Madonna – Like A Virgin

OMG! Wasn’t she a vixen? Right from the start you could tell that this woman had star quality. Truth be told, I didn’t notice Holiday or the next two releases, but this one, Like A Virgin, her fourth UK release… Whizz! Bang! It’s like onomatopoeia was a word invented for Madonna.

She was every boys dream wasn’t she? Cavorting around on a gondola, wearing that wedding dress, being chased by a lion. Powerful, powerful stuff. Of course in the UK we were also treated to her performance in that pink wig on TOTP.

Vital Stats:

Entered UK Chart: 17-11-1984
Bought by Me: 28-12-1984
Highest Chart Position: 3
Weeks on Chart: 18

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Madonna – Material Girl

So we came to Madge’s fifth UK single. Superficially keeping the image she used to such good effect with Like A Virgin, in the video at least Madonna performed perhaps her first change of look in her homage to Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Much more how she would have liked to have been remembered than that trashy, slushy nonsense by Elton John, but I digress.

It’s often said that Madonna is least proud of this song than any other in her back catalogue. The 80’s were a time of conspicuous excess on both sides of the pond, and with this song it seems that a nickname had been found for Madonna. One that she didn’t much like.

Vital Stats:

Entered UK Chart: 2-3-1985
Bought by Me: 16-3-1985
Highest Chart Position: 3
Weeks on Chart: 10

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Madonna – Crazy For You

Madonna’s sixth UK singles chart release and a tie in with the Matthew Modine film Vision Quest. It was backed by different songs in different territories. In the UK we had the Sammy Hagar offering I’ll Fall In Love Again – a track that joined Crazy For You on the film’s soundtrack. This is perhaps my favourite of the early Madonna offerings. It certainly reminds me now of discos in the village hall with Madonna’s breathy evocation of ‘strangers making the most of the dark…’ If only, eh?!

Vital Stats:

Entered UK Chart: 8-6-1985
Bought by Me: 13-7-1985
Highest Chart Position: 2
Weeks on Chart: 15

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Madonna – Into The Groove

Following on from Crazy For You, in an even more radical departure according to territory, this fine single (taken from the insanely under-rated film Desperately Seeking Susan) was only released as a B side in the US but received fully fledged A side status in the UK. And we responded to this great trust placed in us by sending it to number 1 – Madonna’s first UK number 1 single.

Vital Stats:

Entered UK Chart: 27-7-1985
Bought by Me: 3-8-1985
Highest Chart Position: 1
Weeks on Chart: 14

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Madonna – Angel

Angel was released considerably later in the UK than it had been in other parts of the world. As noted, Angel had been paired with Into The Groove in the US, but in the UK both had been released separately. It’s true that Angel is remembered less well than Into The Groove, even though it must have been considered the stronger of the two when the release strategy was decided. For all of that, it’s a typically spiky performance by Madonna.

Vital Stats:

Entered UK Chart: 21-9-1985
Bought by Me: 4-10-1985
Highest Chart Position: 5
Weeks on Chart: 9

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Madonna – Dress You Up

It’s been said before and probably will be again, that our Madonna is ‘a little bit woo, a little bit weh’. It’s also been said that song lyrics, like any other form of language can be interpreted in anyway the listener or reader chooses, but how on earth could this song have ended up on the Parent Music Resource Center (PMRC)’s list of Filthy Fifteen – you know (or maybe you don’t), the original set of songs which they demanded should have those ridiculous Parental Advisory aka Tipper Stickers.

You can understand songs like Prince’s Darling Nikki or some of the heavy metal ones like W.A.S.P.’s Animal (F**k Like A Beast) with their obviously unsavoury lyrics, but Dress You Up? Maybe it’s me, maybe I am too liberal, but I’d rather be liberal than a reactionary p***k.

Vital Stats:

Entered UK Chart: 7-12-1985
Bought by Me: 14-12-1985
Highest Chart Position: 5
Weeks on Chart: 11

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Madonna – Live To Tell

So we moved into 1986 and Madonna went for an image change. Gone was all the jewellery and instead of layers and layers of makeup, Madonna wore a much more subtle palette. Live To Tell was actually the last of Madonna’s singles that I went out and bought. It is perhaps one of her best singles and one that has stood the test of time, without becoming dated. Great song though it is, Like A Virgin will always sound like 1984 to me, whereas this has a much more timeless appeal.

Vital Stats:

Entered UK Chart: 26-4-1986
Bought by Me: 25-4-1986
Highest Chart Position: 2
Weeks on Chart: 12

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Adam & The Ants – Stand & Deliver

What’s to be said about Adam & The Ants? Not much here, because I’ve said it all here.

However, this song was such a monster hit, and really captured what this man was all about so it’s here on a page of its own. First, a confession, I didn’t actually buy it when it was out (it was one of those songs that we taped off the radio) but I did make the investment at a later date, from Oldies Unlimited or similar.  Unfortunately therefore, my copy comes complete only with the standard black CBS issue sleeve with a hole in the middle to show the bright orange label.

Written by Adam and Marco this tremendous song crashed straight into the UK charts at number one, w/e 9th May 1981. It stayed at the top spot for a total of 5 weeks before being trumped by Smokey Robinson’s Being With You on 13th June.

In total, it spent 15 weeks in the UK Top 40 – a sure sign of a top notch piece of pop music. It was taken from the album, Prince Charming.  It was one of three singles taken from the album and in my opinion, the best.  The other two were Prince Charming and Ant Rap.

Being eleven, I perhaps didn’t understand the ins and outs of the sentiments of the song. However, now knowing that Adam had a ‘somewhat strained’ relationship with Malcolm McLaren, stuff like, ‘the devil take your stereo and record collection / the way you look you’ll qualify for next year’s old age pension’ can only have one target, surely?

Alarm (The) – Absolute Reality

1980's music from North Wales' finest.

I was a big, big fan of The Alarm. Many people unkindly called them the poor man’s U2 but I thought they were great. Fronted by Mike Peters along with Dave Sharp (guitars), Eddie Macdonald (bass) and Nigel Twist on drums. They were Anglo-Welsh in origin and this was reflected in their music.

Absolute Reality, written by Macdonald and Peters, entered the UK Singles Chart in the w/e 2nd March 1985 and found its was into my record collection on 16th March. It reached its high point of number 35 in the w/e 23rd March. It was backed by a live version of Blaze of Glory. Absolute Reality was the first single taken from the album Strength.

Beautiful South (The) – You Keep It All In

1980's music. Irony, or should that be sarcasm, ahoy!

Just creeping in as an 80’s single, You Keep It All in was released in October 1989 and was the band’s second single after the delicious Song For Whoever.  Its highest chart position was number 8 and it spent a total of 8 weeks in the chart, 3 of then in the top 10.  It was backed by the curiously titled, I Love You (But You’re Boring).  In a sure sign that I was growing up, this is one of the few records upon which I didn’t scrawl my name and the date that I bought it!

You Keep It All In and the b-side were taken from the group’s debut album Welcome To The Beautiful South.  The style of The Beautiful South was a curious mixture of sweet melodies underpinning some quite vicious sentiments – as can perhaps be understood by the album’s front cover, a woman with a gun in her mouth and a man sparking up a cigarette.  Woolworths, for example, refused to stock the album because of the artwork, so an alternative was created.

You Keep It All In itself is, I reckon, a lament about violence by men.  It conjures various images, e.g. of a scared girl sleeping alone with the light on as she can hear her dad ‘getting ready to fight’.  Who with though?  With his wife, or is he going out to commit some crime of violence?  Very ambiguous, very clever.

And of course, there’s the penguin in the video, naturellement.