Nightman Listens To – Erotica – Madonna


Greetings, Glancers! We’re back with Madonna today, back to her main studio albums and hopefully a return to form after the poor (in my mind) soundtrack album I’m Breathless. If you read my post on Like A Prayer you’ll know that I thought it was a fantastic album, brave, controlled, cultured, and most importantly packed with great music. Erotica was another well received album, and the first one where she began to focus more directly on sex from all directions. She had touched upon the subject frequently with previous albums, but with this one she takes sex and turns it into a concept album. It was at this time that she released her controversial Sex book, and presumably with this album she pushed a lot of boundaries for mainstream pop. Looking at the track list, I think I only know four of the fourteen songs, so I’ll be hoping once again for a few new gems. There’s no sense in waiting any further, lets strip off and get down to business.

Erotica‘ opens with record static, followed by quite tribal beats, heavy percussion and spoken lyrics. There’s a bit of Jungle Boogie in there, a heavily experimental sound unlike anything she had displayed before. The verse lyrics are good, lots of innuendo, but little melody – the chorus switches things by focusing on melody and dropping the lyrical intensity. I remember being not 100% fond of this one at the time, but I appreciate it more now. It does seem a little long, if only from a single perspective, but maybe the single version was cut down a bit.

Fever‘ is of course a cover. When I looked at this on the track list I couldn’t quite remember if this was a cover or one of her own which I couldn’t recall, but as soon as the song started I remembered hearing it. I’ve never been a huge fan of any version of this song, but I suppose this is as good as any, with a bit of New Jack, and a bit of club. There isn’t enough going on to warrant the five minute running time and it does feel dull and dated, even if the beat is infectious.

Bye Bye Baby‘ has similar drum beats to the previous songs, so there is a consistency. Unfortunately this sound feels dated now and reminds me of Vanilla Ice or PJ and Duncan or some such balls. Madonna does sound different, adopting a vicious Betty Boop persona and voice. Good production, lots going on, but it is dated. What excites me? The little pieces of synth which threaten to grow, but then they go away. Lyrics are okay, but melodically it’s poor and doesn’t grab the attention. Surprise end.

Deeper And Deeper‘ opens with a mix of synth and piano before dance beats come in to make us know where we stand. I was always a bit partial to this and even 9-10 year old me would have danced around the house to it like a weirdo, but again it has dated badly. A return to better hooks. An updated version of this one (there’s probably one out there) would presumably improve matters. It feels quite long, but there is some variance with the Spanish instruments joining the din. Vogue surprise.

Where Life Begins‘ starts a little differently – light on percussion, high on instrumental tinkering. This is momentary as a sultry beat soon takes over as Madonna whispers about her special area. It does manage to sound sexy and interesting, not tacky. Some of the lyrics are a bit on the nose (matron), others are funny, but I think I quite like this one. At least she’s being direct, most pop music now which deals with sex does so in a roundabout way or just dives in like cheap porn.

Bad Girl‘ has a slow beat and twinkling piano, before a heavier beat comes in over some delicate melodies and thoughtful, thought-provoking lyrics. I don’t remember ever hearing this one so it’s another surprise. Not the most memorable song but good enough on the first listen.

Waiting‘ is another song which tips past the 5 minute mark, and it’s another bass and drums laden track. I appreciate the length of the songs as this hints at ignoring the standard 3-4 pop single standard and doing whatever the hell she wants. Of course, sometimes songs need to be 3-4 minutes. This one tries to be sultry, has more spoken vocals and is low on melody aside from the chorus, so it feels like forgettable mid-album stuff. Again, there is a certain amount of variance, great production, but I’m not a huge fan of the drum and bass heavy stuff. This has good moments, not enough though.

Thief Of Hearts‘ has more Twin Peaks synths at the start before a series of faster beats take the lead. It’s another I haven’t heard, the drums are a little too weak here, there is some dated stuff, but I like the energy, the dark atmosphere which the synth brings, and the melodies. There’s another couple of R’n’B breakdown in the middle with something not quite rap emerging, leading to some comedy swearing and the final verse, chorus run which threatens to run out of steam.

Words‘ opens like a movie about an apocalyptic wasteland, the silence suddenly broken by a mass desert orgy/rave. It’s another which relies to heavily on the beat and that’s something I personally am not very interested in. Some of the sounds are annoying here, but again there are good moments – snippets of melody, a few lyrics here and there. This one is definitely overdone and almost 6 minutes long, not adding enough variance to justify that length.

Rain‘ has always been one of my favourite Madonna songs – I loved it upon release, and I’ve gone back to it several times over the years. Musically, it’s a massive departure from the rest of the album, but in terms of lyrics, tone, and atmosphere it retains the darkness, sadness, and anger. The opening begins in the same vein, with prominent beats before flowering into a luscious ballad. I’m listening now to the album version and wondering if the single was a little different. I must check on that. There are a few unnecessary instrument and sound choices which should have been dropped in favour of a more streamlined approach.

Why’s It So Hard‘ has a slight rock edge, with guitar parts deep in the mix, but again at the core is the percussion. The central beat is slow, contrasted by the speedy vocals, and the lyrics question the issues preventing unity among people. It has a few catchy moments but like quite a few of the songs on this album it lacks your standard immediate pop chorus. This one does feel stretched, again meandering past five minutes.

In This Life‘ is one which goes beyond 6 minutes, so it better be good. An uppy downy line opens things, with some drunken piano playing simplistic, repetitive notes while Madonna sings melodies which don’t seem to sync with the music. It creates a hypnotic tone and once it comes together for the chorus it feels powerful. It’s obviously a personal lyric, I must say I prefer the vocal melody to the verse piano antics. It is overlong, but the spoken word parts do well, as they do for the most part on the rest of the album, and I usually don’t like spoken parts on songs.

Did You Do It‘ begins with some mumbled spoken parts, then the same old horns and percussive beat begins. Some guy begins rapping and this one for a change actually sounds quite modern. Madonna only comes in for the chorus (which seems to be a reprise), a lot of the lyrics are funny, explicit, and it feels like this could have been a single (if they’d been able to get away with the lyrics). It’s quite interesting to include this, as so much of the album is a woman’s perspective of sex and love while this is clearly from the man’s side. What does it mean with respect to the rest of the album – mocking the male approach to sex? Showing that men and women aren’t that different in terms of sex?

Secret Garden‘ opens with piano and some sort of throbbing beat. The drums come in which sound a little Beatles and a little Massive Attack. And she’s singing about her special area again. More whispered verse vocals, more melodic chorus. The vocals are a little too low so I can’t make everything out. Jazz interlude.

This was clearly groundbreaking stuff and there are some very good songs here, but much of it feels dated and I’m not a huge fan of the same beat and percussive style which is used on almost every track. Having said that, there are nods to a wide array of genres – jazz, rock, but at it’s core this is a thinking person’s dance record – introspective yet shamelessly extrovert, personal yet universal, and isn’t frightened to lay opinions bare or question taboo, or expose itself. With more musical variance in terms of production and instrumentation, I think I would have enjoyed this more – on several occasions the melody or idea is sacrificed for the sake of mood or beat, something which works best in small doses – here is as as unsubtle and all-pervading as someone walking into your room in a gimp suit. Even with it being dated musically, the ideas are fresh and challenging and it is clear that Madonna the artist was operating on a level apart from any of her supposed peers.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Madonna’s Erotica – were you there when it was released, what is your favourite song from the album, and where do you rank the album alongside her other releases?

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – I’m Breathless


Greeting, Glancers! I know, I know. I said I likely wouldn’t listen to this one due it being a soundtrack album in a genre I don’t like for a film I didn’t enjoy. But here we are, I am the Prince Of Lies. Madonna teamed up with Stephen Sondheim and Mandy Patinkin to work on the soundtrack album for Dick Tracey in which she also starred (alongside Warren Beatty and Al Pacino). Looking down the tracklist, there is only one song I know for sure, with one more I may remember but could be confusing with something else. No point in beating around the old bush, lets dive in!

He’s A Man‘ seems to begin with a sound clip of some sort. Madonna singing differently than she usually does over a slow, sultry  beat. Decent lyrics, some backing vocals, not much going on melodically. This ironically would have been a much better Bond song than Die Another Day was. Nothing special though.

Sooner Or Later‘ starts with a softer jazz tone and swooning beat. This I imagine is all supposed to be sexy, in the same way that Monroe was supposed to be sexy, but both do nothing for me. Some unfortunate lyrics with ‘the more you resist, the more it excites me’ sounding criminal.Nothing memorable here either.

Hanky Panky‘ has some okay piano in the introduction which never goes where I want it to. Then all hell brakes loose and we collapse into some weird 1980s 1920s cheesy mashup. This is the one I thought I may have heard, but I wasn’t sure. I think I have, but I don’t remember much about it apart from the rhyming of Hanky Panky and Spanky. I think this was something we used to shout at each other in the schoolyard. It’s sort of catchy but incredibly silly.

I’m Going Bananas‘ makes a mockery of my ‘incredibly silly’ comment. Madonna adopts some bizarre accent and squeaks and squeals incomprehensibly while Cuban horns and beats buzz around. At least it’s short.

Cry Baby‘ sees another change in vocal style, going for that Betty Boop cutesy shite. I was dreading something like this. Annoying and twee and pointless.

‘Something To Remember‘ at least sounds like a song, and possibly a serious one. It’s another slow burner, the melodies ramble a bit without anything standing out. It does have violins doing what violins should do though, but it’s a couple of minutes longer than it needs to be.

Back In Business’ sounds the same as the other slow ones, but builds up a more melodic and sultry vocal in the verses. Again it collapses into hilarity for the chorus with silly dated drums and twiddly saxomotrumps shooting off. A song of two parts then, the first fine, the other disastrous. It’s also over five minutes long for unknown reasons, and it does get worse as it goes along with trumpy solos and Madonna burping out assorted vocal ticks.

More‘ opens with plinky plonkey piano so we know we’re in jaunty territory again. So we have two basic songs on this album – jaunty ones and slow ones. Take your pick, they’re both poor. Jeepers, this one is almost five minutes long too. No, please, no more.

What Can You Lose‘ starts nicely, with Saul giving a different spin to what we’ve heard so far. Finally, a song that isn’t a pain in the soul to listen to. It’s pretty short too, probably for the best because once the duet begins in earnest it starts to fall apart.

Now I’m Following You Part 1‘ returns to the jaunty stuff. Another duet with some tap dancing sounds and other crap wafting in the background. Nothing worth recommending this one.

Now I’m Following You Part 2‘ is basically the same as Part 1, but with added dated 80s noises. It does its hardest to turn you into a serial killer in the final minute.

Vogue‘ is completely unrelated to everything that has gone before, and has no right being associated with this album. I’ve never been a huge fan of this song, but it’s light years ahead of anything else on I’m Breathless in terms of quality. It has a melody, has its own sound, and while it does sound dated there is still something fresh about it. Plus is has a classic Madonna chorus. What a bizarre album.

Well, that was terrible. Only the most hardcore Madonna fans should listen to this, or those with a fetish for shit jazz. It hasn’t made me want to watch Dick Tracy again, probably a good thing as I remember it being crap. Thankfully Madonna returns to form (I think?) with Erotica which features at least one of my favourite Madonna songs, some I have probably heard but can’t remember, and some I won’t have heard. I’ll be looking forward to hearing that one next time, but for now I’m away to band my head with a beer bottle until I’ve wiped away every memory of I’m Breathless. Good times, LOLAMIRITEWTF!

Let us know what you thought of this album – was it a misstep for Madonna or another interesting experiment?

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – Like A Prayer

Welcome back, Glancers, to my review of Madonna’s final 80s album. I’ve been looking forwards to this one as a few of the songs I know from it are probably my favourites from Madonna, and I’ve heard that this is both her best and most experimental album. I’m hoping therefore there will be some lost gems in here for me to enjoy. It was Madonna’s first true album in three years, skipping over a soundtrack and remix album which had not been as well received as hoped. Selling over 15 million albums worldwide, this is obviously a massive success and contains some of the most popular songs of all time.

‘Like A Prayer’ opens with an experimental edge, weird guitars echo and bounce around for a few seconds before the haunting backing vocals and lead verse melody come in. I wouldn’t want to say there is anything spiritual going on here, but it is a special song, even if Madonna isn’t the greatest singer, and even if the instrumentation has dated a little. I do enjoy the Man In The Mirror style extended ending, as well as the great middle section. Nevertheless, it’s a breathtaking song and one of the finest of the decade.

‘Express Yourself’ begins in a much more fun and bouncy way than I remember. Naturally the ‘Come On, Girls’ is silly, but the chorus is ultra catchy, and the verses are very strong too. I think there are various versions of a few of the songs on this (and other) album. This is the sort of thing that may not have worked as well on her earlier albums, but she has clearly grown as a songwriter and adds that mystery ingredient which makes the song both clearly of its time, and timeless.

‘Love Song’ has some French at the start, and is apparently an experimental duet with Prince. It has a Prince influence, it is rather odd, slow, stuttering, not quite sexy, more like watching a primitive robot masturbate with a spanner. It doesn’t have any memorable hook, instead memorable because of how bizarre it is. It isn’t bad, but it certainly isn’t good.

‘Till Death Do Us Part’ begins at a quick pace, sounding first like another cheesy early Madonna track, but it infuses some U2 style moments, the pace remains high, and the vocals sound both honest and emotional. The melodies in the verses are pretty damn good and I’ve never heard this one before so it’s a nice surprise to hear something I like. The spoken/near spoken parts in the middle could have been scrapped though.

‘Promise To Try’ starts with nice piano and some decent vocals and melodies. Hmm, this could be another surprise if it keeps this sort of quality. Never heard this one before. Damn, this one is pretty great, and of course it has some strings just to endear itself to me more. Quite an emotional performance, a simple song, but beautifully rendered and with raspy vocals and good lyrics. Woo hoo, two good songs in a row that I’ve never heard before! And a few of my favourites coming up next!

‘Cherish’ is a silly, light song but one with catchy lyrics and a memorable video. Naturally for someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s there’s a lot of fond nostalgia for songs like this, but it holds up okayish. It’s not a great song by any stretch, but the chorus is unashamedly joyful.

‘Dear Jessie’ may be my favourite Madonna song (that or You’ll See). Yes, I know that makes me sound like a weirdo, but this is a glorious mix of pure pop, art, experimentation. It showcases the best of her vocals, and the melodies throughout are exquisite. It has that style I love where different sounds all blend together, where tones shift, and yet it all holds perfectly. The middle section change, the strings, even the trumpet, everything pulls together wonderfully. Great string ending. Yes, her best song.

‘Oh Father’ continues the strings and merges them with some odd sounds before the big gospel pianos come in. I haven’t heard this probably since the early 90s, though I have listened to My Vitriol’s good cover since then many times. The original is better though, sounding eerie and honest, weird and coherent.

‘Keep It Together’ starts with some strange noises I didn’t quite catch, a count in, then a funky 80s riff. I’ve never heard this one before, and so far it’s okay – steady, groovy rhythm backed with some jangling guitars and keeping the more cheesy and dated 80s stuff to a minimum. Verse and chorus ok, nice harmonies but not a lot going on melody-wise. It’s maybe a minute too long on first listen, seems like average mid-album filler, but not as bad as the fillers on previous albums.

‘Spanish Eyes’ has good, atmospheric Spanish guitars – for the first 10 seconds it could almost be a metal song, then the drums and pianos and melody come in. Good start. Her vocals sound like they are not up to scratch for the chorus, although the scratchy nature adds to the emotion. It’s too much of a stretch between the deeper vocals of the verse and the higher range of the chorus, quite clear that a better singer would do a better job here. It’s very slow, but pretty good – nothing really wrong here, though I don’t know if the trumpets really work here. A little long again, hitting the five minute mark.

‘Act Of Contrition’ starts with manic guitar. Backwards stuff and clapping. Orgy sounds and spoken words. Can’t quite make out the words but sounds like a rant. Oh, an actual melody comes in, I thought this was just going to be an experimental mess ending. Jump scare. End. An interesting way to finish the album – was this meant to be a hidden song. Not quite a stuttering finish, lyrically and thematically apt, just not as strong as what has come before.

Easily Madonna’s strongest, most consistent album so far, this is the first that hasn’t had a bad track, though a couple of songs would fall into the average category. It’s definitely a more mature and experienced album from a songwriting perspective, with a much more intelligent approach. The hit singles are each very strong, and a few of the songs that I wasn’t familiar with I will be happy to listen to again until I know them by heart. Madonna followed this up quickly with her second soundtrack album to the film Dick Tracy. I’m in two minds as to whether I should cover this album – I don’t like jazz or swing, I don’t like the movie (though haven’t seen since I was a kid) and it’s maybe not an ‘official’ Madonna album. Then again, Who’s That Girl only saw her perform on four of the songs, while with I’m Breathless I believe she performs on all of them? If that’s the case then I’ll give it a shot. Hopefully the creative streak she was going through in 1989 carries over to it. If I don’t post about it, then I’ll be moving on to 1992’s Erotica – another one I’ll be looking forward to as it again was touted as being adventurous, experimental, and contains another of my favourite Madonna songs.

Let me know in the comments section what you think of Like A Prayer – has this album stood the test of time? Were you around when it was first released, or is it something you have only discovered recently? What’s your favourite track from the album? Let us know below!

To catch up on my feeble musings on Madonna’s previous albums check here:

and here:

and here:

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – True Blue

Greetings Glancers! We’re back in familiar 80s Pop territory again, with the Queen of sex herself, Madge!

After the monumental success of previous album Like A Virgin, Madonna was on top of the world. Gaining fame in the music world is easy, but maintaining that level of success is something few artists achieve. Madonna had already launched a few non-album singles and outtakes from a variety of movies, and had branched out into acting too. True Blue had the difficult job of following up an album which has since been named as one of the defining albums of that decade, but it succeeded – at least in terms of sales. True Blue was an absolute monster, becoming the biggest selling album of the decade by a female performer, and still ranks among the biggest selling releases of all time. It roughly followed the same power pop/dance oriented pop as her earlier work, but also saw her trying a few new styles. Looking at the meagre nine tracks of the album, I instantly recognise four of them, but I’m sure I’ll remember a couple of the others too. Lets see if this one holds up well today, and maybe I’ll catch something new that I’ll enjoy.

Papa Don’t Preach: Strings! I’m a big fan of strings in music, so yay to Madonna. I must not have heard this in a while as I don’t remember the song starting this way. The vocals are deeper than usual, the music is still funky, and the lyrics are interesting. Of course, it’s the chorus I remember thanks to great melodies. The vocals are quite strange, being so deep. The bridge into chorus is excellent too. The song loses a little of its steam towards the end due to a little unnecessary repetition, but all in all it’s still great, one of her best.

Open Your Heart: Big drums and 80s crystalline synth. Funky guitars and weird sounds. The verse isn’t great, but I do remember the chorus and bridge. It’s a straight forward rinse and repeat song, catchy at certain points, but not as strong as some her more recognisable hits.. still good though.

White Heat: Okay, that’s why it’s called White Heat. An odd opening, and when the music starts it gets even weirder. More 80s synth and funky beats which has high nostalgic value, for me at least. It’s a bet of a mess though, not particularly catchy or anything of note in verse or chorus. More sampling appears in the middle before a final chorus repeat leads to the end.

Live To Tell: A slower, more sombre, yet eminently atmospheric 80s opening. The music is fine, but the vocal melodies don’t go anywhere – too soft and drifting and one-note. The melodic change after the three-minute mark picks things up and it becomes much more interesting, with the lyrics meeting the music nicely. It all sounds very Roxette in these moments, and it’s a pity that the melodies of the first half aren’t as strong as those in the closing moments.

Where’s The Party: This one sounds very upbeat and silly. Yes, so far nonsensical lyrics about going out and having fun at the weekend, yawn. Musically it’s the usual 80s sounds and synthetic beats, and the melodies again aren’t very strong. I suppose the chorus may be catchy enough if you’re singing along while boozing it up, but that’s not much of a compliment. Weird sounds and words and effects come in at one point, serving to extend the song by another minute. Not great, but dumb fun for kids.

True Blue: Aah, another favourite of mine. A pastiche of some of the 60s pop which ladies were making, it’s a fun song with great melodies throughout (take note Where’s The Party). It’s almost too happy and twee and cheesy, and certainly nostalgia is playing a part in me liking it so much, but it truly is a well crafted piece of music that will glue itself to your psyche for days. The middle piece is also good, and proves that you can extend a song for an extra minute without making it feel cheap.

La Isla Bonita: A cynical attempt to cash in on another market? Well, obviously, but still a great song once again – verse and chorus melodies folks, that’s the key. Much of the annoying 80s stuff is stripped back to give this a more pure, timeless feel. The best simple songs can be stripped back to only their vocals, or a single accompanying instrument and still retain their power, and that I imagine is the case with this one.

Jimmy Jimmy: How many of the songs on this album start with a rapid-fire drum blast? All of them? I think it’s all of them. A fast paced one here that seems to be a love song or dedication to some Jimmy or other. Melodically fair at best, the chorus approaches something good but doesn’t quite get there. Decent middle section. Unlike the previous song, this is exactly the sort of track that would not sound good stripped back, relying on all the 80s crap to give it an identity.

Love Makes The World Go Round: Two seconds of funky bass before the drum blast this time. Strange timing on this one, so plus points for being different. It’s quite jarring, all those sudden pauses, but they work. This one has a Spanish rhythm too, and the chorus again is only okay, not reaching the high points. Verses are pretty average. A nice message, not quite MJ or Lennon or whoever, but at least it’s something different from singing about your humps or whatever. Okay middle section. Quite an apt album closer, fun and uptempo and fresh enough to make you want to flip your cassette over to side 1 again.

A selection of obvious big hitters, a few average, forgettable tracks, and one or two duffers. On an album with only 9 songs you can’t really afford a couple of duffers. Not that anyone cared of course given how many copies it sold. Even the worst songs aren’t terrible, but only a few are truly special. I was hoping for a few good surprises, but the songs I wasn’t familiar with weren’t particularly interesting for me. A few of those non-album tracks of this era were pretty damn good and would have made this a more robust effort. We’re getting towards the stage now where I’ll be less familiar with more and more of the songs on each album, and we’ll be moving into the 90s, a decade in which Madonna continued her wild success.

Let me know in the comments section what you think of this album? Is this Madonna’s peak? Does this contain any of your favourite songs, or do you have any special memories of True Blue?

To catch up on my feeble musings on Madonna’s previous albums check here:

and here:

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – Like A Virgin!

Greetings, glancers, and welcome back to another exciting entry in the Nightman Listens series. Today, we’ll be looking at one of the biggest albums of the 80s, and one which launched the career of one of the most influential women in music.

Hard to believe, but yeah
Hard to believe, but yeah

Madonna’s first album was a decent success and the follow-up was recorded and released a year later to great acclaim. With a number of high performing singles and a distinct sound, it is one of the archetypal 80s records, going on to encourage a bunch of imitators to follow Madonna’s musical approach, fashion sense, and provocative approach. Surrounding herself with some terrific writers, Madonna’s drive for success was spurred by the songs she was recording around this time. Looking at the track listing, I actually only recognise two of the names, though I’m sure I’ll know some of the others once I hear them – I’ve never actually sat down and listened to the whole thing. So let’s do this!

Material Girl: Aah, for someone my age there are any number of songs which instantly transport you back to the 80s. Big synthetic drum blasts and funky beats – as soon as that riff comes in, you’re already back there and when the vocals come in there’s no coming back. It’s all very cheesy, almost deliberately so, with Madonna both mocking and praising the materialistic lifestyle. The chorus is perfect, and the verses are pretty catchy too. Of course, we could do without all the squeaks and squawks, but it was the 80s. The production here is excellent, much higher quality. The song feels a little stretched, possibly for video purposes, but it never out stays its welcome.

Angel: Plinky plonky. Laughs. Hmm, I don’t recognise this one so far. Fairly catchy and sultry vocals. Vocals get more bizarre as the song goes on. Chorus is okay, not overly strong. There’s a nice synth break in the middle, another laugh which manages to not be as cheesy as you would think, so well done for that.

Like A Virgin: One of the most recognisable songs of the decade, and possibly Madonna’s signature song. Opening with honking synths it’s another which instantly grabs hold. Madonna sings in a high register, and both verse and chorus melodies are catchy. The lyrics fitted perfectly with Madonna’s image at the time, as an independent strong woman. Musically it crosses that line between pop and dance brilliantly – a song just as good to listen to in the bedroom, on the dance floor, on your Walkman.

Over And Over: Drums. Fast paced blaps. More synth. It’s another I don’t recognize. It’s good fun hearing all these 80s songs which you didn’t hear first time around, or forgot about as they all manage to pull back memories. I was only a toddler when this albums came out, but nevertheless, the music was replayed on TV and radio for years. Anyway, not many hooks on this one, the chorus is okay, but it’s definitely mid-album filler.

Love Don’t Live Here Anymore: Ah yes, I remember this one, and it is of course a cover. Given the synth treatment, it’s probably Madonna’s first ‘dark’ song with its desolate lyrics about loss. The vocals are fine at the high ranges, but things get a little strange for those lower notes. Nevertheless, the arrangement blending strings, synth, guitars, and booming drums gives that timeless 80s feel, and it sounds a little like something Roxette would have done. The song threatens to drag on a little bit, but Madonna brings it back by some fine yelping and howling for the final moments.

Dress You Up: Thumping drums. Disastrous synth. Nice melody. Hand clap sounds like cardboard boxes being dropped in a puddle. Silly lyrics about clothes/sex. I remember the chorus. The chorus is a little too short and whiney. Feels more like a one hit wonder than a genuine memorable Madonna track. It’s a little weak sounding with flat production, decent melodies. It’s a fun, silly inclusion that doesn’t really go anywhere.

Shoo Bee Doo: I don’t know this one. A piano led ballad with a lot of space for Madonna’s vocals. Now drums, slowly becoming more of a dance track. Some of this sounds a little familiar, but I can’t place my memories accurately so I may well have heard this in my youth, or it could simply be similar to other songs I’ve heard. Something about it is also reminding me of a Michael Jackson song, but I can’t quite determine which one. Oh dear Lord, Saxomophone. Vague, light, forgettable, overlong but aside from those points, nothing particularly poor about it.

Pretender: Weird fast noises. Synth drums and other strangeness. I don’t know this one. Attempts to be funky, but doesn’t quite work. Weird vocals, silly boo-hoo lyrics. Nothing catchy here, no matter how many times ‘He’s a pretender’ is shouted at me. Ooh, an interesting middle section. That almost went somewhere good, but didn’t quite manage it.

Stay: The final track, hmm this is a pretty short album. Then again I’m used to metal and prog albums lasting forever. More weird noises at the start. These last few tracks have been more reminiscent of stuff from the first album – middling dance pop songs with no real hooks. It’s an okay song, but not memorable in the slightest. No, not more speaking parts. When will we learn that talking during songs just DOESN’T work? EVER.

I think I was expecting that to be a bit more. Only the singles have any sort of impact, with the rest of the album being average fluff. Note – it turns out that  one of my favourite Madonna songs – Into The Groove – was added to a re-issues of this album, after being recorded for the Desperately Seeking Susan soundtrack. Ah well, we’ll have to skip that one. Hey, Crazy For You was also recorded around this time and wasn’t part of any studio album. This album would have been epic had those two tracks replaced a couple of the others! So, nothing overly brilliant here, but it’s easy to appreciate the impact and sales the album had. Next time we visit Madonna’s back catalogue, we’ll be going through True Blue which I know contains at least two of my favourite Madonna songs, and I’ll be keen to hear if there are any classics I’ve missed.

Let me know what you thought of this album in the comments – does it contain any of your favourites, or is it an aged relic of a time best forgotten?

Nightman Listens To – Madonna (Madonna 1983)

My head is about to slip off my shoulders


Greetings glancers, Nightman here again, ready to push play on one of your favourite albums. Today we will listen to pale-faced, Africa-saving, past-it pop Goddess Madonna’s debut album, cleverly titled ‘Madonna’. Released in the hotbed of 80s music known as ‘1983’ ‘Madonna’ was to bring arguably the most important female entertainer of the late 20th Century into the spotlight. But wait, what’s that you say – ‘Madonna isn’t as important as these guys’?



Possibly not, but we are dealing with the higher echelons of Art here, as anyone familiar with the above geniuses will attest. It’s a question for another day, a drunken, cold day. But let’s go back to warmer times and climes, specifically July 1983, NYC. Synth was about to destroy the musical landscape, causing apocalyptic damage which we still feel today, and Madonna’s debut arguably heralded that arrival like a bunch of Jive Angels Egyptian-walking their way through the Pearly gates, fucked off their faces on Coke and ankle warmers. Looking down the tracklist, the only song I definitely recognise is ‘Holiday’, although ‘Borderline’ and ‘Physical Attraction’ sound familiar. We’ll soon find out when I give it a whirl. Only 8 songs? METAL. Alright, lets roll.

Lucky Star: Arrgh! Twinkly synth disasters. Throbbing toilet drums. Aah, the 80s… so so 80s. Singing. Sounds familiar, I imagine I’ve heard this at some point. It’s crap, but still better than today’s crap. It sounds quite innocent, typical lyrics, no boundaries being pushed. Hmm, we’re not even halfway through song yet, what’s left? Dual vocals. It’s catchy enough, but I can’t imagine anyone other than 30-something Divas getting excited about it, and what do they know?

Borderline: A nice little bell intro. Then more disco electro beats. It all sounds very child-like and happy. Oh, I know this one. More love lyrics. Nice melodies. Pitch seems a little too high. Like Minogue, singking through nose. Catchy chorus. This is good stuff, a respectable 80s pop song.

Burning Up: Oh no, drums that sound like claps, no no no. Toilet drums. guitar noyse. I assume these are sex words. Well, it is Madonna. Ah, now we’re into sex positions, along with what appears to be dog-panting. I understand. So even on her first album she’s sexing it up, good stuff. Unfortunately the song as a whole is a bit of a nonsense, and aside from the sex words and noises the music is annoying and the melodies are forgettable.

I Know It: Oh sweet jeebus that intro is horrendous. It sounds like one of the 80s educational vids they showed me in Primary School. In fact, it sounds like Look Around You. Yes, this is highly amusing and looking back from the 21st Century I feel like a god when I say ‘did anyone actually, in all honesty, take this crap seriously?’ The chorus is catchy enough, but get rid of all the synth crap in the background, at best it sounds like an epic fart. You know it.

Holiday: See, this is how to do synth well. Establish your beat, reign that shit in, add some real instruments, and go about your business. 75 years on, this song is still recognizable and effortlessly catchy. Being AMerican though, I’ve never been sure why the song isn’t called ‘Vacation’. I know it doesn’t sound right, but same syllables. It would be so nice. Anyway, it’s still funky, it’s still cheesy as the worst of the decade, but thanks to the melodies it can be forgiven.

Think Of Me: Alarum. Toilet drums. Beat established. Not a lot to say about the verses. Chorus isn’t much better. More love words. Lyrics need some variety, ‘Holiday’ the only interesting lyrical choices. Gets more catchy with the 300th chorus.

Physical Attraction: No, that’s not how you do it. Terrible over the top synth, more clapping drums. Once again, not a lot to say on the versus, and the chorus isn’t great either – not really anything dynamic. More love words with slight sexy undertones. Parts of the latter half sound identical to ‘Borderline’. Synth blips and blaps solo. Again, how does anyone listen to this without weeping? Oh, speaking. What did you say? No, I don’t want you. Why thank you, I’m flattered but my balls belong to another.

Everybody: Oh no, not again. Sex words. Oh, you were speaking about dancing, not the other thing. I don’t believe you. Dancing is AWESOME! It’s exactly the same as walking but with 25% more movement. Seriously, who over the age of 10 actually dances? Yes yes, I know most of you, but come on. Why are there so many songs about dancing? Why not jogging, sitting perfectly still, ice-skating, darts, weight-lifting, scratching your armpits, the sensation of blinking really fast,  clapping your hands the wrong way round, barking with a glove in your mouth? They are all essentially the same as dancing. At least this is sort of catchy, do your thing, but it’s just so embarrassingly puerile that you just have to mock it.

There we have it. Two great songs, a couple of listenable songs, and the rest are childish and funny old relics of a funny old time which should not be listened too with a straight face or ears. Madonna would of course go on to write some amazing songs, this was only the beginning, and there isn’t a lot to recommend it other than novelty. This sold by the billionfull, so obviously I’m wrong. Again.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of it!