I Love the Eighties: My Top 100 Albums of 1985


Brothers and Sisters in Rock & Roll! Today, I am tackling 1985, THE transitional year of my life. During the year 1985, I got married, graduated from college, welcomed Son #1 to the world and began my year-long internship in St John’s School of Medical Technology. Instantly, I went from an irresponsible young adult to something resembling a budding adult during this, my twenty-second rotation around the Sun. Needless to say, it was a very crazy year and would never recommend beginning your adult life in this manner, yet, we all grew closer through the experience. Half-way through my internship, I was the one person from our twelve-student class to receive a second shift lab job in the histology department, preparing PAP smears for the next day’s reading for the histologist and cytologist, a job which provided a little money for the family as well as valuable laboratory experience. Finally, I learned at the end of 1985 that I would be the Indiana Society for Medical Technology scholarship winner to be awarded during the Spring of 1986 at the ISMT Spring Conference. That scholarship was the only scholarship award to a student of Medical Technology in the state of Indiana. Not bad for a former underachiever in high school and most of college, was it?

5.21 3.Prince - Around the World in a Day

Musically, 1985 was a pretty interesting year. One thing I noticed generally about popular music 1985 was the shared production values across the board. About halfway through 1984, I noticed that music production began to sound a little “flat” and too “slick.” It was as if the producer were removing the artist’s personality in an effort to get more radio play that could lead to more record sales. Now, artists were beginning to sound less distinctive and more standardized. For me, that meant boring and much less exciting. No longer could you tell if an artist recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Kingston, Jamaica; London, England; or in a New York cockroach-infested apartment. Nearly every Top 40 on Casey Kasem’s weekly countdown had the same bland sheen. Other than the singer, one could not be blamed if they could not tell one band from another. It’s not as bad as today, where The Imagine Dragons, Coldplay and OneRepublic all sound like the very same band with the same singer. I now have a difficult time discerning which band is playing on Spotify unless I can see the playlist. Most of the time, I play this off as someone who is just old, but I really feel as though I try to stay abreast of new music.

5.21 Fine Young Cannibals - ST

Besides that development, I thought 1985 was a decent year, especially the further you ventured away from the mainstream. While the mainstream was getting bland as Billy Ocean, Phil Collins and even my beloved Heart were releasing well-scrubbed music, I began to discover great alternative artist like Fine Young Cannibals, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Hüsker Dü; rap artists such as LL Cool J and Doug E. Fresh; cowpunk groups with Lone Justice and Jason & the Scorchers; R&B voices like Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam and Ready for the World; and metal artists like Megadeth, Slayer and the LA hair metal bands. Once again, the action was in the underground, much like it was decade ago. The catch was that my generation was becoming less patient for music to change, as if it had to change at all. Plus, the Boomers were for the first time now acting as if rock was solely a product of the Sixties and ended in 1975. Thus, the whole Classic Rock format popping up at this time in the wake of the whole Coca-Cola recipe change and their going back to “Classic Coke” flavor.

5.21 IRON-MAIDEN-Live-after-Death

Arguably, the musical highlight of 1985 was Live Aid, held the very day that Son #1 was born. Originally, I was all set to get up at 6 AM to eat breakfast and read the newspaper before the British portion of this “bicontinental” concert began at 7 AM EST. Of course, the night before, my wife and I were discussing how appropriate it would be if Son #1 were to be born on the same day as Live Aid. Well, that’s exactly what happened. For a first child, my beautiful lady gave birth to a healthy 7 lbs, 14 oz. baby boy after a quick four-hour labor. After a small wait, my wife was taken to her recovery room in which the TV was set to the channel with Live Aid. We had only missed the opening artist (Status Quo, not a big loss to an American; yet, a slight loss to a huge music fan!). Appropriately enough, we began watching the concert as Paul Weller’s new band, The Style Council, took the stage. After a fast song or two, the band, obviously sensing an important moment in a young couple’s life, promptly began to play that said couple’s song, “You’re the Best Thing.” As we lay in bed together, with our newborn son, I really could not believe how lucky I was to have a beautiful woman and a beautiful baby boy all together in a small hospital bed, barely awake, but soaking in the sound of our most important song in our life played on. It was a moment that I will continue to cherish for the rest of my life.

5.21 queen - live aid
One of the most iconic pics from Live Aid as Queen’s incomparable lead singer Freddie Mercury and the band steal the show

As Live Aid continued throughout the day, I watched it at my in-laws’ home and at the hospital. Overall, it was a fine day, that was pretty lily white with regards to the performers, as well as lacking diversity in addition to the biggest names of the day. You see, Prince, Springsteen, Wham!, LL Cool J, The Time, Freddie Jackson, R.E.M., Michael Jackson, and any of the metal and alternative artists that were rising up from the underground at the time. That’s why some many Monsters of Rock and Lollapolooza tours happened in the wake of Live Aid, to make up for these slights. But, that is nitpicking, as Sir Bob Geldoff and his minions did a great job pulling this whole thing off with two concerts in London and Philadelphia trading artist performances all day long. The whole thing completely pushed the technology of the day into the realm of what we take for-granted today. Nitpicking aside, it was a pretty great day, as I ended my Live Aid experience much the way I started it – watching it with my young family, lying together in a hospital bed, watching our beloved Daryl Hall & John Oates play anything they damn well please, then ending their set by performing a wonderful Temptations medley with former Tempts, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks. It was a beautiful way to end my first day as a father.

5.21 LL Cool J - Radio

So, with no further adieu, here is my Top 100 Albums of 1985. Tell me what you think in the comments.

5.21 1.Tom Petty - Southern Accents

5.21 2.Style Council - Our Favorite Shop5.21 2.Style Council - International (USA)

  1. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Southern Accents
  2. The Style Council – Our Favorite Shop (aka ‘Internationalists’)
  3. Prince & the Revolution – Around the World in a Day
  4. Talking Heads – Little Creatures
  5. Tear for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair
  6. The Replacements – Tim
  7. R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction
  8. The Smiths – Meat Is Murder
  9. Eurythmics – Be Yourself Tonight
  10. Fine Young Cannibals – Fine Young Cannibals
  11. Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising
  12. Hüsker Dü – Flip Your Wig
  13. John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow
  14. Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston
  15. The Waterboys – This Is the Sea
  16. L. Cool J – Radio
  17. Scritti Politti – Cupid & Psyche 85
  18. New Order – Low-Life
  19. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
  20. Dexys Midnight Runners – Don’t Stand Me Down
  21. Lone Justice – Lone Justice
  22. Camper Van Beethoven – Telephone Free Landslide Victory
  23. The Cult – Love
  24. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Psychocandy
  25. Sting – The Dream of the Blue Turtle
  26. Run-D.M.C. – King of Rock
  27. Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
  28. INXS – Listen like Thieves
  29. Robert Palmer – Riptide
  30. Sheila E. – Romance 1600
  31. The Power Station – The Power Station
  32. Arcadia – So Red the Rose
  33. Simply Red – Picture Book
  34. The Outfield – Play Deep
  35. Mötley Crüe – Theatre of Pain
  36. Simple Minds – Once Upon a Time
  37. Candy – Whatever Happened to Fun
  38. Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
  39. Graham Parker & the Shot – Steady Nerves
  40. Heart – Heart
  41. Sam Cooke – Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
  42. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Freaky Styley
  43. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
  44. The Cure – The Head on the Door
  45. Bob Dylan – Empire Burlesque
  46. a-ha – Hunting High and Low
  47. The Dukes of Stratosphear – 25 O’Clock
  48. Ready for the World – Ready for the World
  49. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force – Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force
  50. Sade – Promise
  51. John Fogerty – Centerfield
  52. The Three O’Clock – Arrive Without Travelling
  53. The Hooters – Nervous Night
  54. Aretha Franklin – Who’s Zoomin’ Who
  55. The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy & the Lash
  56. Mick Jagger – She’s the Boss
  57. ZZ Top – Afterburner
  58. Luther Vandross – The Night I Fell in Love
  59. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Soul to Soul
  60. Suzanne Vega – Suzanne Vega
  61. Starship – Knee Deep in the Hoopla
  62. Dead or Alive – Youthquake
  63. Bryan Ferry – Boys and Girls
  64. The Highwaymen –Highwayman
  65. Robert Plant – Shaken ‘n’ Stirred
  66. Mister – Welcome to the Real World
  67. Howard Jones – Dream into Action
  68. Big Audio Dynamite – This Is Big Audio Dynamite
  69. Paul Young – The Secret of Association
  70. Commodores – Nightshift
  71. Echo & the Bunnymen – Songs to Learn and Sing
  72. Sisters of Mercy – First and Last and Always
  73. Night Ranger – Seven Wishes
  74. Grace Jones – Slave to the Rhythm
  75. Everything but the Girl – Love Not Money
  76. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – Easy Pieces
  77. Atlantic Starr – As the Band Turns
  78. Cameo – Single Life
  79. Megadeth – Killing Is My Business…and Business Is Good
  80. Freddie Jackson – Rock Me Tonight
  81. Minutemen – 3-Way Tie (For Last)
  82. Level 42 – World Machine
  83. 10,000 Maniacs – The Wishing Chair
  84. Rush – Power Windows
  85. DeBarge – Rhythm of the Night
  86. Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
  87. Slayer – Hell Awaits
  88. Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel
  89. Iron Maiden – Live After Death
  90. Miami Sound Machine – Primitive Love
  91. Mike + the Mechanics – Mike + the Mechanics
  92. The Jets – The Jets
  93. Various Artists – The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  94. Chris Isaak – Silvertone
  95. George Clinton – Some of My Best Friends Are Jokes
  96. Stevie Wonder – In Square Circle
  97. X – Ain’t Love Grand
  98. The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace
  99. The Clash – Cut the Crap
  100. Various Artists – Miami Vice TV Soundtrack

5.21 The Highwaymen - Highwayman

And that’s a wrap on 1985. Stay alert as 1986 is just around the corner!

5.21 Power Station - ST5.21 Ready for the World - RFTW

I’m out!


Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

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