My Top 50 Albums of 1985: 30-16

By less than popular demand but even more demand than the second part, here's the third installment of my Top 50 Albums of 1985 based on solely on my opinions and experiences after listening to the albums in their entirety any time or multiple times over the past thirty years.  Click on an album title in box below to listen via Spotify or YouTube. Click on album artist the box below to read a specially selected album review.
30Alexander O' NealAlexander O'Neal
29Theatre Of PainMötley Crüe
28CrushOrchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
27Play DeepOutfield
26Invasion Of Your PrivacyRatt
25No Jacket RequiredPhil Collins
23Luxury Of LifeFive Star
22Jesse Johnson's RevueJesse Johnson's Revue
21ScarecrowJohn Cougar Mellencamp
20Soul To SoulStevie Ray Vaughan
19RiptideRobert Palmer
18Be Yourself TonightEurythmics
17Dream Into ActionHoward Jones
16YouthquakeDead Or Alive
Alexander O'Neal had (has?) a fantastic soulful voice.  I think I read that one critic compared O'Neal's instrument to the immortal Otis Redding.  I won't argue that point but what I will put forth is because of his long working relationship with Jam & Harris, he was somewhat limited by the material they provided.  A highpoint in the partnership and the song solely responsible for his self-titled album ending up at number 30 on my list, is the epic ten and a half minute "Innocent".  It is a HUGE jam. There are other decent songs on the album, don't get it twisted - this is not one of those one good song albums.
In the mid to late Eighties, I was an unashamed fan of hair metal, that unholy trinity of hard-hitting heavy metal, androgynous glam rock and good old-fashioned pop music hooks.  I bought the albums and I attended the concerts but I never was interested in the uniform: never got anything pierced, never wore anything ripped or torn and I never applied any eyeliner.
Shout At The Devil (1983) was a big all-kinds-of-catchy album in my life and I had high hopes for its follow-up Theatre Of Pain two long years later.  Though it was not as thoroughly hooky as its predecessor had been, the album still contained two big BIG hits in the band's cover of "Smokin' In The Boys Room" and the power ballad "Home Sweet Home".
OMD was in the midst of a three year, three album streak in 1985 and the first two tracks on Crush sealed its fate as a favorite of mine.  Saw the duo open twice for other artists and not really sure they ever got the audience they deserved here in the States.  That three year period included soundtrack cut "If You Leave" which I appended onto end of cassette of The Pacific Age (1986).
Just over a year ago, I stated Play Deep was "not my cup of tea".  Since then, I have listened to it more often then I did in during the first 29 years of its existence and the sound has grown on me.  Its basically hi-octane power pop and I have branched off into the band's later albums.  Credit to Mark for getting me to reconsider the album.
Ratt's Out Of The Cellar (1984), led by the monster pop single "Round And Round" and the hard rocking riffary of "Lack Of Communication", baited the trap for Invasion Of Your Privacy the following year and it's two big hits "You're In Love" and "Lay It Down".  All four songs live on in various mixtapes, mix CDs and playlists.
My No Jacket Required story can be found here.
Heart has been a favorite since 1976 when I first heard "Crazy On You" on WLS.  The Wilson Sisters kicked butt. They had some slower songs but they still rocked.  They kind of stalled out in the mid Eighties and their self-titled 1985 album brought them back into the spotlight again.  Outside songwriting and a label change seemed to be the key to reigniting the spark and I was fortunate enough to see them on tour behind this album in December 1985 and am happy to report they played all of my favorites from earlier in their career.  The singles from this album have certainly grown on me over the years and I have probably revisited it more in the past decade than I did in the first two decades of ownership.
Five Star made almost no inroads here in the States but back in their native U.K., they are pop legends, scoring 21 chart hits in just over five years.  Heard the song "All Fall Down" somewhere, bought the album Luxury Of Life and proceeded to enjoy their output for the next five years. Have recently completed my Five Star collection with their later output and expanded editions of their earlier works but all you really need is their first and second albums, Luxury of Life (1985) and Silk and Steel (1986).  Sadly, their first four albums are not available via Spotify US.
The Time's Jesse Johnson struck out on his own in a big way with this album early in 1985; I picked up my copy on February 22nd that year.  Sounding unsurprisingly like his former band and their royal-named patron, this album was state of the art funk in 1985.  I played the album like crazay and when the non-album b-side "Free World" came into my life in July, I dubbed an entirely new tape with Jesse Johnson's Revue split across the two sides (1-4 and 5-8, just like the vinyl) of a sixty minute TDK SA with "Free World" and the remixed version of
"Be Your Man" each tacked on a single side.  A brief search of the archives yielded no physical evidence of said tape.  A further non-LP b-side ("Fast Girls") was released on the album's third single but I never saw fit to dub another tape.  Hoping someday for an expanded CD a la Funky Town Grooves or Big Break Records, featuring the entire album, the extended remixes, the 45 edits and the non-LP b-sides.
On April Fool's Day 1986, I witnessed John Mellencamp and his crack backing band live on stage downtown where all the concerts used to be.  They were touring behind 1985's Scarecrow, the former Johnny Cougar's statement album. Serious topics aside, the album had some great pop songs (five Top 40 singles) and some great rockers (seven songs made the Rock charts).  As a certified small town boy (Navasota, TX pop. 7,602 and Pineville, MO pop. 791 are the two towns I spent all of my Summers in until 1982), these songs resonate with me on several levels though it is the wonderfully rhythmic and lyrically silly "Justice And Independence 85" that gets the most plays, especially the drum breakdown at 2:04.
Outside of Austin, I doubt Stevie Ray Vaughan gets more airplay than he does here in the Old Pueblo.  Seemingly every track of every album SRV ever recorded has travelled through the airwaves above us.  I go no truck with that, love it in fact.  Sure there were two singles released from Soul To Soul but they were merely parts of the whole, great album which deserves to be heard in its entirety.  Shortly after his time Earth was over in 1990, the album's closing song became my favorite.
For most of his career - okay for his entire career - Robert Palmer covered soul, reggae, funk and even classic Tin Pan Alley songs while maintaining his rock cred as a less pretentious but no less debonair Bryan Ferry.  He had been on my radar since his four on the floor cover of Moon Martin's "Bad Case Of Lovin' You (Doctor, Doctor)" began getting airplay on WLS in the Fall of 1979.  After his energizing stint with The Power Station, Palmer channeled all of his formidable talents into Riptide including the Power Station ringer "Flesh Wound". The song that put him over the top and seared his name and image onto all of our brains was "Addicted To Love",  which was catchy enough on its own but when the music video hit MTV and VH1, the song exploded, eventually topping both the Pop and Rock charts.
Words fail me.  When I first heard "Would I Lie To You?" by Eurythmics, I was floored.  Dave had learned to play guitar and Annie was singing with the soul of a woman possessed. Went to immediately buy the album and was told it wouldn't be released until the following week.  Asked for the single and was told they were sold out of both the 45 and twelve inch. I eventually got the album and the extended single. Played them both hundreds of times.  That song still hits hard today.
Speaking of Eurythmics, Howard Jones was their opening act when I saw them in concert at Centennial Hall down on campus in nineteen eighty-something.  (Probably 1984.) Dream Into Action was a gift - and remains a gift to this day! Listening to this album the other day actually made a great day even better. That's the power of great music.
Dead Or Alive did not make a good first impression on me. The first song I heard from them was their cover of the KC & the Sunshine Band classic "That's The Way (I Like It)" and though I eventually purchased it, I did not care for it one whit. Bad feelings were put aside when I heard a second song by them, "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", which I believe was the first effort I had heard by the Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) production team.  SAW stuck around for Dead Or Alive's second album Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know, which I like even better than Youthquake and I kind of like Youthquake a lot.


  1. I'm sure I've mentioned it a dozen times or more, but Five Star's "Luxury Of Life" is not only my favorite album of 1985, it's also my favorite album of the whole damn decade. I have no rational explanation as to why, but I will say that from the moment I first saw/heard the unbelievably infectious "All Fall Down" video on Friday Night Videos in the fall of '85, I made it my life's mission to buy that album and devour every note of it. What floored me even more at the time was that "All Fall" was just the tip of that luxurious iceberg. Every single song on the album (with the exception of "Say Goodbye") is a dance/pop masterpiece. It's actually stunning to me that an album I've listened to probably more than any other in my life, remains so incredibly fresh to this day. Unfortunately for Five Star, though, the quality albums well dried up after their equally masterful "Silk & Steel" follow-up. From 1987's "Between The Lines" on, it was all downhill as far as I'm concerned.

    Phil Collins' "No Jacket" & JCM's "Scarecrow" are two other big faves from this portion of your list. Love The Outfield's "Play Deep" too, but I think of it as an '86 album. 'Bout the time "Your Love" hit the pop chart, that album/cassette became a big-time 'tooling-around-in-the-car-while-up-to-no-good' favorite of my buddies and me.

    Looking forward to the next installments, my man!

  2. Dirk, I totally share your opinion on those first two Five Star albums. I love them both!

    Herc, a number of 1985 favs of mine in this section too: Five Star, Dead Or Alive, Alexander O'Neal and Howard Jones.

  3. RIPTIDE remainds one of my favorite albums of the 80's and I was glad to have seen Robert Palmer in Honolulu in 1986. One of the best shows I've ever been to, with him performing on a Sunday at 2pm in the heat.