Tag Archives: True Blue (Album)
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: September 8, 1986
On September 8 1986, Madonna’s third album, True Blue, was certified double platinum (for shipment of 2 million units) in the USA.
Here’s a snippet of Davitt Sigerson’s review of True Blue from Rolling Stone (July 17, 1986):
Madonna’s sturdy, dependable, lovable new album remains faithful to her past while shamelessly rising above it. True Blue may generate fewer sales and less attention than Like a Virgin, but it sets her up as an artist for the long run. And like every other brainy move from this best of all possible pop madonnas, it sounds as if it comes from the heart.
Today in Madonna History: July 12, 1986
On July 12 1986, Madonna’s third album, True Blue, debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart.
Here’s the AllMusic review of True Blue by Stephen Thomas Erlewine:
True Blue is the album where Madonna truly became Madonna the Superstar — the endlessly ambitious, fearlessly provocative entertainer that knew how to outrage, spark debates, get good reviews — and make good music while she’s at it. To complain that True Blue is calculated is to not get Madonna — that’s a large part of what she does, and she is exceptional at it, but she also makes fine music. What’s brilliant about True Blue is that she does both here, using the music to hook in critics just as she’s baiting a mass audience with such masterstrokes as “Papa Don’t Preach,” where she defiantly states she’s keeping her baby. It’s easy to position anti-abortionism as feminism, but what’s tricky is to transcend your status as a dance-pop diva by consciously recalling classic girl-group pop (“True Blue,” “Jimmy Jimmy”) to snag the critics, while deepening the dance grooves (“Open Your Heart,” “Where’s the Party”), touching on Latin rhythms (“La Isla Bonita”), making a plea for world peace (“Love Makes the World Go Round”), and delivering a tremendous ballad that rewrites the rules of adult contemporary crossover (“Live to Tell”). It’s even harder to have the entire album play as an organic, cohesive work. Certainly, there’s some calculation behind the entire thing, but what matters is the end result, one of the great dance-pop albums, a record that demonstrates Madonna’s true skills as a songwriter, record-maker, provocateur, and entertainer through its wide reach, accomplishment, and sheer sense of fun.
Today in Madonna History: July 11, 1987
Today in Madonna History: June 11, 1986
On June 11 1986, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach single was released.
The single and its music video, which made its debut a week later, caused controversy due to its focus on the issue of teenage pregnancy. Perhaps if the media had paid a little closer attention to the video, they would have found that it contained a few other points of interest. While Danny Aiello’s inclusion in the video was duly reported, the same can’t be said for Madonna’s breasts, which also made several brief cameo appearances in the clip.
We imagine Madonna must have had a good laugh over the fact that these scenes flew under the radar of MTV, the media, and by all but the most perceptive of fans at the time.
Today in Madonna History: May 31, 1986
On May 31 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 for 3 weeks on US Hot Adult Contemporary singles chart.
The haunting and dramatic ballad, written and produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard, was the first commercially released collaboration between the pair – a songwriting partnership that is viewed by many fans as one of her most creatively successful.
Leonard had previously been involved with Madonna’s Virgin Tour as musical director, and when Madonna agreed to participate in Live Aid in the Summer of 1985, she asked him to collaborate on a new song for the performance, which evolved into Love Makes The World Go Round.
Although both songs would find their way on to Madonna’s next studio album, True Blue, at the time of Live To Tell’s release the album’s title had not yet been decided. Instead, the song was used to promote Sean Penn’s film At Close Range, in which it was featured alongside an original score composed by Leonard.
He had initially composed the music that evolved into Live To Tell for another film he had been invited to score for Paramount, titled Fire With Fire. The producers of the film passed on the theme. Leonard recalled the subsequent series of events that led to the song’s completion in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Random House:
“Madonna said ‘This song would be great for Sean’s new movie.’ She wrote the lyrics–she just wrote them on the spot, which is what we always do. I don’t think we’ve ever taken more than three hours to complete a song from start to finish. She sang it on the demo only once and left with the cassette. That day I went to work with Michael Jackson on some transcriptions for material he was writing for the Bad album. The phone rang at Michael’s and it was Sean. He said ‘I’m over at the director’s house and Madonna just brought the song over. We love it and we’d like to talk to you about it.’ … We re-cut the song, but we used the same vocal. She only sang it once for the demo and that was the vocal we used because it was so innocent and so shy. She had a legal pad in her hand and you can hear the paper. It’s as raw as raw can be and that’s part of what gave it all its charm.”
When the demo recording of Live To Tell eventually surfaced, it became evident that Madonna had in fact re-recorded the first verse, but all remaining vocals do indeed appear to have been carried over from the demo to the final mix (along with a generously added dose of reverb to smooth over the rough edges of the demo take).
Given the song’s dark undercurrents and unresolved narrative, it was a bold choice for a single release. It marked a dramatic shift from the yearning love song, Crazy For You – her only other ballad to have been issued as a single at the time. But any radio programmers who were hesitant to consider Madonna as a serious artist simply couldn’t deny the artistry of the song and nor could record buyers, with the combined support sending Live To Tell straight to the top of the pop charts.
Live To Tell was Madonna’s third #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and her first #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it would reign for three weeks.