Sunday, May 9, 2010

Madonna, Madonna, Madonna

Madonna's 80s Collection

Madonnas vinyl record covers from the 80s
Photo of Madonna's Album Covers by Author

Madonna found fame in the 1980s producing 4 chart topping albums. Madonna seemed able to tune into the winds of change just before they occured and reinvented herself several times.

Songs such as Holiday and Lucky Star from her first album the self-titled Madonna catapulted her to stardom. With her resulting chart topping success throughout the rest of the eighties Madonna became a superstar and the rest as they say is history.

Not only was Madonna singing and dancing her way to stardom, she was also acting in movies such as Desperately Seeking Susan and Shanghai Surprise, as the 80s drew to a close she was working on the movie Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty.

Madonna's album Madonna

Madonna's first album was the self titled Madonna. It featured the singles Holiday, Borderline and Lucky Star.

This album was pure pop and was exactly what was needed in the early 80s. Madonna jumped into the limelight with all of her energy. She had bleach blonde hair and wore dozens of bangles.

These songs will still get people onto the dance floor 25 years later. The unpolished performance of Madonna in 1983 compared to now is quite interesting.

Madonna LP cover with inner sleeve
Madonna Album Cover & Inner Sleeve by author

This album is a must for any Madonna fan or even an 80s music lover as it documents the birth of -

The Queen of Pop

Madonna's album Like A Virgin - Madonna's second album

Madonna's second album gave us the singles Like A Virgin, Material Girl, Angel, Dress You Up & Into The Groove.

Like a Virgin
The title track Like A Virgin caused widespread controversy which 'little catholic girl' Madonna lapped up. The album continued on with the pop sound of her first album with Dress You Up and Into The Groove becoming 80s dance club staples.

Material Girl was a tongue in cheek look at the 'buy it now' generation. She tried to morph into Marilyn Monroe's character from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, this was really our first taste of how Madonna could reinvent herself.

Madonna really embraced the MTV culture and worked on giving a good show as well as singing her best. She was always working on her dancing as she realised how important the complete package was.

She also realised the importance of video, in fact in Material Girl the video runs longer than the song telling a story.

Her single Into The Groove as well as being a big hit in dance clubs was also the 3rd best selling single of 1985 in the UK.

LIke a Virgin by Madonna vinyl LP cover and inner sleeve
Madonna's Like a Virgin LP Cover & Inner Sleeve by author

Madonna Branches Out

1985 was a year for consolidating on her pop music success. Not only did Madonna start her first US tour - The Virgin Tour - she also did some mainstream acting.

The Virgin Tour was really big and was the reason she was unable to be a part of the Feed The World single. She did perform at the Live Aid concert however.

The beginning of the year saw Madonna make a brief appearance in the movie Vision Quest. Later in the year she would co-star in Desperately Seeking Susan with Rosanna Arquette.

Vision Quest
Matthew Modine stars in this coming of age movie as a high school wrestler. He doesn't have much support from his father and sets about trying to achieve his goal on his own -enter Linda Fiorentino.

His father rents out the spare room to a drifter, played by Linda Fiorentino, promptly our hero falls for this older woman. She helps him to focus on his goal - does he make it? Well that would be telling.

Madonna's performance is as a lead singer in a local band - not a big stretch for her. She performs her hit song Crazy for You. The movie is credited with helping her song Crazy for You become her second US number one hit.

Desperately Seeking Susan
This likeable comedy is about a case of mistaken identity. I believe this has been Madonna's best movie role and Rosanna Arquette is also great in what is a cult 80s film.

Rosanna's character is that of a bored suburban housewife while Madonna plays a free spirited NY drifter.

Madonna's Album True Blue - Madonna's third album

Madonna's third album featured the singles Live to Tell, Papa Don't Preach, True Blue, Open Your Heart and La Isla Bonita.

True Blue
True Blue shows Madonna's growing confidence and maturity. It also has my favorite Madonna track - Papa Don't Preach, although controversal at the time I think it is a great song. I'm not the only person who appreciated this song as it was the ninth best selling single of 1986 in the UK.

With the ballad Live to Tell, Madonna was able to silence her critics as it really showed off her singing ability.

La Isla Bonita hints to us that Madonna hasn't finished her ability to become a musical chameleon which in hind sight we have come to realise that she never will!

Madonna released her album True Blue in 1986, the same year as she starred with her then husband Sean Penn in the movie Shanghai Surprise.

True Blue vinyl record sleeve cover & inner sleeve
True Blue LP Cover & Inner Sleeve by author

Madonna also made her first appearance as a stage actress alongside Sean Penn in Goose and Tom-Tom.

The following year in 1987 Madonna starred in another movie called Who's That Girl. She contributed four songs to the movie's soundtrack and embarked on another tour. This tour was called Who's That Girl?

Madonna also released an album of her past hits in 1987 called You Can Dance.

1987 also saw the town of Pacentro start to construct a statue of Madonna in a bustier. Madonna's Ciccone grandparents emigrated to America from Pacentro.

Pope John Paul II urged Catholics to stay away from Madonna's Who's That Girl tour as she began her Italian leg of the tour.

Shanghai Surprise (Special Edition)
This movie stars husband and wife duo Sean Penn and Madonna. It is set in 1930s China and has been described as anything from mediocre to a disaster.

The film was such a total flop that plans to release the soundtrack (by the talented George Harrison) were scrapped.

Considering that Sean Penn and Madonna were married and supposedly in love there is no chemistry between them at all.

Who's That Girl? (1987)
This screwball comedy was panned by critics, although Madonna received some really good comments for critics for her performance. Including "Madonna is sexy and funny - a very engaging comedian.

It may not be an award winning movie but if you like films such as Superbad then you should 'go retro' and watch Who's That Girl. It has some hilarious moments along with a great soundtrack.

Madonna's Like a Prayer Album - Madonna's fourth album

Madonna's fourth album features the singles: Like a Prayer, Express Yourself, Cherish, Oh Father, Dear Jessie & Keep it Together.

Like a Prayer
This album was the first one that Madonna seemed to recieve BOTH critical and commercial success with. It shows a lot of maturity in her singing as well as her versatility. Rolling Stone magazine actually said the album was as close to art as pop music gets.

According to Time magazine in 2006 the Like A Prayer album made the list as one of the greatest 100 albums of all time

n 1988, the year before releasing Like a Prayer, Madonna appeared as Karen in the stage performance of Speed the Plow.

In 1989 the film Bloodhounds of Broadway was released. Starring Madonna & Josef Sommer this film is set during the roaring 20s with gangsters and go-go girls. It is worth watching if only to see a young Steve Buscemi and Randy Quaid.

Leaving the 80s Madonna was co-starring next to Hollywood heavyweight Warren Beatty in Dick Tracy. Dick Tracy would be released in 1990.

Madonna also tried out for a role on the hit television series Fame. Although Madonna was unsuccessful in getting a role she did write a couple of songs for the series.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Top of the Pops

If you were a teen in the UK during the 80s then Top of the Pops or TOTP was compulsory viewing on a Thursday night. Presenters such as Jimmy (Jim’ll Fix It) Saville, Mike Read and Dave Lee Travis would take us through our top selling singles of the week.....of course we’d all heard the charts on the Radio One show on a Sunday night, but we never knew who would be on TOTPs.

I first saw Wham on TOTP before they’d had a hit single……the following week they were in the charts!

The first number one chart hit of May 1981 was Stars on 45 by Starsound followed by Adam and the Ants with Stand and Deliver the next week. I can still remember the first time I saw Adam and the Ants perform Stand and Deliver on TOTP – I must admit I preferred the video – I did like that video !!

The first number one hit in May of 1982 was I Won’t Let You Down by PhD, I was trying to think who sang that a while ago and now I know! I really didn’t remember it being that early on in the 80s though.

Entering May in 1983 and we have Spandau Ballet’s only UK number one single – True, I was absolutely ecstatic when True hit number one, but not nearly as happy as those Islington boys who celebrated by partying on a boat on the Thames.

The first number one of May 1984 was by Spandau’s rivals Duran Duran and was called The Reflex. I didn’t mind Duran Duran although I would never have admitted it back in the 80s you were a Spandau fan or a Duranie and I knew which one I was and it wasn’t a Duranie!!

The first number one in May 1985 was Paul Hardcastle with his anti-Vietnam song 19.

I always recorded the top 40 off of the radio every week onto my cassette tape so that I could play it while doing my homework – highly illegal I know, but the tapes no longer exist. Do you still have any cassette tapes? I found some really cool gift ideas to remind Gen Xers of cassette tapes including these two here –

Well I have to leave the hits there for now as it’s time to get back to the 21st century – it’s a little different to Buck Roger’s vision isn’t it LOL

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The A Team

When I was at the movies a few days ago I saw a preview of the A Team movie, it looks great, but will it be as good as I remember the A Team television series being? I pity the fool who never got to watch it, it was one of the shows that I was glued to.....and we didn’t watch much television in our house (in fact we went without tv for a few years, but that’s a whole new story).

It will be interesting to see how Liam Neeson (Hannibal), Bradley Cooper (Face), Sharlto Copley (Maddog) and Quinton Jackson (BA) do in comparison to the classic team of Peppard, Benedict, Schultz and Mr T.

You can buy the complete series in this limited edition set which has a picture of Mr T driving the A Team van which would make it a great gift idea. Personally after seeing the shorts for the new movie I really want to watch the old series again and it’s my birthday soon so I’m dropping a few hints!!