Influential Albums: 1192-1198
Fri., Aug. 18. 2023 12:05am 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.
1192. WOW 1997 - Various Artists
Since I'd enjoyed the 1998, 1999, and 2000 installments in the WOW series, I figured I'd go back and buy the only other two. Working my way backward, WOW 1997 featured 30 tracks, including the usual sampling of DC Talk, Newsboys, and Audio Adrenaline hits I already owned. Among the other cuts, my favorites are "Lord of the Dance" by Steven Curtis Chapman, "Love Song for a Savior" (Jars of Clay), and "God" (Rebecca St. James). For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/release/3207188-Various-WOW-1997-The-Years-30-Top-Christian-Artists-And-Songs
1193. WOW 1996 - Various Artists
WOW 1996 was the first volume in the WOW series, although it was the fifth one that I listened to. It actually featured a DC Talk tune I hadn't heard before — their version of the Larry Norman classic "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" — plus "Shine" by Newsboys and nothing by Audio Adrenaline, who had not yet reached their peak popularity in the fall of '95, when this collection was released. There isn't as much rock on WOW 1996 as on future volumes. Of the 30 tracks, my favorites were "When Love Comes to Life" (Out of the Grey) and "Deep Calling Deep" (Margaret Becker). Other memorable tunes included "No Doubt" (Petra), "Common Creed" (Wes King), "Home Run" (Geoff Moore and The Distance), "Children of the World" (Amy Grant), "Heaven in the Real World" (Steven Curtis Chapman), and "The Great Divide" (Point of Grace). For a complete track listing, go to https://www.discogs.com/master/385429-Various-WOW-1996-The-Years-30-Top-Christian-Artists-And-Songs
1194. Love Liberty Disco - The Newsboys
Released in mid-November 1999, Love Liberty Disco was the eighth Newsboys LP and the fourth one I purchased ... soon after it hit the stores. Heavily influenced by the disco sounds of '70s, it threw some people for a loop. In my opinion, the lyrics were a little harder to discern in the mix, too. However, after listening to it many times, I came to like it a lot. The title track was a bit metamorphic, but that wasn't a first for the group ("Breakfast," "Reality," and "Lost the Plot" are some earlier examples). My favorite track is the opener, "Beautiful Sound," which truly does sound beautiful. Other gems include "Everyone's Someone," "Forever Man," "Say You Need Love," and "I Would Give Everything." At least three of the cuts charted as singles: "Love Liberty Disco" (#5 Christian Hit Radio), "Beautiful Sound" (#1 CHR), and "Good Stuff" (#1 CHR, #14 rock). That last track even mentions ApologetiX, but they spelled our name wrong: "I could speak with tongues of angels, apologetics in a slick rhetoric, but either way without love, my words are dead." I'm kidding, of course, about them mentioning us, but Keith Harrold did briefly introduce us personally to the guys in Newsboys at Creation '99, and we talked to them briefly in the food line in the artists' tent at a festival we both played later. I mistakenly called Newsboys lead singer/songwriter Peter Furler "John." Unfortunately, that was the first name of their former lead singer, John James, whom we also ended up meeting ... at Kingdom Bound 2000, I believe, where he was a guest speaker. Ulp! I knew the difference between Peter and John, but my mouth didn't. Color me embarrassed. In the years to follow, we would appear on the same bill as Newsboys at a number of festivals ... along with many other artists, of course. ApologetiX eventually opened for them with just our two bands on the bill on October 15, 2005 at La Villa Real Special Events Center in McAllen TX.
1195. Ricky Martin - Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin's eponymous fifth LP was his first in English and his second with that title. The man known as "The King of Latin Pop" first found major musical success at age 12 in the boy band Menudo. He was 27 when this album came out, in May 1999. It topped the Billboard 200 for one week and sold almost eight million copies in the United States alone, with four charting singles: "Livin' La Vida Loca" (#1), "She's All I Ever Had/Bella" (#2), "Shake Your Bon Bon" (#22), and "Private Emotion" (#67). ApologetiX spoofed "Livin' La Vida Loca" later in '99. Karl was a big fan of the original. I got the idea for the spoof on a solo drive I made to Maryland on the Fourth of July that year. They kept playing the song on the radio, and that got my creative juices going. My Maryland trip didn't turn out the way I hoped (too long of a story to relate here), and I got my first-ever speeding ticket on top of that (that's what I get for drivin' la vida loca on the Pennsylvania Turnpike), but I was really happy with the final recording of the parody.
1196. Devil Without a Cause - Kid Rock
Kid Rock released his fourth studio LP, Devil Without a Cause, in October 1998. It was the Michigan rap-rocker's first album to hit the Billboard 200, reaching #4 and selling over 11 million copies in the United States. Five of its tracks charted, but there were three biggies: "Bawitaba" (#104 pop, #11 mainstream rock, #10 alternative), "Cowboy" (#82 pop, #10 mainstream, #5 alternative), and "Only God Knows Why" (#19 pop, #5 mainstream, #13 alternative). "Bawitaba" has an irresistible chorus, and "Only God Knows Why" was the only one of the three to hit the Top 40, but I just knew the one ApologetiX needed to spoof was "Cowboy." We finally did so in 2000 with an autobiographical parody called "Choirboy," in which explained how I first got involved in music and what happened before and after I turned my life over to the Lord. But I also associate the song "Cowboy" with another significant event in my life. Late one night in July '99, shortly after the events that forced me to separate from my first wife and move of my house, I was in the front bedroom of the place where I was temporarily staying, and a car drove by outside that was playing "Cowboy" on its stereo. Right about then, I felt God strongly impress on my heart that I needed to start actively teaching the Bible to my two-and-half-year-old daughter, Janna. We'd always played Christian songs and Christian videos for her up until that point, but soon after the epiphany I went out and bought every kids' Bible I could find, and I started reading her stories from them, and not just at bedtime. Yes, I realize there probably aren't many others out there who see this album or hear that song and get reminded of teaching their kids Bible stories, but, to quote the main character (and the title) of a television sitcom I used to watch as a kid, "It's my world and welcome to it."
1197. Best Of - Volume I - Van Halen
Released in October 1996, Best Of - Volume I contains 17 tracks — nine with David Lee Roth on vocals and seven with Sammy Hagar. One month later, Gary Cherone of Extreme became Van Halen's third lead singer. But the opening track is an instrumental, "Eruption," leaving no doubt who the ultimate star of the band was. Unfortunately, they didn't include "You Really Got Me" after "Eruption" ... or anywhere on this album. In fact, there are no cover versions here at all, so that also ruled out "(Oh) Pretty Woman" (#12 pop, #1 mainstream rock), and "Dancing in the Street" (#38 pop, #3 mainstream). Those two songs came from the group's 1982 LP, Diver Down, which is the only Van Halen album up to that point not represented on Best Of - Volume I. There were, however, three cuts previously unavailable on Van Halen albums: "Humans Being" (#1 mainstream) from the Twister soundtrack and the all-new "Me Wise Magic" (#1 mainstream for six weeks) and "Can't Get This Stuff No More" (#12 mainstream). All three first hit the airwaves of '96. Hagar sang "Humans Being," and Roth sang the other two. I had never owned the Van Halen albums OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, or Balance, so I was interested in those tracks, too: "When It's Love" (#5 pop, #1 mainstream), "Poundcake" (#1 mainstream), "Right Now" (#55 pop, #2 mainstream for four weeks), and "Can't Stop Loving You" (#30 pop, #2 mainstream for four weeks). Best of - Volume I would eventually be superseded by a more comprehensive 36-track collection, Best of Both Worlds, in 2004. Although it didn't feature any tunes from the Gary Cherone era, Best of Both Worlds did include "You Really Got Me," "(Oh) Pretty Woman," and "Dancing in the Street," plus the other Top 40 hits that were missing on Best Of - Volume I: "I'll Wait" (#13 pop, #2 mainstream), "Love Walks In" (#22 pop, #4 mainstream), "Black and Blue" (#34 pop, #1 mainstream), "Feels So Good" (#35 pop, #6 mainstream), "Finish What Ya Started" (#13 pop, #2 mainstream), and "Top of the World" (#27 pop, #1 mainstream for four weeks). ApologetiX has spoofed five songs on Best Of - Volume I and seven on Best of Both Worlds.
1198. Edge of the Century - Styx
Styx's 12th studio LP, Edge of the Century, was released in October 1990. The band had broken up in '84 but reformed for this recording ... without guitarist-vocalist Tommy Shaw, who was now part of Damn Yankees along with Ted Nugent and Night Ranger bassist-vocalist Jack Blades. Shaw's supergroup had scored hits earlier in '90 with "Coming of Age" (#60 pop, #1 mainstream rock), "Come Again" (#50 pop, #5 mainstream), and "High Enough" (#3 pop, #2 mainstream). I bought a used copy of Edge of the Century at Jerry's Records in '92 because our bassist at the time, Jerry Hayostek, had recommended the album's second single, "Show Me the Way" (#3 pop, #3 adult contemporary), for possible parody. I ended up preferring the previous single, "Love Is the Ritual" (#80 pop, #9 mainstream), which was written and sung by Shaw's replacement, Glen Burtnick. A third single, "Love at First Sight" also became a hit (#25 pop, #13 AC), but it was too tame for my tastes. ApologetiX never did spoof anything from Edge of the Century, but we released a parody of "Coming of Age" by Damn Yankees in 2020. Their self-titled debut album went to #13 and sold two million copies, whereas Edge of the Century went to #63 and sold half a million. However, both bands would soon be buried by an unanticipated avalanche of alternative artists.