The toppermost cover story in the November 9, 1985 issue of Billboard is about the joint effort between Philips and Du Pont to invest $50 million to build a CD pressing plant in King's Mountain, North Carolina that they hoped would be up and running within another year, in time for Christmas 1986 before ramping up output to 25 millions discs the following year and more than doubling that the year after that. This was good news for us who would become CD addicts as the bright & shiny & expensive discs would prove to be hard to find during those early years. Though no one knew it at the time, this would prove to be even bigger news for music piracy as the new millennium dawned as documented in the excellent book How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt.
Adjacent to that story was the big news that Billboard had revised the way it put together the venerable Hot 100 chart and expanded its panel of reporting stations from 196 to 222, which included two stations on differing scoring levels from here in Tucson though both were holdovers from the previous group of 196 stations: KRQQ-FM became part of the Bronze (the fourth of five levels) level with each record they reported worth two points while KHYT-AM proudly repped in the Secondary level (the lowest of five levels) with each record they reported worth one point. The top six stations, two each form New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, were Platinum and each song they reported was worth eight points.
The third of three headline stories located just under the trade paper's masthead was the announcement of an accord reached between the RIAA, the PMRC and the PTA on identifying recordings with lyrics dealing with sex, violence or drugs and alcohol with the label above. And the band played on...
Meanwhile over on Billboard's Top Compact Discs chart, Dire Straits continued it's eight week reign atop the Pop side of the chart with Brothers In Arms while Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story continued his own mastery of the Classical side of the chart, having been Number One for each of the chart's twenty-four weeks.
In his compact disc oriented On The Beam column in that same issue, Sam Sutherland writes about the first two compact disc anthologies from Warner Special Products: Atlantic Soul Classics and Superstars In Digital. While I never got around to picking up that first disc, the second disc was one of the first discs I bought after getting a CD player for Christmas 1986. Haven't played it since probably 1988.
Buried in the back half of the issue is an article by Jeff Tamarkin about the recording and release of "Sun City", which had taken place back on October 25, 1985. I wouldn't find the twelve inch single or the album (released on December 7, 1985) on local store shelves until early in 1986. Though it may not have the catchy melody of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" or the soft hook of "We Are The World", I've always felt that, dated Arthur Baker production aside, "Sun City" is the most powerful all-star record for change and social justice ever recorded. The urgency, the rage, the united front across musical genres - its got it all.
But enough about what else was in that issue of Billboard dated thirty years ago today. Since 1981, most issues for me were about the Top Tracks or, later, the Top Rock Tracks chart. This was the music I was mostly listening to, the music I was buying, the music that mattered the most to me and the artists I was paying less than $20 to see live in concert. Here are the 50 Top Rock Tracks from the week of November 9, 1985, countdown style, from Number 50 to Number One.
BONUS full-page ads and MTV Videos
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MTV's HEAVY ROTATION
music videos for the week ending November 9, 1985
- a-ha "TAKE ON ME"
- CHEAP TRICK "TONIGHT IT'S YOU"
- ROGER DALTREY "AFTER THE FIRE"
- GLENN FREY "YOU BELONG TO THE CITY"
- HEART "NEVER"
- The HOOTERS "AND WE DANCED"
- LOVERBOY "LOVIN' EVERY MINUTE OF IT"
- MR. MISTER "BROKEN WINGS"
- EDDIE MURPHY "PARTY ALL THE TIME"
- NIGHT RANGER "FOUR IN THE MORNING"
- STARSHIP "WE BUILT THIS CITY"
- TEARS FOR FEARS "HEAD OVER HEELS"
- THOMPSON TWINS "LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME"