Now That’s What I Call Music 1985 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993)

Now 1985

Now 1985 r

“They are falling one by one,
No flag has ever stopped a bullet from a gun”

What does 1985 mean to me? Well it’s my favourite year for albums; I own more LPs from ’85 than any other and will produce a definitive list of these later on in 2015. For the wider musical public, 1985 started with Band Aid commandeering #1 spot in the UK charts with subsequent charity records also selling huge numbers during the year. It was the era of Live Aid, a dual-venue concert held on 13 July 1985 and organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine. It was billed as the “global jukebox” and held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Singles-wise the story of year was told through two Now albums, a couple of further entries in the Hits series, two instalments of a new venture from Chrysalis and Telstar’s first annual round-up. And for fans of extended versions, spring saw the release of Now Dance – The 12″ Mixes. A well-documented era.

Mark Knopfler’s guitar riff on Money For Nothing has passed into rock legend. The taut single edit was chosen also chosen as the first track on Chrysalis’ Out Now!! 2, the second and final instalment of the short-lived compilation series. Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms [a full digital recording] was revolutionary in persuading the public to switch to CD and became the first album to sell over one million copies on the new format. It’s followed by two chart toppers that originally featured on Now That’s What I Call Music 6, Feargal Sharkey’s A Good Heart and Eurythmics’ watercooler moment There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart). Kate Bush’s stunning return Running Up That Hill was also included on the sixth Now while Talking Heads had their biggest UK hit, reaching #6 with panoramic Road To Nowhere in December. Little Creatures blasting out next door.

Prince’s 1999 was not a new track. It was the title song of his 1982 LP but only reached #25 on its original showing in early 1983. After the success of Purple Rain and its associated 45s, the single was reissued in January ’85 and went all the way to #2. For obvious reasons it proved particularly popular until the end of the 1990s. As he was a Warner Brothers artist, 1999 was included on The Hits Album 2, along with five other tunes that also feature here. Elsewhere there’s UB40 and Chrissie Hynde’s lilting cover of Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe before a trio of early summer hits that were all picked up by Now That’s What I Call Music 5: Fine Young Cannibals’ plaintive debut Johnny Come Home, Bryan Ferry’s Slave To Love [the version here is longer than the 7″ but slightly shorter than the Boys And Girls take. You need Arcade’s Top Hits Of The Year CD for the proper single mix] and Phil Collins’ excellent One More Night. Timeless sax.

Nikita is here in 7″ form. Still too long. Next are The Cars and Drive which already made #5 in 1984. After the video was broadcast at Live Aid, the track was reissued and went one better on the chart. Misplaced Childhood was Marillion’s commercial breakthrough and the durable Kayleigh saw a rush of 1985/1986 babies named after it. It’s followed by a USA triple play: John Parr’s bratpack theme St Elmo’s Fire, Starship’s white elephant We Built This City and The Power Of Love from Huey Lewis and The News. “Just too darn loud”. The two movie tracks were also included on Hits 3 – The Album. The remainder of CD1 whizzes by with Katrina and The Waves’ Walking On Sunshine, Gary Moore and Phil Lynott’s Out In The Fields [Philo’s last stand], Kirsty MacColl’s A New England [better than Billy] and Tears For Fears’ global smash Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

“Primitive painters are ships floating on an empty sea
Gathering in galleries were stallions of imagery”

At the time of writing, A-ha have just announced that they’re reforming. During autumn 1985 they were new kids on the block as Take On Me and its eye-catching video reached #2. Also falling at the final hurdle were Duran Duran and the grandeur of the James Bond theme A View To A Kill. There’s the ultimate pop throwback with Kiss Me, Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy’s masterpiece which was produced by Froome and Jeczalik. Third time lucky. And the Pet Shop Boys were another who needed more than one go to make an impact: West End Girls was released in December and reached the promised land in January 1986. Go West’s We Close Our Eyes and Paul Hardcastle’s 19 were spring successes that ended up on Out Now!! while Midge Ure’s If I Was made for an unlikely #1 later on in ’85.

Simple Minds peaked in 1985. Not musically, but in terms of global sales. After the non-album Don’t You (Forget About Me), the album Once Upon A Time spawned four more hit singles with the windswept Alive And Kicking being the first. Next is smooth reggae sound of Scritti Politti’s The Word Girl which was lifted from one of the greatest albums of the year – Cupid and Psyche 85. This collaboration with the militant and uncompromising Ranking Ann runs for about a minute longer than the 7″ [I am presuming this is the 12″ A-side]. There’s a move into slow set territory now: Jimmy Nail’s workmanlike cover of Rose Royce’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, Foreigner’s emotional I Want To Know What Love Is, Phyllis Nelson’s throbbing Move Closer and the late Whitney’s Houston’s sweet stage-announcing Saving All My Love For You.

Get on the soul train, there’s one in very town. In the first carriage are Nik Ashford and Valerie Simpson with my uncle’s favourite duet Solid. Pulling behind are Simply Red and their chart debut, a super cover of The Valentine Brothers’ Money’s Too Tight (To Mention). There’s a potential derailment from Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves but momentum is restored on Yah Mo B There, a winning combination of two sublime vocal talents – James Ingram and Michael McDonald. Colonel Abrams keeps it real with Trapped while Level 42’s Something About You sees them up a gear towards world domination. The closing track belongs to Wham!, making their third successive appearance on Now’s 10th Anniversary series. Everything She Wants is written from the angle of a man rapidly approaching desperation at the material demands of his partner.

“Some people work for a living
Some people work for fun,
Girl, I just work for you”

Favourite tracks
Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere

Simply Red – Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)

Level 42 – Something About You

Phil Collins – One More Night

Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy – Kiss Me

Lest we forget
Kirsty MacColl – A New England

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Now That’s What I Call Music 1985 is another strong selection that falls slightly short of the overall quality set by 1983 and 1984. It was the year when I started to become drawn towards indie and bands like The Fall, Cocteau Twins, Felt, Sonic Youth and the Jesus and Mary Chain. No dice. Meanwhile Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) was glued to my turntable while Steve McQueen and When Loves Break Down dominated my walkman. One of my favourites from the pop world, Duran Duran, splintered into two offshoots, the Power Station and Arcadia. Both released albums with the latter being particularly strong. Neither side project is represented here but the main act are present with A View To A Kill. But where is Frankie? “Do you remember me?”

18 of the 40 tracks are taken from 1985’s Nows: 10 from Now 5 and eight from Now 6. Other contributors include the aforementioned Hits series with six songs each from volumes 2 and 3; West End Girls was subsequently compiled on Hits 4. Meanwhile the Out Now!! experiment gives us five in total while Wham!’s Everything She Wants ended up on The Greatest Hits Of 1985 [Telstar]. Just three tracks here missed out on being anthologised during 1985: The Road To Nowhere, We Built This City and Saving All My Love For You. In all cases they peaked during December so that’s the reason why.

20 tracks held the #1 position in 1985 but just eight of them are included. However Do They Know It’s Christmas can be found on Now That’s What I Call Music 1984. Of the others, it’s not surprising not to see the omission of charity records like Dancing In The Street, We Are The World and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The year’s three biggest selling singles are all absent: Jennifer Rush’s The Power Of Love, Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson’s I Know Him So Well and Madonna’s Into The Groove. There’s certainly a case to be made for including the first two while other successful hits like King’s Love And Pride and Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F would also have been welcome. And if anybody deserved a second slot then Phil Collins should have got it for Easy Lover rather than Eurythmics.
Frankie say no more as Welcome To The Pleasuredome stalls at #2. “Keep bad at bay”.

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12 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 1985 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993)

  1. Feel the Quality says:

    This volume has a version of Money’s Too Tight that I haven’t heard elsewhere. It’s a slight difference in the middle bit when we get the “we’re talking about money, money” section. There is another “money” just after the second one which you can clearly hear but on just about every version I have on other compilations (including The Millennium Series) that extra “money” occurs at the same time as Hucknall’s second “money”. It’s a very minor point but for some reason it’s always been strange to me. Ridiculously geeky I know but hey, it’s why I’m here.
    I think this is maybe a bit too heavy with the second half of the year. There’s not as much from that period when Dead or Alive and King were around. And Now Dance seems to have been pretty much ignored, which unfortunately leaves off the cheesy classic that is Clouds Across the Moon by The RAH Band. Would have been nice to have Strawberry Switchblade too. Oh well, still another good entry.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      I never noticed that before – must check out the version on Now 5 later on. Good point after the half-year; the Hits 2 / Now Dance territory is a little thin on the ground.

  2. cosmo says:

    I also own this album as well – an absolutely winner year for music. I’ve always preferred 1985 to 1983 or 1984 music-wise.

    Every track here is a stonker – however, I agree that it would have been improved further more if it had included There Must be an Angel instead of Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves. ALso, it would have further benefitted from having either Strawberry Switchblade, Loose Ends, The Rah Band, Harold Faltermayer, Princess, DeBarge, Phyllis Nelson and David Grant & Jaki Graham. Or all of them, although TBH, they’d be no room for all of them. Thankfully, the latter three were on the Millennium version. Although the presence of Michael McDonald & James Ingram more or less makes up for those omissions with one of my personal favourite songs from that year (and yes, I know it was originally released the year before, and only snuggled itself into the Top 20 after having got the Jellybean treatment).

    Telstar’s Greatest Hits of 1985 to me is THE compilation album covering ALL that year’s best stops for me.

  3. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1986 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  4. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1985: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  5. Martin Davis says:

    On the whole not a bad compilation which tells the story of 1985 well.

    Dead Or Alive: In Too Deep
    Madness: Uncle Sam
    Baltimora: Tarzan Boy
    Mari Vidal: Body Rock
    King:Love and Pride (or Taste Of Your Tears)
    Red Box: Lean On Me
    Denise Lasalle: My Toot Toot
    Madonna: Dress You Up
    Prince: Raspberry Berret
    Thompson Twins: King For A Day
    Bryan Fery: Don’t Stop The Dance
    Amazulu: Excitable
    The Damned: Grimly Fiendish

    Alongside that am suprised Nik Kershaw isn’t featured on this compilation (Presumably “The Riddle” would be the best choice). “Merry Xmas Everyone” by Shakin Stevens probably could have worked well as the closing track.

    • Martin Davis says:

      Sorry I clicked the “Send” button too early. As you can probably guess the tracks listed above are ones which I would have liked to have seen included.

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        Hi Martin – good suggestions. Nik Kershaw’s The Riddle is on the 1985 Millennium edition but really is a 1984 hit – released in November and peaked in December. Agree re Shakin’ Stevens but Christmas songs rarely get look in on a retrospective compilation.

        • Martin Davis says:

          Hi again Paul

          I had no idea The Riddle was a 1984 hit. Always assumed it was 1985 given its on both “Out Now” and the Millenium Now 1985.

          The Band Aid track must be one of the exceptions then to be included on Now 1984.

        • Martin Davis says:

          Glad you liked my suggestions for additional tracks.

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