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Influential Albums: 905-911
Sat., Nov. 5. 2022 12:14am 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.

905. Greatest Hits - The Marshall Tucker Band
And now, it's time for the runner-up to Jethro Tull on the list of rock bands famous for frequent flute use. Supplying Southern rock straight from Spartanburg SC, The Marshall Tucker Band is renowned for the FM classics "Heard It in a Love Song" (#14 pop, #51 country) and "Can't You See" (#75), but they did have another Top 40 single, "Fire on the Mountain" (#38), before either of those other songs hit the Hot 100. Released in 1978, Greatest Hits features each of those tunes — all of which prominently feature flute by Jerry Eubanks (who also played keyboards and saxophone for the group) — plus the classics "This Ol' Cowboy" (#78) and "Searchin' for a Rainbow" (#104). The following year, the group released a single that just missed the Top 40, the disco-tinged, Chicago-esque "Last of the Singing Cowboys" (#42). Like fellow Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band took their identity from somebody outside the group. They saw the name "Marshall Tucker" inscribed on a door key to the warehouse where they rehearsed and appropriated it for themselves. They later discovered that Marshall Tucker was a blind piano tuner who had tuned a piano in that place before they started rehearsing there. ApologetiX spoofed "Heard It in a Love Song" in 2020.

906. Pretzel Logic - Steely Dan
Released in February 1974, Pretzel Logic was Steely Dan's third LP. At a time when bands like Roxy Music were putting full-color photos of glamorous models on their album covers, the Dan made do with a black-and-white shot of a New York City pretzel vendor. Despite the perceived competitive disadvantage, Pretzel Logic still sold a million copies and went to #8, their highest-charting album up to that point. The first single, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," became the biggest hit of the group's career, reaching #4. I remember hearing it on the radio in '74. The title track was released as a second single and went to #57. I never heard that one on the radio, but it's an entertaining tune nonetheless. However, my favorite tracks on Pretzel Logic are "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" and "Barrytown." I also like "Charlie Freak" and "Parker's Band," although all 11 tracks are decent. The instrumental "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" is the only song on any of Steely Dan's nine studio LPs not written by their core duo, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. That's because it's a remake of an old Duke Ellington song. In fact, it was his first charting single, going to #10 in 1927. On Steely Dan's clever cover, Becker imitated the trumpet by playing the melody on a talk box, and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter simulated the trombone part on pedal steel guitar. ApologetiX spoofed "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" in 2020.

907. Go West - Village People
Snicker, groan, or scold if you want, but my mom was a big fan of "YMCA" (#2) and "In the Navy" (#3). Go West was The Village People's fourth LP, and it generated two singles, "In the Navy" and the title track (#45). Released in March 1979, just six months after their platinum-selling Cruisin' LP (#3), it also sold a million copies and went to #8. ApologetiX spoofed "YMCA" in 2000, but that wasn't my first Village People parody. Back in '82, I also spoofed a portion of "In the Navy" for my high-school senior class during spirit week. I also thought their first two singles were very catchy: "San Francisco (You've Got Me)" (#102) and "Macho Man" (#25). The Village People followed up the Go West album with Live and Sleazy in September '79. It yielded the single, "Ready for the 80's," which peaked at #52 in December '79. That turned out to be an ironic title, because the band never had a Hot 100 hit in the 80's or ever again. They did, however, get their own feature film, Can't Stop the Music. Released in June 1980, it was voted one of Siskel and Ebert's "Dogs of the Year" and later won the very first Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay in March 1981. In case you're wondering, The Village People never broke up. In fact, they even had a hit on the adult contemporary chart in 2020, "If You Believe" (#25).

908. The Roaring Silence - Manfred Mann's Earth Band
After a successful chart run with the British pop band that bore his name, South African keyboardist Manfred Mann formed Manfred Mann's Earth Band in 1971. They had a U.K. Top 10 hit in '73, "Joybringer" (#9), but success came a little slower stateside. Finally, in '77 they busted things wide open with a chart-topping rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light," from their seventh studio LP, The Roaring Silence, which had been released in August 1976. Even my non-rocking mom liked that tune; I remember her asking me about it. Manfred Mann's Earth Band followed that up with another Springsteen cover, "Spirit in the Night" (#40). Actually, the group had covered "Spirit in the Night" first with Mick Rogers on lead vocals on their previous album, Nightingales & Bombers, but that version only went to #97. After "Blinded by the Light" became a smash, they released a new version with that song's singer, Chris Thompson, on lead vocals. Consequently, the record company produced a new edition of The Roaring Silence (with a different-colored cover) that included not only "Blinded by the Light" but also the new version of "Spirit in the Night." Both of those Springsteen songs originally appeared on his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ. Amazingly, several years later, Manfred Mann's Earth Band covered a third Springsteen song from that album, "For You," and had significant success with it on album-rock stations (#106 pop, #15 rock). I really liked what they did with it. All three of those Springsteen remakes sound nothing like the originals, which were recorded back when the baby Boss sounded a lot more like Dylan. That's ironic, because Manfred Mann's previous band covered a lot of Dylan compositions, including "Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)" (#10), "Just Like a Woman" (#101), and "Please Mrs. Henry." In fact, in between "Spirit in the Night" and "For You," Manfred Mann's Earth Band released a version of Dylan's "You Angel You" and took it to #58. The group had one last big U.S. hit in 1984, "Runner" (#22 pop, #3 rock). It was not written by either Springsteen or Dylan but by one-hit wonder Ian Thomas, who'd had a Top 40 single in '73 with a song called "Painted Ladies" (#34). In 1979, between The Roaring Silence and "For You," Chris Thompson took time out from Manfred Mann's Earth Band and had a hit as lead vocalist/guitarist with the group Night, "If You Remember Me" (#17 pop, #7 adult contemporary). If you were listening to pop radio back then, you probably remember that song, even if you didn't remember him.

909. One of These Nights - Eagles
The fourth Eagles LP, One of These Nights, became the group's first to top the Billboard 200, but it was quickly eclipsed by the three consecutive #1 albums they released directly after it, Their Greatest Hits 1971-75, Hotel California, and The Long Run. Nevertheless, it was their only non-compilation to spawn three top-five singles: "One of These Nights" (#1), "Lyin' Eyes' (#2), and "Take It to the Limit" (#4). Each of those songs featured lead vocals by a different member, with Don Henley on the title track, Glenn Frey on "Lyin' Eyes," and Randy Meisner on "Take it to the Limit." Released in June 1975, One of These Nights was the first Eagles album to feature Don Felder as a full-fledged member (he'd played guitar on two tracks on their previous album) and the last to feature Bernie Leadon. Although primarily a guitarist, Felder even got to sing lead vocals on one track, "Visions." Leadon also sang on just one song, "I Wish You Peace" (co-written with his girlfriend, Patti Davis, daughter of future President Ronald Reagan), although he wrote another track, the instrumental "Journey of the Sorcerer," which would later be used as the theme song to the BBC comedy/science fiction program The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's a pretty powerful tune. Frey's other turn on vocals, "After the Thrill Is Gone," has gotten its share of airplay on album-rock stations, but I'm partial to the other tracks sung by Henley, "The Hollywood Waltz," and Meisner, "Too Many Hands." ApologetiX spoofed "One of These Nights" in 2015.

910. The Best of Perez Prado - Perez Prado
Cuban bandleader and organist Damaso Perez Prado was known as "The King of the Mambo." I first learned of him when I started collecting #1 hits in college, because he had two of them, "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" (#1 for 10 weeks in 1955) and "Patricia" (#1 for one week in '58). I was interested in both — the first because it was one of the biggest hits of the '50s and the second because it shared the same name as my mother. Those were the only Top 40 records he ever had in his lifetime, but a decade after Prado's passing, Lou Bega put lyrics to the Prado instrumental "Mambo No. 5" and had a smash hit with it (#3 U.S., #1 U.K.) in 1999. Released in 1967, The Best of Perez Prado, includes "Cherry Pink," "Patricia," "Mambo No. 5," and even "Mambo No. 8" and "Mambo Jambo." Yes, I'm serious. ApologetiX spoofed Bega's version, "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of ...)," in 2001.

911. Best of The McGuire Sisters - The McGuire Sisters
I discovered The McGuire Sisters while collecting #1 hits, too. They had a couple of those: "Sincerely" (#1 for 10 weeks in 1955) and "Sugartime" (#1 for one week in '58). If you remember my entry on Perez Prado, his two chart toppers had the exact same statistics in the very same years. Unlike Prado, however, The McGuire Sisters (Christine, Dorothy, and Phyllis) had many other hits, including four more that reached the Top 10: "Something's Gotta Give" (#5), "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" (#7), "He" (#10), and "Muskrat Ramble (#10). And you thought Captain & Tennille's "Muskrat Love" (#4) was the only hit single about muskrats! The McGuire Sisters also had five other Top 20 hits: "It May Sound Silly" (#11), "May You Always" (#11), "Picnic" (#13), "No More" (#17), and "Just for Old Time's Sake" (#20). Released in 1965, The Best of The McGuire Sisters was a two-record set that contained all of those songs except, ironically, "No More." The trio had five other Top 40 hits, but none were included on this compilation. Youngest sister Phyllis gained unwanted additional fame as the girlfriend of notorious Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.

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.