Influential Albums 1150-1156
Sat., Jul. 8. 2023 12:38am 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.
1150. Ticked - ApologetiX
In 1996 and '97, much of my musical attention was focused on writing and fine-tuning the lyrics for the songs that would comprise the third and fourth ApologetiX LPs. The third one, Ticked (sometimes erroneously referred to as Rolling Clone because of the cover art), finally came out in December '97. It was our first project to exclusively focus on "modern" music, with 21 parodies of '90s artists such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day, Hootie & the Blowfish, Alanis Morissette, Coolio, The Offspring, Foo Fighters, Bush, Live, Stone Temple Pilots, Beck, Collective Soul, and others. I actually got the concept for the project in '95 ... my early working title was Unplug the Empty TV. One track even got us played on the syndicated radio program of Dr. Demento, the man credited with helping to launch Weird Al Yankovic's career. In the spring of '98, the good doctor played our spoof of "Lump" by The Presidents of the United States of America (he even gave his audience a little background info on us) in the same set with Weird Al's hilarious "Living with a Hernia" and Bloodrock's macabre "D.O.A.," a terrifying tune I've always considered to be one of the creepiest cuts ever to hit the Top 40 (but that didn't stop me from buying the album it came from, back when I was in college). Here's the full set list from the aforementioned May 17, 1998 episode of The Dr. Demento Show http://dmdb.org/cgi-bin/plinfo.pl?drd98.0517.html. My old roommate and bandmate Tom Dellaquila somehow obtained and sent me an official copy of the CD version of the broadcast that was sent to radio stations. Speaking of which, Ticked was the first ApologetiX album to be released on compact disc, although we would eventually reissue its two direct predecessors, Isn't Wasn't Ain't and Radical History Tour, in that format, too. Seeing (and hearing) something we'd done on a real CD packaged in a genuine jewel case was a mighty special feeling at the time.
1151. Jars of Clay - Jars of Clay
The alternative Christian band Jars of Clay released their first full-length LP in late October 1995. I think I first heard about them in '96 through a friend from work named John Porcari and possibly through my old buddy Dave Rhodes. In addition to that, the worship team at a church on our street performed the album's big crossover hit, "Flood" (#37 pop, #16 mainstream rock, #12 alternative, #4 Christian Hit Radio) during one of their Sunday services. It's rare enough when a Christian song makes it onto one secular chart, let alone three of them. Consequently, the group generated a considerable bit of buzz. The album featured four other cuts that hit the top three on the CHR chart, although none of them crossed over: "Liquid" (#1 CHR), "Love Song for a Savior" (#1 CHR), "Like a Child" (#2 CHR), and "Blind" (#3 CHR). All that added up to a #46 peak position on the Billboard 200 and sales of two million copies. Subsequent albums would not sell quite as well, although three of them went gold. The group's second LP, Much Afraid, sold a million and went to #8. It featured five consecutive singles that hit #1 on the CHR charts: "Crazy Times" (which also reached #38 on the alternative chart), "Five Candles (You Were There)," "Fade to Grey," "Overjoyed," and "Truce." I particular like "Flood," "Liquid," "Love Song for a Savior," "Crazy Times," "Five Candles," and "Overjoyed." That's convenient, because my future wife, Lisa, would turn out to be a Jars fan.
1152. Greatest Hits Volume III - Billy Joel
Billy Joel's 1997 compilation Greatest Hits Volume III featured songs that originally charted between '83 and '94. It started with a couple hits from An Innocent Man that hadn't made it onto Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II — "An Innocent Man" (#10 pop, #1 adult contemporary) and "Keeping the Faith (#18 pop, #3 AC). The rest of the album was composed of selections from The Bridge (1986), Storm Front (1989), and River of Dreams (1993) in chronological order, followed by three cover versions of works by other famous songwriters. Two of them were released as singles from this LP: the Bob Dylan composition "To Make You Feel My Love" (#50 pop, #9 AC) and the Carole King & Gerry Coffin composition "Hey Girl" (#13 AC). The other was "Light as a Breeze," written by Leonard Cohen, which had originally appeared on a Cohen tribute album in '95. Over a third of the tracks came from Storm Front (which was fine by me, because I'd never had that one): "We Didn't Start the Fire" (#1 pop, #5 AC), "I Go to Extremes" (#6 pop, #4 AC), "The Downeaster 'Alexa'" (#57 pop, #18 AC), "And So It Goes" (#37 pop, #5 AC), "Shameless (#40 AC), and "Leningrad." Although "Leningrad" didn't chart, it became one of my favorite tracks on the album. But I mainly bought Greatest Hits Volume III so I could try to write parodies of "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "The River of Dreams." ApologetiX eventually recorded and released those in 2013 and 2022, respectively.
1153. Billboard Top Modern Rock Tracks 1990 - Various Artists
I won this CD by correctly answering a trivia question posed by Fred Bronson in his Chart Beat column in Billboard magazine. Released in 1997, Billboard Top Modern Rock Tracks - 1990 featured 10 alternative hits from 1990, half of which reached #1 on the modern-rock chart: "Cuts You Up" by Peter Murphy (#55 pop, #10 mainstream rock); "Suicide Blonde" by INXS (#9 pop, #1 mainstream rock); "Joey" by Concrete Blonde (#19 pop, #20 mainstream); "Metropolis" by The Church (#11 mainstream); and "Here's Where the Story Ends" by The Sundays. The remaining five tracks all reached the Top Three, though: "Don't Ask Me" by Public Image Ltd. (#2 alternative); "Dreamtime" by The Heart Throbs (#2 alternative); "Give It Up" by The Hothouse Flowers (#2 alternative, #29 mainstream); Stone Cold Yesterday" by The Connells (#3 alternative); and my personal favorite, "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants (#3 alternative). That last one is also very popular with my wife and kids. But there's not a single song on this collection that I find musically unpleasant; they're all mighty melodious.
1154. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
As 1997 drew to a close, it was time for me to buy the year-end issue of Billboard magazine again and make another shopping list of albums to investigate for potential parodies ... particularly ones featuring songs that were big on the alternative (which was called modern-rock at the time) and/or mainstream rock charts. Those will be appearing next on our list, and we'll start with this one. San Francisco alternative-rock band Third Eye Blind released their eponymous debut LP in April 1997. It sold a lot more copies than you'd expect for an album that peaked at #25 on the Billboard 200 — six million — but it included three Top 10 pop hits and five cuts that made the Top 15 on the alternative chart: "Semi-Charmed Life" (#4 pop, #26 mainstream rock, #1 alternative for eight weeks), "Graduate" (#26 mainstream, #14 alternative), "How's It Going to Be" (#9 pop, #5 alternative), "Losing a Whole Year" (#36 mainstream, #13 alternative), and "Jumper" (#5 pop, #9 alternative). "Semi-Charmed Life" was the #1 alternative track of the year and also in the Top 10 for Hot 100 airplay of '97. I started writing a parody of that song shortly thereafter, although I didn't finish the lyrics until 2012. ApologetiX finally released it in 2013.
1155. Bringing Down the Horse - The Wallflowers
Released in May 1996, Bringing Down the Horse was the second LP by The Wallflowers. It reached #4 on the Billboard 200 and sold four million copies. It probably didn't hurt that the group's lead singer and songwriter was Jakob Dylan, Bob's son. At times he sounded and wrote a little like his famous father but, personally, I think he sounded and wrote a lot more like Bruce Springsteen ... with occasional Jackson Browne moments. The album's runaway hit was "One Headlight" (#2 pop airplay for five weeks, #1 mainstream for five weeks, #1 alternative for five weeks, #1 adult Top 40 for five weeks). Although it wasn't officially released as a physical single, the song spent 70 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart. Three other cuts also did decently on all four of those charts: "6th Avenue Heartache" (#33 pop airplay, #10 mainstream rock, #8 alternative, #26 adult Top 40), "The Difference" (#23 pop airplay, #3 mainstream for eight weeks, #5 alternative, #14 adult Top 40), and "Three Marlenas" (#51 pop airplay, #21 mainstream, #17 alternative, #27 adult Top 40). Although the group would never achieve the same level of success again, they went on to have two more songs that hit all four of those charts — a cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" (#27 pop airplay, #4 mainstream, #9 alternative, #20 adult Top 40) in '98 and "Sleepwalker" (#73 pop, #26 mainstream, #31 alternative, #21 adult Top 40) in 2000. That second song came their third LP, (Breach), which reached #13 and sold half a million copies. ApologetiX spoofed "One Headlight" in 2015.
1156. Sublime - Sublime
Sublime's self-titled third LP was the one that finally brought full-fledged fame to the Southern California alternative ska-punk trio. It was released on July 30, 1996 and peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200, selling five million copies. Unfortunately, all of this happened after lead singer/guitarist Brad Nowell died of a drug overdose on May 25, 1996. Four cuts from the album received significant airplay: "What I Got" (#29 pop airplay, #11 mainstream rock, #1 alternative for three weeks), "Santeria" (#43 pop airplay, #3 alternative), "Wrong Way" (#47 pop airplay, #3 alternative), and "Doin' Time" (#87 pop, #28 alternative). Sensitive souls beware: The parental-advisory label blended right into the scenery on the cover, but it wasn't just for decoration. However, I was mainly there for the music ... words are subject to change, depending on who's singing. Case in point: ApologetiX spoofed "What I Got" in 2020, and it's one of my favorite parodies we've ever done. Although the lyrics were written from personal experience, I think a lot of people can relate to them.