DAR Retro: 8 Important R&B Albums From 1985

By @TrueGodImmortal

So, when we do our Retro articles on the albums of yesterday, we usually look at the true classics of an era or a specific year in music. Today, we stick with that once again, as we go back almost 34 years to look at the greatness of 1985 and the albums that made it so special. 1985 was actually full of classics, and today, we look at 8 of those important albums. Let's get into it.

*The Last Dragon Soundtrack

-I was always a fan of The Last Dragon film and the soundtrack is just as classic. The music is amazing, taking songs from legends such as Debarge, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Willie Hutch. Willie Hutch has the most impactful music of the entire soundtrack, as he essentially has the theme of the movie with "The Glow". That is the biggest song from this soundtrack, but Vanity also has a hit herself with the sly "7th Heaven". Debarge of course brings the fire with the classic "Rhythm Of The Night", and Stevie shines on "Upset Stomach". This isn't a perfect soundtrack, but it has so many great sounds and songs.

*Prince- Around The World In A Day

-So, a list from the 80's wouldn't be complete without one of the two most prolific artists of the time on it. Prince owned the 80's in terms of releases, putting out an album nearly every year of the decade, some better than others. For me, his 1985 release, the follow up to the amazing Purple Rain classic is perhaps a little underappreciated. While I wish "Erotic City" was officially featured on the album and not just as B-side, this album has a ton of greatness on it such as the hit "Pop Life", "Temptation", "Paisley Park", and of course, "Raspberry Beret". The album sounds different than Purple Rain, which is honestly a testament to the type of versatility Prince had as an artist. He could literally make albums back to back that had entirely different sounds and he always seemed comfortable doing so. This album isn't mentioned amongst his best often, but it is a great listen regardless.

*Alexander O'Neal- Alexander O'Neal

-So, we took a look at 1987 albums last week and we discussed Hearsay, his second album. His second album is arguably his best, but one cannot deny his debut was just as good and features perhaps his greatest song ever. Working with the legendary Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Alexander would craft a project that is nothing short of magnificent, as the smooth production and the soulful yet slightly rugged vocals of Alexander all blend together perfectly. The highlight of the album is the iconic "If You Were Here Tonight", but other tracks like "A Broken Heart Can Mend", "Do You Wanna Like I Do", and "Look At Us Now" are major highlights without question.

*Sade- Promise

-So, Sade would return with her sophomore album after her amazing debut Diamond Life took over the charts and brought her success. We all know and loved Sade for her sultry vocals, the jazzy blend with soul in her music and her breathtaking beauty. This sophomore album would be just as great as her debut, perhaps just a notch lower, but still a great listen overall. She has many highlights on this album and a gang of hits, as the iconic "Is It A Crime" and "The Sweetest Taboo" are featured on this project, as well as "Jezebel", "Fear", and "Tar Baby". Sade delivers an album that is arguably a classic and amongst her greatest work with ease.

*Rene and Angela- Street Called Desire

-So, of all the albums here, this is definitely the most slept on album. Of all the artists on this list, this is the definitely the most slept on name on here. Simply put, Rene and Angela had a nice run. This album, their fourth and final duo album is arguably their best work and deserves a mention on the year. They would have two iconic hits come from this project, as "Your Smile" and "I'll Be Good" are still beloved to this day, while other highlights on the short but sweet album include "Drive My Love", "Who's Foolin' Who", and "You Don't Have To Cry". This was definitely one of my favorite albums of that year.

*Freddie Jackson- Rock Me Tonight

-Say what you will about Freddie Jackson, but he might be the most underrated singer of the 80's, at least in the way that he is mostly ignored these days in terms of the other legends we praise. Granted, this debut album is his biggest moment as an artist, but he would have more hits along the way. Regardless, this album is a solid listen, with his two biggest hits coming from this project, as everyone knows the iconic "You Are My Lady" and "Rock Me Tonight". This album also has other highlights such as "I Wanna Say I Love You" and "He'll Never Love You". Freddie delivered on this debut and it stands as his best work.

*Whitney Houston- Whitney Houston

-We looked at the sophomore album from Whitney in 1987 last week and it is only fair we take a look at what might still be her greatest work ever, her classic self titled debut. An album that would end up selling 13 million copies in the United States and over 23 million worldwide, this album made Whitney an instant star and an icon. The album started off slow with sales and acclaim, but once it took off, it never looked back. Every song on this album was essentially a hit, with tracks such as "You Give Good Love", "Thinking About You", "Saving All My Love For You", "How Will I Know", and of course "Greatest Love Of All" being the major highlights. Whitney delivered on her debut beyond imagination.

*Stevie Wonder- In Square Circle

-So, Stevie was also on the list for 1987 for his album Characters, which is not regarded as a classic in many circles, but his best album in some years. While I agreed with that assessment, I think his 1985 release was mildly underrated. While the album isn't my favorite from Stevie, it does feature some good music from the legend and one of my favorite songs from him in "Overjoyed". While there are some songs I've skipped and can do without, there are other songs such as the upbeat and smooth "Part-Time Lover", which features another legend in Luther on background vocals and "I Love You Too Much". In Square Circle is a solid project and it won Stevie yet another Grammy as well.



  1. The rise of U.K. Soul was steady happening and even it to make an impressive and explosive impact in the U.S. So why not to show love to Loose Ends (A LITTLE SPICE), Five Star (LUXURY OF LIFE), as well as to the likes of Total Contrast, Princess, and 52nd Street.

    Other artists and albums worth mentioning for 1985 were that of Jesse Johnson, Sheila E., Lisa Lisa & the Cult Jam, Full Force, and Cherrelle.


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