dirty martini

old music for new people

madonna should have retired in the 80s July 23, 2008

i’m updating this post as the download link expired.

i’m not even going to pretend or aspire to a real appreciation of anything that madonna did after 1989.

at the start of her career, madonna represented a backlash against society. it was punk for people who didn’t like punk music. madonna swore, acted stupid and girly, married a bad boy and wore what the hell she liked.

for me, things started to go downhill when she tried to morph into marilyn monroe for her true blue album in 1986. by the end of the decade she was making good music but the controversy she incited was planned, not accidental. the religion baiting ‘like a prayer’ was pepsi endorsed , ‘justify my love’ had a full length video by jean baptiste-mondino. there was none of the grit left of a girl who worked in dunkin’ donuts to support herself while she recorded a demo.

we loved the electric, synthesised beats, raw vocals and a unique style. we don’t need to see madonna in jean paul gaultier or d&g, anyone with money can wear those labels. messy dirty blonde hair, stretch lace, ripped tshirts and leggings – all of these were her signature style but after desperately seeking susan she seemed to distance herself from the very image that made her.

if madonna had retired almost twenty years ago in 1989, and lets face it she could afford to have done, would her legacy be greater? the erotica phase was an embarrassment, the little girls who had idolised her were rapidly growing into young adults and didn’t need to see their childhood inspiration acting like a depraved teenager. the whole kabbalah thing is a joke, and the marriage to guy ritche makes her seem more likeable, which was never the point of madonna.

the only songs i have really liked from madonna post-dick tracy have been ‘deeper and deeper’, ‘take a bow’ and ‘don’t tell me’. but i could have lived without them. and then – i contradicted myself by listing ten songs by madonna post-gambler that i don’t hate

download madonna originals here

get up

very early 80s pop, almost post-disco soul with a blondie inspired copycat rap at the end. possibly penned as an ode to her time in new york pre-fame. its a long way from this to abba-sampling on ‘hung up’. now that was something i never expected…

crimes of passion

could have fitted easily into ‘like a virgin’ but wasn’t really dancey enough for her debut i suppose. if this had been leaked in 1985 we’d have been in raptures.

don’t you know

this song, recorded in 1981 along with ‘stay’ amongst others, was eventually incorporated into the version of ‘stay’ on the ‘like a virgin’ album. i like this demo, it’s bouncier and has nice zaps and bleeps.

ain’t no big deal

recorded to be madonna’s first single, but left off the album entirely due to a dispute with ex-boyfriend stephen bray, but later rerecorded and used as a b-side.

lucky star – original 12″ mix

posted in its full glory as you can’t have too much ‘lucky star’. one of my favourites and deceptively child friendly which is probably why my parents let me buy it. i wasn’t allowed to dress like she did in the video though. 


we didn’t hear this until the ‘you can dance’ remix album in 1987, but it was recorded for the ‘true blue’ album. of course these days it would leak along with the album. makes you wonder what else exists. back then we literally only heard what artists wanted us to.

burning up – original uk version

when i bought ‘the first album’ on cd i was confused. i thought i remembered ‘burning up’ being better, and dancier, than this. it seems in the US and rest of the world, they used a guitar driven mix that I’d never heard. on the UK tape version, we had what was apparently used on only early vinyl copies. its so much better. but the demo version, which i recently discovered, is nice and sparkly, rather than grungey, as well.

physical attraction

i love the bleepy almost aquatic sound to this track. or maybe its because i got back from swimming on the day i was bought ‘the first album’ as an early birthday present and that’s just the association i’m making…this is the full album version cos i love the spoken bit in the middle. i was too young to understand or appreciate the sentiment.

borderline – first album version

again, the version those of us in the UK will be most familiar with as it was on our version of ‘the first album’. i really love this song, more so now.

gambler – dance remix

many people seem to forget about this track as unless you were going to buy the ‘vision quest’ soundtrack, and let’s face it no one was, you could only get this on vinyl. but it’s madonna at her best, the exact reason why we loved her and parents didn’t. at the point this was released, madonna could have sneezed and gone top 10.

crazy for you – soundtrack version

the perennial end-of-the-disco favourite. this song, along with ‘into the groove’ and ‘holiday’ was in the top 10 for most of the summer in 1985 and i played them incessantly. i was in my first year at junior school and madonna was like nothing else we’d seen before. this version goes on a bit longer than the single version i had, i think that’s the only difference

into the groove – original version

it took a while for me to realise that the version on the ‘immaculate collection’ is not the original. its obviously different, and utter crap, but we weren’t so finely tuned to recognise remixes back then. anyway, once i realised, i got rid, and replaced it with this far superior original. shep pettibone should be ashamed of himself.

dress you up – formal mix

this is a very 80s 12″ – ie. a bit longer, some extra beats, a few sound effects. its appeal has been tarnished somewhat by featuring in a gap ad but don’t let that put you off.

angel – 12″ mix

another very 80s 12″, but this one provides some much needed oomph, much as i loved the original.


8 Responses to “madonna should have retired in the 80s”

  1. Athena Says:

    I am a big Madonna fan and I loved your article. Thanks for the frank opinion and the accessibility of the songs. I must say Madonna ,in her own way, has always been a sell out. There is no way she would ever retire after such early success. The punky young girl was destined to turn into what she is today, unfortunately for all of us.

  2. AAg Says:

    I honestly never got it about her. She wasn’t punk! She wasn’t even a good pseudo version of punk. She was pop, bubble gum and a girl who had nothing but naked ambition.

    Truly, I thought that everything she did set the women’s movement back 20 years. Woman as sex toy, wow, now that’s a new take on female power! Then, now and at the beginning of time they call that the worlds oldest profession! I guess some women enjoy that, but it would be nice if they listed to us talk while staring at our tits! She only added to the situation.

    And the fact that she made a fortune at it only adds to the real picture; she sold cheap images and fantasies to add to her own bottom line – never mind what it did to the young girls who idolized her. There are a lot of girls who went around dressed like her who ended up on hooker row – since that’s all they were qualified for. Sheesh, at least she cleaned up the look a bit later on. If you’re gonna be a call-girl, at least look like an expensive one.

  3. […] It is Kimberly’s all-time favorite lounge ever. She was JAMMING to the songs of Madonna and several other songs I was hearing for the first time. She bought me two coronas, I love you. […]

  4. […] ‘taken any notice of anything madonna did since the early 80s, when she was popular’. well i have my thoughts on the exact time and place madonna should have taken a bow, but come on, you can’t ignore the leotard loving […]

  5. […] – about six months ago i wrote a post saying that madonna should have retired in the 80s, before the true blue phase, leaving our memories […]

  6. Mike Says:

    “Eh!” That’s my response to your article. You are of course entitled to your opinion and feelings. …Whatever it is they are exactly. I feel that you’re fixated on this era of Madonna’s career. You don’t last this long by just “acting stupid and girly.” This era era one of my favorite as it’s the original, but liking or hating anything she did after that has nothing to do with the fact that this is a brilliant woman who is in love with art and wants to keep moving forward, who is pretty brilliant as a marketer (even if only that to those who would argue, so what?), arguably the most brilliant of performers (let’s not pretend she didn’t break almost every record there was with her last tour at age 47), among other things. There will always be people who don’t have to pretend that they enjoy what she did after the Virgin era. Perhaps…I’m sorry she didn’t stay in one place because 1 or 2 people wanted her to. With all due respect for the brilliant Cyndi Lauper, Madonna wouldn’t have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame staying in one place. That is not to discredit the brilliance of Cyndi, but…yeah…Madonna is Madonna. No more, no less, no need to say anymore.

  7. chemara123 Says:

    Just follow demands and supplies. Music industry is such a market driven and as long as fans want her…why we need to be vile?

  8. ali Says:

    get on http://www.madonnacelebs.com for her “the early years” compilation of great music. I can listen to it all the way through and press repeat and hear it again and again. i goes from her grungy early city grit stuff, to very no wave/ new wave and I love “I want you” the 1st version number 14 on the album. it is very 50’s, current yet very new wave. It is a great buy. I love it.

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