Influential Albums: 989-995
Thu., Jan. 26. 2023 8:20pm 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:
989. Legacy - Michael Card
Back when we were growing up, Dave Rhodes was always good for finding cool new music. Michael Card had been releasing albums since 1981, so he wasn't exactly new, but I hadn't heard his stuff before Dave gave me a homemade cassette of his '83 LP, Legacy, Card's second album overall. I was particularly taken with the songs "Love Crucified Arose (An Overview)," "Dragonslayer (The Lamb Triumphant)," and "Abba Father (Gal.4:1-7; Rom. 8:14-17)." It was plain to see (and hear) from the lyrics that Michael Card was obviously a thinking man and a Bible scholar. As a matter of fact, he's written or co-written more than 20 books. Legacy also featured Card's version of "El Shaddai," a song he wrote that Amy Grant made famous after releasing it on her 1982 LP, Age to Age, which became the first CCM album by a solo artist to sell half a million copies and the first CCM album to sell a million. We performed "El Shaddai" in our Oremus singing chorale when I was a senior in college. In 2001, it was named one of the "Songs of the Century" by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
990. Can't Buy a Miracle - Randy Stonehill
This is another store-bought cassette my friend Dana owned that he gave to me to keep. Released in 1988, Can't Buy a Miracle was Sir Stonehill's 10th LP (if you don't count Get Me Out of Hollywood, which was recorded in 1973 but wasn't released until 1999). The title track opens with some pretty amusing lyrics: "Come to Jesus with a buck in you hand — like He's a fire-insurance plan. He doesn't need anything you've got — He's only looking for a willing heart." There were only nine tracks, and my favorite was "Brighter Day." While Can't Buy a Miracle never became one of my "go to" albums, I still played it a bit. Aside from the two tunes I already mentioned, the songs I remember most are "Don't Break Down," "Coming Back Soon," and "O How the Mighty Have Fallen." Two other catchy numbers are "It's Now" and "Awfully Loud World," although the lyrics for both are rather serious, so Randy might balk at the thought of them being referred to as "catchy numbers."
991. Do I Stand Alone? - Mike Stand
As a guy who's been singing in rock bands for over 40 years, I've known a lot of mic stands in my life ... but this one was different. This Mike Stand was the songwriter, lead vocalist, and guitarist for Christian punk band The Altar Boys. A few of the folks in our Friday-night group were fans, and that's how I wound up getting exposed to Do I Stand Alone?, Stand's first solo LP, which came out in 1988. It reminded me more of Springsteen than the Clash ... with maybe a touch of The Alarm. Whatever it was, I liked it a lot. My favorite songs were "To Give All Is Everything" and the title track. Other noteworthy tracks included "Dear God," "The Way I Want to Be," "Freedom's Worth Fighting For," "Simple Truth," and the Lennon-esque "What's Goin' On?"
992. Between Heaven 'n Hell - REZ
Released in 1985, Between Heaven 'n Hell was the album where The Resurrection Band shortened their name to REZ. I got a homemade cassette copy from my friend Dana, but I think my old college housemate and roommate Lance had The Resurrection Band's 1981 LP Mommy Don't Love Daddy Anymore when we were at IUP. Back then, I had no interest in such things, and the group name and album title didn't appeal to me. I never would have guessed what legitimate rockers they were. Formed in 1972, the group called it quits in 2000 but reunited for a couple appearances at festivals in 2008 and 2010. A career-spanning anthology released in 2008 prompted Christianity Today magazine to say the collection "provides a convincing argument that husband-and-wife team Glenn and Wendi Kaiser and company formed the most influential band in Christian music history." The first two tracks on Heaven 'n Hell were standouts: "The Main Event" (with Wendi on lead vocals) and "Love Comes Down" (with Glenn on lead vocals). Other memorable tracks for me included "Zuid Afrikan," "Walk On," "Talk to Me," and "Shadows." However, the whole album is strong lyrically and musically. To any rock fan who lived through the '80s, there would be no doubt as to what decade this album came from, but it doesn't sound outdated ... aside from the final track, "2000," and then only because it's not the futuristic thing it was meant to be in 1985.
993. Something New Under the Son - Larry Norman
Released in 1981, Something New Under the Son was actually recorded in 1977. It had a great title and a blues-rock feel. My two favorite songs were the closing tracks on sides one and two: "Watch What You're Doing" and the autobiographical, Stones-esque "Let the Tape Keep Rolling." These four tracks are also easy to appreciate: "Hard Luck Bad News," "Born to Be Unlucky," "Nightmare #97," and "Put Your Life Into His Hands." I first heard "Watch What You're Doing" used in the intro of a Christian documentary on rock and roll and liked it immediately. Even though I was already a Larry Norman fan by then, I had no idea he was the one singing it. Now I recognize it as one of his best songs and performances.
994. I'm in Touch - Simon Ådahl
I don't think I ever had a copy of this entire album, but it came out in 1985, and my friend Dana had at least a couple of its songs — "(You're an) Unknown Identity" and "Shadows" — on one of his homemade cassettes, which I borrowed and dutifully copied. I liked those two tunes a lot, so I got a friend to convert my recordings of them to mp3 for me in 2007. Doing a little detective work, I was able to discover that Simon Ådahl and his brother Frank (who also appears on this album, as does another brother, Dan) were members of the band Edin-Ådahl, along with another set of brothers, Bertil and Lasse Edin. I'm pretty sure Dana had stuff by them, too, but I never got around to listening to it. The songs I heard by Simon reminded me a little bit of ABBA, so I wasn't totally surprised to discover he and his family were from Sweden. I couldn't find the album on iTunes, but I did find it on YouTube, if you'd like to listen. My jams were the first two tracks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EvmDPgVAqE&list=PLPcTOx34g9XSFFLWOFhn2prsgqrmuEV88
995. ¡Alarma! - Daniel Amos
I know I'm going to disappoint Daniel Amos fans here, but this is another one where I only got a partial recording second-hand from Dana. But I repeatedly played the two songs I did have (the first two on the album): "Central Theme" and "¡Alarma!" I'm also familiar with a song later on the track list, "Walls of Doubt," because another band I'll get to later did a cover version I really like. Yes, I realize Daniel Amos was an incredibly influential, innovative, and ingenious group, and I know it's criminal that I don't have their legendary albums Shotgun Angel (1977) and Horrendous Disc (1981) on my list. It wasn't that I never got into them, it's that I didn't get to them. At least not yet. And that's a shame, because I know I'd probably like them. I do like "(It's the Eighties, So Where's Our) Rocket Packs" from their 1984 LP, Vox Humana. Daniel Amos vocalist/guitarist Terry Scott Taylor, even produced a couple projects by one of my favorite Christian groups. Moreover, he wrote and sang another song I love, "Driving in England," by the Daniel Amos spinoff group, The Swirling Eddies, under the pseudonym Camarillo Eddy. So many albums, so little time.