Madonna: The rest of the 80s

Well, if you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know now that I’ve reviewed all of Madonna’s studio albums. You can check them all out by clicking “Music” at the top, or just clicking this link, then look for the “Back Catalogue” section.

But Madonna had a pretty varied career outside of her studio albums too. The 80s weren’t nearly as big a source of these other tracks as the 90s were, but they deserve a mention all the same.

The 80s saw two spin-off albums, the first was the soundtrack to lame screwball comedy “Who’s that girl?” for which she contributed four tracks. The second was non-stop remix album “You can dance”, cashing in on her rapid rise to fame by giving the old hits another airing, along with one new song.

Who’s That Girl?

OK time to have a look at Who’s That Girl’s soundtrack then. Almost certainly my least-played Madonna CD.

Did anyone see the movie? I picked it up for £3 in Tesco on DVD and was largely UNMOVED. I think it was alright but I quickly got rid of it again so it can’t have made much of an impression. At least she managed ONE good movie (and no it wasn’t Swept Away). Maybe one and a half (I stupidly thought “The Next Best Thing” was alright too). Actually two and a half, I quite liked “Evita”. BUT I DIGRESS.

08 Who’s that girl – Mysterious lack of question-marks aside, I do rather like this. It’s definitely one of her lost No.1s, not appearing on any ‘proper’ Madonna albums, including the “Immaculate Collection”, I wonder why she doesn’t like it? Happily it is on the 2CD version of “Celebration”. I digress, musically not far from “True Blue” (the album) which is a great thing naturally, it’s a more Americanised “La Isla Bonita” I think. Cute video, it’s a nice song, probably helped by it being a bit of an unknown.

06 Causing a commotion – I detect a bit of a fanbase for this one, but I’m not really a member of it. While I was happy for “Who’s that girl” to be a single, this song definitely just feels like a “True Blue” album track. I ended up twiddling my thumbs waiting for it to end. I like the instrumental breakdown, and winced at the “Into the groove” line, but she’s always been a keen recycler hasn’t she?

07 The look of love – I knew OF this song, but I certainly couldn’t remember it. It’s pretty good though. It doesn’t stand up so well coming after “Crazy for you” and “Live to tell” in her canon, but I like it. I love the backing, it all fits together quite nicely. It’s a good 3-minute song that has been unfortunately drawn out to four minutes.

07 Can’t Stop – Again, I can’t really think of MUCH to say against it, but it’s a bit like these four tracks were just leftovers from previous albums. This one would have been trimmed from “Like a Virgin”, it just feels a bit flimsy. It’s alright.

This would be a pretty short CD if it was only Madonna’s tracks, so ‘fortunately’ we have the rest of a soundtrack to wade through from a slurry of other 80s acts I’ve never heard of (except maybe Scritti Politti). Together it’s a bit of a hot mess of people I’ve never heard of singing songs that I wish I’d never heard.

El Coco Loco lives up to its bracketed title (So So Bad), a disgusting pile of salsa that I don’t care to hear ever again. In contrast, Scritti Politti’s Best Thing Ever fails to live up to its title, a rather cacky pop DITTY, I’m not sure what it’s trying to sound like, but evidently nothing too substantial.

Step by Step is pretty dreadful too, rather awful fake-sax squelching. Is it supposed to be like Prince or something? Why would anyone want to listen to this? 24 Hours by whoever Duncan Faure is… hmm well it’s an improvement on the previous three at least. It’s not great but I could imagine it as a montage soundtrack, which I suppose is the point of a lot of these songs.

Finally, trying to end on a high note, Turn it up starts off rather well, it a bit of a SAW-tastic 80s fest (I know it was the 80s so that shouldn’t be so unexpected). Shades of Human League in the vocals maybe, and a proper chorus too! This is a comparative TREAT. Yo-y-y-y-y-y-yo. But it’s over. Thank God.

With that out of the way, let’s look at “You can dance”, Madonna’s first remix album. Perhaps there was an element of desperation after the massive hit campaign of “True Blue”, that Madonna couldn’t keep up the momentum between albums. “Like a Prayer” was released three years after “True Blue”, and that’s a lot of time to fill! So “Who’s that girl” came out in summer 1987, with “You can dance” a few months behind.

08 Spotlight – Well it might be the only new track on here, and perhaps not worth buying the whole album for, but all-in-all it’s pretty decent. A bit of a re-tread of previous dance-themed songs, and sounding a lot like Doctor Beat (not a bad thing). Pretty throwaway but I like it.

I will just comment generally on the rest as I’ve been over all these tracks before. I suppose the best thing is that all ten tracks are spun out for at least 6 minutes each but rarely outstay their welcome, not an easy job.

As you will gather from previous reviews, some of the tracks aren’t exactly my favourites (“Physical Attraction” and “Over & Over”). But for those tracks there are at least two nuggets of solid gold. Having said that, I was delighted to hear “Spotlight” segue into “Holiday” but after 4 minutes of it I was rather bored. Still, always nice to hear “Everybody” in the mix.

Actually I’m going to take back what I said about the songs not feeling drawn out, so far they ALL HAVE a bit. I think I prefer them all on their parent albums at the moment. Oddly “Physical Attraction” is rather good in its extended version, though I had never really been a big fan of it before.

NOT sure about that cm-cm-cccmm-cmmccm intro to “Into the Groove”, actually it’s pretty ANNOYING. Which is a bit of a travesty when it’s happening to a towering classic like “Into the groove”. “Where’s the Party” is treated more kindly, I love that song… The dub versions are a bit SUPERFLUOUS bit not really that bad.

ALL IN ALL, I’d rather put this on than Who’s that girl at least. It’s a decent collection, even if it’s not something you want to be focusing on as some of the songs are just TOO LONG.


1 Comment

Filed under Music, Reviews

One response to “Madonna: The rest of the 80s

  1. Pingback: My Madonna Top 40: #30 – 21 | Verbal Diarrhoea

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