The Summer of 1985 is my jam. It’s not that I think the best songs of the 80s were released then. It’s not necessarily the best Summer I ever had. But for me, my life and the music around me clicked in a profound way that is hard to describe. It’s just one those magical qualities that has music possesses The songs on this June 29th, 1985 countdown are forever linked to my memory of that time in my life.
[I started off this blog by writing a little about the Summer of 85. You can read some of that here.]
40. Graham Parker & The Shot – Wake Up (Next To You)
OHW – After Graham left the Rumour to pursue solo ventures, he formed The Shot with his former Rumour guitarist Brinsley Schwartz and recorded the LP Steady Nerves. It’s a great slice of soulful rock, but criminally, this track has already peaked at #39. I don’t know what’s more amazing – the fact that Graham Parker only had one Top 40 hit or the fact that he had any at all. Local Girls from Squeezing Out Sparks should have easily been a hit, but that would have meant displacing songs from Blackfoot or Jimmy Buffett and we can’t have that.
Graham is incredibly prolific and continues to record and tour. If you ever get a chance to see him live, you absolutely should. He’s a great showman.
39. Heart – What About Love?
New record label, new approach. This is the Heart era of teased hair, corsets and leg kicks. Capitol Records may have wanted it the glitz and galmour, but they didn’t need it because these songs would have been hits without that. The Wilson sisters and company effortlessly eased into to owning the power ballad market, especially with Ann’s powerhouse vocals in front.
This will become their first Top 10 hit since 1981’s Tell It Like It Is. It also features backing vocals from Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas of
Jefferson Starship who were also in the process of building a city.
38. Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Around (Like A Record)
This Big 80s countdown is a rerun from this time last year in 2018. I’m guessing it’s because the DJs are on vacation. Someone should have reviewed this broadcast for mistakes and re-recorded those segments, such as the one where Alan Hunter says this song will peak at #16. It won’t. It will make it to #11.
By the time Pete Burns came around we were already used to Boy George, so we glady accepted his look even when Pete added an eye patch to stand out more. But the real star is this song, a superb dance track that owes a big debt to late 70s disco as well as a future glimpse of late 80s pop music. This was one of the first successful productions from the
law firm production team of Stock Aiken & Waterman.
37. Robert Plant – Little By Little
The former Led Zeppelin vocalist is inching up the charts, climbing the ladder rung by rung, bit by bit, piece by piece up to its eventual peak of #36, from his EP Shaken N Stirred. The title is also the name of Rich’s Little’s autobiographical one-man Vegas act.
36. Limahl – Never Ending Story
OHW – A one hit wonder with Kajagoogoo, Limahl left the band and became a one hit wonder as a solo artist as well with the Giorgio Moroder title track to The Neverending Story, a disturbing German children’s film (Is there any other kind?) that was released in the Summer of 1984. I don’t remember hearing it very much especially for a track that would peak in the Top 20.
Also where did that horse go?
35. Tears For Fears – Shout
The first of two TFF #1 songs in the 40, one former and one future. The future first. This will hit the top for the charts for three weeks at the beginning of August and it’s one of the songs that defined my Summer. It was so abundant and powerful it even hit #56 on the R&B charts.
34. Corey Hart – Never Surrender
This makes a nice counterpoint to Shout – a power ballad to chill you out after you’re done yelling and protesting. If you’re feeling frustrated by the lack of social progress, Corey urges you to keep going and do some more shouting. This multi-Juno winner would have his biggest US hit with this track where it would peak at #3 later in the Summer.
33. Debarge – Who’s Holding Donna Now
PFK – Debarge would finally breakthrough on the pop charts with a couple of Top 10 singles, just in time for El to go solo and the family to fall apart. This was the second single released from Rhythm of The Night, produced and co-written by WestCoast legend Jay Graydon. It’s on its way to a #6 peak on the pop charts, #2 on the Soul charts and #1 on the AC charts. It also features backing vocals from Richard Page & Steve George who were mere months away from their first #1 with Mr. Mister.
32. Depeche Mode – People Are People
ML – It was definitely bizarre to have this band in the Top 40 in 1985 but also incredibly justified. Their edgy style of synth pop was one that mainstream listeners had to catch up with but true New Wavers already knew them as one of the best electronic bands around. The song was released one year previous in the UK and had been a Top 5 hit. In the US, this song about the lament of ongoing racism would hit #13.
Until I read the lyrics to this song, I thought each line was something completely different from what they were saying.
31. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Possession Obsession
The fourth Top 40 single from Hall & Oates’ Big Bam Boom features a rare lead vocal by John Oates and a commentary on materialism run rampant in the 80s. The doo-wop throwback is only one notch away from its peak of #30.
30. The Power Station – Get It On (Bang A Gong)
In 1985 we were treated repeatedly to the Madonna-Duran Duran-Chic musical triangle. Here’s two sides of that presented as the supergroup, The Power Station featuring Andy & John Taylor from D2 with drums from Tony Thompson and production from Bernard Edwards. This would be their second Top 10 single, which was a cover of T. Rex’s 1972 Top 10 hit. The Power Station would also launch lead singer Robert Palmer into the most successful stint of his career.
29. Supertramp – Cannonball
Supertramp survived the departure of one of its founding members Roger Hodgson who took the hella long way home and wrapped up their ten-year Top 40 career with one more Top 30 hit and a rare Top 10 dance hit. Even though Supertramp, led by Rick Davies periodically play gigs to this day, the two original keyboardists Davies & Hodgson have never performed in public together since their Famous Last Words tour in 1983.
28. Air Supply – Just As I Am
I give Air Supply a lot of slack but by 1985 they were just phoning it in with this sub-Manilow dreck. If you were at a wedding or were forced to listen to this during lovemaking, I truly feel for you. This would thankfully be the final Top 40 hit for the Australian duo before they went on to do Time Life Soft Rock collection infomercials.
27. Paul Hardcastle – 19
OHW – British synth jazz wizard scored an oddball electro-funk smash in 1985 with the dance track 19, the average age of US soldiers in the Vietnam War. It featured narration by Peter Thomas sampled from an ABC News report on Vietnam veterans who suffered from PTSD. Depending on your point of view, this is most insensitive thing you’ve ever heard regarding Nam Vets and their plight or you regard it as a miracle considering that this info reached a new generation of ears, a generation who would come to respect and empathize with those soldiers rather than spit on them.
The stutter effect of n-n-n-nineteen was created by Paul via an E-Mu Emulator. Reflecting on me and my friends’ insensitivity, if anyone asked us a question which required a numerical answer chances are we would stutter the response.
It would peak at #15, but guess what number it would stumble to the week of August 3rd?
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
ML – Misheard Lyrics
PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
STA – Second Time Around