Influential Albums 1122-1128
Thu., Jun. 8. 2023 12:58am 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.
Note: Just because an album appears on this list doesn't mean I give it a blanket endorsement. Many of the secular albums on this list are mainly there because they wound up being spoofed by ApologetiX.
1122. Collective Soul - Collective Soul
Collective Soul's self-titled second LP effectively eliminated any notion that the group would be a one-hit wonder in the wake of their 1994 single "Shine." Released in March 1995, it featured two Top 20 pop hits that were also huge on rock radio: "December" (#20 pop, #2 alternative, #1 mainstream rock for nine weeks) and "The World I Know" (#19 pop, #6 alternative, #1 mainstream for four weeks). Three additional tracks did well on the mainstream and alternative charts: "Gel" (#49 pop airplay, #14 alternative, #2 mainstream for four weeks), "Where the River Flows" (#1 mainstream for two weeks), and "Smashing Young Man" (#8 mainstream). I wrote a parody of "December" in the mid-90s, which ApologetiX eventually recorded and released in 2017, but I also really like "Gel" (and wrote a parody of it in the mid-90s, too, although we'll probably never record it), "The World I Know," and "Smashing Young Man." Actually, "Where the River Flows" is pretty cool, too. So are "Simple," "Untitled," "She Gathers Rain," "Where the Water Falls," "A Collection of Goods," "Bleed," and "Reunion." Yep, the whole album. These guys were really underrated and had riffs galore.
1123. Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters
I remember reading that Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl had formed a new band called "Foo Fighters," but I didn't have great expectations for the project. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Released in July 1995, the group's eponymous debut LP featured three cuts that charted on the pop, mainstream rock, and alternative charts: "This Is a Call" (#35 pop airplay, #6 mainstream, #2 alternative), "I'll Stick Around" (#51 pop airplay, #12 mainstream, #8 alternative), and "Big Me" (#13 pop airplay, #18 mainstream, #3 alternative). The first one I heard was "I'll Stick Around," and I wasn't too impressed at the time. Then, in May '96, I heard "Big Me" and loved it instantly. I bought the cassette and also enjoyed "This Is a Call" a lot. Later, I revisited "I'll Stick Around" and realized I'd misjudged it. Looking back over the past three decades, I can't think of another secular band since the mid-'90s that has more consistently put out songs I've liked than Foo Fighters. They went on to become the #1 all-time alternative band (and #12 all-time mainstream rock) in terms of chart performance, with 11 alternative #1s and 12 mainstream #1s, plus scads of other hits. Other Foo favorites of mine include "Learn to Fly" (#19 pop, #2 mainstream, #1 alternative), "All My Life" (#43 pop, #3 mainstream, #1 alternative for 10 weeks), "Times Like These" (#65 pop, #5 mainstream, #5 alternative), "DOA" (#68 pop, #5 mainstream, #1 alternative for six weeks), "No Way Back" (#6 mainstream, #2 alternative), "The Pretender" (#37 pop, #1 mainstream for six weeks, #1 alternative for 18 weeks), "Long Road to Ruin" (#2 mainstream, #1 alternative for seven weeks), "Let It Die" (#5 mainstream, #1 alternative for four weeks), "Rope" (#68 pop, #1 mainstream for five weeks, #1 alternative for 13 weeks), and "Walk" (#83 pop, #1 mainstream for four weeks, #1 modern for eight weeks). But I've enjoyed just about everything I've ever heard by Foo Fighters. ApologetiX recorded and released spoofs of "Big Me" in 1997 and "This Is a Call" in 2014 (although I actually wrote that one in the '96 or '97). We also spoofed "All My Life" and "Walk" in 2003 and 2013, respectively.
1124. Insomniac - Green Day
Released in October 1995, Insomniac was Green Day's fourth LP. I borrowed it from Bob Flaherty, who had just become the official drummer for ApologetiX five months earlier. Bob was a big fan of the song(s) "Brain Stew/Jaded" (#33 alternative, #8 mainstream, #35 pop airplay), the first half of which was built upon a riff that bore more than a passing resemblance to Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4." I preferred the halitosic hit "Geek Stink Breath" (#3 alternative, #9 mainstream, #27 pop airplay), in no small part due to its terrific title. Only one other track charted, "Walking Contradiction" (#21 alternative, #25 mainstream, #70 pop airplay). Like Dookie before it, Insomniac went to #2 on the Billboard 200, but it only sold two million copies in the States; Dookie sold five times as many. That was a tough act to follow, but Green Day would experience a resurgence in the next millennium that included three #1 albums ... one of which went on to sell over six million copies in the United States and 16 million worldwide, making it their bestseller overall. ApologetiX spoofed a song from that one, but I wasn't able to come up with any parody ideas I thought were good enough to pursue from Insomniac. I didn't lose any sleep over it, though.
1125. Vitalogy - Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam's third LP came out a mere 13 months after their second. Vitalogy hit the stores in November 1994, although I didn't buy my copy (a used CD version from Jerry's) till October '95. The star attraction was "Better Man" (#13 pop airplay, #1 mainstream rock for 8 weeks, #2 alternative for four weeks), but five other cuts also charted: "Spin the Black Circle" (#58 pop, #16 mainstream, #11 alternative), "Tremor Christ" (#18 pop, #16 mainstream, #16 alternative), "Corduroy" (#53 pop airplay, #22 mainstream, #13 alternative), "Not for You" (#102 pop, #12 mainstream, #38 alternative), and "Immortality" (#102 pop, #10 mainstream, #31 alternative). Our local rock station also played "Nothingman." Aside from "Corduroy," I think that "Better Man" is probably the most listenable of the bunch. Vitalogy topped the Billboard 200 for one week and sold five million copies, making it Pearl Jam's third biggest-seller. ApologetiX released a parody of "Better Man" in 1997.
1126. Anthology 1 - The Beatles
Anthology 1 was the first in a three-part series of double-CD/cassette compilations spanning The Beatles' entire career. It came out on November 20, 1995 — the day after the premiere of the first two-hour episode of the three-part, six-hour television series, The Beatles Anthology. The two subsequent episodes aired later that week, but the corresponding double-CD/cassette compilations, Anthology 2 and Anthology 3, weren't released until March and October '96, respectively. All three Anthology LPs featured rarities, outtakes, and live performances, creating a whole new wave of Beatlemania here in the United States, although the first volume made the biggest splash. Anthology 1 topped the Billboard 200 for three weeks (Anthology 2 and Anthology 3 each spent just one week at #1), selling eight million copies, more than the other two volumes combined. It also featured an "all-new" Beatles song, "Free as a Bird," which started out as a demo recorded by John Lennon in 1977. Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr added instrumentation and vocals in '94, with ELO's Jeff Lynne coproducing the affair. The single proved quite successful (#6 U.S. pop, #2 U.K.) and was followed by a second similarly-assembled single on Anthology 2, "Real Love" (#11 U.S. pop, #4 U.K.). All of the above ignited a renewed interest in The Beatles among the members of ApologetiX as well, and I wrote about 30 parodies for a potential all-Beatles project. We never got around to producing an official album, but we did do a full concert of Beatles spoofs at Lazarus' Tomb in Arnold PA on March 9, 1996. Recordings of 20 of the songs we performed that night made it onto a homemade cassette later that year which we titled Beatleg, and 14 of those eventually made their way onto our Rare Not Well Done downloads in 2007. Their historical value far outweighs their musical merits. However, over the years, we have gradually been recording and releasing proper studio versions (or improved live versions) of many of the parodies we'd planned for the project, and I feel fine about most of those.
1127. The Presidents of the United States of America - The Presidents of the United States of America
Released in March 1995, the self-titled debut LP of The Presidents of the United States of America went to #6 on the Billboard 200 and sold three million copies to the residents of the United States of America. The alternative-rock trio came out of Seattle, although they didn't quite have the lasting success of their trailblazing Northwest neighbors Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. Something about the group's quirky sound and warped lyrics reminded me of Beck. I have since discovered that Presidents lead singer/bassist/lyricist Chris Ballew was roommates with Beck in Los Angeles in the early '90s and played in his live band, which explains lot. In fact, Ballew has said that was the beginning of his professional career. Three cuts from the album generated airplay: "Lump" (#21 pop airplay, #7 mainstream rock, #1 alternative), "Kitty" (#67 pop airplay, #13 alternative), and "Peaches" (#29 pop, #24 mainstream, #8 alternative). I'd learned about "Lump" from Billboard magazine, but I first heard about "Peaches" from a waiter at a restaurant Karl and I visited while on a business trip in Houston for the company we worked for in January '96. As it was with Beck, The Presidents' music was interesting but a lot of their lyrics were just too over-the-top for me. However, I did find their antiheroic anthem "We Are Not Going to Make It" pretty amusing, with words like this: "We're not gonna make it, no, no, we're not gonna to make it — 'cuz there's a million better bands with a million better songs — singers who can drum and singers who can sing — deep in my heart I do believe we're not gonna make it." ApologetiX released parodies of both "Lump" and "Peaches" in 1997.
1128. Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morissette
Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette shocked the world with her third LP, Jagged Little Pill, released in June 1995. First, there was the radical shift from her previous dance-pop style to alternative rock. Second, there were the controversial, not-so-merciful lyrics of the stinging, zinging lead single, "You Oughta Know" (#13 pop airplay, #3 mainstream rock, #1 alternative for five weeks), which prompted me to refer to her as "Alanis Moreupset." Third, there was the parade of hits that followed as the album continued to gain momentum: "Hand in My Pocket" (#15 pop airplay, #8 mainstream, #1 alternative), "All I Really Want" (#65 pop airplay, #14 alternative), "Ironic" (#4 pop, #18 mainstream, #1 alternative for three weeks), "You Learn" (#6 pop, #40 mainstream, #7 alternative), and "Head Over Feet" (#3 pop airplay for six weeks, #25 alternative). Fourth, there was the massive sales the album racked up — currently listed at over 33 million worldwide. It topped the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks. Only one of her two previous albums — the first one — had ever charted anywhere, and that was in Canada, where it stalled at #28. Jagged Little Pill even inspired a Tony-award-winning Broadway musical of the same name, which ran from 2019-21. In the mid-'90s, I wrote parodies of "You Oughta Know" and "Ironic," and wrote half a parody of "Hand in My Pocket." ApologetiX recorded and released the parody of "You Oughta Know" in '97 and redid it in 2018. We recorded and released the parody of "Ironic" in 2014.