Influential Albums: 1227-1233
Sat., Sep. 23. 2023 1:11pm 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.
1227. Supernatural - Santana
Released in June 1999, Santana's 18th studio LP only generated two Top 40 singles, but that was still amazing, because the group hadn't even had one in the previous 17 years. They'd had 10 of them from 1970-82, including a couple Top 10 hits, but nothing that could compare with the success of these two. The first, "Smooth" (with Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20), was #1 on the pop chart for 12 weeks and #1 on the Adult Top 40 chart for 25 weeks!!! The second, "Maria Maria" (with The Product G&B) was #1 on the pop chart for 10 weeks. Consequently, the Supernatural album went to #1 on the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks and sold over 13 million copies in the United States and over 30 million worldwide. I bought mine in order to write a parody of "Smooth," which we released on our next CD, whose title was also partially inspired by this album. But we'll get to that a little later on this list.
1228. The Secret - The Secret
The Secret was a rock group out of Johnsonburg PA featuring two guys I knew — Tom Dellaquila (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and Dan Warmbrodt (bass, keyboards, vocals) — and two I didn't — Tim Larson (guitars) and John McGuire (drums). They recorded their self-titled LP in the fall of 1993, but I can't remember when I got my copy. I met Tom early in my freshman year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP); he lived down the hall from me. We became good friends and were roommates junior year. A year after graduation, Tom moved to Latrobe to join a garage/bar band I was in, and we shared an apartment while working for the same company. Several years earlier, he introduced me to Dan, who had played in previous bands with him. Tom and I also wrote some original songs (and some parodies) together while in college. One of those originals, "Wednesday Evening," made it onto this album. I wrote the lyrics for that particular tune in '83 when I was hoping to get back together with my ex-girlfriend ... a bad idea, but we got a good song out of it. The title was inspired by the fact that Fleetwood Mac had done "Monday Morning" and The Moody Blues had done "Tuesday Afternoon," so "Wednesday Evening" seemed like the next step, especially since The Bay City Rollers had already taken care of "Saturday Night." It was quite a delight to see my name in the songwriting credits on a genuine CD and to hear other people singing words I'd written. With all that having been said, my favorites on this album were actually penned by people other than myself: "So Long" (by Tom and Dan) "I Want You Back" (by Tom) and "Old Granddad" (by Dan). Tom and Dan used to describe the album this way: One of them would say, "It's a million seller!" Then the other would reply: "No, you've got a million of them in your cellar."
1229. Third Day - Third Day
Released in June 1996, Third Day's eponymous debut album didn't hit the Billboard 200, but it did eventually go gold (sales of 500,000 copies or more), and deservedly so. Take a listen and tell me what's not to like about it — accessible melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and a great musical mix of hard and soft, light and shade. Three of the cuts topped the Christian rock charts: "Blackbird," "Forever" (a great tune that also hit #3 on the Christian Hit Radio chart) and "Nothing at All." Two other tracks charted: "Consuming Fire" (#6 Rock) and "Love Song" (#20 CHR). I think of "Nothing at All" from time to time when I see some of the things that get posted on social media, particularly the last line of each chorus: "If you can't say nothin' good, don't say nothin' at all." Perhaps the most powerful song on the album is "Thief," from the perspective of the criminal crucified with Jesus who asked for forgiveness. "Mama," "Did You Mean It," "Holy Spirit," "Livin' for Jesus," "Take My Life," and the beautiful "Praise Song" are all great, too. When I posted this entry on Facebook, one of our fans must have shared it with Third Day guitarist and co-founder Mark Lee, because we got a nice comment from him: "Thanks for the kind words! It's cool to see people still talking about this little record all these years later."
1230. In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy - Pat Boone
I think I first read about this album in one of Keith Haynie's Guitar or Guitar Player magazines, where it got a surprisingly great review. Released in January 1997, In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy was a bit of a departure (major understatement) for the conservative Christian crooner, as he reinterpreted iconic hard rock and metal classics in a jazz and big band style. I was probably one of the few people out there who already liked both Boone and the acts he covered, and I found the concept amusing and enticing. Nevertheless, the final product exceeded expectations for me. My favorites were his covers of "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses, "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) by AC/DC, "Holy Diver" by Dio, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" by Judas Priest, "Enter Samson" by Metallica, and "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne. The other six tracks that got Pat-ronized were "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, "Panama" by Van Halen, "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Alice Cooper, "Love Hurts" by Nazareth, "The Wind Cries Mary" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. Everything was executed with excellence. Ronnie James Dio, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Dweezil Zappa, and Sheila E. even made guest appearances. In a Metal Mood became Boone's first hit album in over three and a half decades, reaching #125 on the Billboard 200. His remake of "Crazy Train" appears to have inspired the theme song for Ozzy's reality show, The Osbournes, which came out five years later. ApologetiX has covered nine of the 12 songs on this one. Moreover, I used to occasionally sing Boone-esque versions in concert of our parodies of two AC/DC songs, "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Highway to Hell."
1231. Greatest Hits - New Kids on the Block
Seeing as Lisa had become my fiancée, I wanted to familiarize myself with various aspects of her life. That included Caedmon's Call (as mentioned earlier), the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the Left Behind book series, and New Kids on the Block. Sure, I knew some New Kids songs already from the late '80s and early '90s, thanks to my nephew and nieces and just hearing them in the background as I went about my life, but now it was time to get serious. Lisa wasn't still actively listening to NKOTB in 2000, but they were the first music she'd ever gotten into, since they'd first hit it big as she was entering adolescence. Released in February 1999, Greatest Hits had all 10 of their Top 20 hits, including three that topped the Hot 100: "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," "Hangin' Tough," and "Step by Step." The others were "Cover Girl" (#2), "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" (#3), "Tonight" (#7), "This One's for the Children" (#7), "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" (#8), "Please Don't Go Girl" (#10), and "If You Go Away" (#16). I actually had liked the song "Tonight" quite a bit when it was a hit, back in '90, and I thought "Step by Step" was pretty catchy at the time, too. My favorite new discovery from Greatest Hits was probably "Cover Girl." Yes, I'm blushing as I type that. In July 2022, I took Lisa to the see New Kids on the Block in concert with Rick Astley, En Vogue, and Salt-N-Pepa at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt ... and the hoodie. Well, Lisa did. I got a parody instead; ApologetiX spoofed "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" two months later. Two weeks after that, we spoofed Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," too, so I actually got two parodies out of the experience.
1232. Rock 'N Roll Relix 1988-1989 - Various Artists
Released in May 1998, Rock 'N Roll Relix 1988-1989 covered the two years I listened to secular radio the least, because I'd been fully immersed in the Bible and contemporary Christian music. I bought my copy in 2000 while searching for songs ApologetiX could spoof on our next CD, and I found two of them — "Simply Irresistible" by Robert Palmer and "Once Bitten Twice Shy" by Great White. I wrote the parodies on one of my trips to visit Lisa in Kentucky. Not only did they make it onto our 2000 CD, we revised and rerecorded both of them many years later, and the new versions made it onto CDs we released in 2022. But there are two other selections on this collection that really pulled on my heartstrings as a guy who had just met the girl of his dreams: "Waiting for a Star to Fall" by Boy Meets Girl and "We Can't Go Wrong" by The Cover Girls. Three additional tunes in that vein on Rock 'N Roll Relix 1988-1989 that I really like are "When I See You Smile" by Bad English, "When I'm With You" by Sheriff, and "Two Occasions" by The Deele (one of Lisa's favorites). Love songs sure sound great when you're in love. Those five tracks still sound great to me, because we're still in love. Other musical highlights included the #1 hits "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul and "The Flame" by Cheap Trick, but those are break-up songs, man. Don't bring me down, 'cause I'm too busy thinkin' 'bout my baby. For a complete track listing: https://www.discogs.com/release/11208912-Various-Rock-N-Roll-Relix-1988-1989
1233. Rock On - David Essex
This was the first of way-too-many CDs I ever bought online. It was the spring of 2000, and I was having trouble finding a nice CD copy of "Rock On" by David Essex, which I wanted to spoof. Lisa introduced me to a website called CD Now, and I ordered David's debut disc, which was also titled Rock On. It was a painless process but not without controversy. You see, I grew up listening to Essex's recording of "Rock On," which hit #5 in 1974, whereas Lisa was raised on Michael Damian's remake, which hit #1 in 1989. We each had predictable-but-strong opinions about which version ApologetiX ought to spoof. It wasn't a source of genuine contention — just friendly banter — but it did give me pause enough to wait until 2016 before recording and releasing our parody. When that time finally came, I decided to replicate the David Essex version ... but only because it was clearly superior ... not just because it was the original and he wrote it himself, for Pete's sake. Interestingly, both Essex and Damian had success as actors before breaking through with their respective versions of "Rock On." With Essex it was stage (Godspell) and screen (That'll Be the Day) and with Damian it was soap opera (The Young and the Restless). Essex only had one other U.S. Hot 100 hit, "Lamplight" (#71), which is also on this album, but he had a total of 20 U.K. Top 40 hits, half of which reached the U.K. Top 10, including "Rock On" (#3 U.K.) and "Lamplight" (#7 U.K.). Damian never had a U.K. hit, but he did have two other U.S. Top 40 singles, "Cover of Love" (#31 pop) and "Was It Nothing at All" (#24 pop, #7 adult contemporary).