Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Counting down the Top 25 of '85: Albums #25 - 21

A breakdown of my favorite albums from 1985

The Manhattan Transfer
Atlantic 81266
Produced by: Tim Hauser

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★★½
Smash Hits-

 U.S. charted singles:

Top 3 Tracks
"Blee Blop Blues"
"Killer Joe"

At this point, I would buy any Transfer album on its release.  I miss Jay Graydon's production, but I like the swing tunes and Jon Hendricks' lyrics.  Lots of guest stars here, including Bobby McFerrin, The Four Freshmen, and Dizzy Gillespie.

I bought this LP on a much anticipated solo trip into the big city (Houston) for the sole purpose of buying music.  It was a typical hot summer in Texas and I didn't have any A/C in the Markmobile, but that didn't slow me down much.

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston
Arista AL88212
Produced by: Jermaine Jackson, Kashif, Michael Masser, Narada Michael Walden

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★★
Smash Hits6/10

 U.S. charted singles: Hot 100 R&B AC Dance
 You Give Good Love314
 Saving All My Love for You111
 How Will I Know1113
 Greatest Love of All 131
 Thinking About You

Top 3 Tracks
"Saving All My Love for You"
"You Give Good Love"
"How Will I Know"

Clive Davis, you've done it again.  A soft-rocker's dream.  Many well-written tunes performed by top studio musicians and one of the best voices to come out of the '80s.   Although her biggest hit isn't on the album, in my opinion it never got better than this for Whitney.  I'm not a fan of how Whitney's story played out, but I am a fan this one.  I can't begin to tell you how many times I've sung "Saving All My Love for You" in the shower, much to my family's chagrin.  Not to mention people staying in the neighboring hotel rooms.

The Power Station
The Power Station
Capitol SJ12380
Produced by: Bernard Edwards

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★
Smash Hits7/10

 U.S. charted singles: Hot 100 RockDance
 Some Like It Hot 63417
 Get It On (Bang a Gong) 919

Top 3 Tracks
"Get It On (Bang a Gong)"
"Harvest for the World"
"Go to Zero"

I didn't give this much of a chance in '85 because I never cared much for "Some Like It Hot."  However, I liked the cover of "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" so when I came across a used cassette a few years later I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised.  I still think that "Some Like It Hot" is the worst song on the album, but any supergroup that involves members of Chic can't be all bad.

Around the World in a Day
Prince and The Revolution
Paisley Park 25286
Produced by: Prince

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone★★★
Smash Hits4½/10

 U.S. charted singles: Hot 100 R&B Dance Rock
 Raspberry Beret23440
 Pop Life785

Top 3 Tracks
"Raspberry Beret"
"Pop Life"
"Paisley Park"

I fell in love with "Raspberry Beret" the first time I heard it and bought this LP soon after.  I'm sure many fans were disappointed in this album because they were expecting Purple Rain 2, but I enjoyed the new psychedelic funk sound Prince was cultivating at the time.  Overall, this thing is hit-or-miss and doesn't stand up as a complete album, but man-oh-man the good songs are soooo good regardless of the fact that I have no idea what the lyrics mean.

To Live and Die in L.A.
Wang Chung
Geffen 24081
Produced by:Wang Chung, et. al.

U.S. Album Chart Peaks
Billboard Cash BoxRS

Rolling Stone-
Smash Hits-

 U.S. charted singles: Hot 100 Rock
 To Live and Die in L.A.4121

Top 3 Tracks
"To Live and Die in L.A."
"Wake Up Stop Dreaming"

I'm not sure how I came up with it, but I had a dubbed cassette with this album on one side and INXS' Listen Like Thieves on the other.  And that thing took up residence in the Markmobile's Pioneer deck.  Evidently movie director William Friedkin liked the group's earlier album, Points on the Curve, and hired the band to soundtrack his movie.  Side one of the album was vocal tracks, side two was instrumental.

And I've never seen the movie.  From the music, I'm guessing that the film is violent, moody, and very much dependent on the Los Angeles backdrop.

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. So much information.

    Looks like I'm gonna have to slowly and completely savor each of these posts as they are served up.

    Thanks for the all the research and effort you must have put into this.

  2. Including some of Dirk's own "25 of '85" favorites, I see... Very kind of you to highlight them for me!

    Whitney Houston's debut is indeed her best album, and "Saving All My Love For You" is by far and away her greatest hit (even if it is a cover song). After Anita Baker's "Sweet Love", it's my favorite ballad/"smooth groove" of the '80s.

    Didn't own The Power Station's self-titled gem at the time, but eagerly bought all three 45's upon release. Unlike you, I loved "Some Like It Hot", but wasn't quite so hot about "Get It On (Bang A Gong)". Liked it well enough then, but still to this day, it's my least favorite 'hit' from the album. ("Communication" is way out in front at #1... then "Hot" & "Gong"). – Side note: When I bought my first CD player in the Summer of '88, "The Power Station" was one of the first CD's I purchased (and before you ask...Yes, I do still have the longbox). The upgraded/super-sized/deluxe CD/DVD combo of the album also happens to be one of my favorite 'deluxe editions' of all time.

    Wang Chung's "To Live And Die In L.A." is my 2nd favorite album of '85. I didn't get to the theaters to see the movie at the time, but desperately wanted to because the TV spots I constantly saw for it reminded me so much of the grit & visual style of my favorite show "Miami Vice". Bought the soundtrack because I loved the title track, but was intensely curious about the rest of the album. Not only was I not disappointed, but it beat the living tar out of the "Miami Vice" soundtrack I'd had such high hopes for late that year. Every song on "To Live And Die" is a classic, as far as I'm concerned (especially the album's all-instrumental Side Two).

    Well, that's it for me... Gotta' get back to work with my crystal ball so I can guess your "Top 5 of '85"!