We have added the UK 12″ vinyl singles to the following discographies:
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We have added the UK 12″ vinyl singles to the following discographies:
Click on the title to access the discography for the HQ scans
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It was 25 years ago today that my mother brought home Madonna’s brand new ‘Erotica’ album. I had been a massive fan ever since seeing ‘Truth Or Dare’ the year before and to me Madonna was (and is) the coolest person in the world. There was a huge hype building up to the release of ‘Erotica’, Dutch magazines were already writing articles speculating that Madonna would be taking it further than we’d ever thought. I still remember seeing the Vanity Fair photoshoot and thinking…..well this is going to be something else!
I remember the Dutch news even dedicating an entire segment in their morning news to the ‘extremely risky’ new song and video by Madonna (‘Erotica’) and showing a few seconds of it. I was hooked instantly. The vibe, that song, the darkness, the mystery, the look….I loved it all.
So when my mother went shopping and brought home ‘Erotica’, happy 11 year old me instantly put the disc in my CD player and listenend. Upon hearing the first seconds of the first song I though my copy was bad….the static noise was intentional though. I listened to the entire album and fell in love with each and every song, it became my favorite Madonna album. Upon visiting my dad a short while later, he told me he had a surprise for me. He grabbed a large package and told me to open it. When I unwrapped it, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that it was Madonna’s infamous brand new and talked about book ‘SEX’. I needed a knife to open it and my father helped me to open the packaging. When I flipped through the pages, I noticed that my dad was shocked. Turned out he had no clue what the book was about, he went to the book store and asked for ‘that new Madonna book’, paid 65 Dutch guilders (around 30 EUR) and went home.
However in the days that followed everyone I knew wanted to see ‘that’ book. In class I had to ‘defend’ my Madonna fandom, to my classmates she went too far and was a ‘slut’. It became a ‘thing’ for people to hate on Madonna and I was the only one defending her. I even performed the song ‘Erotica’ in front of my entire school (nothing erotic…don’t worry), but it was still ‘lame’ to like her. I didn’t care and wasn’t afraid to show my love for her. I wasn’t cool anymore and was suddenly called stupid for sticking up for my favorite singer and music album.
25 years later here I still am, still defending her almost daily to many people….that hasn’t changed! What has changed though is that that same album that was labelled a flop 25 years ago, is now being called a ‘masterpiece’, ‘important work’ and ‘so ahead of its time’. Did it really take 25 years for people to finally ‘get it’?
Guess I wasn’t so stupid after all.
Kimberly van Pinxteren
Twenty five years ago today, Erotica was released to the general public and was met with a wide variety of backlash. Some of which was due to the release of her Sex book, but also due to the S & M laced music video for the title track.
Looking back, I can understand some of the backlash because just months before this CD was released, Madonna had released ‘This Used to be My Playground’.. which was a heartfelt ballad with a beautiful music. To say that both the book and CD were a complete 180 from that song/video would be an understatement. Even though Madonna was known for sudden 180 turns in her image and music, this was a pretty big switch that felt like whiplash for some of her fans. Sadly, the merits of the album were not reviewed and it fell out of the charts within a matter of months.
As a pre-teen/young teen, the album spoke to me as I’ve written before, but I decided to listen to Erotica with an fresh perspective. Below is a breakdown of each song and my thoughts on them as an adult.
After hearing her redo the song for her Confessions Tour as a disco dance song, I find myself not feeling this version as much as I did back then. It did introduce me to the concept of S & M so for that, I’ll always remember this song :)
Cover song that takes a sensual song previously sung in a slow sensual manner, and adds a dance beat. What I most remember of the song was the video of a red spot light background with Madonna covered in silver singing the song. Decent cover, but much prefer the original version sung by Peggy Lee.
Bye Bye Baby:
Decent song, but not her most memorable song. Although I love the New Jack Swing beat :)
Deeper and Deeper:
My favorite song then and now :) A truly fun song done in a genuine club beat with the infectious flamenco guitar played during the bridge of the song.
Where Life Begins:
In middle school, I honestly didn’t understand the meaning of this song. My mom heard it and basically explained it to me. Listening to the song as an adult, I love the double entendres sprinkled throughout the song. It kind of reminds me of what she attempted to do on Holy Water from her Rebel Heart CD. The difference was that this particular song has a slower, r and b groove to it that sounds more sensual then the backdrop for Holy Water.
An overlooked song that barely made the top 40 back in early 1993, that was overshadowed by the more sleazy Erotica and Sex book. The music video for this song plays like a mini-movie (owing to Looking for Mr. Goodbar as inspiration for the video).
Another song I never paid much attention to back in the day, but it’s kind of catchy with a nice R & B groove about longing and waiting for the other person to not run away from their feelings.
Thief of Hearts:
A song about backstabbing and blaming the other woman when her man is stolen from her. Unknown if she was singing about anyone in particular, or if she was just singing about a common occurrence in the often complex world of female friendship and interaction. Catchy with a cool dance beat.
I admit to skipping past this song back when I first got the CD, but it’s a pretty good song about how powerful words can be especially if there is truth behind them. The only drawback to the song is the almost 6 minute run-time. Had the song been edited down to 4 minutes, I think it would have tightened up the song and gotten the message behind the song across better.
The most romantic song on the CD. It was released as the 4th single from the album with a really cool video that’s hi-tech (by 1993 standards), yet has a warmth underneath the cold beat of the song. I love this song more now then I did back then.
Why’s It So Hard:
Another song I never really listened to much back in the day, but now the message of the song fits with what is going on in the world. About feeling alienated, and wondering how she can fight to change the system without being in pain. I’d ask both GOP and Dems this very question since we are nation of division.
In This Life:
A sad song lamenting the loss of friends to AIDS. This song came out in 1992 right after the peak of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, especially in the gay community. The song briefly touches on the story of two people in her life that succumbed to the disease with her wondering who is next. Very sad sad song :(
Did You Do It?:
The song that caused the CD to have a Parental Advisory label plastered on it. Back in 1992, you had the option of getting the clean and non-clean version so naturally I only could purchase the clean version. Hearing the song now, it’s a rap with the chorus from ‘Waiting’ playing.. it’s two guys rapping about sex with someone. So I can see why it got the label, but the song could have easily stayed off the CD. It doesn’t add anything to the cd, except for a male point of view to the concept of the cd.. which was sex.
Another song I never listened to back then, but while it isn’t the catchiest of songs.. the symbolism and message behind the song speaks to me now as an adult. To me, even though she’s been hurt.. she still believes that she will find the perfect person and be happy all the time in her secret places of place.
So as I finish listening to this album, it’s one of her deepest and most honest pieces of work. It’s amazing how mature and introspective she was in this concept album. It examined the different variations of sex from a romantic, as well as primal, point of view. The fact she wrote/produced this at 33 makes me look at current female singers and wonder when they will be producing such works of art. Beyonce is the only one that comes close to doing that, imho.
More at ChicagoNow
Twenty-five years ago, Madonna changed. Sure, Madonna was always changing, but with the release of Erotica on Oct. 20, 1992, she fully shed her ebullient ’80s pop skin, donned a leather cat mask, and kicked open a rusty back alley door that previous chart-toppers only dared to scratch at.
You didn’t need to pick up a copy of her celebrity nude-filled coffee table book, Sex, to realize it. You didn’t even need to see Madonna Veronica Louise Ciccone, whip in hand, mugging for the camera in the video for the title track. All you needed to do was press play on the album and let the impossibly thick, libidinous bass line of “Erotica” start vibrating throughout your body. Forty seconds in, the sampled horns of Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” flare up, but instead of sounding reassuring and familiar, they seem disembodied and eerie. Then, Madonna’s latest alter ego addresses you, low and firm: “My name is Dita / I’ll be your mistress tonight.”
If her earlier work was an invitation to celebrate sexuality without shame, Erotica was a challenge from Dita Parlo – Madonna’s unashamed, unflinching dominatrix persona – to witness and perhaps even indulge in society’s sexual taboos. Madonna may have addressed the male gaze before, but on Erotica, she wasn’t just staring back – she was making the world her sub.
Erotica occupies a watershed place in the pop pantheon, setting the blueprint for singers to get raw while eschewing exploitation for decades to come. For its 25th anniversary, Billboard spoke to the players involved in Madonna’s most creatively daring release. Here’s what producer-writer Andre Betts, backup singer Donna De Lory, producer-writer Shep Pettibone, producer-writer Tony Shimkin and Living Colourbassist Doug Wimbish recall of the writing and recording of Erotica, the insane release party for the LP and book, and the collective societal pearl-clutching that followed.
The seeds of Erotica trace back to 1990’s The Immaculate Collection, which included two new songs: “Rescue Me” from Shep Pettibone and his assistant Tony Shimkin, and “Justify My Love” from Andre Betts and Lenny Kravitz. The gospel-house of the former hit No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the hip-hop-inflected latter – which scandalized the world with its leather-clad, ambisexual music video — reached No. 1. For Erotica, Madonna reteamed with Pettibone and Shimkin for 10 tracks, and Betts for four.
Tony Shimkin: After doing The Immaculate Collection and “Rescue Me,” she let us know she was working on a new album and wanted us to be involved in the writing. Seeing I was a musician and writer and Shep [Pettibone] was more of a DJ and remixer, we collaborated on the writing of the tracks for the Erotica album. We went up to meet with her in Chicago, post-“Vogue,” when she was filming A League of Their Own. So we met with her and started to get to work on some music, and sent it to her as we were working our way through it. She would come into New York and have a book full of lyrics and melody ideas and we started working together in Shep’s home studio. I believe the first time she was in New York for an extended period, we were working on “Deeper and Deeper” and “Erotica” and “Bye Bye Baby.” She’s very driven. There’s was never a period of feeling it out — it was diving in headfirst.
Doug Wimbish: I remember Madonna when she used to go to the Roxy before she got really put on. I’d see her at the Roxy when Afrika Bambaataa was down there or [Grandmaster] Flash, and she was down there jamming out. And not just being a spectator, but being engaged in the scene. Madonna’s association with the dance music and the gay scene and the hip-hop scene merging in the downtown clubs in New York City, and her coming from Michigan, she got it…. And she knew Dre had something special. A song like “Where Life Begins” is right up his alley. She had a relationship with Dre for his rawness and realness. You gotta be around someone in this business who tells you, “No, I’m not digging that, that’s why.” And also keep the window open to listen. I think that’s what Dre did.
Andre Betts: “Where Life Begins” was the first song we wrote on Erotica. I started working on the track and she started writing lyrics. She called me a few weeks before and asked me over the phone, “I’ll be in New York in two weeks, do you want to work?” I’m like, “Yeah of course.” She’s like, “Find a studio, I don’t want to work in a popular studio, I want to be low-key.” [The studio I picked] was a hole in the wall for real. She came in, started writing, she’s like, “What do you think about this direction and these lyrics?” I was like, “That sounds like something I’d write.” Our session got interrupted because a big rat ran across the floor. I’m the only one that got the feet up so at first I didn’t think she saw it, and she goes, “Dre, stop being a bitch, it’s just a rat.” [Laughs] She said, “I’m from Detroit, I’m not worried about a rat.”
Shimkin: She really holds fast to a general rule, which is that she’s in charge of lyrics and melody, and you’re in charge of music. While she has her say in the music end, it’s more about the arrangement and how it works with her vocal. She’ll still be open to ideas you have about a vocal. One is her dominion, the other is yours, and they don’t meet that often, but it’s not unheard of to be able to comment either way.
Donna De Lory: She would completely just hear it in her head. Especially when we’re doing vocals. Sometimes [backup singer] Niki [Haris] and I would be like, “How ’bout this? How ’bout that?” And she was like, “Nope, this is how it’s going to be.” And it ended up being great. She was open to other ideas, but I really respected that.
Wimbish: [My first day in the studio], she rolls up and she’s got a box with these Playboy magazines from like the ’60s. She comes in, Dre sees her and she’s chilling, Dre’s like, “Yo what’s up Mo how you doing?” They start having a conversation. Dre says, “What do you got here in this box.” Before she can say anything Dre takes one of the magazines and opens to the center section, is like, “Damn these old babes had some titties back then!” Dre’s real straight up and down with her. She’s Madonna, she’s got that alpha female vibe — and no disrespect. I’m like “yo, let me see that.” She’s like, “No, no, I don’t want you to see anything ’til you play some bass.” Our relationship was broken in based on Dre, that moment and Playboy magazines. Dre’s looking at the centerfold, Madonna’s doing her Madonna thing, saying, “no, no,” and I’m like, “I’m not doing anything until I see some titties and ass.”
Shimkin: I was 21, 22 years old at the time. While I’d worked on a lot of major artists’ records and spoken to some of them, it can be intimidating at first. When we worked on “Vogue” I didn’t speak to her that much, but when we started working in [Shep’s] house [on Erotica] and you’re there every day, you realize somebody is just who they are. One time, she was asking me if I was done on the computer. She asked me a few minutes later and I was like “not yet,” and I started getting more nervous. The next time she asked me, I lost it and I thought it was the end of my career, I said, “I’m not done yet, make some fucking popcorn and I’ll let you know when I’m ready.” And she was like, “Ah-k.” I think she appreciated someone not being a sycophant and kissing her ass, and just being real. It became much easier as time went on. I think she enjoys having people around her who allow themselves to be themselves. She’s really no different than what she puts out there to the public in a movie like Truth or Dare. There’s not a persona and she doesn’t hide who she is.
Read full story at Billboard
Back in the late 1990s I used to run into Sean Hughes all the time at parties. He was a Perrier Award-winning stand-up comedian and team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks who would go to the opening of an envelope, so long as it included a free drink. I was the Showbusiness Correspondent of the Evening Standard so I was often there too.
Sean usually had a fag in one hand and a drink in the other. He was often drunk, which seems to be what did for him in the end, the poor sod. Only 51 too, when he died this week, an event he foresaw in a rather wonderful poem:
“I want to be cremated
I want people to patch together, half truths. I want people to contradict each other I want them to say ‘I didn’t know him but cheers’ I want my parents there, adding more pain to their life. I want The Guardian to mis-sprint three lines about me or to be mentioned on the news Just before the ‘parrot who loves Brookside’ story.
I want to have my ashes scattered in a bar, on the floor, mingle with sawdust, a bar where beautiful trendy people
Will trample over me … again”
At that time, in the late 1990s, he rubbed shoulders with, but never seemed to be part of, the Britpop A-list who dominated the tabloids’ showbiz pages – Liam and Noel, Damon and Jarvis, Baddiel and Skinner, Meg (Matthews) and Fran (Cutler), Kate (Moss) and Sadie (Frost), Patsy (Kensit) and Davinia (Taylor). Sean was never quite on the A-list. He had the same level of fame, and he was seen at the same parties, but the paps weren’t as interested in Sean, perhaps because he didn’t have a celebrity girlfriend for them to snap. Consequently, he was occasionally reduced to talking to me.
Such was the case when we both found ourselves in a room at the ICA waiting to meet Madonna one night in November 1999.
Read full story at EveningStandard
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In 1990, Madonna was as astronomically popular as a boundary-bulldozing, unapologetically bacchanalian performance artist could get. Drawing from Harlem drag balls, “Vogue” went Number One nearly worldwide. The tour showcasing it, Blond Ambition, mixed spectacle with social commentary so sharply that it reinvented the pop concert and yielded the smash documentary Truth or Dare. And that year’s The Immaculate Collection, her first greatest-hits set, would eventually rank among the world’s biggest-ever albums, despite MTV banning its gender-blurring and cinematically exquisite “Justify My Love” video.
Some loathed this classically trained dancer/DIY provocateur – a megastar peer of Prince and Michael Jackson since her 1984 blockbuster Like a Virgin – with a venom reserved for successful women forging their own path. But for her vast audience, she was nothing less than liberating, and her uninterrupted string of hits defined pop for a decade. What some considered violations of taste made her more commanding: Even the way she toyed with ordinarily unflappable talk show hosts like David Letterman was more rock & roll than actual rock stars.
Nearly everything changed two years later with Erotica and Sex. Released respectively on October 20th and 21st, 1992, the first fruits of her multimedia Maverick entertainment company weren’t flops; her fifth studio album, Eroticaracked up six million sales worldwide and yielded several hits, while Sex – an elaborate coffee table book created with fashion photographer Steven Meisel and Fabien Baron of Harper’s Bazaar – sold out its limited 1.5 million printing in a few days, an unparalleled success for a $50 photography folio bound in metal and sealed in a Mylar bag to evoke condoms. It remains one of the most in-demand out-of-print publications of all time.
But both record and book, despite a few positive reviews, inspired widespread vitriol. “There’s nothing erotic about it, unless one finds the idea of a singing death mask sexy.” That was Entertainment Weekly‘s take on Erotica‘s rendition of “Fever,” but it summed up many assessments of the entire album. Others appreciated Sex‘s forthright presentation of LGBTQ sexuality and S&M even less. “Of course, some of us actually like the opposite sex; some of us believe it is possible to have great sex without whips, third parties or domestic pets,” groused not some reactionary macho windbag, but a female film critic for The New York Times.
Why did projects Madonna intended to open minds shut so many down?
As her stardom snowballed through the Eighties and early Nineties, AIDS decimated the scene that helped birth Madonna. Taking music and fashion cues from lower Manhattan’s punk rebelliousness and midtown’s disco hedonism, pre-stardom Madonna was a fixture in the bohemian underground chronicled by photographer Nan Goldin in her autobiographical The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a likely Sex influence, along with the severe stylization of Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Robert Mapplethorpe. By 1992, AIDS claimed Goldin’s subjects, Mapplethorpe himself, much of the art world (including Madonna’s friend Keith Haring), and a growing chunk of Madonna’s audience. It also killed and would go on to kill her cohorts, including Blond Ambition dancer Gabriel Trupin. Just as racism and the Black Lives Matter movement shaped Beyoncé’s Lemonade, AIDS and ACT UP – the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, the direct action advocacy and educational group whose motto was “Silence = Death” – yielded Erotica and Sex.
Madonna previewed both works with the lead single and video for “Erotica,” which boldly picked up where “Justify My Love” left off, and is narrated by Mistress Dita, her Sex dominatrix alter ego. “Give it up, do as I say,” she growls over gritty funk that combines the clatter of R&B’s New Jack Swing with house music’s heavy bottom. “Give it up and let me have my way.”
But in much of what follows on the LP, the woman behind the vixen doesn’t get what she wants: Her relationships fall apart as she awakens from spells cast by deceptive lovers (“Bye Bye Baby,” “Waiting,” “Words”). Booze, chain–smoking, and anonymous sex can’t numb the pain (“Bad Girl”), and a friend steals her man (“Thief of Hearts”). Meanwhile, comrades die (“In This Life”) while kindred outcasts struggle (“Why’s It So Hard”). “I’m not happy this way,” she sings in “Bad Girl.” Sensuality was merely part of the picture: Erotica is Madonna’s concept album about love and intimacy under the shadow of plague.
In excerpts from his studio diary, Erotica‘s co-producer/songwriter Shep Pettibone – a skilled remixer who helped Eighties dance grooves evolve from disco to house music – archived the singer’s feedback on the album’s early slick mixes. “I hate them,” she said. “If I had wanted the album to sound like that, I’d have worked with [earlier collaborator] Patrick Leonard in L.A.” Instead, Madonna demanded rawness, “as if it were recorded in an alley at 123rd Street in Harlem.”
And so her “Vogue” collaborator reverted to the rhythm-intensive immediacy of his remixes as he reworked much of the album until it boomed, banged and sizzled like his increasingly popular remixes: Pettibone’s version of “Express Yourself” was the one heard in Madonna’s massive video. Instead of composing a radio-targeted album later reshaped for the clubs, Pettibone, together with Madonna, and André Betts – a newcomer who co–produced “Justify My Love” with Lenny Kravitz – made Erotica resemble an alternately party-minded and private collection of 12-inch singles. Even ballads like “Bad Girl” take arrangement cues from club music; in this case, a somber, slo-mo slant on Black Box’s piano-pounding house anthems.
Unlike Erotica, which contrasts moods and tempos but maintains a deep and yearning sonic continuity, Sex is varied in style and content. Some shots are straightforward, such as the introductory snaps of Madonna cavorting with two tattooed and pierced lesbian skinheads. The authenticity of her playmates accentuates the fastidiousness of her makeup and the newness of her fetish-wear, which makes Madonna look like a tourist. There’s little less sexy than that.
Other photos are open to interpretation: One features four masculine figures standing at urinals with Madonna superimposed in pink. The clash of iconography and grain of the image means it takes some staring to notice one has a hand on another’s ass – and even more scrutiny to realize these two apparent dudes are actually women; probably the same butches in the earlier tableau. Here Madonna looks like she’s visited that same seedy men’s room, and the double exposure insinuates it’s on her mind. She’s not alone: When bigots obsess over transgender folk in public restrooms, this is what they’re imagining. They’d deny the compositional beauty of the image, but there it plainly is, contrasted and highlighted by the sleaze.
Clearly she intended to instigate more than that era’s version of the far right: One of the most realistic photos depicts her in a gymnasium under a basketball hoop with books tossed about and a school uniform half off. One guy holds her between his legs, and another guy’s hand is poised to explore her naked crotch. There’s more than a suggestion of struggle: Only her strained smile signifies consent.
Penned by Madonna, the text also varies in tone. Sometimes she’s acting out scenarios likely avoided in real life. Elsewhere she’s clearly speaking her own mind, yet with the disclaimer, “Nothing in this book is true,” which, to follow her logic, might be a lie. So when she wrote, “The women who are doing [porn] want to do it: No one is holding a gun to their head,” critics lambasted the musician. Given that Madonna posed nude in 1978 when she was broke and couldn’t stop Penthouse and Playboy from publishing the results in 1985, this statement comes across as atypically naïve.
Because Sex and Erotica launched Maverick and her renegotiated $60 million contract with Time Warner, speculation over the Material Girl’s earnings framed nearly every critical analysis. But Madonna’s moxie has never been just about profit and fame. As her charities and donations have attested for decades, she also aims to make the world a better place: She just opened a pediatric hospital in Malawi. Back then, she taught soft-core sex ed.
“I think the problem is that everybody’s so uptight about [sex] that they make it into something bad when it isn’t, and if people could talk about it freely, we would have people practicing more safe sex,” she told Vanity Fair at the time. “We wouldn’t have people sexually abusing each other, because they wouldn’t be so uptight to say what they really want, what they really feel.” Maybe that’s a little simplistic, but it’s genuinely humanitarian. At a time when the straight media essentially characterized all sex as dangerous, Madonna tried to illustrate that it could be safe and stimulating, particularly if we open our minds, free our bodies, and try something besides standard intercourse.
Nowadays, S&M and explicit LGBTQ imagery is never more than a few clicks away, but the internet was in its infancy in 1992: Photos of sexual activity were exclusive to specialty bookstores until Robert Mapplethorpe’s headline–grabbing 1989 retrospective The Perfect Moment, which placed S&M and interracial gay sexuality onto museum walls. The resulting controversy – inflamed by North Carolina’s obstructionist Senator Jesse Helms and his attempt to prevent the National Endowment for the Arts from funding “obscenity” – engaged viewers in a moral debate. Accordingly, Sex was never about pretty pictures.
Twenty-five years after publication, it’s easier to differentiate between Sex‘s weaknesses and strengths. The sequence with pop rapper Vanilla Ice – Madonna’s then-boyfriend – was always tacky, and the section in which she sandwiches herself between hip-hop’s Big Daddy Kane and supermodel Naomi Campbell is more stilted than ever. Actress Isabella Rossellini – who appears in a man’s suit caressing Madonna and her female friends with an emotional intimacy missing from those celebrity shots – nailed the book’s major limitation when she told The Huffington Post in 2014, “Madonna was almost too beautiful, too perfect … to have that vulnerability or the sense of shock that a regular, more normal, not-so-professional fitted body could convey.” No matter how many personas the icon tries on like a pop-art Cindy Sherman, Madonna is Madonna when she takes off her clothes – maybe even more so.
And yet I recognize her intentions. Madonna and I are of the same generation, and before she was a star, we’d party at the same NYC clubs like Danceteria, where her career began. I lost my dad to cancer when I was young just as she lost her mom at age five, and so I know all too well how grieving reactivates that original deprivation, like when my very first lover died of AIDS 30 years ago. After that went co-workers, mentors and friends until the mid-Nineties, when combinations of antiviral medicines slowed and then ultimately stopped HIV’s progression for many patients who followed their medication regimen with military precision.
But until then, if you lived in a major city and were gay or an intravenous drug user, sex worker or among their intimates, you were an endangered species. There was no cure, and our government was indifferent. Breaking their silence was essential to our survival and sanity. So when Madonna launched her business with Sex and Erotica, LGBTQ people knew she wasn’t exploitative: She was trying to save our lives by politicizing her anger. The frustration of Eroticathat critics of the era bemoaned, we applauded because it was our own. Sure, she borrowed some of our fabulousness, but she also gave back plenty.
Accordingly, Erotica is also filled with love. The album’s steamiest – and funniest – cut, “Where Life Begins,” celebrates cunnilingus with cheeky wordplay, but also sweetness and warmth: Crooning over Andre Betts’ hip-hop ballad beats, she beckons the listener, “Go down where I cannot hide,” as if to suggest her womanhood is this chameleon’s constant truth.
The album’s most driving dance track, the hit “Deeper and Deeper,” revels in romantic surrender. But LGBTQ people interpret it more specifically about embracing same-sex attraction. “This feeling inside, I can’t explain/But my love is alive, and I’m never gonna hide it again,” Madonna belts in the concluding verse, hitting that declaration harder than anything in her catalog. Set in a pansexual nightclub much like Danceteria, its video pays tribute to Andy Warhol, here represented by actor Udo Kier – a Warhol graduate who also plays Sex‘s dungeon master. But it also tips a hat to Madonna’s late mentor Christopher Flynn, who introduced the straight-A student and cheerleader to the gay discos of Detroit.
“I always felt like I was a freak when I was growing up and that there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t fit in anywhere,” she told director Gus Van Zant in Interview in 2010. “But when he took me to that club, he brought me to a place where I finally felt at home.”
Her elegiac “In This Life” offers gratitude to Flynn and her late roommate Martin Burgoyne while addressing AIDS head-on. “He was only 23/Gone before he had his time,” she sings of Burgoyne; “He was like a father to me … taught me to respect myself,” she croons about Flynn. Like “This Used to Be My Playground,” the similarly mournful League of Their Own chart-topper released four months before Erotica but written and recorded midway through the album, this lament reveals the wounded child concealed behind her workaholism. Her fragility makes the singing stronger.
This sincerity spills into “Rain,” the sunny single that revived sales eight months after the album’s release, and the final track, “Secret Garden.” Madonna ponders her feminine essence as a hidden paradise of pleasure, a Garden of Eden, and she reveals insecurities ordinarily concealed, hoping they’ll blossom into self-knowledge. “I wonder if I’ll ever know/where my place is, where my face is/I know it’s in here somewhere,” she whispers over a thrusting bass line, a gyrating breakbeat and breezy jazz piano that wanders with her thoughts. When she does sing on the chorus, she’s not the ballsy belter of her hits, but an aching, affectation-free spirit waiting for “a place that I can be born,” as if the true Madonna hadn’t yet arrived.
A quarter century after Sex and Erotica, the era’s lingering image of the superstar is the shot of her fully naked – tresses teased and face painted like a Fifties starlet, a cigarette in her lips, and her feet in stilettos – thumbing a ride on a bucolic Florida street. Her nude femininity is perfectly sculpted, yet she exudes the assurance of a suited male bureaucrat. It’s the book’s most transgressive image, for it presents a woman self-objectifying, calling the shots instead of following them, sharing her amorous dreams with the pluck usually reserved for straight white men. There’s no submissiveness; instead, its carnal opposite, flaunted while politicians and religious leaders preached abstinence as the only civilized response to a virus spreading throughout the world and claiming millions of lives. Instead, Madonna cast herself as Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Bunny.
This defiance flipped out men and women alike.
“I divide my career from before and after the Sex book,” she told Spin four years later. “Sex was my fantasy, and I made money off of it. That is a no-no.”
Her bravado lingered through Body of Evidence, a BDSM-charged thriller, and the Maverick-produced, straight-to-video drama Dangerous Game. Both were widely panned, as well as her 1994 Late Show appearance in which she asked David Letterman to smell her panties, smoked a cigar and said, “fuck” 14 times. In between, she staged her Erotica-centric Girlie Show World Tour, which furthered Blond Ambition’s fearless exuberance, but only played three U.S. cities.
Madonna’s sound and image then softened substantially with Evita, motherhood and wistful serenades like “Take a Bow” (her longest-running U.S. Number One) before she regained her audacity via 1998’s soul-searching Ray of Light and 2000’s experimental Music. And although some of her subsequent output has followed trends rather than setting them, she still puts on a rarely rivaled live show by foregrounding her body as the primary site of her art. That was daring in her Erotica/Sex period. Doing that today, as a 59-year-old woman, makes Madonna even more radical. Watch her fiery acceptance speech last December at Billboard‘s Women in Music shindig if you think she’s lost her edge.
“I was called a whore and a witch,” she recalled of that epoch. “One headline compared me to Satan. I said, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t Prince running around with fishnets and high heels and lipstick with his butt hanging out?’ Yes, he was. But he was a man. This was the first time I truly understood women do not have the same freedom as men. …I [felt] like the most hated woman in the world.”
Today, Erotica‘s melancholy desire is all over the boldest substantial pop from Lana Del Rey and Father John Misty to Frank Ocean and Beyoncé, and its dirty house grooves animate chart divas from Katy Perry on “Swish Swish” to underground rappers such as Zebra Katz on “Ima Read.” Let’s not forget that Grace Jones and Debbie Harry made Madonna possible. But there’s an even more direct line between Madonna’s unrepentant and emphatically female sensuality – particularly in this incendiary phase – and what followed from Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Tove Lo and now Cardi B. Without Madonna, modern pop as we know it would be unimaginable. Meanwhile, Sex‘s provocations have permeated advertising, which was hardly the point. (Meisel’s wood-paneled 1995 campaign for Calvin Klein evoked teen porn so brazenly that the Justice Department got involved and CK pulled the ads.)
However, popular music and art are no longer thoroughly defined by a straight white masculine perspective. Nearly everything is more sexualized, and that’s not entirely positive, but alpha male artists and submissive female subjects don’t dominate as much as they’ve done for centuries. We’ve finally hit a tipping point when popular culture is offering more viewpoints and voices: That’s why there’s a rise in fascism to suppress them. Sex and Erotica‘s greatest contribution remains their embrace of the Other, which in this case means queerness, blackness, third-wave feminism, exhibitionism and kink. Madonna took what was marginalized at the worst of the AIDS epidemic, placed it in an emancipated context, and shoved it into the mainstream for all to see and hear.
More at RollingStone
Once again we have a discount code for our visitors when purchasing tickets to the mega record and CD fair on November 11 and 12 in Utrecht!
When purchasing a ticket through: https://registration.n200.com/survey/3p8k4kkqz9hur use the following code MPC3 to pay 11,50 EUR
November 11 & 12, 2017 the Jaarbeurs Convention centre in Utrecht will host the 48th edition of the Mega Record & CD Fair. An event that in the past 25 years has enjoyed international acclaim and made its name as the place to be for music fans, crate diggers, deejays and vinyl lovers. Packed with exhibitions, live performances, book signings and over 500 dealers from all over the world the fair offers the greatest choice of vinyl, cd’s and pop memorabilia. Don’t be surprised if you bump into artists searching for their own original productions.
For more info visit www.recordplanet.nl
This is the first ever official Madonna promotional poster by Sire and dates back to 1983.
This unique one of a kind promo poster was used to promote Madonna’s first record and features a stunning image taken by Steven Meisel (who is also credited on the poster). It is extremely hard to find and one of the greatest Madonna collectibles around.
We have just added an image of the actual poster to our ‘Madonna / The First Album’ promo page. To check it all out visit the ‘memorabilia’ tab.
We have just added two new promo only items to our discography:
To check out the HQ scans, visit the ‘promo only’ tab of our discography
The 6th and final single to be taken from ‘Like a Prayer’ was ‘Keep It Together‘. The song was only released in the U.S., Canada, Australia (charted along with ‘VOGUE’) and Japan.
Madonna only ever performed the song once during her Blond Ambition Tour, where it closed the show.
In the discography we have collected a few different pressings for you from the U.S., Australia and Japan.
New in our discography is Madonna’s ‘Dear Jessie’.
This was the fifth single to be taken off of ‘Like a Prayer’. Even though never released in the U.S.A. this was the next single in both Europe and Australia where it became a minor hit and was certified silver in the U.K. The song was inspired by Patrick Leonard’s daughter Jessie. Madonna hasn’t performed the track live as of today. Madonna didn’t film a music video for it, instead a video was created with a cartoon image of Madonna and a sleepy little girl.
In the discography we have added various releases including the rare Australian cassette single and rare picture CD!
Check it all out HERE
Sainsbury’s just released two new vinyl limited editions:
Be sure to catch them at your local store!
New in our discography is Madonna’s fourth single off of ‘Like a Prayer’ namely ‘Oh Father’.
Even though a stunning song with one of her most cinematic music video’s ever, it failed to become a smash hit and ended her string of top hits in America.
We have collected various releases, check these out in the discography HERE