Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992) by Aphex Twin

Categories: 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and Music.

I am familiar with electronic music up until a point – that point is somewhere in the very early 80s. I have no idea what happened between then and the music we have today (save for the odd track that gets played too much or turned into stadium music). Read More

Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) by Neil Postman

Categories: 1985.

Amusing Ourselves to Death is a frustrating and maddening book that might be better called Old Man Yells at New Technology and About How Things Were Better Before He Was Born. It’s considered a classic examination of the problems of new technology, which I find odd given how shoddily the argument is made. If this is an argument for books over TV, maybe write a better book… Read More

Less than Zero (1985) by Bret Easton Ellis

Categories: 1985, Books, and Fiction.

On some level, this feels like an ’80s LA Catcher in the Rye, albeit with richer and older kids, and drugs and prostitution. I feel like this may have been Ellis’ intent, I also think that the acclaim that greeted it upon its release likely was due, in part to that comparison, however misguided. Holden is a compelling character because so many of us can relate to him, if not his situation (I never went to boarding school). Clay is not as relatable – few of us are this rich and few of us are this world weary at 18. Read More

3-Way Tie (for Last) (1986) by Minutemen

Categories: 1985 and Music.

I have come to the Minutemen completely backwards. I have been a fIREHOSE fan for quite some time but am only now getting to the point of listening to these guys and of course I listen to their last album… Anyway, this is a set of rock songs (and song fragments) that varies from righteous anger about US politics to reflections on the nature of story-telling, with a bunch of covers (from literally all over the place). The music is pretty typical post-hardcore with the kind of silly, mild experimentation that makes so much American ’80s alternative music great. Though Read More

To Mega Therion (1985) by Celtic Frost

Categories: 1985 and Music.

I don’t particularly listen to Black Metal or Death Metal. I don’t listen to them because the idea of a band focusing on just one style for album after album bores me. So I can’t really say too much about this and its purported historical importance on both of those sub-genres. Apparently it helped establish Black Metal as a thing. And, according to some, it was also an early Death Metal landmark. I’m not really sure which is more true and, frankly, it’s probably an arbitrary thing. So all I can comment on is the actual music: for 1985, this Read More

The Dark Glow of the Mountains (1985, Werner Herzog)

Categories: 1985 and TV.

This documentary Herzog made for TV focuses almost entirely on the preparation for a never before attempted double ascent of two of the highest mountains in world. In typical fashion, Herzog is more interested in the climbers than he is in the climb itself. One of the climbers in particular is articulate and philosophical about what he does to an extent that is refreshing and informative. And though this is hardly one of Herzog’s essential documentaries, it is yet another of his penetrating insights into human beings who attempt to push the limits of what is possible. 7/10 Read More

Rum Sodomy and the Lash (1985) by The Pogues

Categories: 1985 and Music.

I have long loved If I Should Fall From Grace With God and considered it pretty near essential, especially as punk treatments of roots music go. It’s got what is probably their most famous song – “Fairy Tale in New York,” the Pogues song that you probably have heard even if you have never heard of the Pogues – and I had always assumed that was the Pogues album to have. Like with so many other things, I was wrong. This is a fantastic album that expertly blends Celtic music and punk even more expertly, perhaps, than that 1987 album Read More

A Feather on the Breath of God (1985) by Gothic Voices

Categories: 1100s, 1985, and Music.

This is, by all accounts, the album that started our time’s fascination with early Medieval music. So from that point alone, this is an important release. But as with other Hildegard releases, I don’t know enough about her music to know whether or not these pieces were meant to be sung together. I suspect there’s been a lot more research since and so recordings of this century may be better informed, but whatever. The music is beautiful and ethereal. Don’t know enough to say much else. 8/10 Read More

The Firstborn is Dead (1985) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Categories: 1985 and Music.

The Bad Seeds’ blues album, which was a big surprise to me. They take both old blues tunes and a not so old country tune (I think it’s country) and turn it into a demented re-imagining of the Blues that sounds much more like the early Bad Seeds (and even, at times, the Birthday Party) than it does the blues being made by most contemporary American artists at the time and, especially, British artists. As noted elsewhere on RYM, this is about as good as foreign approximations of the Blues get, in the ’80s anyway. If you’ve never heard the Read More

Brothers in Arms (1985) by Dire Straits

Categories: 1985 and Music.

Ten years ago I wrote the following: This might not be so bad if they had actually hired a producer.  It’s like Knopfler put a big stamp on this record saying “This album was recorded in the ’80s!”  Knopfler’s production is the aural equivalent of those ’50s sci-fi films that imagined the “futuristic” ’70s and now make us laugh…oh how silly they were to think that’s what the future would look like, te he he.  They tried to make this sound “modern” and hear what happened.  His songs aren’t all mediocre.  “Money for Nothing,” aside from having one of the Read More

King Solomon’s Mines (1985, J. Lee Thompson)

Categories: 1985 and Movies.

This is one of those wannabe Raiders of the Lost Ark films, even though it is based on a novel from about 100 years earlier. But unlike some of the other ’80s adventure revivals, this is practically a copy of the Indiana Jones series, albeit with more (attempts at) humour. One could interpret it as a parody, but parodies are usually more clever than this. This film appears to just attempt to ape most things about Raiders (including the score, which is horribly derivative) without actually making fun of the movie in any obvious way. It’s more goofy Indian Jones rather than satirical Indiana Jones. This film isn’t remotely Read More

Satyagraha (1979, 1985, 2009) by Philip Glass, Performed by the New York City Opera, Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Christopher Keene

Categories: 1985 and Music.

This is the middle of Glass’ “portrait opera” trilogy (which aren’t really operas in the traditional sense, as they lack narratives) though I’m listening to it last. It is significantly more traditional – in terms of music, not conception – than Einstein on the Beach but I feel like it is still readily identifiable as something minimalist, in a way in which I don’t think Akhnaten is. (The latter strikes me as perhaps his most traditional / conservative work.) The opera still lacks a traditional narrative but its concept is way less idiosyncratic than EOTB. The music is some of Read More

Warning Sign (1985, Hal Barwood)

Categories: 1985 and Movies.

Based on the premise – which had been done before – and the bad ’80s horror movie soundtrack, I was a little worried about this one. And there are some glaring plot holes to go along with the obvious low budget (there is a distinct lack of sets, for example, as most major events appear to take place within a few rooms). But the cast is rather fantastic for something like this and they mostly do a good job with what is often a clunky script (though, in the script’s defense, sometimes it veers from tradition in nice and unexpected Read More

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985, Rudy de Luca)

Categories: 1985 and Movies.

Here we have a film inspired by the old popular song “Pennsylvania 6-5000” (supposedly the oldest continuously operating phone number in NYC, according to Wikipedia), a top 5 hit for Glenn Miller in 1940. The song inspired a 1963 Bugs Bunny cartoon and somehow that Warner Brothers cartoon became this movie. The title is a clue but unfortunately none of us remember 1940 – and few of us remember 1963 – and so how are we to know? The film is seemingly an attempt to remake an Abbott and Costello horror comedy, only in the 1980s… with Jeff Goldblum and Read More

Telephone Free Landslide Victory by Camper Van Beethoven (IRS 1985)

Categories: 1985 and Music.

Imagine Kaleidoscope, if they were ’80s college kids (and so liked the Velvets), had far more interest in ska, far less interest in learning to play foreign instruments, and with a sense of humour, and you maybe sort of get the idea of these guys. The instrumentals tackle a variety of styles but many of them have a vaguely ska-ish feel underlying them (sort of like ska world fusion or something). The songs with lyrics are pretty much all parodies of either contemporary music styles, scenes or subcultures but given enough of an ’80s college radio feel that the album Read More

80s Movie Lists

Categories: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and Movies.

I’ve discovered that I am not always a good judge of 80s movies, as many of them I saw as a kid and they hold some kind of importance for me, whether they are any good or not. When I have rewatched them, the rating has no doubt dropped. But in many cases I haven’t seen these movies since I was in my mid-teens at the very latest, meaning that the ratings might not be so trustworthy. But how can I change the rating if I haven’t seen the movie in over a decade? Read More