Let’s jump right into the last day of 1985.
The Cult – Love (1985). Long underappreciated by the States, The Cult was one of the first bands to bridge the gap between new wave Goth of bands like Bauhaus and Siouxsie & the Banshees and the stadium hard rock of Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. Although the band would reach greater heights and notoriety on the subsequent two albums, this one is the album that broke the band to the college rock crowd. “She Sells Sanctuary” remains The Cult’s signature song.
The Cure – The Head on the Door (1985). On this album, The Cure began to shed their dark Gothic influenced sound a bit and began to sharpen the pop hooks that laid beneath their songs. This is when the band, and specifically leader Robert Smith, began a play for more commercial acceptance without sacrificing their post-punk integrity. And thank goodness since this album spawned two enduring hits, “In Between Days” and “Close to Me.”
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy (1985). American ears were not ready for the feedback-drenched guitar attack of The Jesus and Mary Chain. If they were, then the public would have eaten up the pop melodies that lay beneath all the noise. This was the sound of The Beach Boys, The Velvet Underground and bubblegum music colliding in a canopy of buzzsaw guitars. Not only did this album seem to spawn bands like Pixies and Nirvana, but also the whole UK shoegaze craze of the early-Nineties, especially stalwarts like My Bloody Valentine.
The Power Station – The Power Station (1985). By 1985, Duran Duran was one of the biggest pop/rock bands on Earth, so it stands to reason that the boys needed a break. Singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor formed the Duran-squared soundalike band Arcadia, while guitarist Andy Taylor and budding bass god John Taylor joined forces with Chic drummer Tony Thompson and suave Brit vocalist Robert Palmer to form The Power Station. The Power Station actually lived out the original intentions of Duran Duran’s sound – to be a combination of Chic and the Sex Pistols. Produced by Chic bassist Bernard Edwards, The Power Station laid the foundation of a hard rock/dance-funk groove that INXS would perfect. The summer of ’85 will forever be remembered for “Some Like It Hot” and their T. Rex cover “Get It On (Bang a Gong).”
The Replacements – Tim (1985). The previous year, The Replacements dropped a mature punk/heartland rock joint entitled Let It Be. But no one was ready for the gigantic steps this Minneapolis band would make on Tim. Everything was more professionally done, from the songwriting to the lyrics to the playing to the vocals to the production. It was as if the guys were tiring of being the drunken wannabes to actually attempting to grab the golden ring. I cannot heap enough praise on this album.
The Smiths – Meat Is Murder (1985). At the time, the argument within the college rock world was who was better, R.E.M. or The Smiths? Personally, I have always been a R.E.M. fan, but The Smiths were excellent. To be honest, Meat Is Murder has always seemed like the band’s transition album, much like R.E.M.’s 1985 LP Fables of the Reconstruction. Still, the draw for me to The Smiths has rarely been Morrissey but Johnny Marr’s swirling guitar jangle. Oh, you can find the band’s timeless single “How Soon Is Now?” on this one.
The Style Council – Internationalists (1985). Once again, my British brethren are going to cry foul that I put the American version on my list as opposed the version released everywhere else around the world known as Our Favourite Shop. Regardless, this is prime Paul Weller under the guise of The Style Council. It might not reach the emotional heights of My Every Changing Moods, but it remains a very solid outing, especially on “Shout to the Top!” and “The Walls Come Tumbling Down!”
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Southern Accents (1985). Originally, Petty had intended this album to be a double album song-cycle about growing up in the South, along the lines of what Mellencamp did for the Midwest on Scarecrow. Instead, Tom ended up fighting with the twin demons of substances and perfectionism that very nearly ended his career when he shattered his left hand in frustration. In response, the band threw together a hodge-podge sounding collection of songs which used a variety of collaborators and producers. Still, when the Heartbreakers were on, songs like the title song, “Rebels” and the immortal “Don’t Come Around Here No More” were stunning. But, when the experiments failed, those songs splattered on the ground like bird crap. Yet, this rollercoaster ride makes the album that much more charming to me.
Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston (1985). Whitney Houston was the voice of my generation, and everyone diva-wannabe who popped up in her wake (I’m talking to you Mariah, Christina and the rest) should be bowing to her alter every day. Whitney’s combination of beauty and her voice made her an obvious choice for rock immortality, and it all began on this debut album. “You Give Good Love” made us take notice, but the following singles of “Saving All My Love for You,” “Greatest Love of All” and the transcendent “How Will I Know” were statements that this was a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
And, that, my friends, wraps up 1985. And that means I have cover 565 albums up to this point. See you next time! Peace.