For someone so obsessed with image, it's kind of unusual that Madonna has such an uneven back catalogue preservation behind her. In 2001, her first three albums - Madonna (1983), Like a Virgin (1984) and True Blue (1986) - were remastered with a pair of bonus tracks each (all 12" dance singles). Nothing from that point on, including her crowning achievement Like a Prayer (1989), has been given even a remastering.
As for her hits, they can be found on one of a few compilations. There's The Immaculate Collection (1990), a solid offering of material from the first eight years of her career, albeit a set that is heavily remixed, edited and overdubbed; Something to Remember (1995), a ballads disc with a few new tracks to boot; GHV2 (2001), a straightforward run-through of her material from 1992 to 2000 and Celebration, last year's first career-spanning Madonna compilation, albeit one plauged with editing and mastering issues.
I'm not sure why someone with as much influence on popular music (not to mention a viselike grip on how her work is presented) as Madonna gets such short shrift on the catalogue side of things. Perhaps she's one of those artists who "doesn't like to look back" (the classic dreadful comment that tries to justify less-than-stellar catalogue presence). But she is worth it. And while the day a Madonna box set is announced is a day yet to come, one can hope that someday the heavy hitters in the Madonna catalogue will get some sort of royal treatment.
And coming off the fact that Like a Virgin, her first fully satisfying record, hit the top of the Billboard 200 exactly 25 years ago today, I got to thinking how a special edition of the LP might look. Have at it after the jump.
Disc 1: Original LP and Bonus Tracks
I think enough exists in the vault to sit alongside the original LP comfortably on two discs. There's a DVD involved, if you hadn't guessed already, but we'll get to that in a minute.
- Material Girl
- Like a Virgin
- Over and Over
- Love Don't Live Here Anymore
- Dress You Up
- Shoo Bee Doo
DISC 2: B-sides and Remixes
- Gambler (from the Vision Quest soundtrack)
- Crazy for You (from the Vision Quest soundtrack)
- Ain't No Big Deal (Japanese B-side to "Dress You Up" 12" single)
- Into the Groove (B-side to "Angel," later a hit in its own right - amzingly not present on the 2001 remaster)
- Like a Virgin (Extended Dance Remix) (from the 12" single, also included on the 2001 remaster)
- Material Girl (Extended Dance Remix) (from the 12" single, also included on the 2001 remaster)
- Angel (Extended Dance Remix) (from the 12" single)
- Dress You Up (The 12" Formal Mix) (from the 12" single)
- Gambler (Extended Dance Mix) (from the 12" single)
- Warning Signs (unreleased track intended for the Vision Quest soundtrack)
- Desperately Seeking Susan (unreleased track intended for the Desperately Seeking Susan soundtrack)
- Like a Virgin (Nile Rodgers 12" Remix) (unreleased remix - the released 12" remix was done by Jellybean Benitez)
DISC 3: DVD Content
As with most DVDs, this can be anything good. I'd love to see interviews with key players on the record, notably Madonna herself and producers Nile Rodgers (who brought the entire CHIC lineup to the project, although bassist Bernard Edwards and drummer Tony Thompson are no longer with us) and Stephen Bray (a longtime Madonna collaborator, his input would be most valued). It might also be neat to get a DVD release of Live - The Virgin Tour, a VHS/Laserdisc live show from Detroit, from which videos for "Dress You Up" and a live take of "Like a Virgin" were edited.
But if nothing else, at least get those classic music videos on a disc.
- Like a Virgin (video)
- Material Girl (video)
- Angel (promo video - this is a compilation of other video footage and has no new stuff, but it might be neat for archival purposes)
- Into the Groove (video)
- Like a Virgin (Live at the MTV Video Music Awards 1984 - can you believe this has never been released on DVD?)
Perhaps someday Madonna might want to revisit her extensive catalogue. (And hey - Rhino would be handling it, so they'd have to really try to do it completely wrong.) When that day comes, hopefully a dance-pop classic such as Like a Virgin will get the treatment it deserves.
Glenn S. says
I agree about the curious lack of quality control when it comes to reissues (or lack thereof) of Madonna's music. At this point I can only conclude that she just doesn't care.
James Reeno says
The one thing NOT mentioned here is that those 3 remastered albums were compressed/brickwalled quite HEAVILY, squashing all the natural dynamics each song had. Sonically, the original cd masterings sound MUCH better.
Its now been 20 years since those first three remasters. Its high time to start this conversation again. Her fans are not getting any younger. We'd like to see reissued/remastered albums of her Warner years, as this post suggests, with plenty of B-sides and soundtrack songs on second discs (Supernatural, Let down your guard, Fighting Spirit, Goodbye to innocence, I'll remember, Gambler, Time stood still, Hey you...) SO MUCH MATERIAL.
I'd also like the promo Remix Edit of "Dress You Up" to be included on an expanded "Like a Virgin." The Remix Edit can't be recreated from the Formal Mix, so its inclusion on a reissue would be justified.