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15 years online

“Madonna – From Genesis to Revelations” – by Bruce Baron : Goldmine Magazine


Madonna’s second album the 1984 “Like A Virgin,” was produced by Chic founder Nile Rogers. Three songs however started out as Madonna-Bray productions, and remain unreleased in their original form. These include “Angel,” “Over And Over,” and “Shoo-Bee-Doo.” Another Madonna-Bray tune, “Don’t You Know” from her Sire-Warner demo was re-written into the version of “Stay” that appears on the “Like A Virgin” album. In a late 80’s interview, Nile Rogers revealed that he had remixed “Like A Virgin” for the 12″ dance single, but his version was passed up in favor of the remix done by Jellybean Benitez. Rogers did get his remix of “Angel” released a few months later, but to this day, the Rogers remix of “Like A Virgin” remains in storage.

The “Vision Quest” movie soundtrack featured two Madonna songs, “Crazy For You” and “Gambler”. The original plan however was to also include the still unreleased “Warning Signs” which Bray describes as “A good synth track.” The tittle even appeared on early promo literature for the film before it was withdrawn. It was written during the same demo sessions for “Shoo-Be-Doo” and “Gambler” along with another title, which Bray did not recall at the time of this writing. “Crazy For You” is rumored to have had some revisions made to it once arrangers were brought in to help out Jellybean with the production of his first ballad. He had been used to producing dance tracks, and there are thought to be alternate takes of the song in the vaults. Bray revealed to Goldmine that is was Jellybean Benitez who taught him how to get around in the studio, and make all the equipment work together.

The movie “Desperately Seeking Susan” also inspired a tune of the same title that never saw the light of day in addition to the monster hit “Into The Groove.” This was also written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray. Bray described what happened this way, “She was actually going to give ‘Groove’ to another singer to record that was working with producer Mark Kamins, but the movie producers heard it, and wanted it for the film. Then we did the other song which was never used.”

The “True Blue” era began when Madonna recorded the first of several collaborations with Patrick Leonard who worked with her on the “Virgin Tour.” The pair wrote and copyrighted “Get Up Stand Tall” in 1985. This song later became “White Heat”, the third cut on the “True Blue” album which is copyrighted separately from “Get Up Stand Tall.” During this period Madonna also recorded the original version of “Spotlight” with Stephen Bray which never made this album. Later, changes to the music and the lyrics and were submitted to amend the 1985 copyright when the Jellybean remix was released on the dance collection “You Can Dance” in 1987. The original version of “Spotlight” remains unreleased.

Another Madonna-Bray demo for “(Each Time) You Break My Heart” also remains unreleased. Bray describes it as “Virtually unchanged from the version later recorded and released by Nick Kamen” with Madonna backing vocals in 1986 except the original demo features Madonna on the lead vocal.

Bray also confirmed another title that he wrote with Madonna called “Working My Fingers To The Bone” that was never registered with the Library Of Congress. I asked him if this was an early version of “Where’s The Party” since that song features a similar theme, and he replied “No, that concept was already worked out with Pat Leonard, and then I was brought in to help finish it.” Bray does have a tape of Madonna singing “Working My Fingers To The Bone”, but it has never been released in any form.

Demos for the 1989 “Like A Prayer” album generated two songs that to this day have not been released in any form or even submitted to the US copyright office. According to Bray, he owns Madonna demos for “Love Attack”, and “First There’s A Kiss” which he co-wrote and co-produced with Madonna. He also prefers the original demo version of “Express Yourself” which he describes as “better than the released version I always thought”. He also holds another demo version of “Keep It Together.”

As the “Like A Prayer” album ran its course, many fans were surprised that no dance remix was issued for “Cherish” as is the normal custom when songs are released as singles. Billboard Magazine reported that “a Madonna song” had been remixed by Hank Shocklee and Phil Castellano during this period which has never surfaced. This is believed by some to be the unreleased dance mix of “Cherish.” Also appearing on this album is the Prince-Madonna collaboration “Love Song.” An outtake of this track has recently surfaced on the Prince bootleg “Jewels From The Vault,” and is only one of several unreleased Prince-Madonna collaborations that are rumored to exist from that recording session.

The “I’m Breathless” album, Music From and Inspired by the film Dick Tracy wasn’t supposed to be a complete album at all. Originally Madonna was only going to do a few songs, but the project grew into her own separate release. The most unlikely, but lucrative addition to the project was “Vogue,” the gay-underground influenced dance anthem that was first planned as the B-side of the “Keep It Together” single until Warner executives heard the track. This massive hit was co-written and co-produced with Shep Pettibone who had remixed many of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” dance singles. Madonna once explained to Interview magazine that she had to change some of the lyrics because the song was on an album for a Disney movie. Some have suspected that the original lyrics to this favorite may have been more controversial. There are in fact two different copyright registrations for “Vogue” (Pau-1-331-762 from February 1990; and Pau-1-384-739 from May of 1990). These two registrations support the revision theory.

There are alternate rehearsal versions of “Sooner Or Later,” “More,” and “What Can You Lose,” which have all surfaced on a bootleg 7″ vinyl release in Europe (although the titlese are severely mis-worded and/or mis-spelled). Another title called “Dog House” was reported by the media to have been recorded for this album, but the evidence does not support this claim. A song called “To Love You” co-written by Madonna and Andy Paley listed at the Warner-Chappell Publishing database is thought to be from this album period, but it also remains unreleased under that title.