With a string of hits behind her, Madonna's awesome album tracks are often overlooked. We take a listen to some of her best album tracks and deep (or deeper and deeper) cuts.
THE FIRST ALBUM - THINK OF ME
Madonna's first album doesn't leave a lot of room for manoeuvre as most of the songs were singles. But the B-side of Holiday is also a great example of the infectious 80s pop that would propel her to superstardom.
LIKE A VIRGIN - STAY
The best deep cut from the album goes to the terrifically emotionally raw version of Love Don't Live Here Anymore which shows a vulnerable side we hadn't seen before. It wasn't originally released as a single, in fact, it was only when the Something To Remember compilation was issued that it had a chart entry in the US in 1996. But as it became single it sadly disqualifies it from our list. So the Like A Virgin deep cut has to be Stay. It's still quintessentially 80s but shows a clear development in Madonna's sound. There's an uncovering of hurt here, a bitterness that the material girl is far from superficial.
TRUE BLUE – LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND
True Blue is Madonna's most successful album to date, and it boasts some of her most popular songs. Madonna's lyrics are political, inspirational and unifying. All this delivered with a sunshine Latin and Calypso inspired beat. Genius.
LIKE A PRAYER - TILL DEATH US DO PART
Like A Prayer marks Madonna's shift from pop songstress to a mature recording artist. There's lots of serious soul searching here as she bravely confronts issues such as religion and her childhood and candidly shares them with us. The hidden gem here is Till Death Us Do Part. It's structured as a similar contradiction to Love Makes The World Go Round; its upbeat riff makes you want to dance until you realise that the lyrics are tainted with the sadness of a breakup, very possibly influenced by her own. Madonna's semi-spoken sections add gravitas to the emotional vocal performance which sounds as if she's just holding back the tears every time.
EROTICA – IN THIS LIFE
Released simultaneously with the controversial SEX coffee table book, the album breaks social taboos on sex, fantasies and the burgeoning AIDS epidemic. In many ways, it's a concept album with Madonna playing our 'mistress' Dita taking us on our journey of physical enlightenment. The album is often overlooked by the brouhaha at the time, but there are several worthy tracks including Thief of Hearts and Waiting. In this Life chronicles those close to her who have died from AIDS and wins here for its upfront and moving lyrics coupled with the unsettling accompaniment. It's not an easy listen, but it was never intended to be.
BEDTIME STORIES – SANCTUARY
Bedtime Stories bridged the gap between Erotica and Ray Of Light. It was also an album that never got its own tour due to Madonna filming Evita. As a result, it seems to have got lost in her canon of work, surprising as it's artistically one of her best albums. Sanctuary hints at what was to come in Ray Of Light, but the clincher is Love Tried To Welcome Me, nothing beats a good Madonna slow dance tune. Mournful and yearning with a perfectly structured arrangement of acoustic guitar and emotive strings.
RAY OF LIGHT -LITTLE STAR