Thursday, 1 April 2010

Madonna - The Singles 1982-1990 : Part 1

It seems as though the treatment of an artists' back catalogue is dependent on the label to which they are signed. For artists signed to EMI, it is usually only a matter of time before some sort of singles box set gets released, allowing people to purchase, en masse, every A side and B side that band or singer has released. Blondie, Queen, Coldplay, etc have all benefitted from such a release in recent years.

But if you were signed to Warner Brothers, it's a different story. Despite the fact that Warners was once home to both Prince and Madonna, two of the biggest and best pop stars on the planet, trying to get hold of some of the rarer items in their back catalogue is not that easy. A selection of B-sides and 12" mixes have appeared randomly in recent years in Prince's case, but Madonna really has not been so lucky. Apart from a half hearted attempt to stick a couple of tokenistic 12" mixes onto each of her first three LP's when they were re-released in 2001, most of the material issued on singles since 1982 remains, at present, out of print.

In 1995, the German division of Sire Records, home to Madonna from 1982 until 2010, decided to reissue CD Single editions of Madonna's German singles, covering the period from 1982 to 1990 - "Everybody" to "Vogue". Quite why "Vogue" was chosen as the final release, I have no idea. Presumably, as Madonna's first single of the 90s, it was seen as an iconic and sensible place to stop. In many cases, these releases replicated the US or UK pressings - sometimes both. They provided a useful way of owning long lost alternate mixes that had never appeared on a Madonna album, and although they failed to tick all the boxes (7" mixes, in the main, weren't to be included), at least they made some classic Madonna 12" singles available once again. However, the releases were soon deleted, and now tend to sell for MORE than the vinyl originals...

So, if you want to own "Like A Virgin" on 45, it looks like your best bet is to look around for the original UK single. As a bit of a Madonna obsessive, I spent my student loan and student grant on getting hold of most of Madonna's UK single releases in the early 1990s, so can tell you now about which formats are essential, but also which ones are a bit pointless. Therefore, to dubiously tie in with the CD release of the "Sticky & Sweet" live album (of which no singles are even being released!), this is the first of a 4-part article looking at Madonna's UK singles, and how the German releases compared. For each release, there will be a photo of at least one of the UK formats (any alternate pressings in noticeably different sleeves willl be shown alongside), whilst the German CD sleeve will be shown where it differs from the UK release. For some of the earlier releases, there are some queries over what was issued when, and in what sleeve, so if anybody can spot any errors, you can add comments below. The mini-discographies listed below each "entry" show all the confirmed UK pressings for the edition of that single (subsequent reissues will be listed where appropriate), whilst the CD single release (or releases) are listed thereafter. All releases are on Sire records, unless otherwise stated.

Depending on who you ask, Madonna's debut 45 was either a moderate success in the US - or a mysterious release by an unknown singer. The single, issued in 1982, did reasonable business chart-wise on some of the specialist music charts, and did at least dent the Billboard Top 200. However, when it was first issued, it was housed in a picture sleeve which didn't feature the singer (one of only a handful of picture sleeves issued throughout her career in such a style) and people assumed her to be a black R&B singer. It was only when a video was belatedly produced, that Madonna was revealed to be a white, 20-something brunette, with dyed blonde hair, from Michigan.

Although Madonna was signed to a label who had the potential to release records worldwide (Warner Brothers offshoot Sire), it was not until the end of the year that the UK division of the label got around to releasing the single in Great Britain. They decided that the single needed to be "British-ised", so got sometime-DJ/member of Visage, Rusty Egan, in to remix the song. Egan created short and long vocal mixes, and short and long dub mixes - the short mixes for the 7", the long mixes for the 12". Rather bizarrely, the decision was taken that neither format would be issued in a picture sleeve - despite the fact that UK singles had been routinely issued in "proper covers" since 1977. The single would instead be housed in a generic Warners company sleeve - a black and white striped paper sleeve with the legend '7" Single' for the 7", a card sleeve with the legend '12" Single' for the 12".

The single flopped - minimal promotion, so-so reviews and the lack of an eye-catching sleeve can all be seen to be ingredients towards the single's failure. Furthermore, Madonna reputedly thought little of Egan's mixes which explains why mostly all of them have never re-surfaced on any other Madonna release. Both formats were soon deleted, which meant that when Madonna became a superstar in the years that followed, the increased desire to own this item helped to push it's value upwards. A decade after it's release, both formats were fetching £50 each on the collectors market, but with Madonna as big a star now as she was then, the value of both continues to rise - the scarcity of the mixes and the rarity of the vinyl itself being the contributing factors. Either format has been valued at £100+ for many years now, with a recent 7" copy on Ebay being offered for sale at the £250 mark. It is worth pointing out that NO copies were issued in a yellow Sire sleeve (Wikipedia used to show such an image on it's "Everybody" page) but it's the actual vinyl only that determines the value of this item - you can find the black and white sleeves in any old charity shop as they were used for other Warner's singles that were sometimes reissued without picture sleeves during the 1980s.

The 1995 German reissue was, in theory, based on the US 12". It utilised the same picture sleeve, and was supposed to play the original "5.56 12" Mix" that appeared on the A-side, with a 9-minute long "Dub" mix that had appeared on the flip. However, some, if not all, copies were mispressed, and instead of playing the "5.56" mix, played the shorter "4.57 Album Version", as included on Madonna's 1983 self-titled debut LP. In a strange quirk of fate, when this LP was reissued in 2001, the "4.57" version was replaced by the "5.56" version - making the CD single quite important, given that it is now home to a once common, now rare, "album" mix.

Everybody (Rusty Egan 7" Mix)/(Rusty Egan 7" Dub) (W9899, 7")
Everybody (Rusty Egan 12" Mix)/(Rusty Egan 12" Dub) (W9899T, 12")
Everybody (4.57 Album Version)/(9.23 Dub Mix) (7599-29899-2, German CD Single, "Street Scene" p/s)

Burning Up/Physical Attraction
Quite possibly due to the poor sales of her debut, there was no UK release for this AA-sided single. However, it was issued in most territories, including the US, and as such, a 1995 CD single was released in Germany. Both tracks from the 12" would later appear on Madonna's debut LP - "Physical Attraction" appeared on the LP in exactly the same form, but a totally different version of "Burning Up" was used for the album, instead of the version that graced all the 12" versions worldwide. "Burning Up" was the recipient of a video, and a heavily edited version of the 12" mix was created to accompany it, stripping a good two minutes off the original version (often referred to as "The Video Mix").

When Madonna's debut LP was reissued as "The First Album" in 1985, CD pressings replaced the existing album mix with the "Video Mix", although LP and Cassette pressings stuck with the original running order. The 2001 reissue saw the "Video Mix" still included, with the 12" Mix now added as a bonus track towards the end of the CD. The German reissue mirrors the US 12" exactly, in terms of both artwork and tracklisting.

Burning Up (12" Mix)/Physical Attraction (7599-29715-2, German CD Single)

Lucky Star
Madonna's first UK single to enter the charts - charting at a not-too-spectacular number 186 or something similar. "Lucky Star" did a lot better when it was reissued in 1984 (details of that release below), when it was housed in a different sleeve. The same basic catalogue number was used for both pressings, so original releases are referred to as appearing in the "Sunglasses" sleeve, because it features a picture of Madonna peering over a pair of - yes - sunglasses.

The 1983 release is the subject of much myth and conjecture - different people will advise on there being anything from two to five different formats. And at the risk of sticking my neck out, I am of the opinion that only two were issued. The one format that DOES exist is the 12" - nothing unusual music wise, with album mixes of album tracks on either side, but the scarcity of the single is such that you are unlikely to pick up a copy at any less than £40. There are rumours that initial copies came with a free poster, and in a suitably stickered picture sleeve, but I have never seen one of these offered for sale so it's existence is questionable.

The other format is the 7". When released, it featured a genuine rarity by including an edited mix of the A-side, but this is not the reason why this format is so collectable (the "Edit" mix appeared on the 1984 reissue). When Record Collector ran a "Top 200 Rarities" feature in 1991, the "Sunglasses" 7" was not even mentioned, but as the years passed, there was the realisation that this single was never appearing on the collectors market, and it soon became apparent that the reason for this was simple - there were very few in existence. The 7" is so rare, that when copies do surface, we are talking auction house prices. But I am not sure why so few copies exist. One can only assume it was withdrawn from sale, but as to why? It's not like the picture sleeve was controversial, or that the single had an uncleared sample, it just seems that very few copies were pressed.

Not mentioned here is the "US Remix" 12" - it does exist, but despite reports to the contrary, it was not released until 1984. More details later. The German CD reissue of this single was based around the 1984 release, so is not mentioned here.

Lucky Star (Edit)/I Know It (W9522, 7")
Lucky Star/I Know It (W9522T, 12", initial copies rumoured to include poster but existence unconfirmed)

Another single subject to much rumour - strange considering it was a huge hit, Madonna's first UK Top 10. But, as someone who had not discovered Madonna at the time, I can only try to piece together the evidence to try and explain which of the two sleeves above appeared in the UK at the time.

"Holiday" appeared on both 7" and 12". The 7" was, like "Lucky Star", of more interest, as it was home to an edited mix of the A-side. The 12", once more, feaured album mixes of both the A and B sides. Partly this was due to the fact that the "Madonna" LP seemed to have been created with the clubs in mind, with many of the songs coming in at five or six minutes in length, meaning the tracks had to be edited for radio. The 12" came in what is referred to as the "Train" sleeve - a photograph of a couple in front of a Steam Locomotive. Although "Holiday" was a hit, the 12" has at times been offered for sale at £25 on the collecting scene - because it was a UK only sleeve, the price seems to have been hiked up because of interest from foreign collectors.

For many years, the assumption was that the 7" was housed in the same sleeve. But once UK copies began to surface in a picture sleeve with Madonna on the cover, similar to releases from across Europe, it was then assumed that the 7" copies were not housed in the "Train" sleeve, but in the "Red Border" sleeve as pictured above. 7" pressings in the "Train" sleeve did exist, but as "Holiday" was reissued in 1985, the consensus was that the 1985 reissues on 7" used the "Train" photo. The 1985 12" was housed in what collectors call the "Cross Earring" sleeve, and as there was no accompanying 7" in that style, this seemed a feasible story.

Here is where it gets confusing. The "Cross Earring" sleeve used the same basic catalogue number, and the same track listing. As such, the rear of the sleeve showed two dates - a publishing date of 1983, and a copyright date of 1985. However, the "Train" 7" does no such thing - I would assume that if this pressing had been made purely for the reissue, it too would have had a 1983/1985 date pairing on the sleeve. And none of them do.

What often gets overlooked is this - when "Borderline" was issued in 1984, a small number were shrinkwrapped with a free "Holiday" 7". I believe that the freebie version was pressed especially for this release, and used the "Red Border" sleeve. In the early 90s, when I spent many months buying the UK singles, I couldn't move for the amount of "Train" sleeve 7"'s I kept coming across, but found very few "Red Border" pressings. Surely a single that hit the top 10 would be easier to track down on any format than this? I am therefore of the belief that the "Train" sleeve WAS used for the 7" and 12", and that the UK "Red Border" pressing is actually the special "Borderline" pressing. I could be wrong, so I would be grateful if anybody can confirm what sleeve this single came in when they bought in 27 years ago!

The German reissue, based as it is on the original German 7" release, thus appears in the "Red Border" sleeve - but the track listing is based on the German 12" version, not the UK 12" - and thus features "Lucky Star" as the B-side, and not "Think Of Me". German 12" releases are also worth looking out for, as they were issued in a sleeve which had a light blue border around the edge - imagine putting the "Red Border" 7" on a piece of 12" square blue card, then taking a photo of it. Voila!

Holiday (Edit)/Think Of Me (W9405, 7")
Holiday/Think Of Me (W9405T, 12")
Holiday/Lucky Star (7599-20176-2, German CD Reissue, "Red Border" p/s)

Lucky Star
The first (but not the last) Madonna 45 to get a reissue in the UK - and whilst not quite repeating the success of "Holiday", still sold enough copies to get into the top 20, and thus ensure copies are not too hard to find. The picture sleeve of this release is referred to as the "TV Screen" sleeve, because the 12" was housed in a sleeve featuring a picture of Madonna on a TV screen. Obvious really. The 7" also gets referred to by some (well, me at least) as the "TV Screen" sleeve, but actually features the same photo of Madonna inside a "Spangly" blue border and doesn't show a TV set at all!

The reissue featured the same basic format/catalogue number as the 1983 pressing - edited mix of the A-side on the 7", album versions on the 12", but this time around, initial copies of the 12" DID come with a free poster, and a suitably sickered picture sleeve. The "US Remix" 12" was the new format this time around. It has often been claimed that the "US Remix" pressing was released in both 1983 and 1984, and that the only way to tell them apart was by looking at what dates were shown on the label. Well, here are some facts to blow that claim out of the water:

1) It was claimed that the first pressing showed a 1983 date on the labels on both sides of the vinyl, and that reissues showed 1984 on both sides. However, my copy shows 1984 on the A-side, and 1983 on the B-side. So there are either three versions of this single, or (up to) three variants of one version. I think it's the latter. In regards to my copy of this single, the date used on the label is the date that song or mix of that song was first RELEASED in the UK.

2) The title of the remix, "US Remix", refers to the fact that when "Lucky Star" was first issued in the UK in 83, the longest version of the track released at the time in the UK was the album version. The title "US Remix" refers to the fact that this mix surfaced in the US just after "Lucky Star" was first released in the UK. Another giveaway is that this mix sometimes gets referred to as the "New Mix", which again suggests it was done "at a later date".

3) Just look at the two sleeves above. See that chunky Madonna logo? It's the same on both 12" editions. Now, if (as I am told) this single was issued in 1983 with this logo, why would the same logo have not been used on the "Sunglasses" sleeve but re-introduced for the reissue? Seems unlikely.

Other rumours surrounding this release are that it was a promo (despite the fact there is no mention of it being "not for sale" anywhere on the sleeve or label), and that some copies had a free poster tucked inside. Neither are true. The "TV" suffix used for this edition of the single denotes it being a special "limited edition" black vinyl remix pressing, nothing more, nothing less.

And as for the German reissue? Confusingly, it looks the same as the UK 12", but features the tracklisting of the "US Remix" pressing!

Lucky Star (Edit)/I Know It (W9522, 7", "TV Screen" p/s)
Lucky Star/I Know It (W9522T, 12", "TV Screen" p/s, initial copies with free poster)
Lucky Star (US Remix)/I Know It (W9522TV, 12", white die cut sleeve with "Madonna" logo sticker)
Lucky Star (US Remix)/I Know It (7599-20149-2, German CD Single, "TV Screen" p/s)

Madonna's last single from the first LP (not counting the reissues in 1985, 86 and 91) - and briefly back to the days of releasing a "flop" 45, with single stalling outside the top 50. However, I never had too much trouble tracking down the 7" and 12" editions of this pressing, as it seems the value has been kept down by the fact that the 1986 reissue used not only the same tracklisting and same catalogue numbers, but also the same front cover. There are differences on the rear cover between the 84 and 86 editions, and there are various ways of spotting the difference - the easiest way is to look at how Madonna's debut LP is mentioned...the 1986 reissue refers to "The First Album", the original simply as "Madonna".

The 7" featured a 7" remix of the A-side, and a heavily edited version of "Physical Attraction" on the B-side, which simply fades out halfway through. This mix had previously appeared on the B-side of the "Burning Up" 7" in countries where that 45 was actually released, including Japan. The 12" replaces the 7" remix of "Borderline" with 12" and Dub mixes, and the LP version of "Physical Attraction" replaces the "short" version.

The crown jewels, however, is the rarely seen 7" doublepack - a shrink wrapped set containing a "Borderline" 7" and "Holiday" 7" in individual sleeves. Few of these were pressed, and it seems few have remained in mint condition - none ever seem to come up for sale which suggests either most people who bought them have kept them, or people ripped off the shrink wrap, and stored the two singles as separate entities. As mentioned in the "Holiday" section above, it looks likely that "Borderline" 7"'s and 'Red Border' "Holiday" 7"'s have, over the years, been offered for sale individually having once been part of the double pack pressing.

The German CD, again, is mispressed. Despite promising to play the "Dub" mix of "Borderline", the LP version appears on the CD single instead - making the UK 12" an essential buy.

Borderline (7" Remix)/Physical Attraction (Edit) (W9260, 7")
Borderline (7" Remix)/Physical Attraction (Edit)/Holiday (Edit)/Think Of Me (W9260F, 2x7", stickered p/s)
Borderline (US Remix)/(Dub Remix)/Physical Attraction (W9260T, 12")
Borderline (LP Version)/(US Remix)/Physical Attraction (7599-20218-2, German CD Single)

The July 2010 blog will continue with the second part of this article, concentrating on Madonna's single releases between the tail end of 1984 and the start of 1986 - the "Like A Virgin" period. To conclude this part of the discography, below are listed a selected number of other notable releases from the period from outside of the UK - the items listed were either housed in different picture sleeves, or feature mixes never issued in the UK. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but does reflect that, in terms of remixes, only a few failed to get issued in the UK when Madonna started her career - the polar opposite of what happens now, where a seemingly never-ending list of promos throw up mixes unavailable on standard singles.


Everybody (3.58 7" Edit)/(Instrumental) (929899-7, French 7", neither mix released in UK, "Street Scene" p/s)
Everybody (5.56 12" Mix)/(Dub Remix) (9 29899-0, US 12", A-side mix not released in UK until 2001, "Street Scene" p/s)
Borderline (US Remix)/(Instrumental) (PRO A 2120, US Promo 12", unique p/s, "Instrumental" never commercially released anywhere)
Borderline (US Remix)/Lucky Star (US Remix) (9 20212-0, US 12", diff p/s to UK release)
Lucky Star (US Remix)/Borderline (US Remix) (7599 21139 2, German CD Single from circa 1988, unique p/s, issued as both 3" and 5")
Holiday/Everybody (5.56 12" Mix) (7599 21140 2, German CD Single from circa 1988, unique p/s, issued as both 3" and 5")
Holiday (Edit)/Borderline (7" Remix) (9 00494-4, US "Backtrax" reissue single, late 80s, believed to have been issued in various different coloured sleeves)

Further reading:
The Dear Jessie UK discography site:
Madonna Collector: