Sunday, 18 November 2012

Madonna: You Can Dance

“I hate megamixes”, Madonna barked in an early period interview. And so in 1987 she gave the go-ahead for her own megamix album, “You Can Dance”.

Oh, I’m just being a bit cheeky. What Madonna was referring to was those Stars On 45 jobs, where you got a verse and a chorus of a hit single, then it segued into another, and so on, and so forth, so you got 14 “songs” in 3 minutes. “You Can Dance” was Madonna’s gift to the disco world, a remix album ’for the fans’, an album consisting of two lengthy continuous mixes of Madonna tunes, to give you the impression you was in a club that played nothing but Madonna music. Madonna had become aware of the growing remix trend, and was keen to experiment with the format, allowing some of her closest buddies to re-work some of the old songs for this LP. Although the timing of it’s release was possibly a bit cynical - November 1987, just in time for the Christmas market - the album was not a quick cash in job, and although it can sound rather quaint now compared to some remix albums, where little gets left of the original songs once the remixers have had their hands on them, many people will tell you that it is an important cog in the Madonna machine.

The theory behind the album was that Madonna, when she had started, was an “Underground“ New York dance music queen. But “Like A Virgin” and “True Blue” had turned her into a megastar. It wasn’t quite that she had sold out, but that she now belonged to the public. The disco indebted debut LP had been followed by a pair of pure pop outings, and “You Can Dance” was designed to take Madonna back to her roots, taking some of the big pop hits, and reworking them for the club crowd.

Even before plans for this album were hatched, 1987 had been quite a busy year for Ms Ciccone. The fifth and final single from “True Blue”, “La Isla Bonita”, had been another number 1 single in the UK, and she had set off on her first World Tour, making her first “proper” live UK debut at Roundhay Park in Leeds on August 15th. The “Who’s That Girl” tour took it’s name from the movie of the same name, for which a soundtrack LP, overseen by Madonna herself, was issued in the summer of 1987.

“Who’s That Girl” has long been listed in Madonna discographies, even though it is clearly a compilation release. Of the nine songs on the record, Madonna only sings four of them, with a mixture of other acts filling up the rest of the LP. But helped in part by Madonna’s name and image being all over the cover, and the fact that some of the material remains exclusive to the album to this very day, it’s long been considered an “essential” part of the back catalogue. Although the title track was issued as a single worldwide, the remaining three songs are not easily available in their LP form elsewhere - “Causing A Commotion” was remixed for single release, “The Look Of Love” was issued in the UK and France, but not the US, whilst the final song, “Can’t Stop”, is unavailable anywhere in any form apart from on the LP.

Although “You Can Dance” was allocated a catalogue number that would have placed it mid-way release date wise slap bang between “True Blue” and “Who’s That Girl”, I understand that no work on the album began until the summer of 1987. The album was to include seven Madonna songs - six oldies and a new one, “Spotlight”, taped during the “True Blue” sessions but left unreleased because it apparently sounded too much like “Holiday”. I say oldies, rather than hits, because although most of the songs on here had been issued as singles somewhere in the world, they were rather obscure. So you got “Holiday” and “Into The Groove”, but you also got the likes of “Over And Over” and “Where’s The Party”, neither issued as singles in the UK or US.

Six of the seven songs were to be remixed for the project, but not, as you might have expected, the six oldies. Instead, “Spotlight” was to be given a revamp - the unreleased version had lasted about four minutes in length, and so it was to be given the 12” treatment for the LP. Instead, it was 1983’s “Physical Attraction” that was to remain unblemished for the album. The only concession, of course, was that as this song was to be part of a continuous mix, the opening bars of the song would sound different to the version on the “Madonna” LP, but once it was underway, production wise, it would sound identical to the original album mix.

Vinyl was still king in 1987, which explains why two mixes, rather than one, were to be created from the seven songs. Madonna would eventually get to do a “single” continuous mix album with the UK CD edition of “Confessions On A Dance Floor”, some eighteen years later. In addition to this, of the six songs being reworked for the project, five were also to be remixed in “Dub” form, these mixes being made to be spread across the CD and Cassette formats as bonus tracks. Quite why no dub mix of “Everybody” was made, I have no idea, as there would have been enough space on the CD edition of the album to squeeze it on.

In the USA, three consecutively catalogued promo only 12” singles were released, each housed in their own unique picture sleeves. Each promo coupled together two of the six reworked tracks, with the mixes of “Where’s The Party” and “Spotlight” on one, “Into The Groove” and “Everybody” on another, and “Holiday” and “Over And Over” on the third. These promos have long been amongst the most interesting of all Madonna releases, as the extended mixes on the promos were the full, unedited, remixes - each would have the start, ending, or both chopped off when it came to sequencing them into the “continuous mix” format on the LP. With no “Dub” mix of “Everybody” being made, this meant the second promo had just three, rather than four, tracks. Unfortunately, some of the “Where’s The Party”/”Spotlight” promos were mispressed, with numerous copies skipping midway through the 12” mix of the latter.

Also highly desirable is the “You Can Dance - Single Edits” promo, issued on both vinyl and CD. This contained edited mixes of all seven tracks (the edit of “Physical Attraction” was the original US 7” Edit from 83, the rest were edits of the 1987 revamps), the idea being that if any singles were to be lifted from the LP, then these were the mixes to be used. In the end, only two of the six new edits surfaced commercially, when the “Single Edit” mixes of “Spotlight” and “Where’s The Party” adorned either side of a Japanese 45 issued in early 1988. The vinyl version of the “Single Edits” promo comes in a different sleeve to the CD, the latter was housed in the same basic cover that was to be used for the regular album.

The commercially released vinyl edition of “You Can Dance” featured sleeve notes that were printed on a wrap-around sash on the outer sleeve of the LP that was quite easily damageable. Indeed, the barcode printed on the back of the sash was also printed on the actual back of the sleeve, just in case any went missing whilst they were still in the shops. A select number featured a free poster as well, complete with a suitably stickered front cover.

The Cassette and CD editions featured different bonus dub mixes, the first Madonna album to deliberately be released to try and get punters to buy it twice. The Cassette featured dub mixes of “Spotlight” and “Holiday” at the end of side 1, and “Over and Over” and “Into The Groove” at the end of side 2. On the CD, the two continuous mixes came first, followed then by the dub mixes of “Holiday”, “Into The Groove” and “Where’s The Party”.

“You Can Dance” did quite well for what was not really a proper Madonna LP, hitting the top 5 in the UK. As has been mentioned on this site before, a 4 track White Label 12” was issued as a promo to coincide, which played the four dub mixes that were on the Cassette version of the album. “Spotlight” was issued as the sole single in Japan early the following year, but that was pretty much it. Once out, promotion for the album pretty much ended, and 1988 became the year when Madonna mostly focused on things other than music - doing “Speed The Plow” on Broadway, filming the little seen “Bloodhounds Of Broadway” - only the VHS release of “Ciao Italia”, documenting the “Who’s That Girl” tour, provided Madonna fans with “new” music in 1988.

As has also been mentioned on this site, the album was briefly revisited by the UK arm of Sire in 1991, when the album was used to source B-sides for some of the singles released from “The Immaculate Collection” - the remix of “Into The Groove” turned up on extended play editions of “Crazy For You”, and “Spotlight” was on the 7”, Cassette and CD versions of “Rescue Me”, and in both instances, the mixes were altered for these singles by simply fading out as they came to an end. It would have made more sense to use the unedited mixes from the original US promos, but it is really no surprise to see the record company not bothering to do this, and these edited remixes therefore remain exclusive to these single releases.

Being a remix album, “You Can Dance” has generally been left to fend for its self these past 25 years. The EU wide vinyl releases of Madonna’s earlier LP releases this year ignored the record, whilst the “Complete Studio” albums boxset concentrated purely on ‘proper’ albums. It is still possible to get CD copies of the record, which are technically the same edition as that which came out in 1987. “You Can Dance” did get a bit of a second lease of life in 2001, when - alongside the expanded reissues of Madonna’s first three long players - some countries reissued the album with a “Drowned World” sticker, as featured on the expanded reissues, but apart from that, that’s just about it.


As this blog forms the next part of our long winded, drawn out look at Madonna’s UK LP’s, I have initially listed below the three versions of the LP made available in the UK at the end of 1987. I have also listed the most important of the promo and commercially released related singles from the UK, US and Japan. Aside from the 4 track “Spotlight” white label 12”, the most famous other release related to this record is the “promo only” picture disc issued in some countries with a “PRO-MAD-1” catalogue number. Long rumoured to be a bootleg, various German journalists have since claimed that they received copies from Sire in the run up to the original release of the album.


You Can Dance (LP, Sire WX 76, initial copies with free poster in stickered p/s, all with obi)
You Can Dance (Cassette, Sire WX 76 C, with four bonus tracks)
You Can Dance (CD, Sire 7599 25535 2, with three bonus tracks, including “Where‘s The Party (Dub)”)


Where’s The Party (Unedited Remix)/(Dub)/Spotlight (Unedited Remix)/(Dub) (12”, Sire PRO-A-2905)
Into The Groove (Unedited Remix)/(Dub)/Everybody (Unedited Remix) (12”, Sire PRO-A-2906)
Holiday (Unedited Remix)/(Dub)/Over And Over (Unedited Remix)/(Dub) (12”, Sire PRO-A-2907)
You Can Dance - Single Edits (LP, Sire PRO-A-2892)
You Can Dance - Single Edits (CD, Sire PRO-CD-2892, diff p/s)


Spotlight (Single Edit)/Where’s The Party (Single Edit) (Japanese 7”, Sire P-2348)
Spotlight (Single Edit)/Where’s The Party (Single Edit) (Japanese 3” CD, Sire 10SW-21)
Crazy For You (Remix)/Keep It Together (12” Remix)/Into The Groove (Shep Pettibone Remix Edit) (12”, Sire W 0008 T)
Crazy For You (Remix)/Keep It Together (12” Remix)/Into The Groove (Shep Pettibone Remix Edit) (CD, Sire W 0008 CD)
Rescue Me (7” Mix)/Spotlight (Fade) (7”, Sire W 00024)
Rescue Me (7” Mix)/Spotlight (Fade) (Cassette, Sire W 00024 C)
Rescue Me (LP Version)/(Titanic Mix)/Spotlight (Fade) (CD, Sire W 00024 CD)

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