Thursday, 2 September 2010

Madonna - The Singles 1982-1990 : Part 4

It’s difficult to explain just how significant Madonna’s 1989 LP “Like A Prayer” was at the time. Before it’s release, Madonna was still seen by the cool kids as being “too pop”, and even though she was the biggest pop star on the planet, many were unconvinced. But “Like A Prayer” changed all that. It was an astonishing record, which pushed the boundaries of what ‘pure pop’ acts were capable of doing. It’s tales of catholic guilt, violent marriage breakups, the death of parents, played against a backdrop of Gospel, Funk, Psychedelia and god knows what else was mind boggling. It sounded like eleven different songs recorded at different times, and then compiled to make a single album, such was the diversity of sounds contained therein. It completely raised the bar as to what pop acts should now be aiming to emulate, and suffice to say, nobody has hit it since - arguably, not even Madonna herself. The next time somebody talks about how great Mariah or Whitney are, play them this record to educate them.

“Like A Prayer” was the final piece in the jigsaw that made Madonna the female David Bowie - somebody who from now on, would leap from genre to genre with each subsequent album, and had now gained the respect of not just the Smash Hits brigade, but the NME and Melody Maker crowd as well - “Like A Prayer” famously got a 10 out of 10 review in the former. In this article, we look at Madonna’s UK single releases from this album, as well as the first from it’s brilliantly baffling follow up, ”I’m Breathless” - the final period of singles that were reissued in Germany on CD in 1995.

Like A Prayer
Made famous by it’s “Black Jesus and Burning Crosses” video, “Like A Prayer” was the first Madonna single to get a release on CD. At the time, in order to differentiate between a CD Single and a CD Album, the single was the first of three to be issued by Warners as a 3” single. However, because the packaging seemed a bit tiny, the singles were all issued in 5” square plastic carrying cases, which kind of defeated the object! The carrying cases were, I think, all issued with a Warners or Sire logo printed on them, although my copy of “Cherish” has no such embellishments.

“Like A Prayer” was remixed numerous times - a sign of what was to come. They weren’t given funny names as per the current remix situation, but were just called things like “12” version” and “12” remix”. In order for the multiple remixes to get a release in the UK, several different formats were issued to give a home to these versions, something that didn’t happen on a regular basis with later singles. The 7” single featured the single mix on the A-side, with “Act Of Contrition” on the flip. This track, which was also used to end the “Like A Prayer” LP, featured the basic backing track of “Like A Prayer” played backwards, with Madonna singing over the top - pairing the two songs either side of a 7” was very clever, and very prog. The cassette single was housed in the same sleeve, but replaced the single mix of the A-side with two extended versions.

The CD was the same as the cassette, but replaced “Act Of Contrition” with the single mix of “Like A Prayer”, and with an altered running order. There were two 12” singles, both of which came in a different sleeve. This sleeve featured a drawing on the cover instead of the Madonna photo - the original drawing incorporated the name of the single into the image, along with Madonna’s initials (MLVC) but not actually Madonna’s name. A slightly shabby “Madonna” sticker was then glued onto the front. The two 12” singles came in different coloured sleeves - the standard edition had the same tracks as the cassette, the “remix” edition offered up three mixes unavailable on any of the other UK formats. Also released was a 12” picture disc, housed in a clear sleeve, playing the same tracks as the cassette, and with the back cover photo of the LP as it’s A-side image. Rather brilliantly, the German 1995 reissue was a double release - with two CD singles issued mirroring the two different UK 12” versions. Good work all round.

Like A Prayer (7” Version)/Act Of Contrition (W7539, 7” in “Praying“ p/s)
Like A Prayer (12” Extended Remix)/(12” Club Version)/Act Of Contrition (W7539C, Cassette in “Praying“ p/s, plays same both sides)
Like A Prayer (7” Version)/(12” Extended Remix)/(12” Club Version) (W7539CD, 3” CD Single)
Like A Prayer (12” Extended Remix)/(12” Club Version)/Act Of Contrition (W7539TP, 12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve)
Like A Prayer (12” Extended Remix)/(12” Club Version)/Act Of Contrition (W7539T, 12” in white p/s)
Like A Prayer (12” Dance Mix)/(Churchapella)/(7” Remix/Edit) (W7539TX, 2nd 12” in mustard p/s)
Like A Prayer (12” Extended Remix)/(12” Club Version)/Act Of Contrition (7599-21189-2, 1st German CD Single in white p/s)
Like A Prayer (12” Dance Mix)/(Churchapella)/(7” Remix/Edit) (7599-21190-2, 2nd German CD Single in mustard p/s)

Express Yourself
One of two of Madonna’s Sly & The Family Stone moments on “Like A Prayer“, with a lyric about female empowerment which has made it one of her more iconic tunes, “Express Yourself” was the first single released after the LP had hit the shelves. It was issued on a bewildering number of formats again, but despite this, at least one remix that appeared on the single in the US failed to get included on any of the UK editions.

There were, not one, but THREE different 7” editions. The basic tracklisting on each was the same - the 7” mix of the A-side, backed with “The Look Of Love”, seemingly plucked at random from the “Who’s That Girl” soundtrack. Some copies of the 7” came in a foldout sleeve, which had a different catalogue number (W2948X), but with the actual labels on the record showing the standard number (W2948). The third version came in the “Jeans Zipper” sleeve - basically, a “Sticky Fingers” style close-up drawing of the crotch area of a pair of jeans, with working zip. These all originally came shrinkwrapped, and featured a different catalogue number (W2948W) but if you opened it, the normal 7” was tucked inside. Sealed copies tend to sell for more than opened editions. The tracks from the 7” also adorned the cassette single.

The 12”, CD and 12” Picture Disc opted for a different track listing - two different mixes of “Express Yourself” - but a third mix called the “Local Mix” remained unavailable in the UK, and still does so today. The German CD Single is the same, but of course, is on 5” and not 3”.

Many Madonna discographies over the years have mentioned a second cassette edition, supposedly playing the tracks from the 12” rather than the 7”, but nobody has ever seen one. It’s quite possible one does exist - after all, some US cassette versions of the single came in a different sleeve (maybe it came in that cover?) and the fact that the “Like A Prayer” cassette opted for extended mixes adds weight to the argument. Don’t hold your breath though.

Express Yourself (7” Remix)/The Look Of Love (W2948, 7”)
Express Yourself (7” Remix)/The Look Of Love (W2948X, 7” in fold out posterbag)
Express Yourself (7” Remix)/The Look Of Love (W2948W, 7” in “Jeans“ outer sleeve)
Express Yourself (7” Remix)/The Look Of Love (W2948C, Cassette, plays same both sides)
Express Yourself (Non Stop Express Mix)/(Stop + Go Dubs) (W2948T, 12”)
Express Yourself (Non Stop Express Mix)/(Stop + Go Dubs) (W2948TP, 12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve)
Express Yourself (Non Stop Express Mix)/(Stop + Go Dubs) (W2948CD, 3” CD Single)
Express Yourself (Non Stop Express Mix)/(Stop + Go Dubs) (W2948CX, 2nd Cassette, possibly withdrawn from sale at time of release, existence unconfirmed)
Express Yourself (Non Stop Express Mix)/(Stop + Go Dubs) (7599-21249-2, German CD Single)

Probably the most “pop” moment on “Like A Prayer”, and the one with the biggest connection to Madonna’s past, “Cherish” was an indescribably sunny song, complete with a summery ’Madonna frolics on beach’ promo video. “Cherish” also came backed with a “new” song, “Supernatural”, a track which gained greater prominence a few years later when a remixed version turned up on the “Red Hot & Dance” compilation LP.

Both tracks, with “Cherish” in a 7” version, appeared on all the formats - the 12”, CD Single and 12” Picture Disc editions added an extended remix of the A-side. Some 12” picture discs were mispressed, and although they played the Madonna songs, the picture on the disc was for a solo single by Fish. Quite whether or not you would want to see an image associated with the ex-Marillion frontman spinning round on your turntable is open to question, so I haven’t listed that edition below. The German CD Single is, again, the same as the 3” original. “Cherish” was the last Madonna single in the UK to be issued on 3”, although this format continued to be popular in Japan for many years thereafter.

Cherish (7” Version)/Supernatural (W2883, 7”)
Cherish (7” Version)/Supernatural (W2883C, Cassette, plays same both sides)
Cherish (Extended Version)/(7” Version)/Supernatural (W2883T, 12”)
Cherish (Extended Version)/(7” Version)/Supernatural (W2883TP, 12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve)
Cherish (7” Version)/(Extended Version)/Supernatural (W2883CD, 3” CD Single)
Cherish (Extended Version)/(7” Version)/Supernatural (7599-21326-2, German CD Single)

Dear Jessie
Madonna’s “Sgt Pepper” moment, “Dear Jessie” was the point at which the promotional campaign for the album veered off in a completely different direction in the UK to the rest of the world. Whilst the mournful “Oh Father” was the next single in the US (not released as an A-side in the UK until 1995), "Dear Jessie" was issued instead in a handful of other countries. An animated video was made, but it’s doubtful if Madonna even knows it exists, given that it’s absent from both the “Immaculate Collection” and “Celebration” video collections. Even the cover of the single is from an old 1987 photoshoot.

The single offered nothing in terms of rarities. Album track “Till Death Do Us Part” appeared on the B-side of all seven formats - the 7”, 7” Picture Disc, 12”, 12” in fold out sleeve, CD Single, Picture CD Single and Cassette. “Holiday” was stuck on the “extended play” formats. The 7” Picture Disc came in a clear sleeve, the first such Madonna release in this format. The CD Singles were both pressed in 5” format, now the industry norm. The Picture CD was done as a limited edition - at the time, the idea of printing a photo on the non-playing side of a CD was seen as a novelty, and so only a small number were made, and are now premium Madonna collectibles. The “normal” version just had the track listing, logo, credits, etc printed in black onto the disc.

There was no real 1995 reissue as such, as the single had not been released in Germany originally - but the Dear Jessie fansite refers to a 1995 pressing showing both the UK catalogue number, and a German catalogue number.

Dear Jessie/Till Death Do Us Part (W2668, 7”)
Dear Jessie/Till Death Do Us Part (W2668P, 7” Picture Disc in clear sleeve)
Dear Jessie/Till Death Do Us Part (W2668C, Cassette, plays same both sides)
Dear Jessie/Till Death Do Us Part/Holiday (W2668T, 12”)
Dear Jessie/Till Death Do Us Part/Holiday (W2668TW, 12” in fold out poster sleeve)
Dear Jessie/Till Death Do Us Part/Holiday (W2668CD, CD Single)
Dear Jessie/Till Death Do Us Part/Holiday (W2668CDX, Picture CD Single)

Keep It Together
The next single that never was in the UK, “Keep It Together” made it as far as being issued as a white label SAM promo - and nothing more. Whether or not a proper release was planned, I don’t know, but it was released in the US. The promo featured what you might call the “extended mixes”, although some of these were actually shorter than the LP version.

The promo, consisting of six mixes, had a running time in the region of 40 minutes, and thus, was pressed at 33rpm, not 45. The tracklisting mirrored that of the US 12”, although the US CD offered a different tracklisting, including a 7” remix of the track. Of these seven mixes, only two have been released in the UK, both as B-sides to Madonna’s next UK single, and the last in this blog, “Vogue”.

Keep It Together (12” Remix)/(Dub)/(12” Extended Remix)/(12” Mix)/(Bonus Beats)/(Instrumental) (SAM641, 12” Promo in die cut sleeve)

I’ll be honest - when I first heard this, I thought it was terrible. After the ‘organic’ sound of “Like A Prayer”, the sound of Madonna singing over a drum machine seemed a backward step. But once you listened to it again and again, the sheer simplicity of it was what proved to be it’s genius.

“Vogue” had started life as a potential B-side - it was planned, at one point, to be used on the flip of “Keep It Together”, but was held over to be released as a single in it’s own right. It’s release coincided with Madonna’s “I’m Breathless” album, her career-suicide style album of 30’s inspired big band show tune music to tie in with her appearance in the “Dick Tracy” movie. The album was an astonishing change of direction post-”Like A Prayer”, and “Vogue” was used to close the record - it seems likely it was stuck on the end simply so it had some sort of home to go to. Although “I’m Breathless” is one of the forgotten albums of the Madonna catalogue, “Vogue” is unquestionably one of her most famous songs.

“Vogue” was the high point of the multi formatting madness that ensued during Madonna’s career, issued on no less than eight, maybe nine, editions. No Madonna single was ever multi-issued this many times again. The sleeve shown above is actually the US one, UK editions were cropped off at the bottom.

The 7” and Cassette featured the 7” mix of the track, with the single remix of “Keep It Together” on the flip, previously unissued in the UK. These tracks also featured on the 7” picture disc, which featured a picture of Madonna ‘Vogueing’. The 12” replaced these versions with extended mixes of both “Vogue” and “Keep It Together”. There was also a 12” picture disc using the picture sleeve cover photo (which, fact fans, dated from the “Express Yourself” video), whilst initial copies of the black vinyl 12” featured a free “Face Of The 80’s” poster. The CD single featured the same tracks. Don’t believe those people who tell you the 12” Picture Disc originally came with a backing insert tucked in behind the vinyl - this so called “insert” was actually a shop display from the time, and was never sold commercially.

Format number eight was a limited edition remix 12”, which replaced “Keep It Together” with the “Strike A Pose Dub” version of “Vogue”. This was a rather academic release, as there were actually two dub mixes of “Vogue” in existence but once again, the second mix remained unissued in the UK. This 12” came with a free “X-rated poster” - but was nothing more than a still from the video where Madonna was wearing a see through top. More of a “12-rated poster” really.

I have heard talk of a ninth format - the remix 12” without the poster. However, I am not sure such a thing exists - it supposedly has the same catalogue number as the poster edition, but this doesn’t tie up with Warners cataloguing system from the time, so I am not sure such a pressing exists.

The German 1995 CD release features the same tracks as the UK CD. It was the first German release to technically replicate a deleted UK edition (both being issued as 5" pressings), and would turn out to be the final reissue in the series.

Vogue (Single Version)/Keep It Together (Single Remix) (W9851, 7”)
Vogue (Single Version)/Keep It Together (Single Remix) (W9851C, Cassette, plays same both sides)
Vogue (Single Version)/Keep It Together (Single Remix) (W9851P, 7” Picture Disc in clear sleeve)
Vogue (12” Version)/Keep It Together (12” Remix) (W9851T, 12”)
Vogue (12” Version)/Keep It Together (12” Remix) (W9851TP, 12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, different photo to 7“ Picture Disc)
Vogue (12” Version)/Keep It Together (12” Remix) (W9851TW, 12” with free poster in stickered sleeve)
Vogue (12” Version)/Keep It Together (12” Remix) (W9851CD, CD Single)
Vogue (12” Version)/(Strike A Pose Dub) (W9851TX, Remix 12” with free “X-rated” poster)
Vogue (12” Version)/Keep It Together (12” Remix) (7599-21544-2, German CD Single)

And that is that. From “Hanky Panky” onwards, there have been no German re-releases, and there remain a sizeable chunk of Madonna mixes not easily available on CD - strange that somebody so famous should have so many rarities “off catalogue”. In future articles, we shall look at Madonna’s UK singles from 1990 onwards whilst identifying what “went missing” when these singles were released.

To conclude, listed below are some of the more important overseas pressings from the period.


Cherish/Cherish (1.139, Spanish 7” Promo in unique p/s)
Dear Jessie/Dear Jessie (1.194, Spanish 7" Promo in unique p/s)
Express Yourself (7" Remix)/Cherish (7" Version) (9 21860-4, US "Backtrax" Cassette Single)
Express Yourself (7" Remix)/The Look Of Love (9 22948-4, US Cassette in unique "logo" p/s)
Keep It Together EP (WPCP-3200, Japanese CD, with 12” mix of “Cherish” and all six tracks from the SAM641 promo)
Keep It Together/Keep It Together (1.247, Spanish 7” Promo in unique p/s)
Keep It Together (Single Remix)/(12" Remix)/(12" Mix)/(12" Extended Mix)/(Instrumental) (9 21427-2, US CD Single)
Like A Prayer (12” Dance Mix)/(Instra Dub)/(Bass Dub)/(12” Club Version)/(Dub Beats)/(7” Remix/Edit) (PRO-A-3472, US 12 Promo in different “praying” p/s)
Oh Father (Edit)/Spanish Eyes (922723-7, French 7” in “Keep It Together” style p/s)
Oh Father (Edit)/Spanish Eyes (9 22723-4, US Cassette Single)
Remixed Prayers (2OP2 2900, Japanese CD EP, includes "Local Mix" of "Express Yourself")
Spanish Eyes/Spanish Eyes (1.225, Spanish only 7" Promo)
Vogue (Single Version)/(Single Version) (1.264, Spanish 7" Promo in unique p/s)
Vogue (Single Version)/(12” Version)/(Bette Davis Dub)/(Strike A Pose Dub) (6WP.2030, Brazilian 12” Promo in unique p/s)
Vogue EP (WPCP 3698, Japanese CD with both dub mixes of "Vogue")
Vogue (Single Version)/Keep It Together (Single Remix) (9 15989-2, US "Backtrax" CD Single)

A future article will also look at the availability (or not) of the promo videos Madonna filmed for these singles. Images of some of the rarities listed above can be found on links from the pages which contain the first three parts of this article.

1 comment:

  1. Amendment time again...the 1995 CD reissue of "Vogue" actually replicates the remix 12", and not the original UK CD Single, by playing the "Strike A Pose" dub as track 2.