Today in Madonna History: November 28, 2000

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On November 28 2000, Madonna performed a mini-set at London’s Brixton Academy. The show was part of the Don’t Tell Me Promo Tour, which began only two months after the birth of her second child, Rocco, and consisted of a few small club dates as well as television performances and interviews to promote the second single from her Music album. Aside from the promotional aspect, Madonna also used the club shows as an opportunity to test the waters for performing live shows again following a seven-year hiatus from touring. The Brixton gig closely mirrored her set at New York’s Roseland Ballroom several weeks earlier, with one notable exception being the addition of Holiday to the UK set-list.

The full London set-list consisted of:

  1. Impressive Instant
  2. Runaway Lover
  3. Don’t Tell Me
  4. What It Feels Like For A Girl
  5. Holiday
  6. Music

The Brixton Academy performance was streamed live across the internet to an estimated 9 million viewers.

Today in Madonna History: November 17, 1987

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On November 17 1987, Madonna’s first remix collection, You Can Dance, was released by Sire Records.

The LP version included the following tracks:

Physical Attraction
Over and Over
Into the Groove
Where’s the Party

The CD release included the following bonus tracks:

Holiday (Dub Version)
Into the Groove (Dub Version)
Where’s the Party (Dub Version)

The cassette release included this track listing:

Physical Attraction
Spotlight (Dub Version)
Holiday (Dub Version)
Over and Over
Into the Groove
Where’s the Party
Over and Over (Dub Version)
Into the Groove (Dub Version)

Patrick Leonard had this to say about working on You Can Dance:

“Remixing is a form of secondary creativity. Dance music elevates the DJ and the mixer to being almost on a level with the musician. In my opinion this is false. Manipulation of pre-recorded sound sources may be creative in a secondary sense, and may be valid in its own field, but it is pseudo musicianship. That’s why we tried to have a fresh approach to the songs for You Can Dance, as if we were developing and composing them for the first time.”

Today in Madonna History: November 16, 1989

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On November 16 1989, Madonna’s eponymous album was ranked #50 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest Albums Of The 1980s.

Here’s what Rolling Stone had to say of Madonna’s debut album:

Five years after arriving in New York City from her hometown of Pontiac, Michigan, Madonna Louise Ciccone had little to show for a lot of work. By 1982, she had managed to get only a few gigs singing with drummer Stephen Bray’s band, the Breakfast Club, at clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, and the future looked far from bright.

“I had just gotten kicked out of my apartment,” Madonna says, “so the band let me live in their rehearsal space at the Music Building, on Eighth Avenue. Stephen had keys to all the rehearsal rooms, so when I decided to make my own demos, we’d go into other people’s studios at night and use their four-track machines.”

Armed with a tape, Madonna began making the rounds of New York’s dance clubs. “I had heard that a lot of A&R people hung out at the clubs,” she says, “and I thought trying to go see them at their offices would be a waste of time.” It proved a good strategy: Through Mark Kamins, the DJ at Danceteria, the tape found its way to Sire Records, and Madonna was signed by label president Seymour Stein. “Seymour was in the hospital at the time,” she says. “I got signed while he was lying in bed in his boxer shorts.”

The contract with Sire guaranteed just one single, but it had options for recording albums as well. With Kamins producing, Madonna cut the moody disco track Everybody as her debut single. But when Sire picked up its option to record an album, she decided to try a different producer. “I wanted someone who’d worked with a lot of female singers,” she says.

Reggie Lucas, the Grammy-winning songwriter who had produced Stephanie Mills and Roberta Flack, was selected. After recording the album’s second single, the Lucas-penned Physical Attraction, he and Madonna cut the rest of the album, with the exception of Holiday, which was produced by Jellybean Benitez.

“Things were very informal and casual,” Lucas says of the sessions. “It was my first pop project, and she was just a new artist. I had no idea it would be the biggest thing since sliced bread.”

Indeed, initial response to Madonna gave no indication of the mania to follow. It took a year and a half for the album to go gold. But its assured style and sound, as well as Madonna’s savvy approach to videos, helped the singer make the leap from dance diva to pop phenom, and it pointed the direction for a host of female vocalists from Janet Jackson to Debbie Gibson.

“It influenced a lot of people,” says Madonna, who cites Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry as her own musical heroes. “I think it stands up well. It just took a long time for people to pay attention to me —and I thank God they did!”

Today in Madonna History: August 27, 1983

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On August 27 1983, Holiday/Lucky Star made its debut on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the U.S., entering at #31.

The promo-only double A-side single was serviced to clubs by Sire/Warner in order to gauge public interest before deciding which track should be promoted to radio. Although technically serving as the B-side, Holiday was given top billing for its chart entry when it proved to be the more popular selection with club DJ’s. It was subsequently issued as Madonna’s third commercial single in North America, while Lucky Star was released as her fifth single a year later.

Today in Madonna History: July 27, 1983

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On July 27 1983, Madonna’s eponymous debut album was released by Sire Records. The record was renamed Madonna: The First Album for the 1985 international re-release of the album.

The album was released with 8 tracks (produced by John “Jellybean” Benitez, Mark Kamins and Reggie Lucas):

  1. Lucky Star
  2. Borderline
  3. Burning Up
  4. I Know It
  5. Holiday
  6. Think of Me
  7. Physical Attraction
  8. Everybody

Five singles were released from The First Album:

  1. Everybody (October 6 1982)
  2. Burning Up (March 9 1983)
  3. Holiday (September 7 1983 – UK)
  4. Lucky Star (September 8 1983)
  5. Borderline (February 15 1984)

“Madonna was unhappy with the whole album, so I went in and sweetened up a lot of music for her, adding some guitars to ‘Lucky Star’, some voices, some magic… I just wanted to do the best job I could do for her. When we would playback ‘Holiday’ or ‘Lucky Star’, you could see that she was overwhelmed by how great it all sounded. You wanted to help her, you know? As much as she could be a bitch, when you were in a groove with her, it was very cool, very creative.”

— John “Jellybean” Benitez talking about Madonna and the album.