Album: Madonna – “I’m Breathless” (1990)

OK, I’m Breathless now. I must say that in my voyage through Madonna’s back catalogue, it’s all-to-easy to totally forget about this, and I wasn’t EXACTLY relishing the idea of having to listen to it repeatedly. I only recently saw the movie, but to be honest, the songs aren’t all that bad. They have that jazzy style mixed with some rather dated 90s effects but the overall effect is quite pleasant generally, with a nice sense of humour in there too.

Better this than bloody “Bugsy Malone” anyway!

08 He’s a man – I don’t normally go for this sort of jazzy 20’s pastiche music, but this particular take on it is very accessible. Her voice is pretty good too, I don’t think the songs are too demanding but it at least sounds like she’s enjoying the role. This is a pretty good example of it all really, memorable without having an obvious hook. Hard to think this is the same woman who released “Like a Prayer” little over a year earlier.

09 Sooner or later – More of the same here, except OSCAR-WINNING. The song has a bit more of an authentic feel to it than “He’s a man”. It’s pretty easy listening, with a lovely little melody behind it. I know this is not meant as a ‘proper’ album, but I can see how well this fit in terms of the film and Madonna’s character in the context of the movie. The performance at the 1991 Academy awards (at which the song won an Oscar) was awesome though (see the video below).

09 Hanky Panky – Well I WAS more familiar with this one, obviously the most famous of the songs on the album (if you don’t count Vogue as part of this project). Much more catchy, and a good excuse for Marge to get some old SMUT on. A lot of fun, like a S&M-lite version of Material Girl, or something. Cheeky but not crude, never fails to raise a smile with me. If only they KNEW what the next album was going to be like!!

07 I’m going bananas – A bit of a novelty thing obviously, I’m sure it worked in the movie… Still, she’s done more cringey Spanish tracks with a totally straight face (Spanish Lesson) so I will not judge it too harshly. I’m probably overscoring these tracks, but this is a lot of fun still.

05 Cry Baby – UGH. I feel like I have to restrict myself from being TOO critical as a lot of movie soundtracks don’t really translate as studio albums,. As a song though, it’s pretty annoying, especially that cuteypie voice she’s putting on. It’s not totally horrible, the tune itself is quite cute but it’s pretty dismal.

09 Something to remember – Feels a bit weird having this on here as I grew to know it as a track off her compilation of the same name, so I mentally filed it down as “mid 90s”. Doesn’t really fit with the rest of the songs here too, feels like a “proper” Madonna track among the themed stuff on the rest of the disc. It’s a grower, and I do have a big soft spot for this. I suppose it could fit in with the concept of the album, I guess it just doesn’t have that facade of cartoonish comedy about it though. In this case that’s a good thing.

08 Back in business – Some rather ugly 90s “doh-doh-doh” effects in the opening bars, but I love her voice on this. The verses are more slow jazzy pieces, but it just explodes into those choruses.  The ’20s instrumentation is quite toned down, here but still retains the consistent flavour of the album. It’s a pretty good crossover really, between Madonna’s “Breathless Mahoney” character and the musician at this point in her career.

08 More – My memories of watching “Dick Tracy” are a little sketchy now, so I feel like I’m missing out a little by not seeing the character in the movie. That said, the song is pretty well-trodden path lyrically for Madonna, and the jazz leanings are pretty easy to take. It’s a little more old-school than some tracks on here, that sort of Cole Porter vibe. Never quite my cup of tea but I do quite like this.

06 What can you lose – With a rather “Defying Gravity”-esque opening piano segment, it quickly dribbles into a rather iffy ballad duet with one of her co-stars Mandy Patinkin doing a hair-raising falsetto part. It’s not that bad really but causes me to eye the skip button, despite it only being 2 minutes long. Not sure about this!

07 Now I’m following you (Part 1) – Another duet, this time with male lead actor Warren Beatty. It’s quite a catchy song, hits the mark better than the previous track at least. Surprisingly short though, pretty much an interlude. Good job too, as I HATE tap dancing. Another example of that 20’s sound being carried off in a sophisticated manner that suits its 1990s release date.

08 Now I’m following you (Part 2) – OK it goes a bit mental now as the previous track gets a 90s makeover, transforming also into a megamix of the rest of the album. It’s a bit of a horror but somehow even better at the same time. Also contains the best bit of the album, the “Dick … that’s an interesting name. DICK D-D-DICK” segment. It’s a bit car-crash but I rather love it.

10 Vogue – A bit of an odd-one-out on this album. I read that it was meant to be a B-Side, almost thrown together to give “Keep it together” a boost as a final single from “Like a Prayer”. But it got released to enormous success and got latched onto the end of this album rather confusingly, especially given the Immaculate Collection’s release later that year. But anyway it’s obviously a classic Madonna song, still sounding pretty amazing nearly 20 years on. I can totally do the spoken-word bit too (me and about a million other gays). It does have that link to old-time screen superstars, a tenuous link to the old-fashioned feel to “I’m Breathless”, I think that’s as close as you’re going to get. It’s still a fresh-sounding dance track, one of the times where the term “iconic” really does feel appropriate.

I did worry about the appeal of a 20’s themed album, but the songs are pretty solid for a soundtrack album. It’s a bit of a shock to the system after such a big album as “Like a Prayer”, but of course that’s like comparing apples and oranges. It could all have been a LOT WORSE. And who could have guessed where she was going to end up next?

Keepers for the iPod: Vogue, Something to remember, Now I’m following you (Part 2)

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1 Comment

Filed under Albums, Music, Reviews

One response to “Album: Madonna – “I’m Breathless” (1990)

  1. Pingback: My Madonna Top 40: #40 – 31 | Verbal Diarrhoea

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