Influential Albums 1143-1149
Sat., Jul. 1. 2023 4:37pm 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.
1143. Kickin' It Up - John Michael Montgomery
Kentucky singer/songwriter/guitarist John Michael Montgomery is the younger brother of Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry, probably the only country band I ever heard ApX bassist Keith Haynie say he actually liked. JMM's second studio LP, Kickin' It Up, came out in January 1994 and featured three #1 country hits: "I Swear" (#42 pop), "Be My Baby Tonight" (#73 pop), and "If You've Got Love." Another single, "Rope the Moon," reached #4 on the country chart and #115 on the pop chart. A fifth cut, "Kick It Up," reached #72 despite not being released as a single. "I Swear" was subsequently covered by the R&B-pop group All-4-One and became a #1 pop hit for them later in '94. A similar thing happened in '95 when "I Can Love You Like That," a single from Montgomery's follow-up album, hit #1 on the country chart and then was covered by All-4-One, who took it to #5 on the pop chart. I also like another #1 country single by Montgomery, "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)," which came from the same album as "I Can Love You Like That." In all, JMM had seven #1 country hits. I wrote parodies of "I Swear" and "Be My Baby Tonight" in the mid-'90s, although ApologetiX has never recorded them.
1144. Cosmic Thing - The B-52's
This album should have appeared earlier on my list. Released in June 1989, Cosmic Thing was the fifth LP by The B-52's. "Cosmic" was an apt adjective, as this album turned the former fringe favorites into universal stars, thanks to a pair of million-selling singles that peaked at the same position on the Hot 100: "Love Shack" (#3 pop, #1 alternative for four weeks) and "Roam" (#3 pop, #6 alternative). A third single also hit the pop Top 40, "Deadbeat Club" (#30 pop). Two other tracks hit the alternative Top 10: "Channel Z" (#1 alternative for three weeks) and "Cosmic Thing" (#7 alternative). The album itself reached #4 on the Billboard 200 and sold four million copies in the United States. I think I bought a used cassette copy at Jerry's Records in '92. ApologetiX released a spoof of "Love Shack" in 2003.
1145. Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits – Don Henley
Released in November 1995, Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits contained all eight of the former (and future) Eagle's solo Top 40 hits, except his duets with Stevie Nicks and Patty Smyth, "Leather and Lace" (#6 pop, #26 mainstream rock, #10 adult contemporary) and "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" (#2 pop for six weeks, #1 adult contemporary for four weeks). Of the remaining five tracks, three were new. None of them appeared on the Hot 100, but two were hits on rock stations: "The Garden of Allah" (#16 mainstream rock) and "You Don't Know Me at All" (#22 mainstream). The other previously unreleased song was "Everybody Knows." Henley's lyrics were razor sharp as usual. Take these lines from "You Don't Know Me at All," for example: "You took my breath away, and now I want it back. Ah, you should have killed me; you always looked so good in black." But the song that I kept coming back to was "The Garden of Allah" (#16 mainstream rock) a seven-minute epic named after a famous hotel in West Hollywood. What is it with Henley and long songs about California hotels? Like "Hotel California," this new track is an allegory. In this case, it's about a man's encounter with the devil, who is "downhearted" because mankind has become so morally ambiguous that "there's nothing left for him to claim" as he laments, "It's just like home; it's so low-down, I can't stand it. I guess my work around here has all been done." Hardly, unfortunately. Actual Miles reached #48 on the Billboard 200 and sold a million copies.
1146. Smashes, Thrashes & Hits - Kiss
I bought this one in 1996 or '97, because there were a couple Kiss songs I wanted to spoof. Released in November 1988, Smashes, Thrashes & Hits contained 15 tracks from 1973-88, including two new songs, eight remixes, and a new recording of "Beth" with new drummer Eric Carr on lead vocals instead of Peter Criss. I wasn't too keen on the new tracks or the remixes, but this was the only Kiss collection I had at the time, and I did use it for source material when I wrote our parodies of "Calling Dr. Love" and "Rock and Roll All Nite." ApologetiX eventually released parodies of five other songs that are on Smashes, Thrashes & Hits, but I'll get to those when I talk about later Kiss compilations.
1147. Greatest Hits – ZZ Top
Released in 1992, Greatest Hits was the first ZZ Top compilation to include their MTV years. Ten of the 18 tracks came from Eliminator (1983), Afterburner ('85), and Recycler ('90). I covered Eliminator and Afterburner earlier on this list, but the three big selections from Recycler on Greatest Hits were: "Doubleback" from Back to the Future III (#50 pop, #1 mainstream rock for five weeks), "My Head's in Mississippi" (#1 mainstream for six weeks), and "Give It Up" (#79 pop, #2 mainstream for four weeks). For some reason, the record company chose not to include the other big hit from Recycler, "Concrete and Steel" (#1 mainstream rock for four weeks). Earlier classics such as "La Grange," "Tush," "Cheap Sunglasses," and "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" were part of the package, however, plus two brand-new tracks — "Gun Love" (#8 mainstream rock) and a cover of the old Elvis Presley hit "Viva Las Vegas" (#16 mainstream). I think I bought my copy of Greatest Hits in winter of '96-97, and that's the album I used to write parodies ApologetiX would later record and release of "Sharp Dressed Man" ('99), "Tush" (2014), and "Legs" (2020).
1148. Twisted Tunes 1994: The Year in Review - Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio
I believe this album came out at the end of 1994, as the title suggests, but I didn't get my copy till at least '97. Two of the most memorable bits for me were "You've Got A Brand New Pair Of Figure Skates (I'm Gonna Break Your Knees)," a parody of Melanie's 1971 hit "Brand New Key" about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding; and "Grandpa Loved the Rolling Stones," a parody of The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" about the ever-escalating ages of Mick, Keef, and the boys (who are still at it, ironically, almost 30 years later). Rivers also protested the 1994 MLB season-ending strike by repurposing an old Johnny Paycheck country song as "Take Baseball and Shove It." There were 12 tracks in all, covering such diverse topics such as John and Lorena Bobbitt, NAFTA, O.J. Simpson, the Michael Fay caning incident in Singapore, Whitewater, and Michael Jordan quitting basketball to play baseball. Whatever the Twisted Tunes team may have lacked in tact, they made up for in mastery of their craft.
1149. The Greatest Hits Collection - Brooks & Dunn
Released in September 1997, The Greatest Hits Collection was the first compilation by country music duo Books & Dunn. It sold over four and a half million copies and reached #4 on the Billboard 200. The 19 tracks included the group's first 10 #1 country hits: "Brand New Man," "My Next Broken Heart," "Neon Moon," "Boot Scootin' Boogie," (#50 pop), "She Used to Be Mine," "That Ain't No Way to Go," "She's Not the Cheatin' Kind," "Little Miss Honky Tonk," "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone," and "My Maria" (#79 pop). As was the case with many other albums of that ilk, The Greatest Hits Collection featured a few previously unavailable tracks to sweeten the pot: the brand-new "Days of Thunder," which did not chart, plus rerecorded versions of the songs "He's Got You" and "Honky Tonk Truth," which reached #2 and #3 respectively when released as singles in '97. I first heard about Brooks & Dunn in '91 from George Fecik, one of my managers at Equitable Gas, who was also an accomplished guitarist. George and I occasionally got together to play and sing (he played, I sang), and he also jammed with ApologetiX a couple times in the winter of '91-92, right before we named the band and made our official debut. By 2023, Brooks & Dunn, had accumulated 20 #1 country hits, with 19 other Top 10 country hits. ApologetiX spoofed "Boot Scootin' Boogie" in 1996 and 2004 and "My Maria" in 2015.