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1985 top albums

May 14, 2012

My favorite LPs, 1985

1. FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION, R.E.M.

OK, I don’t know all of the words either. But it’s still great, and I’ll bet by the time I figure out what Stipe is singing, I’ll have it at the top of my best-of-the-1980s list.

2. BROTHERS IN ARMS, Dire Straits

From Mark Knopfler’s Randy Newman-esque ”Money for Nothing” to the Everly Brothers-styled ”Why Worry,” Dire Straits delivers a record easy to listen to and hard to forget.

3. THE SECRET OF ASSOCIATION, Paul Young

Some found this, Young’s second solo effort, lacking compared with his first, NO PARLEZ. But he shows here he can write his own material without losing ground to cover versions for sources as divergent as Graham Parker, Tom Waits and Hall & Oates.

4. DOWNTOWN, Marshall Crenshaw

At least Crenshaw doesn’t repeat himself. Those waiting for a repeat of his first album (MEET MARSHALL CRENSHAW?), keep waiting. Crenshaw throws himself in the middle of the new country-rock boom with unassuming style and (probably and unfortunately) no sales. By the way, FIELD DAY wasn’t all that bad.

5. STATE OF OUR UNION, Long Ryders

This sounds closer to the populist music to which Springsteen, Mellencamp, et al., aspire. This is what it’s like to live on a farm in the depressed Midwest. The lyrics are great and these guys can sing and play, too. To sdhow how excellent a year this was, this would have been my No. 1 record had it come out any of the past five years. But they’re docked points for their new beer commercial.

6. TREASURE, Cocteau Twins

With a crack, the snappy drums, power-chord guitars and opera-like vocals force you to snap your head back and pay rapt attention. Or fall asleep. An acquired taste, the Twins’ mix (Joan Baez meets Devo, maybe?) bores some. To me, they’re the most exciting band recording.

7. IGNITE THE SEVEN CANNONS, Felt

The boys have to be wishing the Cocteau Twins had arrived sooner. Robin Guthrie’s production and Elizabeth Fraser’s guest vocals (particularly ”Primitive Painters”) help redefine Felt’s guitar-based sound.

8. STAYING OUT LATE WITH BEAT RODEO, Beat Rodeo

Although it coasts in the middle, ”Just Friends” and ”She’s More” are a great 1-2 punch to start the album, and it shows too much promise to ignore.

9. LITTLE CREATURES, Talking Heads

Who’d have thought what was avant garde in 1977 would be selling out in 1985? For some fans, a letdown. For most of the uninitiated, great radio fodder. A solid effort from the group, particularly David Byrne, the man who would be weird.

10. OIL AND GOLD, Shriekback

Side two slides after ”Nemesis,” and this isn’t as top-to-bottom solid as the previous JAM SCIENCE. But when it’s good — even with the two ballads (?!) that close side one — it’s their best.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

STEADY NERVES, Graham Parker and the Shot LIKE THIS, dB’s
HOUNDS OF LOVE, Kate Bush
IN CIRCLE SQAURE, Stevie Wonder
CENTERFIELD, John Fogerty
FEGMANIA!, Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians

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