In an effort to cheer up an ailing friend, I've come up with another list that has something in common with this - Ten More of My Favorite Twelve Inch Singles of 1985. The list is subjective though not presented in any sort of order and is limited to releases currently in my collection, either on vinyl or CD. Not all singles are of U.S. origin. Any scans of promotional labeled singles below are for illustrative purposes only - the commercial versions lacked quality label scans.
Things may have eventually changed but back in 1985, if I wanted the Urban Mix of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", I had to look in the imports section where the records were more often than not covered in a weird, thin, loose-fitting plastic rather than the shrink wrap found on good ol' American releases. Here in the States, we got the Extended Version on domestic twelve inch single which is no big whoop - extension by repetition is not the way to go. Upon first listen, the Urban Mix may seem like no big whoop - a few different instrumental pieces here and there, some barely noticeable changes in the vocals - until around the halfway mark when all sorts of different things begin happening in the percussion department. It has all the stuff I love about the original song and a few unexpected flourishes. The fact that "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" was co-written by former Ant (as in Adam & the Ants) Chris 'Merrick' Hughes, who also supplied the remix, is just sweet sweet icing on the cake.
After their 1982 mega hit "Let It Whip", most folks had written off the Dazz Band. I know I had. To his credit, my brother-in-law Lawrence, a gigging bassist and respected member of both the Arizona and Tucson Blues Hall Of Fames, never stopped buying their albums; he had the two prior to 1982 and never missed one while they were on Motown. He appreciated them in ways the rest of us apparently did not. I first heard "Let It All Blow" on a radio mix show and fortunately the DJ backsold it so I knew the artist. Within a week, I had the twelve inch and later I bought the Jukebox album it came from. The two versions of the song are similar but I feel after 30 years of listening, the Long Version or Special Disco Remix just hits harder and grooves deeper. An impromptu listening party just confirmed my non-scientific findings.
One had come to expect twelve inch remixes of pop and dance songs but one of the weirder Eighties trends was remixing and extended more rock oriented songs. 99% of the time, this was a colossal mistake that yielded embarrassing unlistenable dreck. Fortunately, the record companies realized this and only put the mixes out in the more forgiving European markets and undercover of promo only radios station and disc jockey white labeled discs. For Robert Plant, the legendary voice of Led Zeppelin, this remix nonsense surely must have been beneath him. Yet here we have the Remix Long Version of "Little By Little", not quite 30 seconds longer than the album cut. I like it and it stays on the list. Future attempts at remixing Plant only got worse.
El DeBarge had become the star of his family group by 1985 and received top billing on the final two singles released from Rhythm Of The Night. One of those singles - "You Wear It Well" - was given the remix treatment by the DJ duo John Morales and Sergio Munzibai. The Club Mix or M&M Mix boosts the percussion, lowers the bass and adds stuttering splashes of El's sweet vocals. Even after thirty years, this is the soundtrack that plays in my head for those impromptu fashion shows my wife puts on when she is cleaning out her closet.
After the success of the Purple Rain movie, album and attendant singles, Prince briefly became one of those artists whose releases differed between the U.S. and the U.K. and other countries. After the release of Around The World In A Day, the first single in the U.K. was "Paisley Park" - in the U.S. the first single was "Raspberry Beret". In the U.K., the third and final single was "Pop Life" b/w "Girl" while the U.S. got "Pop Life" b/w "Hello" as the second single. In addition to featuring different non-album b-sides, both twelve inch singles of "Pop Life" featured different remixes. The U.K. got the 9:07 Extended Version while the U.S. got the 6:16 Fresh Dance Mix done by Sheila E. Ideally, both mixes would have been released on one global twelve inch release but that wasn't the case so I and thousands of other obsessed fans forked over more money than we spent on the entire album to obtain the import Extended Version, which just seems like the full version of the song as originally recorded rather than a remix. As far as the differing b-sides, I prefer the poppy "Hello" to "Girl".
It is pure coincidence that five of my favorite artists have taken stabs at "Suspicious Minds": Elvis Presley (1969), Waylon Jennings (1970), Candi Staton (1982), Fine Young Cannibals (1985) and Dwight Yoakam (1992). When the Fine Young Cannibals convened in a recording studio to make the song their own, they had the sense to bring in Jimmy Somerville and his signature vocal stylings to complement their own Roland Gift's unique lead vocals. Remixer John Luongo brought the strings out front in his Suspicious Mix while doubling the original recording's length, creating a high powered dance floor dual between Gift and Somerville's distinctive voices. I failed repeatedly to land my own copy of this twelve inch single, subsisting on a cassette dubbed off the radio until happening upon this wonderful single a couple of years later.
Sexy, seductive and infamous for being singled out by the PMRC because of alleged profane or sexually explicit lyrics, "In My House" by Mary Jane Girls nevertheless was a big crossover Top 10 smash on the Pop chart and huge on the R&B and Dance charts. Written and produced by Rick James, the song sounded just as funky as all of his other older hits but it is the lead vocals of Joanne "Jojo" McDuffie and the sweet sisterly harmonies of backup singers Maxine and Julia Waters that make this song. The 12" Version is merely thirty seconds longer than the album version and otherwise indistinguishable yet it quickly became my go to version on mixtapes.
The Miami Vice Theme sounded unlike anything else when it debuted (in stereo where available) on television screens across the country in September 1984. However, it wasn't until shortly after the second season of the series began in the Fall of 1985 that a soundtrack album was released and the Theme could be ours. The soundtrack album featured both the minute long version of the song we heard each Friday as well as a obvious named 2:26 Instrumental version that was released as a 45. After buying the 45 and then the album, I found the twelve inch single with a 6:52 Extended Remix by Francois Kevorkian and Ron St. Germain and it was all I needed. Until I found the U.K. import a few months later with what sound like the same mixes credited to Louil Silas.
Show of hands - before today, how many of you viewers had ever heard this song? Not many, not many at all. Even George Clinton's loyal P-Funk Mob fell off after "Atomic Dog" dominated the airwaves but not the Pop charts. "Double Oh-Oh" was an advance single off Clinton's third solo album Some Of My Best Jokes Are Friends that never climbed above number 101 in a brief six week run in the Summer of 1985. I didn't even hear the song myself until one night in Loco Records in early 1986... you know the rest of that story goes. Bought it that night along with another twelve inch single from the album that was collecting dust in the bin: "Bullet Proof", a song that I had forgotten about after hearing it on a label sampler. The mix of "Double Oh-Oh" is entitled For Your Ears Only Mashed Mix and it is a treat every time I hear it. Them drums, those voices, the whole mechanization of the song, it all adds up to aural ecstasy.
Special guest Luther Vandross comes scatting and finger-poppin' in on the intro to the 12" Version of Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover" before the machines take over with only Wonder's vocals and those of his background singers maintaining any sort of human presence among the soulless computers. I know other people are tired of hearing this song (a phenomenon I'll never understand) but I can easily put the remix on repeat and listen for an hour or more. I enjoy it in ways that defy words. I may in fact be audibly purring as I am listening right now.
- In case you were wondering, I am not a fan of dub mixes.
- Besides Discogs offering up every single one of the label scans seen above, both DJ Paul T's Burning The Ground and DJ Richie P's Fun With Vinyl sites were huge inspirational contributors to this article with both men offering up digitized versions of my twelve inch vinyl collection.
- According to 1985: A Vinyl Odyssey, I acquired 70 twelve inch singles in 1985.