and the vinyles

Madonna “Madonna” released on this date, July 27th, in 1983. I’m taking a sharp turn from the usual Vault-focus on rock/punk/garage/blues to pure 80′s dance pop and all its glory that manifested in Madonna’s first album. Though sometimes panned and often reviled (i.e. this review from Blender: “quacking synths, overperky bass and state-of-the-art mechanical disco, with Madonna strapped to the wing rather than holding the controls. It’s a breathless, subtlety-free debut..”), Madonna was instrumental in moving dance music out of club-exclusivity and into the popular mainstream with this top-selling LP which peaked at #8 in the US and #6 in the UK. Madonna is over- processed and over-polished (which basically sums up most of the 80′s) but it’s also infectiously glorious. Rolling Stone called it “an irresistible invitation to the dance.”

Madonna released five singles from the LP; two singles charted only on the dance charts: “Everybody” and “Burning Up” which both came out before the album. Three singles did make it to the Top 100 charts: “Holiday” (#16 US, #2 UK), “Lucky Star” (#4 US, #14 UK) and “Borderline” (#10 US, #2 UK). “Holiday” was the first song I ever heard by Madonna and my 12-year-old self was enthralled by the danceable disco beat and girly vocals. And then I saw the video for “Lucky Star” and a thousand black rubber bangles and beauty marks were launched. I think I spent the next year scrutinizing her dance moves and practicing them out in the fields surrounding our house and with friends at sleepovers. We could not get enough of Madonna: her voice, her moves, her look. 

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I unexpectedly wound up with a lot of time to kill today when out of the office on business. Nearest record store? Brooklyn’s legendary The Thing—the elephants graveyard of crappy records. Hundreds of thousands of them, to be specific, on two cluttered, claustrophobic floors. No rhyme or reason to it all; there’s no organization to speak of, just crate after mind-numbing crate of musical debris. Digging there is like panning for gold. The one benefit is that every record is $2 without exception. Sifting through the wreckage is fun but somehow also quite demoralizing—all these man-hours of time and effort and dreams, all to be wind up languishing in a moldy basement in Brooklyn. And as a digger, it’s also a drag because you can’t go through all of it no matter what you do, so you’re left with the feeling that your White Whale record of all-time was just one more crate away and you missed it. Nonetheless, The Thing is a must-see for any vinyl fan; if you go to NYC, you must stop in and make at least a token dig.

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