Influential Albums: 1185-1191
Thu., Aug. 10. 2023 12:13am 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.
1185. Sixpence None the Richer - Sixpence None the Richer
The eponymous third LP by alternative Christian rock group Sixpence None the Richer originally came out in November 1997, but it didn't become a million seller until February 2000. The difference maker was a little tune called "Kiss Me" (#2 pop, #2 adult contemporary), which became a belated hit in 1999 after it was featured in the movie She's All That and on the soundtrack from the television show Dawson's Creek. I liked that song a lot. A second single from the album, "There She Goes," a cover of a 1988 song by British rock band The La's, also hit the Top 40 (#32 pop, #19 AC). The album was produced by Steve Taylor. If you've been reading these entries for a while, you know how much I like Steve Taylor. I also really enjoyed another Sixpence Song that came out later in '99, "Breathe," from the Streams LP, a compilation of songs by various CCM artists. But there's a much bigger reason the Sixpence None the Richer album is on my list of influential albums. As I mentioned before, in late May '99, our good friend and occasional fill-in drummer Keith Harrold told us we should pursue the possibility of playing some of the larger Christian festivals. In addition to managing the music store at the Creation festival in Mount Union PA in every June, Keith did the same thing at the Kingdom Bound festival at the Six Flags amusement park in the Buffalo NY area every August. He recommended that we initiate a letter-writing campaign among our fans, asking them to contact the organizers of those two festivals and request that ApologetiX be added to their line-ups. So that's what we did. Now, those festivals generally set up their schedules many months in advance, so it wasn't likely that anything would happen that year. But the sudden success of "Kiss Me" caused Sixpence None the Richer to cancel their Kingdom Bound appearance in order to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The main guy in charge of Kingdom Bound, Fred Caserta, called me in June '99 and said, "J., I'm sitting here in my office, and I've got all these letters from your fans saying we should get ApologetiX to play at Kingdom Bound ..." Then he proceeded to explain what had happened with Sixpence and asked me if we wanted to play in their place. He added one caveat, though: "I want you to write a parody of 'Kiss Me' and call it 'Dis Me,' because Sixpence dissed me." He was joking about that, of course, but not about us taking Sixpence's slot. We took him up on his offer immediately. ApologetiX played Kingdom Bound on August 27, 1999, and we got a wonderful response, consequently gaining a whole bunch of new fans in New York, the Northeast, and Canada. Kingdom Bound invited back for more appearances in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004, and all of that opened up doors for us to play other major festivals across the country. Another thing that helped us in '99 was that God had already given us favor with Pastor Samme Palermo at WITR in Rochester NY, a very influential man at Kingdom Bound and in Christian rock radio. Pastor Samme was in charge of the Park Stage, where artists like Audio Adrenaline, Bride, Guardian, Skillet, Five Iron Frenzy, Seventh Day Slumber, Sacred Warrior, Fireflight, RED, Whitecross, Pillar, Superchic[k], Starflyer59, and ApologetiX played. He also knew Keith Harrold and had coordinated a concert with us in October '98 and had been playing our parodies for a couple of years on his show, Uncle Samoo's Zoo. Sadly, Fred Caserta died in 2006 and Keith passed in 2018, but Pastor Samme is alive and well and remains a great friend to ApologetiX and to me. He and his wife, Jeanie, even came to Pittsburgh for our 25th anniversary concert in 2017.
1186. The New Deal-e-o - Various Artists
This 11-track compilation of new music was one of two sampler CDs I picked up when ApologetiX played the Kingdom Bound festival in August 1999. Back in those days, I handled all the packing and shipping of ApologetiX orders, and I listened to The New Deal-e-o quite a bit while doing that ... in my parents' basement. That doesn't sound very "rock and roll," does it? Well, the songs on this CD certainly did. There weren't a lot of well known artists, but the songs were great. My favorites are "He Touches Stars" by Viva Voce, "Waiting Room" by La Rue, "Jesus is Real" by The Parachute Band, "The Hunted" by The Insyderz, "Why Won't Josh Dance?" by Buck, and "Now She's 24" by Fono. But I also love "Original" by Silage, "His Will" by Shepherd Hall, "Shelter Me" by Among Thorns, and "Revolution" by Shaded Red. And what about "Carry Me Home" by A Cross Between? Isn't that one of the greatest Christian band names you've heard? I ran across some of the members of The Parachute Band at Gospel Music Association (GMA) Week in the spring of 2000 and told them how much I liked "Jesus Is Real." They were touched that I knew who they were. It's a shame this album isn't better known; I'm sure glad I found it.
1187. Simply Spectacular New Music Sampler - Various Artists
This was the other sampler CD I got at Kingdom Bound '99. It had some bigger names than The New Deal-e-o, but it didn't have quite as big an impact on me. Nevertheless, there were some great tunes. My favorites were "New Way to Be Human" by Switchfoot, "Gravity" by Delirious?, "I Want to Know You" by Sonicflood, and "Undo Me" by Jennifer Knapp. Despite what the cover said, there were technically 15 tracks not 14, if you include the last cut, "Sneak Peek Demos" by Audio Adrenaline, a two-and-a-half-minute taste of what was to come on their next LP, Underdog, in September '99. I'll get to that album next. For a complete track listing for Simply Spectacular New Music Sampler, go to: https://www.discogs.com/release/491627-Various-Simply-Spectacular-299-New-Music-Sampler
1188. Underdog - Audio Adrenaline
Released in mid-September 1999, Underdog was the first album from the big three (DC Talk, Newsboys, and Audio Adrenaline) to come out on my watch. I'd heard a hint of it on the Simply Spectacular New Music Sampler in August. Speaking of the big three, the first three tunes on this album — "Mighty Good Leader," "Underdog," and "Get Down" — were enormously popular not just with me but also my daughter Janna, who was approaching the age of three. They made for good bath-time music and jump-and-run-around-the-house-when-my-parents-were-out music. I also got a kick out of the humor in "DC-10" and "The Houseplant Song." Other tracks that I increasingly appreciated as time went on were "Hands and Feet," "It's Over," "Good Life," "This Day," and "Jesus Movement," which reminds me a little of Sugar Ray. There was even a cover of Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door," a song I'd loved back in the early '80s. But I still liked Audio A.'s original material the best. Five cuts were released as singles: "Get Down" (#1 Christian Hit Radio, #7 rock), "Hands and Feet" (#1 CHR, #6 rock), "Underdog" (#5 rock), "Good Life" (#3 CHR), and "Mighty Good Leader" (#14 rock). In the mid-2000s, ApologetiX would play Audio Adrenaline as house music before and after our concerts. We used various songs from several of their albums, but "Mighty Good Leader" worked well to start things off as the audience was coming in, and "It's Over" was a great one to put on right after we were finished.
1189. WOW 1999 - Various Artists
The WOW CD series in contemporary Christian music (CCM) is comparable to the Now That's What I Call Music compilations in mainstream pop. I always thought Now came before WOW, but that's not the case, at least not in the United States. The first volume of WOW came out in early November 1995, whereas the first U.S. volume of Now That's What I Call Music, which was simply titled NOW, came out three years later, in late October '98. To be fair, the first volume of the U.K. version of the Now That's What I Call Music series came out in late November 1983. Well, now (no pun intended) that we have that out of the way, WOW 1999 was the first volume I purchased. It came out in October '98 (the release dates generally predated the year in the title by a few months), although I didn't purchase it until the fall of '99. There were 34 tracks in all on this two CD set. Aside from DC Talk, Newsboys, and Audio Adrenaline songs I already had elsewhere, my favorite cuts were: "Steady On" (Point of Grace), "Crazy Times" (Jars of Clay), "Deeper" (Delirious?), "The Devil Is Bad" (The W's), "Little Man" (The O.C. Supertones), "Testify to Love" (Avalon), "Healing Waters" (Michele Tumes). I also really liked "Pray" (Rebecca St. James), "God So Loved" (Jaci Velasquez), "Anything Genuine" (Smalltown Poets), "Agnus Dei" (Third Day), "That Where I Am, There You May Also Be" (Rich Mullins), "The Light on the Hill" (Máire Brennan, the sister of the bestselling Irish artist Enya), "Love Me Good" (Michael W. Smith), "If You Really Knew" (Out of Eden), and, of course, "His Cheeseburger" (Veggie Tales). WOW 1999 went to #42 on the Billboard 200 and became the first of three consecutive WOW volumes to sell two million copies. Previous volumes had each sold a million. For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/master/360052-Various-WOW-1999-The-Years-30-Top-Christian-Artists-And-Songs
1190. WOW 1998 - Various Artists
I may have bought WOW 1998 at the same time as WOW 1999, although I got into WOW 1999 first and enjoyed it a lot more. But both of them blessed me in the fall of '99. Of the 30 tracks on WOW 1998, my favorites (not counting the DC Talk, Newsboys and Audio Adrenaline songs, which I already had) were "Overjoyed" (Jars of Clay), "Hope to Carry On" (Caedmon's Call), "Abba (Father)" (Rebecca St. James), "People Get Ready ... Jesus is Comin'" (Crystal Lewis), and "My Hope Is You" (Third Day). The song "Mission" (Carman) is also an earworm that besieges my brain from time to time to this very day. For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/release/12866278-Various-WoW-1998-The-Years-30-Top-Christian-Artists-And-Songs
1191. WOW 2000 - Various Artists
WOW 2000 was the first volume in the WOW series that I purchased right when it came out — in late October 2000. As usual, it contained songs by DC Talk, Newsboys, and Audio Adrenaline, but this time the Newsboys tune was one I hadn't already heard, because it was the title track from a new album that hadn't yet been released, Love Liberty Disco. I'll get that one in a later entry. I already knew (and liked) other selections on WOW 2000 by Switchfoot, Sonicflood, Delirious?, and LaRue from the two sampler CDs I'd picked at Kingdom Bound in August. But there was plenty of new (to me) stuff among the 34 tracks. My favorites were: "I've Always Loved You" (Third Day), "One of These Days" (FFH), "Thankful" (Caedmon's Call), "Show You Love" (Jaci Valasquez), "Cartoons" (Chris Rice), "Breathe" (Sixpence None the Richer), and "No One Loves Me Like You Do" (Jars of Clay). Others that left a lasting impression on me included "Speechless" (Steven Curtis Chapman), "Take a Little Time" (Amy Grant), "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth" (Burlap to Cashmere), "A Little More" (Jennifer Knapp), "Saving Grace" (Point of Grace), "Away from You" (The O.C. Supertones), and "Friend of Mine (Columbine)" (Jonathan & Stephen Cohen). WOW 2000 became the highest-charting volume in the series up to that point, reaching #29 on the Billboard 200 and selling two million copies. For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/master/943304-Various-WOW-2000-The-Years-30-Top-Christian-Artists-And-Songs