On November 30 1980, Madonna’s band, Emmy, recorded a four-song studio demo which was later distributed on TDK cassettes around New York City.
Band member and songwriting partner, Stephen Bray, was asked to describe what he remembered from these songs in a 1998 interview with Bruce Baron for Goldmine magazine, and he commented on each this way:
- (I Like) Love For Tender – “Sort of our Byrds thing. Nice song, arrangement was too long though.”
- No Time – “This was a giddy, up-tempo romp with drums and rhythm section stuff inspired by the fast playing Police and XTC attitude, but with a pop top.”
- Bells Ringing – “Our most psychedelic number I recall, too long again. It had a definite Stones-ish attitude.”
- Drowning – “The best tune of the moment, I always thought.”
On October 25 1986, Billboard magazine reported that Madonna visited Larrabee Sound studios in Santa Monica to co-produce a track for Nick Kamen with Stephen Bray – and to oversee the mixing of Spotlight and the remixing of Holiday with Jellybean Benitez.
Billboard had previously announced in their October 4th issue that Sire Records planned to release a six-song Madonna EP titled You Can Dance ahead of the 1986 holiday season, featuring a previously unreleased cut Spotlight and five mixes of previously released songs.
But as we all know, You Can Dance would instead be promoted as full-length remix LP and would not hit the record store shelves until November of 1987.
(More on this next month!)
On August 23 1986, Papa Don’t Preach spent the first of two weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Maxi-Singles Sales chart.
Despite being more of a pop/rock song than a club-oriented cut – both in its original form and in Stephen Bray’s extended remix version – Papa Don’t Preach nevertheless managed to reach #4 on Billboard’s August 30th Hot Dance/Club Play chart due to the massive buzz surrounding the song and its undeniable crossover appeal.
On August 10 1985, Into The Groove spent the first of four weeks in the #1 position on the UK Singles Chart. It was Madonna’s first chart-topping single in the UK, where she has collected a total of thirteen #1 hits to date.
As an added validation, Into the Groove was Madonna’s first self-produced release (co-produced with Stephen Bray). While artists co-producing their own work is common today, it was relatively unusual at the time, particularly for female artists. The immense success of the single undoubtedly helped convince the powers at Sire/Warner to grant Madonna the artistic freedom to co-produce her next album, True Blue, together with her collaborators Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard.
On June 30 1986, Madonna’s True Blue album was released by Sire Records. She worked with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard on the album while co-writing and co-producing all the songs.
True Blue was an immediate global success, reaching number one in then record-breaking 28 countries across the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. It spent 34 consecutive weeks at the top of the European Top 100 Albums chart, longer than any other album in history. It became the world’s top-selling album of 1986, as well the biggest selling album of the 1980s by a woman and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time with sales of more than 25 million copies worldwide. All five singles released from the album reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, with Live to Tell, Papa Don’t Preach, and Open Your Heart peaking at number one.