A Tribute To Madonna/Cleopatra Records

Cleopatra Records alongside WaxTrax! became leaders in the Industrial Music movement. In recent years, Cleopatra has broadened it’s base to include many, many tribute compilations featuring industrial and [pieces of] 80’s bands. At times, these compilations can be cheesy and useless. The following review highlights the labels tribute to Madonna, some of it is horrible…some of it MASTERFUL.

Holiday [Heaven 17]—-The song begins with a nice danceable, 80’s inspired feel. The vocal is HORRIBLE. I never would have allowed this to be included on this release. The vocal is empty and lazy, the female chorus saves the song from utter failure.

Like A Prayer [Loletta Holloway]—-Best known for supplying vocals to Marky Mark’s ‘Good Vibrations’. Holloway shines on this remake with a great, strong vocal. The musical track is fairly true to the original, but make no mistake…Holloway can wail….and she does! Great.

Like A Virgin [Bow Wow Wow]—-Really this is just Annabelle, I am curious to know the year this was recorded. The song has a lot of embellished musical liberties, turning it into a modern day rave stomp. The vocal is GREAT, spot on Madonna impression.

So Hard [Dead Or Alive]—-Another appearance from a now defunct band, so again I question the year of recording. To tell you the honest truth, I don’t even know this song, so it is difficult to tell how it compares to the original. I can tell you that Pete Burns is in great vocal form. The song is airy and spacey. I love it!

Live To Tell [Berlin]—-Actually only Teri Nunn, but perhaps she is still using the Berlinname. Of course, if you are at all familiar to Nunn’s voice, you know this song was tailor made for her voice. The rendition is expected and unremarkable. Acceptable as a pleasant listen, but missing that Madonna pizazz.

Vogue [Astralasia]—-Entirely predictable and unremarkable. There is little if any deviation from the original. I prefer a little creative license with remakes, but this band takes no chances and fails to copy her well enough to matter.

Justify My Love [Front Line Assembly]—-Even darker in sound than the original, the musical track reeks of machine made coolness. The female vocal is breathy and stony, trance and slightly trip hoppy. Really Good!

Bad Girl [James Hardway/Boy George]—-It is my assumption [!] that Hardway supplies the vocal on this track and George supplies the back beat. The music is WAY fast, trip hop madness. I think of Tricky immediately. Although upon the entrance of the chorus, perhaps George is singing a little. This is grand in landscape and feel. I love this!

Material Girl [KMFDM]—-Turning the song into a complete different composition, KMFDM shines on this noisy, mechanical pop song. The music is slow, but an uptempo back bass beat keeps the song moving along. Great rendition.

Bedtime Story [Silverbeam]—-Again, beautifully trip hoppy. Goldiecomes to mind because of the really up front high hat. The vocal is pushed to the back and is breathy and atmospheric. A nice hum runs through the song and lulls you into a quiet spot. Magnifico!

Express Yourself [Information Society]—-Another surprise appearance from another defunct 80’s one hit wonder. Featuring a nice musical landscape with some interesting vocal effects, the lead singer does not sound original. A listenable remake, but flat compared to the original.

Swim [Spahn Ranch]—-A nice synth background that features a relatively robotic vocal, the song opens up upon the chorus and inspired a nice dance floor rhythm. Passable.

Frozen [Gene Loves Jezebel]—-I’m not sure where this recording came from either, the song is noisy and completely removed from the emotional delivery of the original. Really surprising delivery from this band, for the most part they specialized in bubble gum 80’s pop. A nice departure. Much more of an Industrial sound.

Burning Up [Karen Black]—-Featuring some awesome movie soundtrack bites at the beginning, the song erupts into a rave stomp of pure dance craziness. Beautifully constructed, nothing like the original and a great song in its own right.

Disc Two:

Open Your Heart [Ofra Haza]—-Middle Eastern in musical flavor, the vocal is soft and pretty! The music becomes lush and beautiful as the song open up.

Lucky Star [Switchblade Symphony]—-Introducing an almost Reggae-styled musical background, the song takes many liberties from the original. This is my fascination defined. Incredible rendition of an old, tired song.

Ray Of Light [Sigue Sigue Sputnik]—-Wow, another blast from the way, way past. Does anyone but me rememberthis band? This is really great….featuring classic SSS sound, the song remains the basic melody but takes you on a vacation through kinetic dance grooves. Fan-freakin-tastic!

Borderline [Ogre]—-The song begins beautifully noisy, the refrain is devoid of music except for an annoying hum in the back. The music comes back alive in the chorus and reverts to a backward vocal that is so intriguing. A great re-interpretation. Magical and interesting.

Into The Groove [Dale Bozzio]—-Former lead singer of Missing Persons, delivers a trademark vocal full of squeaks and sexually charged enunciation. This is really good. I love how she even takes it further than Madonna did. The song becomes not about dancing but definitely sexual.

Playground [A Flock Of Seagulls]—-Wow, where the hell did this come from? This song has AFOSsound all over it. The unique keyboard sound, the unmistakable vocal of Mike Score, the slightly melancholic delivery. Very nicely done.

Love Don’t Live Here Anymore [Michelle Crispin]—-I do not know this person singing this song!!! Tedious and flat at times, the song has no redeeming quality.

Rescue Me [Adeva]—-Best known as a dance-floor Diva, Adeva has a strong voice and fierce attitude. The attitude matches the vocal….strong….campy and dancy. Fabulous!!!!

Erotica [Razed In Black]—-To me, a waste of recording time! There is nothing redeemable from this recording. I would have never allowed this. Sad and disappointing!

Skin [Mephisto Waltz]—-Beautifully done, the vocal is cold and haunting. Keeping all the best elements of the song, the chorus comes alive with a nice beat. I love the original of this song and really enjoy this rendition. It has just the right amount of sadness, machines and atmosphere to put me over the edge.

Cherish [Loop Guru]—-Magically delicious!!! An odd musical backdrop from Oompa Loompa land, the vocal is a whispered Bjork styled delivery. WOW!

Rain [Rosetta Stone]—-A magnificent rendition, the song is so much darker than the dark original. The vocal is deadpan, the music soars and swirls. The interpretation is a favorite of mine…..play this on the radio!?

Deeper & Deeper [Danger Girl]—-Returning again to the trip hop recipe of interpretation, the vocal is syrupy sweet and pleasant. Not a throwaway, but predictable….again.

Like A Prayer [Bigod 20]—-I know nothing about this band…..the interpretation is unfortunately not remember able. Although it is a bit more industrial in sound.

***out of 5


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