My Top 50 Albums of 1985: 40-31

By less than popular demand but slightly more demand than the first installment, here's the second part 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 between 1985 and 2015.  Click on an album title in box below to listen via Spotify.
40Who's Zoomin' WhoAretha Franklin
39Vive Le RockAdam Ant
38Whitney HoustonWhitney Houston
37Fine Young CannibalsFine Young Cannibals
36The History Mix Vol 1Godley & Creme
35AfterburnerZZ Top
34Romance 1600Sheila E
33Rhythm Of The NightDeBarge
32Fly On The WallAC/DC
31How To Be A... Zillionaire!ABC

I ordered Who's Zoomin' Who and Whitney Houston from Columbia House and received them both with a few other albums in November 1985. Aretha was continuing her Eighties reemergence while Whitney was emerging as the sweetest voice heard in some time.  Ms. Franklin was attracting the best songwriters and producers based on her legendary status as the Queen Of Soul.  Houston was also working with the creme de la creme.  
While Whitney maintained a high profile in the ensuing 30 years (often for the wrong reasons), Aretha has blipped on and off my radar during that time.  I genuinely enjoyed listening to Who's Zoomin' Who in its Expanded Edition for this post.  The two divas did eventually team up in 1989 on the trainwreck "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be", the title of which summed up the song's chances of becoming a hit.
Adam Ant was the first artist I really obsessed over, buying any and EVERY THING, before I discovered the music of Prince a couple of years later.  Ant had been consistent for three albums, first with then without his Ants backing him, before disappointing with 1983's Strip. I do enjoy the Phil Collins production and drumming and find catchy bits in that album's two singles.  
I was shocked to see Ant perform on Live Aid and perplexed by his song selection and the fact that he only got to perform one song.  Still, old vinyl buying habits die hard, so I bought the album's first two singles in 1985 before eventually picking up the album the following year.  The singles and especially the multiple remixes and single edits on the 2005 Remastered version of Vive Le Rock have grown on me, accounting for the album's placement on this list.
I'm probably wrong but I think I was in Loco Records the night I first heard the Fine Young Cannibals tear their way through "Suspicious Minds" with the unmistakable sound of Bronski Beat's Jimmy Somerville helping out on vocals. I know I was a happy camper some months later when I picked up this bad boy.  The unique vocal stylings of Roland Gift are not for everybody but I dig the muffled, breathless quality.  The fact that the rest of the group consists of ex-Beat members only sweetened the deal for me.
I don't think I knew Kevin Godley & Lol Creme were recording artists in 1985 - they were just the award-winning guys who made Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" video.  Then I heard "Cry" and bought the twelve inch single and then the Trevor Horn produced album, which is unlike any other album I've ever heard. Creme described it this way in an interview in Musician magazine from 1985:
"We decided to celebrate our 25 years together by taking all the music we've ever done – demos, masters, whatever – and putting it in a musical blender, the Fairlight. Then we got J.J. of Art of Noise to reprogram the sounds to a disco beat so we could dance at our party."
The duo is wholly responsible for me going back and acquiring all the 10cc albums they were on as well.  I think they are ridiculously talented and enjoy their comic sensibilities as well though I find it absolutely maddening how many configurations and versions The History Mix, Vol. 1 comes in.  Listening to this album will cure what ails me.
And speaking of comic sensibilities, you know Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard were laughing all the way to the bank with their tongues in cheek with Afterburner, an album I both despise and adore simultaneously.  Sure, I bought the ridiculously catchy remixed singles but I didn't feel good about myself for it.  But I sure have listened to this album a lot over the past thirty years.  Guess I can't stop rockin'.
Though nowhere near as catchy or enjoyable all the way through as The Glamorous Life, Sheila E's Romance 1600 still has a couple of winners in "Sister Fate" and the irresistibly groovy Prince duet "A Love Bizarre", a song that seems to last forever yet when it ends you want it to go on some more.  The song also was heard a few months after the album's release on the soundtrack to Krush Groove, which featured Miss E in a prominent role.  I bought Romance 1600 on September 9, 1985.
The tight family group's fourth and final album with all original members, Rhythm Of The Night featured six newly recorded songs, including four with producer Jay Graydon, and three songs already in the can. Four singles were spun off from the album with each one crossing over to other charts as well as Billboard's Hot 100.
My lady enjoys "Who's Holding Donna Now" though when I serenade her I insert her name in place of Donna.  And I have always been unable to resist the festive hooks of "Rhythm of The Night", which is surely the best thing about the motion picture The Last Dragon.  I also find myself singing "You Wear It Well" days after hearing it though by the time it was released in October 1985, Motown was referring to the group as El DeBarge with DeBarge.

AC/DC has been a favorite of mine since hearing Back In Black over at my friend Robbie Rottet's house in 1980. (That same listening session included my first taste of Def Leppard's debut album On Through The Night.)  The group's 1985 album, Fly On The Wall, was one I borrowed from a friend as I was in a bit of financial difficulty at the time of its release and I grew to love two songs: "Shake Your Foundations" and "Sink The Pink" both of which I can only assume are misogynistic, sexual innuendos like all of AC/DC's other songs.  Doesn't mean I don't respect women, no ma'am.  Both songs would be slightly remixed to give the vocals more prominence on the group's next album, Who Made Who.
ABC had hit a grand slam in 1982 with the masterpiece The Look Of Love before succumbing to the curse of the sophomore slump with the following year's Beauty Stab.  As I wrote here, I had mixed feelings when I bought How To Be A... Zillionaire! but the album suprised me with its frantic, hard-hitting energy and I eagerly gobbled up all the twevle inch singles that were released. Have to say,  I am still a little bewildered that no one saw fit to commision a remix for the big, bold and bouncing "15 Storey Halo", my favorite song on the album.


  1. I have much love for the 1985 albums by Sheila E. and ABC. So glad to see they made the cut.

  2. My favorites on this are THE HISTORY MIX VOL. 1, ROMANCE 1600 and FLY ON THE WALL. This was the first AC/DC album I bought and I liked it because they released a VHS tape of some of the songs, some of which were shown on MTV. I thought that was great. Perhaps oddly enough, ROMANCE 1600 was something I heard before her first album but always liked it, for the obvious reasons. I think I played the Godley & Creme album like crazy, primarily because of the Trevor Horn influence.

    While I always liked ABC, I never got the album until way after the fact but I always loved "A To Z", "Tower Of London", and the live version of "How To Be A Millionaire" that they did on the UK show THE TUBE back in 1985.

  3. Love those Aretha & Whitney albums... Especially in their 'expanded' form. Funkytowngrooves' Aretha reissue, in particular, is one of the great deluxe editions in recent years.

    While I dig the singles from ZZ Top's "Afterburner", the album (as you allude to) is a bit much. Took the formula from "Eliminator" way over the top, and jacked it up to 11. Small doses, boys.

    Now for the "Dem's fightin' words" portion of the show: Everyone knows that what "is surely the best thing about The Last Dragon" is NOT DeBarge's "Rhythm Of The Night", but the feminine wiles of its female lead, Vanity... Outta-sight, my brutha'!!