Influential Albums: 919-925
Fri., Nov. 18. 2022 4:13pm 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. But this week is the last batch of those. Next week, we start on the Christian albums.
You'll still see plenty of secular albums later on this list, but music was never the same for me after.
919. Hello, Dolly! - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
After The Beatles hit America in early 1964 and locked up the top spot of the Hot 100 for 14 straight weeks, it was a most unlikely fellow who broke their streak and put an American back at #1 ... trumpeter/vocalist Louis Armstrong. And the song he did it with was the title tune from the 1964 hit Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! Although he didn't appear in the stage version, the original cast recording still hit #1 on the Billboard album chart. In fact, it was the top album of '64 on the year-end chart, despite the fact that The Fab Four also had chart-topping LPs that year with Meet the Beatles, The Beatles' Second Album, and A Hard Day's Night. The cast recording of Hello, Dolly! was knocked out of the peak position by Armstrong's own Hello, Dolly! LP. Old Satchmo's single version of "Hello, Dolly!" was the third biggest-song on the Billboard year-end singles chart for 1964 after "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You." We didn't have the Broadway cast recording or Armstrong's album in my house when I was growing up, but we did have the motion-picture soundtrack, which was released in October '69 and only went to #49. Carol Channing played Dolly in the original musical, but Barbra Streisand took the title role in the movie and glided through the songs effortlessly. Nevertheless, she left room for Louis to make a guest vocal appearance (he played the orchestra leader) during one of the verses on the title track. The other two songs I remember most from hearing this record in my youth are "It Takes a Woman" and "Put On Your Sunday Clothes." And you gotta love the opener, "Just Leave Everything to Me." I can't sing like Streisand, but I can do Satchmo (until it starts to take a toll on my throat). However, I actually prefer imitating Channing's voice. No, really, I do.
920. Less Than Zero - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released in November 1987, the Less Than Zero soundtrack was one of the first I remember to feature both rock and rap. Believe it or not, I mainly bought it because I liked Poison's cover of "Rock and Roll All Nite" at the time. I thought Aerosmith's take on "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" was slightly amusing, but Slayer's remake of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was too harsh for my tastes. If I were to go back to revisit this album today, my standout tracks would probably be "Bring the Noise" by Public Enemy and "Goin' Back to Cali" by LL Cool J. The big hit was "A Hazy Shade of Winter" by The Bangles, which went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. I was a Bangles backer, but I vastly preferred Simon & Garfunkel's original version.
921. Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap - AC/DC
Although AC/DC's third LP, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, came out in Europe and Australia in 1976, it wasn't officially released in the United States until 1981, to capitalize on the success of their seventh LP, Back in Black. It spawned two songs that were extremely popular during my junior and senior years of high school: the title track (#4 rock) and another tune about a person who was particularly proud of the formal dance parties he hosted at his home (#26 rock). Despite the delay, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap went the whole way up to #3 on the Billboard album chart, selling six million copies in the United States alone. That makes it AC/DC's third-biggest album of all time here, after Back in Black (20 million) and Highway to Hell (7 million).
922. Hold Your Fire - Rush
Rush's 12th studio LP, Hold Your Fire, was released in September 1987. I received it as a Christmas gift that year from an old friend but didn't get into it as much as other Rush albums I'd owned. The only songs I really remember were the two they played the most on our local rock station, "Force Ten" and "Time Stand Still" (with additional vocals by Aimee Mann of 'Til Tuesday), each of which reached #3 on the national rock charts. A third track, "Lock and Key" also hit the rock Top 20 (#16). The whole thing was quite listenable, but there wasn't much that stood out to me. However, this album did impact me in another way: I finally got to see Rush in concert on the tour they did in support of it. They made their Pitt stop on December 16, 1987 at the Civic Arena. I've talked to other past and present members of ApologetiX, and apparently a number of us were there that night, although we wouldn't meet till many years later. ApologetiX has spoofed Rush twice, in 2002 and 2011, but nothing from Hold Your Fire, although we did spoof a 'Til Tuesday tune in 2017.
923. The Ultimate Rascals - The Rascals
I got this album — one of my first CDs — as a Christmas present from my college buddy Tom Dellaquila in 1987. Although we'd both graduated from IUP in the spring of '86, we were in a band together, working at the same company, and sharing an apartment in the second half of '87. Tom owned a CD player; I didn't have one yet, but I still wanted CDs! As I mentioned earlier on this list, I already owned a store-bought cassette of The Rascals' first greatest hits collection, Time Peace, but The Ultimate Rascals had every chart hit from that album plus all five Top 40 hits they had after it, most notably, "People Got to Be Free," a #1 hit for five weeks in 1968. The other later hits were "A Ray of Hope" (#24), "Carry Me Back" (#26), "See" (#27), and "Heaven" (#39). But I liked "Find Somebody"— one of the few non-hits on this CD (I mentioned it in the entry for the album Groovin') — every bit as much, if not more. I also liked the non-hit "Easy Rollin'," but that one had also been on Time Peace, whereas "Find Somebody" had not. ApologetiX eventually spoofed "People Got to Be Free" in 2014.
924. The Soft Parade - The Doors
By the time I bought The Soft Parade, I owned The Doors' first and fifth albums, and I'd heard their second and third, so I figured I'd check out their fourth. Released in July 1969, it contained the #3 hit "Touch Me." The most memorable remaining tracks for me were "Tell All the People" and "The Soft Parade." I also liked "Runnin' Blue" and "Wishful Sinful." I didn't realize it, but three of those tracks were also released as singles and had moderate chart success ("Wishful Sinful" went to #44, "Tell All the People" to #57, and "Runnin' Blue" to #64). Because it incorporated strings and horns with orchestral arrangements and a jazz flavor, The Soft Parade was generally regarded as the album where The Doors lost their way as a rock band. Nowadays, having read the Bible many times since 1988, I think anybody who screams "You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!" (as Jim Morrison famously did during the intro section of the title track) has lost their way. After all, I know now that statement is in direct opposition to verses like Philippians 4:6 ("Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God"), 1 Timothy 2:1 ("I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people"), and Hebrews 5:7 ("During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission"). But back when I was listening to The Soft Parade in December '87, I was totally unaware. That was all about to change very soon, however ...
925. Good Morning, Vietnam - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
I bought this album on cassette in January 1988, right after seeing the movie. I think I saw it at IUP (I still visited there a lot during my first two years after college) with a few female friends from my fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, the National Service Fraternity (we had guys and girls in our frat). I know I played the tape around them a bit afterward, especially "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown. I'd sing his parts, and the ladies would sing the horn parts. I'd known about that song but had never actually heard it till then. ApologetiX eventually released a spoof of it in 2013. This soundtrack features 12 oldies, with brief comedic bits by Robin Williams interspersed. As I mentioned earlier on this list, I'd purchased Robin's 1979 debut comedy album, Reality ... What a Concept, shortly after it came out. I had a number of the songs on the Good Morning, Vietnam soundtrack already, but ones I didn't previously know and/or own that I really enjoyed were "Nowhere to Run" (Martha and the Vandellas), "Liar, Liar" (The Castaways), "Baby, Please Don't Go" (Them), "California Sun" (The Rivieras), and "What a Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong). Honorable mention to "Five O'Clock World" (The Vogues). Although I owned a copy of that song elsewhere, I loved it so much that I was happy to have it here, too.
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.