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Madonna (Not Was)
May 12, 2008 4:53 AM   Subscribe

The story goes like this: In the early 80's Madonna sat in with Was (Not Was) to record backing vocals (to Ozzy Osbourne's main vox) for their track Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed). Everything was peachy until Madonna's record label, Sire, refused to grant ZE Records permission to publish her recording. So other voices sang of things that cannot be done. Fast-forward ten years and the hits collection Hello Dad, I'm In Jail included the track and, again, the Madonna vocal was not released for use. (This time Kim Basinger's new backing track got the spot.) The new Basinger-backed single peaked at #4 on the UK charts and featured a b-side remix by producer Steve 'Silk' Hurley. However, a glorious blunder resulted in a recall of the single: ZE had sent Hurley Madonna's background vocals. The mistake wasn't caught until after pressing and lo! a very few copies of the record made it out into the world. And so, music fans, for a cool G you can lay hands on your own copy of Shake Your Head (Let's Go to Bed), featuring the b-side dub, the rarest of Madonna recordings. [Mouse over links for descriptions.]
posted by carsonb (49 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Ozzy, working at the height of his considerable vocal powers, ..."

...no, as I suspected, it's impossible to begin a sentence that way.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:02 AM on May 12, 2008


So this is what we've become. Commenters on rare Madonna backing vocal tracks.

The world ends with a whimper.
posted by DU at 5:16 AM on May 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Say what you will about the artist, but as a self-made woman with a head for business, Madonna is a damned fine role model.
posted by three blind mice at 5:24 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


If this post were about a 1949 Lincoln penny with a slight imperfection due to a defect in the striking mechanism at the mint, it would sink beneath the blue, without comment, if not deleted altogether. This is as it should be.

However, because it's Madonna, we care. We care, people. And that puzzles me. She's just a singer. She puts on her bra one cone at a time, just like the rest of us. This "rare recording" has no intrinsic value, as I'm sure Don Was' accountant will attest.

It's time we as a society acknowledged that interest in such things is a form of mental illness.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:33 AM on May 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


If you can make it through the glacially paced intro and can put up with the typically clunky, often laughable and jingoistic fifties-style narration

Wait, wrong thread. OR IS IT??
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:56 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Feh, I've seen records go for 10x as much on eBay. Both times I've heard of Clarence G's "Hyperspace Sound Lab" going on eBay it goes to around £10,000
posted by mkb at 6:03 AM on May 12, 2008


Come on guys, if a thousand of us put up just $1 each we can buy the single and release it free to the world so everyone can hear it! Think of the children!
posted by saraswati at 6:10 AM on May 12, 2008


So how much for the mp3?
posted by gimonca at 6:12 AM on May 12, 2008


Hello Maidstone!

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:17 AM on May 12, 2008


You can't drink lava from plastic cup!
posted by delmoi at 6:18 AM on May 12, 2008


Steel pennies were issued in 1943.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:19 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


A local DJ of a late-night alternative radio program got into a spat with a caller, and played the Was (Not Was) version of "Hello Dad, I'm in Jail" 10 times over the course of a one-hour program. One of my favorite radio memories.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:21 AM on May 12, 2008


Yeah, I don't want to make this about Ozzy but by '82 his voice was so coke blown that his solo material was becoming laughably bad. I still think he (miraculously) eked out a final gem with Diary of a Madman, that was released in late '81 and is in my opinion the best thing he did since Sabotage. But if you take a look at his next two albums Bark at the Moon and Ultimate Sin you find the fried out, blank eyed dope zombie whose been shuffling through the motions ever since. I think '82 was the real start of this downward spiral and a lot of his fans (myself included) might consider the fact that he thought appearing on a Was (Not Was) track was a good idea -- no offense, W(NW) fans -- is indicative of how totally brain scrambled he had become.
posted by The Straightener at 6:25 AM on May 12, 2008


Indeed, the use of so clear-headed a verb as "thought" is probably an error there.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:29 AM on May 12, 2008


"She's just a singer."

If that's all you see, you've missed the point.
posted by oddman at 6:30 AM on May 12, 2008


Does the price include any Atari 2600 cartridges?
posted by LordSludge at 6:39 AM on May 12, 2008


It's time we as a society acknowledged that interest in such things is a form of mental illness.

Past time.


If that's all you see, you've missed the point.

Which would be?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:45 AM on May 12, 2008


Wow ... that production. Those drums. That piano. That organ. Those strings. That vocal processing. Early 90s? Really? Are you sure? Good curse word lord.

Not like there's anything wrong with that. I like Surkin's INS minimix a little bit too much.
posted by False Jesii Inc. at 6:45 AM on May 12, 2008


Say what you will about the artist, but as a self-made woman with a head for business, Madonna is a damned fine role model.

There's little question about a razor-sharp ability she had to suss out fashion and pop trends and convert them into piles of cash. I don't think it's an overstatement to call that genius. What I don't get is why, in interviews, she comes across as an utter fool. Could be the junior year abroad faux-British accent, but I am always stunned to hear the utter banality that comes forth from her.

Madonna: we want her to be interesting, but ultimately, she is us.
posted by psmealey at 7:10 AM on May 12, 2008


Wow ... that production. Those drums. That piano. That organ. Those strings. That vocal processing. Early 90s? Really? Are you sure? Good curse word lord.


Absolutely early 90s - this sort of disco-on-steroids House style was Steve "Silk" Hurley's domain at the time. See also Jomanda's "Got A Love For You" and Kym Sims' "Too Blind To See It".
posted by tantrumthecat at 7:11 AM on May 12, 2008


wow, she really does over-manage her image, but it is hard to argue with her success
posted by caddis at 7:12 AM on May 12, 2008


If that's all you see, you've missed the point.

Which would be?


That she is one of the smartest businesswomen on the planet?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:17 AM on May 12, 2008


Wow, that song is terrible.
posted by tiger yang at 7:26 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


That she is one of the smartest businesswomen on the planet?

That's a reason to care about anything concerning her? Response to her self promotion may mean she's smart, but I think it says something else about the people doing the responding.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:38 AM on May 12, 2008


This reminds me of the whole "1000 Homo DJs" shenaniganry back in the early 90s, with Trent's vocals not being legal to release on the album due to label restrictions and whatnot. Supposedly Al Jourgensen 'rerecorded' the vocals himself, but it's fairly easy to tell that the original Trent Reznor vocals were just pitch-shifted down a smidge and re-released. Ahh, trivia...
posted by FatherDagon at 8:02 AM on May 12, 2008


I think Madonna is more than a business person, she's an pop-culture artist of the same caliber as an Andy Warhol, and this is an interesting post.
posted by empath at 8:13 AM on May 12, 2008


"If this post were about a 1949 Lincoln penny with a slight imperfection due to a defect in the striking mechanism at the mint, it would sink beneath the blue, without comment, if not deleted altogether. This is as it should be."

Bullshit. I'd read that post just like this one.

"That's a reason to care about anything concerning her? Response to her self promotion may mean she's smart, but I think it says something else about the people doing the responding."

She's an incredibly durable artist who has released album after album of great music, such that even her mis-steps are interesting.

But shouldn't you be scurrying off to make some bullshit list post about the 25 albums that you really need to hear if you're just not that into music?

As for Was (Not Was), I've been a big fan for, well, as long as I can remember. My folks used to play this stuff, starting at about Wheel Me Out while I was growing up. Which is what made the new one, Boo, so disappointing. It's like they named it after the reaction of the first person to hear it. At least Sweet Pea Atkins still sounds amazing; too bad they don't have any songs that aren't lazy sub-Mad About You yawners.
posted by klangklangston at 8:23 AM on May 12, 2008


I just saw Was (Not Was) in Annapolis on May 3. Great show, great band. I think Boo! is just fine, thank you. I had seen the band before, back in 1988 at the 9:30 Club in DC. It still remains as one of the greatest nights of music I've ever experienced. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) didn't go, so I still had her unripped ticket, which the Was boys signed for me at the Annapolis gig. And David Was did a little riff on "Dad, I'm in Jail," and dedicated it to my 12-year-old son. (It was an all-ages afternoon show, so we dragged the not-so-wee-uns along.) Memories are made of this.

Ozzy and Madonna aren't the only folks to sing guest vocals on W(NW) albums. Fank Sinatra, Jr. sang "Wedding Vows in Vegas," while Mel Torme did "Zaz Turned Blue." Greatness. And then Kris Kristofferson is on Boo!, and Leonard Cohen is on Are You Okay?
posted by Man-Thing at 9:15 AM on May 12, 2008


*listens to song*

*considers*

Awful, but kind of funny.

*puts on Supernaut instead*

Better.
posted by quin at 9:18 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


She's an incredibly durable artist who has released album after album of great music...

Opinions vary. Yours varies more than most.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:47 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can we all agree she's a terrible actress?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:52 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I care so little about Madonna that I will argue about it for three hours!
posted by shakespeherian at 9:59 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Opinions vary. Yours varies more than most."

What the hell are you even on about?
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 AM on May 12, 2008


wow... lots of bad all around. I love the What Up, Dog? album by Was (Not Was) but this track is just awful, no matter who is involved.

A more interesting song with a vocal track being disallowed by a record company involves Ozzy and Dweezil Zappa covering the BeeGee's "Stayin' Alive". Eventually released with Donnie Osmond instead, which was just as much fun for different reasons.
posted by inthe80s at 10:20 AM on May 12, 2008


It's time we as a society acknowledged that interest in such things is a form of mental illness.


Interest in popular music? Huh? I don't get this comment at all.

I like this post. The song, not so much.

Also, that Supernaut cover is just about the best thing Al Jourgensen ever did.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:34 AM on May 12, 2008


Of course, Madonna is often considered a feminist icon. Can you name another woman who so completely embraces her own sexuality, maintains complete control over her image, and avoids the pitfalls that so often accompany stardom?

Consider how often performers like Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera (until she cleaned up her image) are dismissed and belittled as nothing more than sexual playthings, for simply having the audacity to be sexual, to display their sexuality. (Compare their treatment to, say Brad Pitt's.)

Consider how poorly performers like Britney Spears, Mary-Kate Olsen, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson and Lindsay Lohan have been able to deal with stardom (a fame which in some cases is no where near as great as Madonna's).

Finally, consider the longevity and variety of her career. Does anyone else come close? (Tina Turner, perhaps.)

Madonna can count the number of people that might be her peers on one hand. How many people in any profession can say that? Let's put it this way, can you think of one person that started out as a contemporary of Madonna and has done nearly as well as she has? (Bono and Elton John, maybe, that's about it.) Historically Madonna surely has to be up there with Elvis and Sinatra. et al. .

Then consider that she did this all as a woman in a world in which unqualified examples of female success are still not at all common.
posted by oddman at 11:06 AM on May 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well said, oddman.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:36 AM on May 12, 2008


Not only that, but Madonna still makes music that's at least interesting enough to justify listening to. Like, I have absolutely no interest in any new U2 album or REM album, because I know that they're going to sound like stuff I liked before only not as interesting. Madonna, even if I don't like the album, is going to have collaborators at the height of their game, and is going to be doing something new and fresh, even if it's (I know some will wince when I say this) just dance music.

I would say that Madonna is the female Bowie, except that, you know, Bowie's blown for the last 25 years or so. Another analogue might be David Byrne, only still relevant (except that Byrne hasn't put out anything that I'd buy in years).
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on May 12, 2008


Consider how often performers like Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera (until she cleaned up her image) are dismissed and belittled as nothing more than sexual playthings, for simply having the audacity to be sexual, to display their sexuality.

Jenna Jameson, too.
posted by dzot at 11:49 AM on May 12, 2008


wtf, dzot?

Jenna Jameson--despite also being quite the canny businesswoman--should be seen as a sexual plaything, because that is what she has decided to be.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:57 AM on May 12, 2008


Um.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:30 PM on May 12, 2008


Some of you are citing Madonna's greatness as an artist to counter the "mental illness" argument. But to me, whether or not she's great or provocative or prolific or whatever as an artist or businesswoman doesn't matter. It's the aspect of bottling and keeping the Abba turd that, to me, makes the mental illness argument.

Why would anyone care about some throwaway background vocal of anyone, enough to pay $1000+ for it? I could see the passing interest of hearing the vocal, for curiosity's sake. But what the hell would make you want to shell out a fair amount of money to own it in perpetuity? That falls into the celebrity fetish category for me, which, I agree, is akin to mental illness.
posted by Brak at 1:47 PM on May 12, 2008


Madonna, even if I don't like the album, is going to have collaborators at the height of their game, and is going to be doing something new and fresh, even if it's (I know some will wince when I say this) just dance music.

Though interesting enough, her reliance on collaborators is pretty much what kills her new album Hard Candy. There's not nearly enough of her!
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:48 PM on May 12, 2008


There's not nearly enough of her!

For once in her career, amirite?
posted by carsonb at 1:50 PM on May 12, 2008


"Why would anyone care about some throwaway background vocal of anyone, enough to pay $1000+ for it? "

More money than sense? Because it's rare?

I don't really understand why anyone pays $1000 (or more) for any music though. But I'm also the guy down at the used shop goin' "Can you believe that Golden Earring's Moontan is only three dollars? SCORE!"
posted by klangklangston at 2:00 PM on May 12, 2008


Jenna Jameson--despite also being quite the canny businesswoman--should be seen as a sexual plaything, because that is what she has decided to be.

But you can hardly complain at people for making the same comments about Madonna, given the frequency with which she's veered into Jenna Jameson territory.

It may be a much more active, more assertive and more dominant version of Jenna's territory, but many of her videos and her Sex book are directly inviting the viewer to regard her as a sexual plaything -- because she knows that that's what shifts product. And while that might not be *all* that Madonna is, she can hardly complain if people decide that they aren't interested in the music, but find something of interest in the masturbation fodder that she's produced.

And while the cosmetic surgeons have worked absolute miracles on a woman who is as near to fifty as dammit, I still have nightmares in which Madonna is giving me a hand job.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:33 PM on May 12, 2008


I like it here. In JAIL!
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 2:04 AM on May 13, 2008


"And you cahn't expect vultures to be kind." Stupidest.lyric.ever.

P.S. The Madonna version is even more annoying than the Kim Basinger version, which is saying something.
posted by h00py at 3:01 AM on May 13, 2008


Consider how often performers like Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera (until she cleaned up her image) are dismissed and belittled as nothing more than sexual playthings, for simply having the audacity to be sexual, to display their sexuality.

Christina Aguilera and the Britney Spears of 10 years ago (can't speak for the Simpson girl) present themselves as sexual playthings. It's part of the image or "fantasy" they are selling. That's totally different than Madonna, who has clearly been in control of her image throughout her career. She's aggressive and powerful, or when she portrayed herself as a "plaything" it was on her terms. What Britney and Christina did was put themselves out there for someone else to exploit.

In a way, this pop-cultural transformation is a metaphor for what sexuality has become in these decades since the so-called sexual revolution. Women went from being subjugated to ascendent to powerful, and then ultimately objectified, belittled and only to serve the pleasure of men... just as it was in the 50s.

Ok, I'm reaching, but it's food for thought.
posted by psmealey at 4:53 AM on May 13, 2008


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