Friday, July 24, 2015

Counting down the Top 25 of '85: Albums #20 - 16

A breakdown of my favorite albums from 1985

Alternating Currents
Spyro Gyra
MCA 5606
Produced by: Jay Beckenstein & Richard Calandra

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★
Smash Hits-

 U.S. charted singles:

Top 3 Tracks
"Alternating Currents"

By 1985, I had been a huge Spyro Gyra fan for three years and had seen them in concert in October '83. So SG albums were purchased as soon as they were available and this was no exception. The band's ninth album, it continued in the same Latin-flavored smooth jazz/instrumental pop music the band is known for. The album also peaked at #3 on Billboard's jazz charts. The summer of 1985 was one of my best summers ever despite doing manual labor and going to night school.  This was part of the soundtrack.

Trivia: the cover image is of Hurricane Camille, August 18, 1969.

Fables of the Reconstruction
IRS 5592
Produced by: Joe Boyd

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★★★
Smash Hits9/10

 U.S. charted singles: Hot 100 Rock
 Can't Get There from Here11014
 Driver 8

Top 3 Tracks
"Can't Get There from Here"
"Green Grow the Rushes"
"Good Advice"

It's no Murmur or Lifes Rich Pageant, but it does contain one of the group's greatest songs, "Can't Get There from Here." Other than that song, the band sounds best when they continue with the jangly guitars and mumbled vocals of their first two albums.  If the band had never attempted ballads, that would have been fine by me.  I much preferred side two (Another Side) to side one (A Side).

Side note: my high school history teachers were so bad (and they weren't even coaches!) that when I bought this album, I didn't have any idea what "The Reconstruction" was.  And I had lived in the South my whole life!  I'm incredulous!

New Order
Qwest 25289
Produced by: New Order

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★★★
Smash Hits8/10

 U.S. charted singles: Dance
 Perfect Kiss5

Top 3 Tracks
"Love Vigilantes"
"Perfect Kiss"

A perfect dance blend of guitar, synths, and bass.  Makes me a dancin' fool.  Very few people in my rural Texas town were listening to New Order, so I don't know how I came to this one.  The band's US label, Qwest, was mainly a R&B label so I'm sure the promo people didn't know what to do with it.  I love the way Peter Hook's bass sounds against Bernard Sumner's voice.  I know the band didn't get along and that friction may be why they sound so good.  It's not the cool thing to admit, but I'd much rather hear New Order than Joy Division.

Be Yourself Tonight
RCA 15429
Produced by: David A. Stewart

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★★★
Smash Hits7½/10

 U.S. charted singles: Hot 100 Dance Rock
 Would I Lie to You? 552
 There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)2231
 Sisters are Doin' It for Themselves1810
 I Love You Like a Ball and Chain


Top 3 Tracks
"Would I Lie to You?"
"There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)"
"Sisters are Doin' It for Themselves"

I've always felt Eurythmics were more a singles band than album band.  So, if "Would I Lie to You?" is my favorite Eurythmics single, does that make this my favorite Eurythmics album?  I don't know about that, but I do know that my neighbors were treated to weeks and weeks of "Would I Lie to You?" blaring from my car stereo.  (Yes, I had the 12" single in addition to this LP.)  We're also treated to guest appearances by Elvis Costello, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Freakin' Wonder, who lends an epic harmonic solo to "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" which was #1 in the UK and shoulda been #1 in the US.

Robert Palmer
Island 90471
Produced by: Bernard Edwards

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★½
Smash Hits5/10

 U.S. charted singles: Hot 100 Dance Rock
 Addicted to Love 1361
 I Didn't Mean to Turn You On22641

Top 3 Tracks
"Addicted to Love"
"Flesh Wound"
"I Didn't Mean to Turn You On"

I liked "Addicted to Love" at first listen and would sing it around the house ad naseum.  Then I saw the video and my mind was blown.  A designer suit and tie instead of eyeliner and spandex?  Hot girls that can't play their instruments and no one really cares?   I was hooked and bought this cassette.  It's a very mixed bag: from rocking Palmer originals to a Tin-Pan Alley cover to Earl King electric blues to Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis R&B.  There's more than a passing resemblance to The Power Station (see #23 of this list) in the credits.  No coincidence there.  If it's possible for an album to be divergent and scattered yet somehow cohesive, this is that.

CD Project

These are my personal top 25 albums released in 1985.  The following criteria was used on a very slippery sliding scale:
  • How often I enjoyed the album at the time of release
  • How often I've enjoyed the album over the past 30 years
  • Overall quality of the album
The top tracks for each album are solely my opinion and are presented in order of preference.

  • Billboard magazine chart information is available from the Billboard website, the American Radio History archives, Google Books, or any of the wonderful Record Research books.
  • The Cash Box chart information was taken from The Cash Box Album Charts, 1976-1985 (1987).
  • The Rolling Stone chart information was compiled using Rolling Stone magazine's DVD-ROM set, Cover to Cover: The First 40 Years (2007).
  • The Rolling Stone ratings were taken from either the Rolling Stone Album Guide, 3rd ed. (1993) or the Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide (1999).
  • The Virgin ratings were taken from The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (1997).
  • The Robert Christgau ratings were taken from Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990).  They are also available at his comprehensive website
  • The Smash Hits ratings were taken from the archives at Like Punk Never Happened.

1 comment :