Tag Archives: 1985

R.E.M. ‎- Can’t Get There From Here (1985)

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In the weekend, I posted a piece about the best sounds that 1985 had to offer. I received some feedback about the prevalence of pop and lack of alternative music. My defence is that I was very young then and the mid-eighties were a pop peak. R.E.M.’s legacy is assured in alt rock’s pantheon, but in 1985 they were still making the crossover from college rock, which you can hear in the blue-eyed soul of their single ‘Can’t Get There From Here’. It features on their album Fables Of The Reconstruction and does not sound out of place next to the output Haircut 100 a few years earlier. Yes, that’s right; although Michael Stipe’s voice is Michael Stipe’s voice.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1985

A day to myself and I’ve spent the last few hours reminiscing about 1985… nine of the best sounds from that year:

Prince – Raspberry Beret

Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2

Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

Prefab Sprout – Bonny

Kate Bush – Cloudbusting

The Cure – Close To Me

Felt – Primitive Painters

New Order – Elegia

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Honourable mentions also go to: Propaganda for ‘Duel‘; Tenor Saw for ‘Ring The Alarm‘; The Cure for ‘In Between Days‘; Kate Bush for ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’; U2 for ‘The Unforgettable Fire’; Lloyd Cole And The Commotions for ‘Brand New Friend‘; Prince for ‘Pop Life‘; Prefab Sprout for ‘Moving The River‘; Love and Rockets for ‘Saudade‘; The Pale Fountains for ‘…From Across The Kitchen Table‘; Pet Shop Boys for ‘West End Girls’; The Wake for ‘Melancholy Man‘; The Cars for ‘Heartbeat City’; and The Style Council for ‘Walls Come Tumbling Down’.

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The Replacements – Can’t Hardly Wait (1985)

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The Replacements’ classic album Tim will turn 35 this year. Released by Sire Records, it debuted on 18 September 1985 to critical acclaim but to moderate success. One measure of its strength is a song that never made the final album cut. ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’ was first recorded for the album, with Bob Stinson on guitar. By the time a version was released on the following album Pleased to Meet Me with Big Star’s Alex Chilton on guitar, the song and band had become more pop-oriented. The song’s lyrics are about suicide for goodness sake – the distorted original sounds right.

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Grace Jones – Slave To The Rhythm (1985)

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In 1985, iconic model Grace Jones and production pioneer Trevor Horn disappeared into the studio to record an album together. Horn was riding high on the back of his work with Frankie Goes to Hollywood on Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Jones had been dabbling with different media – namely her appearances with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christopher Walken in the movies Conan the Destroyer and A View to a Kill, respectively. The combination of bold production and a larger-than-life persona offered a promise that had the studios diverting the Slave To The Rhythm project to Jones – it was actually originally intended as a Pleasuredome follow-up for FGtH. The promise was fully realised on the album’s title track with its choppy guitars, cinematic horns, lyrical hooks and feature of Ian McShane’s familiar voice.

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Prince – Raspberry Beret (1985)

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Good morning. In 1985, Prince released his psychedelic LP Around The World In A Day. It features ‘Raspberry Beret’ which was originally recorded in 1982. It stands as one of the finest examples of his Minneapolis sound, blending his groove with some unconventional arrangements incl. finger-cymbals, a string section and a harmonica. Who can ever get tired of that chorus?

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LL Cool J – Rock The Bells (1985)

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In 1985, Run-D.M.C. had already broken ground by fully realising a rap album; Ladies Love Cool James was the first to follow with the release of his classic debut Radio. It was also the first seminal work of maniac producer Rick Rubin on his Def Jam label, a year before the release of the ubiquitous Licensed To Ill. ‘Rock The Bells’ is a standout track with its bare-bones b-boy beats. At the time, you just had to crank up the beatbox. Cut Creator delivered; Terminator X was listening. Have a great weekend.

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Love and Rockets – Saudade (1985)

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Love and Rockets were formed by former Bauhaus members Daniel Ash (vocals, guitar and sax), David J (bass guitar and vocals) and Kevin Haskins (drums and keyboards). The acoustics of ‘Saudade’ closed their genre-defining first album. Indie rock converged with pop music to give us alt rock, or so they say.

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New Order – Elegia (1985)

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One could argue that New Order reached their peak in 1985. The band’s third LP, Low-life, was self-produced at Jam Studios and Britannia Row Studios in London and loved everywhere it was heard. Its notable tracks are ‘Love Vigilantes’, ‘The Perfect Kiss’ and ‘Sub-Culture’. But for me, the sound of ‘Elegia’ is the one that gives me the goosebumps. It is said to be an homage to Ian Curtis.

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The Wake – Melancholy Man (1985)

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The Scottish indie pop band The Wake are often compared to New Order. Not only did they share the same label, Factory, but also they wrote sounds like this. The shimmering guitar of ‘Melancholy Man’ and muted vocals deserve to me remembered for much longer than they have been. The song featured on their sophomore album Here Comes Everybody. Have a great week.

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The Pale Fountains – …From Across The Kitchen Table (1985)

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Before founding Shack, Mick and John Head were in the cult 1980s band The Pale Fountains. The title track off their Ian Broudie-produced second album …From Across The Kitchen Table is a rare 1980s gem. Impeccable kitchen-sink pop with a perfectly delivered female vocal hook in the remixed single version. Bliss.

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Prefab Sprout – Moving The River (1985)

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I mention Paddy McAloon in a post and I can’t leave the week without featuring Prefab Sprout. The band’s acclaimed sophomore recoding really stands the test of time, which is unusual for an album recorded in 1985. ‘Faron Young’, ‘Bonny’ and ‘When Love Breaks Down’ may get all the plaudits, but the graceful pop of ‘Moving The River’ kicked off Side 2 of the vinyl pressing perfectly.

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Prince – Pop Life (1985)

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Prince RIP

RIP Prince. One of his best. One of the best. ‘Pop Life’ is off 1985’s Around The World In A Day. Get it while it lasts on YouTube.

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The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town (1985)

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Dream Academy

Nick Drake lived in the Midlands village of Tanworth-in-Arden near Solihull. And that was north enough for this London band, who wrote ‘Life In A Northern Town’ as a tribute to the singer-songwriter. This David Gilmour-produced slice of 1980s dream pop appeared as the opening track on their self-titled debut LP. The single features a chant that would be sampled by Dario G a decade later for their pervasive dance track ‘Sunchyme’. Have a great week.

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Lloyd Cole And The Commotions – Brand New Friend (1985)

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Lloyd Cole

Back by absolutely no public demand whatsoever… 1980s. It’s 1985 and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions wrere riding on the success of 1984’s Rattlesnakes. While that album had been well received by critics and fans alike, the follow up Easy Pieces was one for the fans. Bass player Lawrence Donegan was described the album as terrible, which is harsh, particularly as it featured ‘Brand New Friend’, the closest they ever got to a hit single.

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Felt – Primitive Painters (1985)

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Felt

1985 was no high watermark in popular music, which makes Felt’s ‘Primitive Painters’ even more remarkable. Featuring on their album Ignite the Seven Cannons, the song is positively spellbound by the vocals of Elizabeth Fraser and the production of her Cocteau Twin, Robin Guthrie.

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