Tuesday, April 06, 1999

Various - Virgin Voices: A Tribute To Madonna: Volume One

You can go through life denying it but one of the most important performers of the 1980's was Madonna. Her music defined a female artists role in music during the decade. Everything from her attitude, dress, changes in musical direction and even the controversy has kept her in the public eye and ear. This brought her a total of 19 songs in the Top 20 of Billboard Magazines charts during the 80's. And with all this I have been burnt out on her since 1986. It wasn't until last year that I finally bought a cd of her's You Can Dance (a collection of dance remixes to dj.) Most likely the blame could fall on the radio overplay of her songs. I always figured that she never stopped long enough for a backlash to occur.

The release of Virgin Voices which is a tribute to the music and marketing genius of Madonna marks a change in my opinion. Voices contains 14 tracks from "Holiday" by Heaven 17 to "Frozen" by Gene Loves Jezebel. The artists on the cd also shows a great diversity in some of the people who she has inspired. Cleverly this 'then to now' collection is covered by some of the 80's finest artists and some upcoming ones. Dead Or Alive come up with a brilliant reworking of "Why It's So Hard" that makes you wonder where they've been hiding their talent. I can keep praising the likes of Berlin, Annabella Lwin (Bow Wow Wow), Front Line Assembly, KMFDM and even a bonus backing vocal on one track by Boy George... but you just have to hear it.

So the best and the worst of this collection... The worst Loleatta Holloway's cover of "Like A Prayer" could have been produced better. She has a soulful voice which could have been used better if the whole song was done in a gospel tone. Instead it's backed with something resembling disco and pretty much mocks the original. Unusual, but the best I heard here was Information Society's version of "Express Yourself." I don't know if this song ever could have been an anthem... but it feels like one now. This sounds like they wrote it! Which is a compliment to both Madonna and InSoc. I can only hope this is released as a single.

So I hit a crossroad with this album. It has opened my eyes to the 'Material Girl' in me and I have a renewed faith in the music of the 1980's. Also, I am very impressed by the recordings put forth by the performers here... there is a future beyond our last decade and this has helped them move right into it. This is a definite buy and I'm eagerly awaiting Volume Two which promises more of what I loved here. I feel like breaking out "La Isla Bonita" right now.

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