Influential Albums: 1192-1198
Thu., Aug. 24. 2023 12:33am 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.
1199. Gold & Platinum - Various Artists
This looks like a K-Tel collection, but it was actually put out by Realm Records, a specialty label manufactured and sold by the Columbia House Record Club. I was a member of that club back in the early '80s, but Gold & Platinum came out in '86, and I think I bought my used cassette copy from Jerry's Records in '92. There were 16 tracks, and ApologetiX eventually spoofed half of them: "Maneater" (Daryl Hall & John Oates), "Rosanna" (Toto), "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" (Journey), "Heat of the Moment" (Asia), "Cum on Feel the Noize" (Quiet Riot), "Every Breath You Take" (Police), "Down Under" (Men at Work), and "You Might Think" (The Cars). I specifically remember using this collection when I first got ideas for the Asia and Police parodies. You can find a complete track listing at https://www.discogs.com/release/4627664-Various-Gold-Platinum
1200. Electric Warrior - T. Rex
I first read about this record in 1987 in a Rolling Stone magazine cover story titled "The 100 Greatest Albums of the Last 20 Years." It was ranked #100, sneaking in just under the wire, which made it more memorable for me. Released in September 1971, Electric Warrior was technically the second LP by British rock band T. Rex, but it followed four they had put out under the name Tyrannosaurus Rex. Over the course of the previous two years, singer/guitarist/songwriter Marc Bolan and his boys had transitioned from folk to glam rock. I was already familiar with their only U.S. Top 40 single, "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" (#10 U.S. pop, #1 U.K. pop). I vaguely recalled when it was a hit in '72 but rediscovered and fell in love with it in '83 as a freshman in college. The song was simply known as "Get It On" across the pond, but the title was changed in the United States to avoid confusion with another song called "Get It On" by the American jazz-rock band Chase, which had peaked at #24 on the U.S. pop chart in July '71. I also adored The Power Station's cover version, "Get It On (Bang a Gong)," which became a big hit in the summer of '85 (#9 U.S. pop, #19 U.S. mainstream rock, #22 U.K. pop). Anyway, whatever the title, that song made its first appearance on Electric Warrior, and I got a parody idea for it in '92, and that's when I finally bought the album. ApologetiX released that spoof on one of our early homemade cassettes later that year, and we eventually redid it in 2010. A second single from Electric Warrior, "Jeepster," went to #2 on the U.K. charts but was not a U.S. hit, although I like it. My other favorite track was the opener, "Mambo Sun." Although considered one-hit wonders here in the States, T. Rex actually had three other singles that made the Hot 100 here. None of them, however, came within 25 notches of Casey Kasem's domain. But the group was massive in England, with four #1s, four #2s, a #3, a #4, and other hits. I'll get to those in a later entry. It's surprising I wasn't more into T. Rex in '72, because dinosaurs were about my favorite thing in the world at the time. I dreamed of someday buying an RV and going to Utah to search for dinosaur fossils. In retrospect, while in ApologetiX, I eventually did buy a couple RVs (plus a 40-foot bus), and we made five trips to Utah for concerts there (although we took a plane each time). Moreover, now that we've been at it for over 30 years, I get to work with dinosaurs and fossils all the time ... in fact, I am one. Electric Warrior went to #32 on the Billboard 200, but it topped the U.K. album chart.
1201. Now and Zen - Robert Plant
Robert Plant carved out a successful solo career in the first half of the '80s, but he seemed determined to make his own kind of music and not follow in the thunderous footsteps of his former group, Led Zeppelin. Some found that admirable, others found it lamentable. Then came his fourth LP. Now and Zen, was released in 1988, on a date that only happens ever now and then, February 29. To the Zeppelin-starved world of the late '80s, this was the closest Plant had come to meeting them halfway, and they rewarded him by purchasing three million copies. Two of the tracks also featured Zep's lead guitarist, Jimmy Page — "Heaven Knows" (#1 mainstream rock for six weeks) and "Tall Cool One" (#25 pop, #1 mainstream for four weeks). Four other cuts garnered significant airplay: "Ship of Fools" (#84 pop, 3 mainstream), "Dance On My Own" (#10 mainstream), "The Way I Feel" (#46 mainstream), and "Walking Towards Paradise" (#39 mainstream). My old college roommate Lance had owned two or three of Plant's previous albums, most memorably his second, The Principle of Moments. I recall Lance liking the song "Big Log" (#20 pop, #6 mainstream), whereas I favored "In the Mood" (#39 pop, #4 mainstream). Karl owned the fifth, Manic Nirvana, best known for "Hurting Kind (I've Got My Eyes on You)" (#46 pop, #1 mainstream for six weeks). Plant's other biggest solo hits were "Little by Little (#36 pop, #1 mainstream), "Burning Down One Side" (#64 pop, #3 mainstream), "Pledge Pin" (#74 pop, #11 mainstream), "29 Palms" (#111 pop, #4 mainstream), and "Calling to You" (#3 mainstream for four weeks). I bought a used cassette of Now and Zen at Jerry's Records sometime in the first half of the '90s, because I wanted to spoof a snippet of "Tall Cool One" and put it into our parody of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll." We eventually did that in 2001.
1202. Cross Road - Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi's first greatest hits collection, Cross Road, came out in October 1994. I think I bought it in 1995 or '96 because it featured not just the established hits but also a new one I thought might have parody potential, "Always" (#4 pop). Unlike so many of the band's previous singles, "Always" didn't make it onto the mainstream rock chart, but it did reach #4 on the adult contemporary chart. The U.S. version of Cross Road also included a reimagining of their biggest hit, "Livin' On a Prayer, called "Prayer '94." It's an interesting interpretation but it was never going to eclipse the original, which is also on this album. Another new song, "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night," didn't chart in the States at all, but it did reach #7 on the U.K. pop chart and #3 on the U.K. rock and metal chart. The remaining 11 tracks included one song apiece from the group's first two albums — "Runaway" (#39 pop, #5 mainstream) and "In and Out of Love" (#69 pop, #37 mainstream) — all three Top 10 hits from the Slippery When Wet LP, three of the five Top 10 hits from New Jersey, two of the three Top 40 hits from Keep the Faith, and Jon Bon Jovi's solo hit "Blaze of Glory" (#1 pop, #1 mainstream). That song was a highlight for me along with "Keep the Faith" (#29 pop, #1 mainstream) and "Lay Your Hands on Me" (#7 pop, #20 mainstream). Although it only made it to #8 on the Billboard 200, Cross Road went on to sell over 21.5 million copies worldwide, including five million in the United States. ApologetiX has spoofed four its songs, including two of them twice, but we never did "Always."
1203. Greatest Hits - Bruce Springsteen
I'd owned recordings of Bruce Springsteen's first eight LPs back in the '80s, but they were long gone by the time I bought this collection in 1996 or '97. I primarily purchased it in pursuit of potential parodies, and that worked out fairly well; ApologetiX eventually spoofed four of its 18 songs. Released in February '95, Greatest Hits featured selections from eight of Springsteen's previous albums, but none from this first two. It did, however, include his '94 single "Streets of Philadelphia" (#9 pop, #25 mainstream rock, #3 adult contemporary), previously only available on the soundtrack for the movie Philadelphia. It's one of my favorite hits by the Boss and won him an Oscar (for Best Original Song) and four Grammys (Song of the Year, Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television). Greatest Hits also included four new tunes: "Secret Garden" (#19 pop, #5 AC), "Murder Incorporated" (#14 mainstream), "Blood Brothers," and "This Hard Land." Those final five tracks probably played a large role in helping the album enter the Billboard 200 at #1 and stay there for two weeks. It sold over four million copies in the United States and five million in Europe. But if want a better "best of Bruce," check out The Essential Bruce Springsteen, released in 2003 and updated in 2014. It has a lot more songs than Greatest Hits and a much better representation of his catalog from before Born in the U.S.A., although it features selections from 19 of his albums.
1204. So Far So Good - Bryan Adams
Released on November 2, 1993, the cleverly titled So Far So Good was the first "best of" album (aside from a 1988 compilation available only in Japan) for Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. It reached #6 on the Billboard 200 and sold over five million units in the United States and over 13 million worldwide. I believe I bought my cassette copy at the Walmart in North Versailles PA in '98 after getting some words for a parody of "Summer of '69" at band practice. So Far So Good featured 13 songs from Adams' third through sixth albums — three from Cuts Like a Knife ('83), six from Reckless ('85), one from Into the Fire ('87), and three from Waking Up the Neighbours ('91) — plus a new single, "Please Forgive Me" (#7 pop, #2 adult contemporary for five weeks). The other U.S. Top 10 hits on So Far So Good were "Heaven" (#1 pop, #9 mainstream rock, #12 AC), "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)" (#1 pop for seven weeks, #10 mainstream, #1 AC for eight weeks, #1 U.K. for 16 weeks!), "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" (#2 pop, #2 mainstream, #40 AC), "Summer of '69" (#5 pop, #40 mainstream), "Run to You" (#6 pop, #1 mainstream for four weeks), "Heat of the Night" (#6 pop, #2 mainstream), and "Straight from the Heart" (#10 pop, #32 mainstream, #29 AC). Two weeks after this album's came out, yet another new single (from the soundtrack for The Three Musketeers) appeared featuring Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting — "All for Love" (#1 pop for three weeks, #4 AC). Less than a year and half after that, Adams released his final #1 hit, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" (#1 pop for five weeks, #1 AC for five weeks). ApologetiX eventually spoofed "Summer of '69" in '99 and 2022 and "Cuts Like a Knife" in 2014.
1205. Billboard Top Hits: 1981 - Various Artists
Released in 1992, Billboard Top Hits: 1981 comes pretty close to living up to its name. Eight of the 10 tracks hit #1 (there were actually 16 #1 songs in '81), and two of them did so for a very long time: "Physical" (Olivia Newton-John) for 10 weeks (although four of those weeks carried over into '82) and "Bette Davis Eyes" (Kim Carnes) for nine weeks. By that measure, they were the two biggest hits of the year along with "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, which also held the top spot for nine weeks but is not on this album. The other six chart toppers on Billboard Top Hits: 1981 were: "Kiss on My List" (Daryl Hall & John Oates), "Jessie's Girl" (Rick Springfield), "The One That You Love" (Air Supply), "The Tide Is High" (Blondie), "Nine to Five" (Dolly Parton), and "Celebration" (Kool & The Gang). The remaining two songs both went to #2: "Queen of Hearts" (Juice Newton) and "Being with You" (Smokey Robinson). ApologetiX spoofed "Bette Davis Eyes," "Queen of Hearts," and "Jessie's Girl," and I think I was listening to my cassette copy of Billboard Top Hits: 1981 when I got the initial ideas for the first two, even though we wouldn't record them till many years later. I have parody ideas for three other songs on this collection, and I hope we can bring them to fruition eventually. I'll leave that to your imagination.