Today in Madonna History: May 9, 1987

On May 9 1987, Nick Kamen’s self-titled debut album – featuring the Madonna/Steve Bray written & produced track, Each Time You Break My Heart – was reviewed in Billboard.

Madonna’s opinion of Nick Kamen in 1986? “I said, ‘wow, this guy’s got everything’,” she told the BBC’s Simon Bates in December that year. “He [Stein] sent me a tape of four of his songs and the Levi commercial and a demo video that he [Kamen] had done,” Madonna told Bates. “You know, he’s got so much charm and charisma and there’s something there in the eyes…”

Kamen’s debut single, Each Time You Break My Heart, on which Madonna also performed backing vocals – was an international hit in the autumn of 1986. “I called Seymour up and said ‘how about if I produce the record because if I don’t…they might change the character of it…and I want it to be really good…and he said, ‘I would have asked you but, I mean, I didn’t think you’d have the time’, but I figured it was only one song so it would only take about a week if we really organize ourselves.”

The video for the single had other Madonna connections, as it was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino and featured her Open Your Heart video co-star, Felix Howard, while the U.S. maxi-single was remixed by future Madonna collaborator, Shep Pettibone.

Each Time You Break My Heart was originally demoed during the sessions for Madonna’s True Blue album but sadly did not make the final cut. Kamen’s version featured the same musicians and backing vocalists (including Siedah Garrett & Edie Lehmann) from those sessions. A low-quality recording of Madonna’s original demo leaked to the internet in the early 2000’s.

Madonna fans would certainly welcome a deluxe edition of the True Blue album featuring Madonna’s version of this excellent cut and other outtakes of the era!

Today in Madonna History: February 15, 1985

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On February 15 1985, the Vision Quest original motion picture soundtrack was released on Geffen Records. To promote the release, music videos for Crazy For You and Gambler premiered on MTV on the same day.

Despite Gambler only being released as a single in markets outside North America, its video received moderate rotation from MTV nonetheless – possibly due to the fact that there were no competing videos produced for the final two singles from Like A Virgin.

Gambler was Madonna’s last entirely self-written single until the 2007 release of the charity single, Hey You. Other singles for which she received sole writing credit include Everybody (which was in fact a Stephen Bray co-write–however a publishing arrangement granted him sole credit for another of their collaborations, Ain’t No Big Deal, in trade), Burning Up, Lucky Star and Sidewalk Talk. Album tracks Think Of Me, I Know It and Shoo-Bee-Doo were also entirely self-written.

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A third Madonna song that was recorded for the Vision Quest soundtrack, Warning Signs, was eventually dropped from the project. A cassette copy of the song, which is also credited to Madonna alone, was submitted to the Library of Congress for copyright registration in February of 1984, at the same time as Gambler.

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With Stephen Bray having confirmed his involvement in the song’s production (which he described as “a cool synth track”), it appears that its production credits would mirror those of Gambler, which was produced by Jellybean Benitez and arranged by Bray. Given that early press for Vision Quest (including an on-set interview with Madonna herself) mentioned the inclusion of three new songs, footage of Madonna performing Warning Signs was likely filmed but ended up on the cutting room floor. Surprisingly, this additional footage has never resurfaced and the song has never leaked.

Today in Madonna History: October 19, 1981

On October 19 1981, Madonna performed at Uncle Sam’s Blues Club in Roslyn, NY. Her manager at the time, Camille Barbone, had hired photographer George DuBose to capture Madonna’s two sets that evening.

Madonna’s band during the show consisted of Bob Riley on drums (later replaced by Steve Bray), John Kumnick on bass, Jon Gordon on guitar (later replaced by Paul Pesco) & David Frank on keyboards. When Madonna terminated her management agreement with Barbone in early 1982, she continued her working relationship with Bray, Pesco & Frank.

Steve Bray would co-write tracks that would appear on Madonna’s demo tape which landed her a recording contract with Sire Records later that year, and their collaboration remained successful throughout the 80’s.

Paul Pesco played guitar (along with Madonna herself) on the aforementioned demo and would also appear on Madonna’s self-titled debut album and her first concert tour, The Virgin Tour. Years later, he played on the Erotica album and joined Madonna’s touring band again for The Girlie Show in 1993.

David Frank, who soon found success as half of the electronic music duo The System, co-wrote an early version of Crimes Of Passion with Madonna before she decided to rewrite the music with Bray. The System’s hit In Times Of Passion is based on his ideas for the song but feature new lyrics from The System’s vocalist, Mic Murphy. Frank was also involved with the mysterious Otto Von Wernherr demos, believed to have been recorded in early 1982 prior Madonna’s deal with Sire, as he is credited for arrangement on the 1986 Japanese 12-inch release of Cosmic Climb (his name was subsequently omitted from Wernherr’s later releases).

Interestingly, The System’s other half, Mic Murphy, co-wrote the unreleased Erotica-era demo Dear Father with Madonna in the early 90’s. Pesco, who may have played guitar on this demo given his involvement during the album sessions, was also the guitarist for The System.

Today in Madonna History: October 3, 1987

On October 3 1987, Madonna’s second single from the Who’s That Girl film soundtrack, Causing A Commotion, debuted at #24 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in the USA.

This is what Camille Paglia had to say about the song:

“I recall my stunned admiration as I sat in the theatre in 1987 and first experienced the crashing, descending chords of Madonna’s Causing a Commotion, which opened her dreadful movie Who’s That Girl. If you want to hear the essence of modernity, listen to those chords, infernal, apocalyptic, and grossly sensual. This is the authentic voice of fin de siècle.”

Today in Madonna History: June 28, 1986

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On June 28 1986, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach debuted at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was released on June 11.

Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine said that “with songs like Papa Don’t Preach, Madonna made the transition from pop tart to consummate artist, joining the ranks of 80s icons like Michael Jackson and Prince.”

Today in Madonna History: May 16, 1988

On May 16 1988, Madonna’s Spotlight reached a peak of #3 on the Oricon International Singles Chart in Japan. The single was released on 7″ vinyl and 3″ mini CD single by Sire and Warner-Pioneer Japan on April 25 1988.

Spotlight was originally planned to be included on the True Blue album, but was cut from the line-up and eventually appeared on Madonna’s You Can Dance remix album, released on November 17 1988.

The song was written by Madonna, Stephen Bray and Curtis Hudson.  The song was remixed by Shep Pettibone, with additional mixing done by John “Jellybean” Benitez.

Today in Madonna History: February 1, 1986

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On February 1 1986, John “Jellybean” Benitez’ Sidewalk Talk peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

The song was written by Madonna, arranged by Jellybean and Stephen Bray, produced by Jellybean and included the uncredited backing vocals of Catharine Buchanan and Madonna.

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