Right, no dawdling, onto True Blue. I BELIEVE this is one of the first Madonna albums I bought, I only owned Ray of Light at the time, and I bought this the same time as The Immaculate Collection, just because I wanted to get something of hers and there it WAS.
Tedious anecdotes aside, what a TIGHT little album this is. 9 tracks, but like The First Album this allows for a majority share of SOLID GOLD. Certainly a great STRIDE forward after Like a Virgin, everything just feels more polished and thought-through. What amazing artwork too!
09 Papa don’t preach – An undeniable classic to start with, showing off the sudden jump of sophistication from Like a Virgin. I won’t go on about “tackling difficult issues” though I’m sure this helped steer her image slightly away from the pop fluff angle, even though it was still obviously pop. A great video to go with it too, amazing. It’s lost its sheen a little bit because I’ve heard it SO many times, but it’s still a great song.
10 Open your heart – I only really got to know this one through the “93:99” video, I don’t think I’m too out of line to suggest it’s not one of her signature songs. That is to its credit in my eyes really, it still feels relatively new to me. I suppose the subject matter isn’t really very different to some of the earlier albums but it just sounds so much better. It’s a rather intangible difference, I suppose the structure is a bit more complex. Another amazing video. I never got why “Express yourself” got so much attention when this is slightly ignored. I love the production, that rapid-fire beat simmering underneath it all, the synths, it just all works so well.
07 White Heat – THAT’S it, a nice gold medal for the cop. What a bizarre intro… Well I don’t really get on so much with this, with rather laboured metaphors (unless she really is saying “This is a BUS”). I do love the production on this album, I can just imagine how in an alternate universe she could’ve just ended up on whatever the US version of the S.A.W. production line was. Not my favourite song but it’s alright. It fits in with the album, but for me there’s something missing here.
10 Live to tell – I didn’t realise this was the lead single, a rather brave move! This hadn’t really registered with me until a few years ago and it’s really turned into one of my favourites. The Confessions Tour version really pushed it over the edge, I LOVED that. That pause leading into the “If I ran away…” section is just amazing. Perhaps a little longer than it needs to be, but it’s a great contrast to uptempo tracks so far. Probably her biggest and best ballad up to this point.
08 Where’s the party – The sequencing on this album is a bit random, but here we are with a rather sugary pop song. Of the few non-singles this really is very pleasant. Maybe this what is needed after something so serious as “Live to tell”, I can’t think of much criticism to aim at this. It’s positive and full of energy, and doesn’t feel like a filler.
06 True Blue – Oh now a rare mis-step in the singles. I never really liked this, the 50’s pastiche thing really doesn’t come off well as a concept. Maybe I always thought this was a rather undeserving UK #1 given the ones that missed out. Not really fit to be the title track to such a great album. I think this is more down to me not really liking the 50’s thing, but it felt a little flimsy.
10 La Isla Bonita – Another late bloomer. Probably one of the few songs of hers I was aware of from a young age at some level. But it’s only again in the last few years that I’ve really got into this, but this time it’s not down to any recent live performances. For some reason, there recent airings have never really worked for me, but this is AMAZING, I love doing a bit of karaoke to this in the car. A high point in The Immaculate Collection.
07 Jimmy Jimmy – More up-tempo fluff, I feel like this is a much better 50s throwback/tribute than True Blue ever was, it’s more of a modern working of that sound (or in the 80s at least). It is a bit throwaway but it’s a cute song, not exactly a classic but I like it. I think it’s the production that lifts this one up, not the awful lyrics!
09 Love makes the world go round – Now I really like this, I would totally have released this as a single instead of True Blue. Anti-war songs are always a bit cringey but this is just so poppy and great. The verses are a bit iffy but the chorus is just fantastic. How can you not feel a little uplifted by such a naff fun chorus?
That was over pretty quickly, and while it isn’t wall-to-wall amazing, it is certainly a major recovery from the patchy Like a Virgin. So it’s pleasing to see that this was really the one that made her into a megastar, going multi-platinum in several countries and being the biggest-selling album of 1986 in the UK. I’m enjoying this pop juggernaut while it lasts, because while she certainly did out-and-out pop stuff later on, things all got a bit more SERIOUS from this point (for a while, at least)
Keepers for the iPod: Papa don’t preach, Open your heart, Live to tell, La Isla Bonita, Love makes the world go round.