Monday, October 21, 1985

Simple Minds’ Once Upon a Time released

First posted 7/9/2010; updated 10/9/2020.

Once Upon a Time

Simple Minds

Released: October 21, 1985

Peak: 10 US, 11 UK, 3 CN, 7 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.9 UK, 2.49 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: alternative rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Once Upon a Time
  2. All the Things She Said (3/22/86, 28 US, 9 AR, 9 UK, 65 CN, 46 AU)
  3. Ghost Dancing (11/15/86, 13 UK, 72 AU)
  4. Alive and Kicking (10/12/85, 3 US, 2 AR, 7 UK, 3 CN, 21 AU)
  5. Oh Jungleland
  6. I Wish You Were Here
  7. Sanctify Yourself (12/28/85, 14 US, 3 AR, 10 UK, 17 CN, 46 AU)
  8. Come a Long Way

Total Running Time: 40:12

The Players:

  • Jim Kerr (vocals)
  • Charlie Burchill (guitar)
  • Mick MacNeil (keyboards)
  • John Giblin (bass)
  • Mel Gaynor (drums)
  • Robin clark (backing vocals)


4.048 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

About the Album:

Simple Minds had been around since 1979, releasing seven albums. They’d found success in the UK, reaching #3 with 1982’s New Gold Dream and #1 with 1984’s Sparkle in the Rain. Those two albums charted in the U.S., but neither cracked the top 60. However, the band’s fortunes changed in America after their chart-topping song “Don’t You Forget About Me” from 1985’s The Breakfast Club soundtrack.

Before the close of the year, the band followed up that success with their seventh studio album, 1985’s Once Upon a Time. The album “captured the heart-wrenching excitement found in bands such as U2.” MW Part of the success was attributable to Jimmy Iovine, who produced the album. He’d previously worked with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, and U2. He pushed for a more guitar-driven sound and for “more energetic vocals” WK from Jim Kerr. The band’s heavy synth-pop beats had relaxed a bit and Charlie Burchill’s charming playing style was most noticeable.” MW “This album was one of their best, most likely leading the pack in the band’s album roster, because it exuded raw energy and solid composition not entirely captured on previous albums.” MW

The “bombastic pop rock sound” WK resulted in a trio of top-40 hits for the band in the U.S.: the “arena-friendly” WK Alive and Kicking (#3), Sanctify Yourself (#14), and All the Things She Said (#28). All three also reached the top 10 in the UK and on the Billboard album rock chart in the U.S.

Notes: A deluxe edition added a second disc of B-sides and rarities, including “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

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Saturday, October 19, 1985

A-ha hit #1 with “Take on Me”

Take on Me


Writer(s): Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, Pål Waaktaar (see lyrics here)

Released: October 19, 1984

First Charted: July 13, 1985

Peak: 11 US, 12 BA, 12 CB, 13 RR, 4 AC, 2 UK, 2 CN, 12 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.46 US, 0.5 UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 1066.3 video, 1469.22 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Magne “Mags” Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar became friends at 12 years old in the Oslo, Norway suburb where they grew up. They met singer Morten Harket while playing school dances and club dates in a band called Britches. The trio eventually went to London where, in 1983, they started shopping demo tapes to record companies. They eventually caught the attention of John Ratcliff, the studio manager where a-ha worked. Ratcliff and Terry Slater, formerly of EMI, offered to manage the band and arranged a showcase which included executies from RCA, CBS, EMI, and Warner Brothers – the latter of whom signed the band. FB Originally the trio wanted a Norwegian name which people could say in English. However, when Mags saw a song in Pål’s notebook called “A-ha” it seemed like a great name. FB

The band first recorded “Take on Me” in 1984. It reached #3 in Norway, but didn’t gain an international audience. The group went back to the studio to re-record the song at Slater’s suggestion. Producer Alan Tarney “beefed it up with more instrumentation and energy.” SF The resulting synthpop tune combined keyboards, a drum machine, and acoustic guitars with Harket’s voices reaching higher notes throughout the song. WK

In the United States, Jeff Ayeroff championed the song at Warner Bros. and commissioned a new video for it. He hired Steve Barron, who did the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” to direct. SF He crafted a revolutionary video which combined live action and pencil-sketch animation. The roughly 3000 rotoscaped frames took 16 weeks to complete. WK It caught fire, garnering heavy rotation on MTV and eventually winning six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. As of September 2019, the video still gets about a half million views a day. WK It ranks as one of the top three videos of all-time according to Dave’s Music Database, behind only Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.”

The video helped the song achieve international success. It finally charted in the UK, hitting #2. It went to #1 on the Eurochart for 9 weeks and topped the singles charts in 36 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Swden, and Switzerland. WK The song has been described by All Music Guide’s Tim DiGravina as “a new wave classic.” WK


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for A-ha
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 619.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Related Links:

First posted 11/2/2019; last updated 7/23/2023.

Stevie Wonder’s In Square Circle charted

In Square Circle

Stevie Wonder

Charted: October 19, 1985

Peak: 5 US, 112 RB, 5 UK, 7 CN, 8 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.1 UK, 6.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: R&B


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Part-Time Lover [3:43] (9/6/85, 1 US, 1 CB, 1 RR, 1 AC, 1 RB, 3 UK, 1 CN)
  2. I Love You Too Much [5:27]
  3. Whereabouts [4:17]
  4. Stranger on the Shore of Love [5:00] (1/17/87, 55 UK)
  5. Never in Your Sun [4:06]
  6. Spiritual Walkers [5:13]
  7. Land of La La [5:12] (6/14/86, 86 US, 83 CB, 19 RB)
  8. Go Home [5:19] (11/23/85, 10 US, 12 CB, 10 RR, 1 AC, 2 RB, 67 UK, 31 CN)
  9. Overjoyed [3:41] (2/22/86, 24 US, 29 CB, 27 RR, 1 AC, 7 RB, 17 UK, 55 CN)
  10. It’s Wrong (Apartheid) [6:52]

All songs written by Wonder.

Total Running Time: 43:33


3.178 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

In Square Circle followed a similar path as Wonder’s soundtrack, The Woman in Red, from the year before. It was helmed by a #1 single (Part-Time Lover) which lifted the album to platinum status and the top 5 of the U.S. Billboard album chart. However, both albums had somewhat ho-hum receptions from critics who considered his ‘80s work a far cry from his triumphant works of the 1970s.

Still, the album could boast some major accomplishments. “Part-Time Lover” became the first to simultaneously top the pop, R&B, adult contemporary, and dance/disco charts. The album won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. While The Woman in Red only managed one follow-up single, In Square Circle had five singles total, including the ballad Overjoyed and the retro Go Home punctuated with horn riffs. All Music Guide’s Ron Wynn even considered “Overjoyed” and I Love You Too Much as superior to “Part-Tme Lover.” AMG

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First posted 6/20/2008; last updated 8/3/2021.

Saturday, October 5, 1985

Mike + the Mechanics released self-titled debut

Mike + the Mechanics

Mike + the Mechanics

Released: October 5, 1985

Peak: 26 US, 78 UK, 10 CN, 36 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: mainstream rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) (Rutherford, B.A. Robertson) [6:10] v: Carrack (11/9/85, 6 US, 5 CB, 5 RR, 6 US, 1 AR, 21 UK, 8 CN, 23 AU)
  2. All I Need Is a Miracle [4:10] v: Young (2/1/86, 5 US, 9 CB, 3 RR, 6 AR, 27 UK, 10 CN, 6 AU)
  3. Par Avion [3:36]
  4. Hanging by a Thread (Rutherford, Neil, Robertson) [4:40] v: Young
  5. I Get the Feeling [4:27] v: Carrack
  6. Take the Reins (Rutherford, Neil, Robertson) [4:18] v: Young
  7. You Are the One [3:41]
  8. A Call to Arms (Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Rutherford, Neil, Robertson) [4:38] v: Carrack, Young
  9. Taken In [4:17] v: Young (6/28/86, 32 US, 30 CB, 22 RR, 39 CN)

Songs by Mike Rutherford and Christopher Neil unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 39:57

The Players:

  • Mike Rutherford (guitar, bass)
  • Paul Carrack (vocals)
  • Paul Young (vocals)
  • Adrian Lee (keyboards)
  • Peter Van Hooke (drums)


3.776 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Mike Rutherford had been the bassist for British prog-rock group Genesis since its formation in 1967. In 1980, he branched out with his first solo album, Smallcreep’s Day and followed it with Acting Very Strange in 1982. The albums reached #13 and 23 in the UK respectively, but neither made much noise in the United States, peaking at #163 and 145 respectively.

It was hard to know what to expect from Rutherford’s side project, Mike + the Mechanics, in 1985. Genesis was coming off the success of its second consecutive top-10, multi-platinum album in the United States and the most successful single of their career thus far with “That’s All” (#4). Still, Rutherford hadn’t exactly proven himself as a chart juggernaut outside of Genesis. It was hard not to assume this would only be a one-off vanity project.

Instead, Mike + the Mechanics surprised the pop and rock worlds “with the somber stir of Silent Running, the album’s first release.” AMG The song reached #1 on the album rock chart and #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also put Paul Carrack in the unique position of having provided lead vocals to successful songs for three different groups. Ace reached #3 with their 1974 song “How Long” and Squeeze had a new-wave classic with “Tempted” in 1981. He’d also reached the top 40 on his own with “I Need You” in 1982. “Carrack sounds just as sharp as he did with Ace or Squeeze throughout” AMG the album.

Paul Young, the other lead singer for the Mechanics had previously charted in the UK with his band Sad Café, most notably the #3 hit “Every Day Hurts” in 1979. He was fairly unknown in the United States, however. None of that prevented Mike + the Mechanics from breaking the one-hit wonder curse with second single All I Need Is a Miracle. With “its Genesis-like tempo and polished chorus,” AMG the song bettered “Silent Running” on the pop charts, hitting #5 and gave Rutherford & Co. another top-10 hit on the album rock chart.

Taken In, “a simple ballad that’s bettered by Paul Young’s genuine emotional charm,” AMG made the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a top-10 adult contemporary hit. Par Avion wasn’t a single, but did get noticed because it was featured in the Miami Vice episode “Yankee Dollar.” WK

A Call to Arms was an unfinished Genesis song. It emerged out of the sessions for the band’s self-titled 1983 album, but Rutherford’s bandmates didn’t like it. Rutherford got their permission to use it and developed it into a full song with help from Neil and B.A. Robertson. WK

“The songwriting comes out on top before anything else.” AMG Rutherford presented demo tapes, sometimes with nothing more “than isolated riffs and fragments” WK to producer Christopher Neil who pinpointed which he considered worthy of more development. Rutherford then built them into “full-fledged songs.” WK His “guitar work isn’t overwhelming, both his six-string and bass guitar contributions complete a sound foundation for the vocals.” AMG

“Rutherford’s overseeing of the entire project is apparent” AMG but it benefits from “all of its members exercising their expertise.” AMG In addition to the two accomplished vocalists, “the mood setting drum work of Peter Van Hooke and the keyboard fills from Adrian Lee play a large part in setting the album’s tone, and add some pop zest to the majority of the tracks.” AMG

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First posted 1/17/2009; last updated 9/1/2021.