Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1985

At ten years old, I think I began to form my own musical opinions and tastes — mostly thanks to MTV, back when they still played music. It was the only way for me to hear new music, as my father played pretty much Bob Dylan and Neil Young non-stop.

Then there were the John Hughes movies, which I would, like many others as I entered my teenage years, grow to love. Breakfast Club. Pretty in Pink. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. So full of the music of the time, to the point that they were nearly music videos themselves at times.

Gowan – Strange Animal

Here is one of the few exceptions to my “I’m not a big fan of music videos” claim. I remember seeing this video and being fascinated. It wasn’t until years later when I bought the album and saw that basically it’s Larry Gowan leading Peter Gabriel’s band did I understand why the music was so good. Yeah… it’s Jerry Marotta on drums, Tony Levin on bass, and David Rhodes on guitar. Check out the liner notes to Peter Gabriel’s SO and you’ll see it’s the same band.

The Smiths – Meat is Murder

I’m going to cheat on this one, and you Brits will just have to forgive me — this is one of those times when the US track listing included the non-album single “How Soon is Now?” (Oh, and by the way, fans of The Craft or whatever other witchy movies/TV shows have used this as their theme song, thinking about the elements of Sun, Air, etc… it’s I am the son and heir…. )

Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair

Everybody was lip-synching to Shout when I was 10 years old. I liked this one better.

Tom Petty – Southern Accents

Speaking of music videos that I actually love, check out this Alice in Wonderland themed one from Tom Petty.

Sonic Youth – Bad Moon Rising

Not at all what you’d expect from Sonic Youth – strange and morose.

Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms

This album was huge — from the crazy video to Money For Nothing, to the haunting title track, and the iconic picture of the National Guitar on the cover.

Sting – Dream of the Blue Turtles

The first solo album from Sting, it’s still my favourite of his solo albums. Maybe because of tracks like Moon over Bourbon Street.

Marillion – Misplaced Childhood

This is the one that everyone knows — Marillion’s 15 minutes of worldwide fame.

Here, check out the first three tracks.

The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & The Lash

Elvis Costello produced the Pogues’ second album — check out this Irish tune.

The Cure – Head on the Door

The Cure can be strangely inconsistent – this is an underrated album which did, nonetheless spawn two huge hit singles – In Between Days and Close to Me.

I, however, liked the darker tunes on the album.

Tom Waits – Rain Dogs

Tom Waits is a force of nature, unafraid and wild. Bored with how modern rock music sounded, he experimented with any and all sounds to try to find something that interested him. The story goes that a recording engineer once tried to convince him to use a drum sample and he replied by saying he’d rather go into the men’s room with a 2×4 and pound on the bathroom stall door and record that. Check out this live performance of Cemetery Polka — crazy, man.

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Psychocandy

The beginning of shoe-gaze and Velvet Underground influenced bands, the mid-80’s give birth to some great bands. The Jesus & Mary Chain’s debut, with it’s huge hit Just Like Honey, was one of them.

The Dream Academy

A one hit wonder band? Perhaps. But that’s really too bad, because the whole album (produced by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd) is fantastic.

Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

What can I say? I love Kate Bush.

Honourable mention to The Breakfast Club soundtrack, which gave us “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds. Trust me. You’ve heard it.


5 responses to “Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1985

  1. That Tom Waits video is great – a weird combination of early 20th century cabaret music and 50s beatnik music played in a way only he could do. For Rum Sodomy and the Lash I like And the band Played Waltzing Matilda – I’ve heard versions with sweet voices that sound horrible – that song needs Shane MacGowan’s rotten voice to make sense. Although I’m a prog-rocker, most of the music here was the soundtrack to my college days.

    • I was going to put that one up, but decided to choose something written by Shane MacGowan. I love that tune anyway — and love how Tom Waits borrowed it for Tom Traubert’s Blues. I love prog rock, among many others.

    • MTV got really bad really quickly, though, didn’t it? In Canada, we had our own version, called MuchMusic, and those VeeJays pissed me off, because they were PAID to know music, and not one of them knew it like I did. Fuckers.

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