Heart" (#30 pop, #39 AC). I was a big fan of "Never Surrender" and actively rooted for it to hit #1. Alas, that wasn't to be, but it did top the charts in Canada, as did "Everything in My Heart." In addition to "Sunglasses at Night" (#7 pop, #15 rock), Hart's previous album, First Offense, also included "It Ain't Enough" (#17 pop, #36 rock, #19 AC). His third album, Fields of Fire, featured two more Top 40 hits, "I Am by Your Side" (#18) and a cover version of the Elvis classic "Can't Help Falling in Love" (#24 pop, #24 AC, #1 Canada). In '88 and '90, he had his last two U.S. hits, "In Your Soul" (#38 pop, #2 Canada) and "A Little Love" (#37, #8 Canada). Hart may have been the boy in the box in the States, but he was a monster on the loose in the Great White North, with 30 Top 40 hits there. I'm kind of partial to his '96 single "Third of June" (#17 Canada), seeing as that's my wedding anniversary. But he picked the date for another romantic reason; it's his wife's birthday. ApologetiX spoofed "Sunglasses at Night" in 2011 (as part of our 80's medley) and "Never Surrender" in 2021.
739. The Other Side of Life - The Moody Blues
Anybody who's been reading this list for a while knows that I was a big Moody Blues fan, but their 12th studio album snuck up on me, probably because it came out in April 1986, while I was busy trying to get my affairs in order so I could graduate college. My old friend and fraternity brother Ward Allebach is the first person I most associate with The Other Side of Life. I don't know how much of a fan he was of the group before 1986, but I know he liked this album. And why not? The two singles were both extremely strong: "Your Wildest Dreams" (#9 pop, #1 adult contemporary, #2 rock) and "The Other Side of Life" (#58 pop, #18 AC, #11 rock). Consequently, The Other Side of Life sold a million copies and went to #9. "Your Wildest Dreams" also had a great video that really pulled on the old heart strings. Two years later, The Moodies did a sequel to that video with "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" (#30 pop, #9 AC, #2 rock), the first single off their next album, Sur la Mer. ApologetiX spoofed "You Wildest Dreams" in 2021.
740. The Best of Roberta Flack - Roberta Flack
I think the first time ever I saw this album was in college at the IUP library, and it made me feel like makin' a tape. After all, it had three #1 pop hits, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "Killing Me Softly with His Song," and "Feel Like Makin' Love," plus the #2 hit "The Closer I Get to You," a duet with Donnie Hathaway. Furthermore, it featured two other #1 adult contemporary hits, "Where Is the Love" (#5) — also with Donnie Hathaway — and "If Ever I See You Again" (#24 pop). Other noteworthy selections included "You've Got a Friend" (#29 pop, #36 AC), "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" (#76 pop, #15 AC), and "Jesse" (#30 pop, #3 AC). Released in 1981, The Best of Roberta Flack just missed the Billboard 200 (#201), but it still sold a million copies. I eventually contributed to the cause by buying a copy for my sister Kris. I remember her buying the sheet music for "Killing Me Softly" back when it was a hit in 1973. Now she can't say I never gave her any Flack. ApologetiX spoofed "Killing Me Softly with His Song" in 2016.
741. 12 in a Roe: A Collection of Tommy Roe's Greatest Hits - Tommy Roe
My old roommate Tom Dellaquila first made me aware of this collection. He'd been searching for it and wound up settling for a cut-rate compilation on cassette that turned out to be a bunch of re-recordings. But 12 in a Roe was the real deal. It contained the original recordings of two #1 hits, "Sheila" and "Dizzy," plus four other Top 10's: "Everybody" (#3), "Hooray for Hazel" (#6), "Sweet Pea" (#8), and "Jam Up and Jelly Tight" (#8). In addition, there were the Top 30 hits "It's Now Winter's Day" (#23) and "Heather Honey" (#29). The other four tracks all hit the Hot 100 — "Jack and Jill" (#53), "Carol" (#61), "The Folk Singer" (#84), and "Party Girl" (#85) — but for some reason the record company left off two of his early Top 40 hits, "Susie Darlin'" (#35) and "Come On" (#36), even though they had come out after "Sheila." During my sophomore summer in college, I bought a couple Tommy Roe reissue 45's (also original recordings) with hits on both sides, and that's how I first got "Sheila," "Everybody," "Dizzy," and "Jam Up and Jelly Tight." I later acquired more of his music digitally. Released in 1970, 12 in a Roe went to #21 on the Billboard 200. Roe had one more Top 40 hit after that, a cover of the old song "Stagger Lee," which went to #25 in 1971. My wife and I used to play "Heather Honey" for my daughter Heather when she was a little girl. I love that song for obvious reasons, but it's also a great tune. It runs in my mind that ApX guitarist Tom Tincha is a fan of Tommy Roe, too. Must be a Tom/Tommy thing. Our other guitarist with that first name, Tom Milnes, has a daughter named Sheila, but not because he's a fan of the man who sang "Sheila." Too bad, because that would make three Toms in a row I know who like Tommy Roe.
742. The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
This is yet another album that came to me by way of my brother-in-law Dan, who obviously had pretty eclectic tastes. The Dock of the Bay was released on February 23, 1968, two and a half months after Redding perished in a plane crash. The opening track, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," had been released as a single on January 8, and went on to become Redding's only #1 hit and the first posthumous #1 hit by any artist, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. The album reached #4 in the United States and #1 in England. It included two other singles which had already been released in '67 while Redding was still alive: "I Love You More Than Words Can Say" (#78 pop, #30 R&B) and "The Glory of Love" (#60 pop, #19 R&B). Both of those songs are better than their chart positions would suggest. I liked the song "The Dock of the Bay" when I was a kid, even before I collected #1 records. Redding also played an important role in three songs I love by other artists: He wrote Aretha Franklin's #1 pop and R&B hit "Respect" (his own version had already gone to #35 pop, #4 R&B ), co-wrote Arthur Conley's hit "Sweet Soul Music" (#2 pop, #2 R&B), and performed a soulful rendition of the 1932 classic "Try a Little Tenderness" (#25 pop, #4 R&B) that inspired Three Dog Night's version (#29 pop), which became their first Top 40 hit. In case you're wondering, the other posthumous #1 singles after "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" were "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin, "Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce, "(Just Like) Starting Over" by John Lennon, "Hypnotize" by Notorious B.I.G., "Mo Money Mo Problems" by Notorious B.I.G. w/Puff Daddy & Ma$e, "Slow Motion" by Soulja Slim and Juvenile, "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne featuring Static Major, and "Sad" by XXX Tentacion. The closest ApologetiX ever got to spoofing Otis Redding was our parody of The Rolling Stones' #1 hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," which he covered and took to #31 pop and #4 R&B in '66. We also played in West Reading PA (make sure you pronounce it right, folks) in 1999 and 2000. Incidentally, that's the birthplace of Taylor Swift, another artist we've never spoofed.
743. Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods - Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods
Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods' self-titled second LP was their only one to hit the Billboard 200, and it peaked at #97 in the summer of '74. I think it could have done a lot better if they'd named the album after its most popular song, "Billy Don't Be a Hero," which had topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for two weeks in June. That song was a cover version of a U.K. #1 hit by the British band Paper Lace, whose original stalled at #96 on the U.S. chart when it was released a week after Donaldson's remake. Paper Lace would finally get their own U.S. #1 hit two months later with "The Night Chicago Died." I loved both of those songs and knew every word and happily sang them for the other kids in my neighborhood whether they wanted to hear them or not. Those two tunes formed the backbone of this 10-year-old's repertoire, along with "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, and "One Tin Soldier" by Coven. Meanwhile, Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods weren't quite finished. A second single from the album, "Who Do You Think You Are," also hit the Top 20 (#15). You may not recognize it by the title, but if you were my age back then and you heard it now, it might sound familiar to you. I remember it and bought the 45 at a flea market in '86. The group had one more Top 40 hit, "The Heartbreak Kid" (#39), later in '74, but that wasn't on this album. Their next chart entry was "Our Last Song Together" (#95). It wasn't really their last song together, but it was their last one to hit the Hot 100.
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.