Friday, 2 December 2016
The Madonna Japanese EPs
As I may have once said in an earlier blog, the Japanese didn’t really “do” 12 inch singles. 7” singles, yes, and they did launch the 3” CD in it’s snap-pack sleeve - but the 12” format was something that, for Madonna at least, they only ever really dabbled in from time to time. There were 12” releases for “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Causing A Commotion”, but the likes of “Holiday”, “Open Your Heart” and “Express Yourself” were restricted to 7” releases only when it came to vinyl issues.
For any other artist, this might not have been a problem. But given that she had emerged from the New York Disco scene, Madonna’s singles in the UK and the US were being subjected to extended dance mixes, meaning that there was a danger of there being no way of issuing these reworkings in Japan. So, to resolve this, the Japanese - as they so often did - did things differently.
Between 1984 and 1995, the Japanese division of Sire issued a series of EP releases that were used, in the main, to compile these remixes. Not everything got collected, and some releases felt a bit more erratic than others, but they did appear with great regularity. Later releases were of lesser interest, as they were more like albums of multiple remixes of the same song, but even these were worth a look as they included, at times, mixes than were either unavailable on CD in the UK - or occasionally, not officially available at all. Thereafter, the Japanese releases reverted to “standard” CD single pressings, and the likes of “You’ll See” onwards were fairly similar to their UK counterparts. Completists will want these of course, but the EP stylings of the earlier releases was abandoned forever.
At first, these EP’s were rarely available outside of their native Japan, but in the early 1990s, new pressings were made to join the latest releases, with copies being exported to the UK. At the time, as somebody who had only just discovered Madonna, these releases were fascinating. They were widely available, my local HMV in Romford seemed to stock a lot of them on the assumption that somebody would want them (and yes, that somebody was me), and the London record stores had them as well. The fact that they included remixes that I either didn’t already have, or only had on vinyl, plus the sheer visual impact that these releases had (especially if they still retained their obi strips), made them amongst the more interesting releases in Madonna land.
When the earlier EPs were being released, vinyl was still the format of choice, and so the first few were issued as both 12” singles and on the new fangled CD format. There was one exception (which we shall come to in due course), and then, of course, the tide turned and vinyl pressings became non existent.
What we shall do here, to keep things simple, is look at the releases in their “original” order, without getting too bogged down in the formats they were available on (some of these appeared on Cassette as well). We shall look at what they offer the UK fan, and catalogue numbers for each release will appear at the end.
So, it all starts with the helpfully titled “Like A Virgin And Other Big Hits!”. The only one of these EP’s that I happen to have on both 12” and CD, it was housed in a sleeve which mirrored the UK release of the “Like A Virgin” 45, and included the extended mixes of “LAV”, “Borderline”, “Lucky Star” and - slightly pointlessly - the LP version of “Holiday”, included I guess to pad out the running time, but also, given that it was long enough to not need a 12” mix anyway, included here on the grounds of completeness. This EP was reissued this year as a European wide Record Store Day release on, randomly, pink vinyl, so that makes your chances of owning “a” copy of the EP that much greater, but being an RSD release, you may find it cheaper to just buy an original! It is certainly not a UK exclusive release, so don’t go worrying about thinking that you NEED this new pressing. Still, kind of interesting that it has now been issued again, but a bit random.
The next release was originally on 12” only, as it was almost more of a maxi single than an EP. Housed in the same sleeve as the UK single release of “Angel”, the “Material Girl” EP as it is sometimes called was eventually released, belatedly, on CD in 1992. The original release more or less just credits it’s three songs as if this was a AAA-side release, but the CD edition refers to it as the “Club Mix EP”. It includes the 12” mixes of “MG” and “Angel”, along with “Into The Groove” - again, widely available as it was issued as a 7” in Japan in it’s own right, but included here to ensure that, at the time, all of Madonna’s “major” single releases in Japan up to this point had therefore been compiled in their ‘full length form’ on these two releases. This approach would be mostly avoided on future releases, as the amount of material available courtesy of the 12” mixes were more than enough to fill these releases up. Because it was issued on CD “out of sync”, the 1992 reissue has a catalogue number which belies it’s original release date, but places it in line with the other EP‘s (of ‘new’ material) issued the same year.
By the start of 1986, the next EP had appeared under a title which more or less just told you what was on it, as opposed to it having a catchy name! “Dress You Up - Ain’t No Big Deal” was a reversion to the 4-track approach of the first EP, but for this one, we saw the first EP where repetition of songs were noted. This was because the instrumental version of “Dress You Up” was included alongside the 12” mix. The other two tracks were “Shoo Bee Doo” - an album track, used again for padding, as it had also appeared on the flip of the “Dress You Up” 7” in Japan - and also a proper rarity in the form of non-album track “Ain’t No Big Deal”, a track previously tossed away on the Warner Bros compilation “Revenge Of The Killer B’s Vol. 2”. The sleeve used for this was the same as that used for the US 7” release of “Dress You Up”.
Next up was the awkwardly titled “Super Club Mix”. Housed in the same sleeve as the “True Blue” (UK) single sleeve, this was a bit more of a hotpotch affair, as it not only attempted to fill in the gaps missed by the earlier releases, but also had to work out what to do with it’s attempts to include “Live To Tell” on the set. We got the 12” mix of “True Blue”, and the 12” mix of “Papa Don’t Preach”, along with BOTH sides of Madonna’s first US 12”, “Everybody”, with both the six-minute long 12” mix being joined by the even longer dub mix. Discogs claims that this version has been edited down from the original US single, but I can’t confirm if this is the case, as there are “issues” over the timings of this mix on other releases as well. As for “Live To Tell”, the instrumental version was included. This 5-track release had a running time in excess of half an hour, so even at this point, we were moving away really from EP lengths into the world of the mini album.
Now - if you only buy one of these EP’s, then really, 1987’s “La Isla Bonita Super Mix” is probably the one. Housed in the same sleeve as the UK 7”, it’s big selling point was the inclusion of not only “Crazy For You” but also “Gambler” - the only Madonna “compilation” upon which you will find this track. Even “Crazy For You” turned up on “The Immaculate Collection” in Q-Sound remixed form. The rest of the disc consisted of both the 12” and 12” instrumental versions of “La Isla” (again, claims on Discogs of this being an ‘alternate instrumental’) and also the 12” mix of “Open Your Heart”. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the “Dub” mix of “OYH” is missing. But really, the inclusion of Madonna’s two contributions to the “Vision Quest” soundtrack make this worth the price of admission alone, and with the world of the promo only remix madness just a few years away, the absence of an, admittedly, un-essential remix is not totally the end of the world.
1989’s “Like A Prayer” was a turning point. It was, of course, Madonna’s entry into the world of grown up pop. And yet, it also coincided with the insanity of multiple remixing. So, here we had an album of earthy, downbeat, and quite serious subject matter, all being put through the hands-in-the-air remix machine. Strange. In terms of the impact that it had on the Japanese EP, it was quite a big one. “Remixed Prayers”, housed in the same sleeve as the “Like A Prayer” 12”, does more or less what it says on the tin. It is an hour long barrage of mixes of “Like A Prayer” and “Express Yourself” and nothing else. This really was the point at which the EP approach of these releases started to get widened. Indeed, given that it has a running time longer than the then new Madonna album, means even claiming it as a mini album is a bit of a misnomer.
In terms of material, it includes the 12” Dance Mix, 12” Extended Remix, Churchapella, 12” Club Version and 7” Remix/Edit versions of “LAP”. To place this in context, these are the five remixes that were spread across the 12” and Limited 12” releases in the UK, and the five mixes that - along with “Act Of Contrition” - made up the US 12” release. The remaining three tracks are mixes of “Express Yourself” - the “Non Stop Express Mix”, “Stop + Go Dubs” and the “Local Mix”. Again, to place in context, these three mixes, plus “The Look Of Love”, made up the US 12”. In the UK, the “Local Mix” was never released, so that makes “Remixed Prayers” a worthy addition to the collection. Listening to it in one go just make you go a bit stir crazy, though.
The concept of these EP’s featuring lengthy running times, albeit with few actual “songs”, was now mostly set in stone. The next release, 1990’s “Keep It Together” was also notable for not even being given an odd title, it’s not even officially known as the “Keep It Together EP”. It looks, from a distance, exactly the same as the US 12” release. But it is the next in the EP series no doubt, as the first track is actually the 12” mix of “Cherish” - followed by 6 mixes of “KIT”. These are the 12” Remix, Dub, 12” Extended Mix, 12” Mix, Bonus Beats and Instrumental versions. Once more, to place in context, these are the same mixes that appeared on the UK 12” White Label SAM promo, and also, the US 12” release. A handful of these mixes were later issued as B-sides to the “Vogue” 45 in the UK, but most weren’t, so again, a worthy release to track down.
“Vogue” itself was the subject of the next EP release, and this time, was actually called the “Vogue EP”. Again, same front cover as the standard “Vogue” 45. It reverted, slightly, to the older style, consisting of three songs with variant versions of most of those songs. The first three tracks are remixes of “Vogue” - the 12” Mix, Bette Davis Dub and the Strike-A-Pose Dub. To place in context, the three mixes from the US 12” - the “Bette Davis Dub” was never officially released in the UK. The EP is finished off with the three tracks from the “Hanky Panky” UK CD/12” release, namely the 7” and 12” mixes of “Hanky Panky” and it’s accompanying B-side, “More”. Again, it’s inclusion both makes sense - it was the flipside, after all - and also makes no sense, as it’s easily found on “I’m Breathless”. But, given that Warners view that as a soundtrack album, I guess it was included on this EP to both pad out the running time, and also make it available on an ’official’ Madonna release.
We now come to 1991’s “Rescue Me - Alternate Mix”, which is overloaded with Shep Pettibone reworkings. It’s a 10 track, 66 minute long release, housed in the ‘standard’ “RM” sleeve - in other words, the non-UK sleeve using a still from the “Justify My Love” video where Madonna slides down the corridor wall. What do you get? Well, from a UK fan’s point of view, quite a bit. There are, to start with, two versions of “Justify My Love” as found on the UK 12” and CD single(s), the “Q Sound Mix” and the “Orbit 12” Mix”. What then follows are tracks never released in the UK, but which did appear previously on the US CD Single, namely the “Hip Hop Mix” of “JML”, the extended 1990 reworking of “Express Yourself” and the “Beast Within” version of “Justify“. Five versions of “Rescue Me” then conclude the set. These include three mixes lifted from the various UK single editions (the 7” Mix, the Titanic Mix and the Lifeboat Mix) along with two never released in the UK - the unedited “Houseboat Vocal” and the “SOS Mix”. Yet again, to place in context, these five mixes had previously been issued on the US CD Single. All of these mixes also appeared in Germany, where they were spread across two CD Single editions, and indeed, CD1 of this release featured a Dub mix not on the Japanese release, even though there would have been space to include it. But still, “Alternate Mix” probably has more than enough remixes than you need in one go, and the inclusion of five tracks never released in the UK again make it a decent buy. Especially with that stunning cover.
It is at this point in proceedings that the world of the mega-remixing starts to further dent the overall excitement of these EP’s. 1992’s “Erotica Remixes” is of interest if you only have UK copies of the “Erotica” single (as no remixes at all were included) or the “Bad Girl” 45, which had some, but not all, of the mixes available on this release. The mixes are the Album Edit, Kenlou B-Boy Mix, WO 12”, Underground Club Mix, Masters At Work Dub, Jeep Beats and Madonna’s In My Jeep. Although there was also a German CD single with the “Remixes” legend on the cover, it was only a five track release. But, it is worth pointing out that the US CD, which just has the regular “Erotica” cover, has an identical track listing to the Jap EP. So not only did we have an EP with just the one “song”, but a track listing that matched a more easily available overseas release. Overall then, one of the less exciting items in the set.
Another “mega” release came with the “Deeper And Deeper EP”, again housed in the standard single sleeve. It has no less than 12 tracks. More of a double album, let alone an EP. It starts with 6 mixes of “DAD” - the Shep’s Deep Makeover Mix, David’s Klub Mix, Shep’s Classic 12”, Shep’s Fierce Deeper Dub, David’s Love Dub and Shep’s Deep Beats. To place in context once more, these are the six mixes you will find on the UK 12” Picture Disc. Next up is the extended mix of “Bad Girl” (never released in the UK), followed by more mixes of “Erotica” - mixes are the Kenlou B-Boy Instrumental, Underground Tribal Beats, WO Dub, House Instrumental and Bass Dub. With the exception of the WO (William Orbit) Dub, none of the other mixes have ever been issued in the UK.
The “Rain” EP from 1993, housed in a sleeve which recalls the US version of the single as opposed to the UK one, is a similarly mixed bag. For reasons that are not totally clear, the extended mix of “Bad Girl” makes a second appearance here. The first four tracks are songs available on various versions of the “Rain” single, with the LP version joined by the “Radio Remix”, along with a remix of “Waiting” and the non-LP “Up Down Suite”. Again, placing in context, the four tracks here also made up the US CD Single. The rest of the disc includes mixes of “Fever” - the Extended 12”, Shep’s Remedy Dub, Murk Boys Miami Mix and Oscar G’s Dope Dub - and the “Video Edit” of “Rain”. All of the “Fever” mixes turned up in the UK - indeed, even the UK CD Single offers more than what you get here - but the remix of “Waiting” was never issued in the UK. The Video Edit of “Rain”, as far as I can make out, was never issued on any of the UK editions - at least, not under this name - but you can just watch the video on Youtube and it should have the same effect, I suppose. However, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and analyse the different edits of "Rain" to confirm, but it may actually be the same as the "Remix Edit" version that is on the UK CD Single. If anybody wants to clarify all of this, please get in touch.
The final Japanese EP’s were releases in relation to the “Bedtime Stories” album, reissued by Rhino on vinyl in the UK this year BTW. The first one was “Secret Remixes”, which used a unique cover shot from the album photo shoot. Like the “Erotica” EP, it consists purely of alternate versions of the same song. So, you get Junior’s Luscious Single Mix, Junior’s Extended Luscious Club Mix, Junior’s Luscious Dub, Junior’s Sound Factory Mix, Junior’s Sound Factory Dub, the Some Bizarre Mix, the Allstar Mix and the Edit. All of these have been issued in the UK - the Junior (Vasquez) mixes on the CD2 edition of the original “Secret” single, the Edit on CD1, whilst the other two mixes were B-sides on the CD2 edition of “Bedtime Story”. Still, a lovely front cover image, and if you don’t have the “Secret” CD2, it’s worth a punt.
And so we end with the “Take A Bow Remixes” set. This is of major interest, as no remixes of “TAB” were ever issued in the UK, not even ’after the event’, so this release is worth your cash. Housed, once more, in a sleeve which recalls the UK single, you get the edit and instrumental mixes that were issued in the UK, along with the InDaSoul Mix, InDaSoul Instrumental, Silky Soul Mix and the Silky Soul Instrumental that were not. To pad the set out, there are two versions of “Bedtime Story” at the end - the “Album Edit” and “Junior’s Wet Dream” mixes, both of which did get released in the UK.
With all these releases, if you want the full monty, then each of them featured the aforementioned obi strip around the left hand side of the box. In my HMV, they would unseal the CD’s, realise the obi would then fall off, so decided to tape them back on, with a little bit of sellotape on the front and back to “reattach it”. Can’t remember where I got it, but my “Deeper And Deeper” was purchased brand new - but the obi had already gone missing before I even got my hands on it, having obviously fallen off when unpacked, and then simply binned by the shop. So not every copy of these singles necessarily were sold with their obi’s intact, and over the years, a lot more have probably been lost. As such, copies with them intact often sell for more than those without. All should come with lyrics printed inside in both English and Japanese, usually on a separate booklet, but not always.
Following the “delayed” release of the “Club Mix” EP in 1992, a concerted reissue campaign of these EP’s was conducted in 1997. This time around, the CD’s were housed in slim line jewel cases, with new obis which showed they were being issued under the “Collectors Series” banner, with - of course - new catalogue numbers. By all accounts, despite being reissues, they don’t seem to be any easier to find than their early 1990’s counterparts, so anybody hoping to own all 14 on CD - twice - is going to have their work cut out.
There is, then, another bizarre situation. The Australian division of Warners have, at times, cheated a bit with some of their artists. I have, somewhere, a Faces album on CD that looks, to all intents and purposes, like a UK pressing (complete with UK catalogue number) but also has a second catalogue number, and a mention of “Made In Australia” somewhere on the packaging. Warners Music Australia, in 1993, issued a select number of these EP’s to coincide with Madonna’s first tour there, which seemed to simply involved “obtaining” some of these discs from Japan, adding an Aussie catalogue number on it somewhere, mentioning “Australia” again somewhere else in the pack, and issuing them as Australian EP’s - despite the fact that the Japanese catalogue number and Japanese writing on the spine remained in situ! By all accounts, the EP’s that are available as these strange Jap/Oz Hybrid releases are for the “Super Club Mix“, “La Isla Bonita Super Mix”, “Remixed Prayers“, “Keep It Together”, “Erotica Remixes”, “Deeper And Deeper EP” and “Rain EP” issues. Given that they obviously lack the obi strips, they don’t seem to have the same desirability as the Jap releases, but the track listings and covers are exactly the same. So, if it was me, I would consider filling in any of your gaps with at least one of these releases. “Rain” might be the best one to go for, as copies came with a sticker mentioning “includes Japanese Remixes”. This, of course, is not strictly correct - but I know what they meant!
And so, from then on, Japanese CD singles become quite “normal”, and even though some future releases followed the “Remix” path of things like the “Erotica Remixes” release, this was simply because each single released in the UK or US got one in Japan as well, and if something had been remixed to death, then those mixes got the nod. If it didn’t, then the release simply had less songs. The original Japanese approach, to cobble together extended versions of multiple old hits was over, and by all accounts, these “new” singles were released at the same time as their international counterparts. Worth hunting down if you have the money, but to be honest, a Japanese “Frozen” is not that far removed from a UK one. So, pay your money and take your choice.
Whilst, of course, other Warners acts were also the recipient of similar EP releases, I can only comment on Madonna, as these are the releases I have made the effort of collecting. Of course, if you were there from day 1, buying those 45’s as they came out, then perhaps these releases are no more than glorified, short, greatest hits sets. But as a way of discovering these 12” mixes for (usually) the first time, plus the colourful nature that many of them have, these releases always fascinated me. Furthermore, with the asking price nowadays usually being no more than what they were first selling for back in the 90s, getting hold of them is not quite as daunting as it might seem.
So, I have listed two sets of discographies. The first is, more or less, the catalogue numbers of the releases that you would have got had you bought them new in a UK shop in 1991 (or in the case of “Material Girl”, the catalogue number of the 12” edition you might have seen at a record fair, as this seems to have been the most common format for that release). I have then listed the releases in catalogue number order for their 1997 CD reissues, which seem to be far more difficult to find. I have also listed what I believe are all the Australian variants, as they too seem to be quite easy to find on the likes of eBay.
STANDARD RELEASES AS AT 1991
Like A Virgin And Other Big Hits! (CD, Sire WPCP 3437)
Material Girl (Extended Dance Remix)/Into The Groove/Angel (Extended Dance Mix) (12”, Sire P 5199)
Dress You Up / Ain’t No Big Deal (CD, Sire WPCP 3438)
True Blue Super Club Mix (CD, Sire WPCP 3439)
La Isla Bonita Super Mix (CD, Sire WPCP 3440)
Remixed Prayers (CD, Sire 20P2-2900)
Keep It Together (CD, Sire WPCP 3200)
Vogue EP (CD, Sire WPCP 3698)
Rescue Me Alternate Mix (CD, Sire WPCP 4100)
Erotica Remixes (CD, Maverick WPCP 5150)
Deeper And Deeper EP (CD, Maverick WPCP 5244)
Rain EP (CD, Maverick WPCP 5644)
Secret Remixes (CD, Maverick WPCR 170)
Take A Bow Remixes (CD, Maverick WPCR 191)
1997 COLLECTORS SERIES
Like A Virgin And Other Big Hits! (CD, Sire WPCR 1501)
Dress You Up / Ain’t No Big Deal (CD, Sire WPCR 1502)
True Blue Super Club Mix (CD, Sire WPCR 1503)
La Isla Bonita Super Mix (CD, Sire WPCR 1504)
Remixed Prayers (CD, Sire WPCR 1505)
Keep It Together (CD, Sire WPCR 1506)
Vogue EP (CD, Sire WPCR 1507)
Rescue Me Alternate Mix (CD, Sire WPCR 1508)
Material Girl Club Mix EP (CD, Sire WPCR 1509)
Erotica Remixes (CD, Maverick WPCR 1510)
Deeper And Deeper EP (CD, Maverick WPCR 1511)
Rain EP (CD, Maverick WPCR 1512)
Secret Remixes (CD, Maverick WPCR 1513)
Take A Bow Remixes (CD, Maverick WPCR 1514)
Super Club Mix (CD, Sire 7599 25533 2)
La Isla Bonita Super Mix (CD, Sire 7599 25451 2)
Remixed Prayers (CD, Sire 7599 26022 2)
Keep It Together (CD, Sire 7599 26177 2)
Erotica Remixes (CD, Maverick 9362 40585 2)
Deeper And Deeper EP (CD, Maverick 9362 45288 2)
Rain EP (CD, Maverick 9362 45491 2)
PS. There are a couple of websites which show nice images of the different pressings with their variant obi strips both here (http://www.madonnatribe.com/japan/japan5_1.htm) and here (http://www.madonnadiscography.pl/article/view/113/).