The July edition of Record Collector magazine, featuring Madonna on the cover, is beginning to hit newsstands around the world. As madonnalicious previously reported, the magazine that is 'serious about music' includes the article Madonna Rare - Unwrapping the Candy, by Peter Magennis and takes a look at the B-sides and rarities from the most collectable diva of all. madonnlicious caught up with Peter recently and delved a little deeper (and deeper) into Madonna's rarities, revealing some previously unknown information about Madonna's unreleased songs in the process including....
madonnalicious: Hello Peter and welcome to madonnalicious
Peter: Hi Clare! It's a pleasure to be here. I've read your site as far back as when you used to be thelittlestar.co.uk - back in the olden days! And you have always been my one stop (candy) shop for all the latest Madonna news - all killer, no filler!
madonnalicious: Thank you! Another thing we have in common I gather from your recent Record Collector 'Meet the Team' blurb is that you also used to be an avid reader of Smash Hits magazine.
Peter: You bet I was! I remember in those pre-Internet days of the 1980s, being super excited about getting my new copy of Smash Hits every fortnight. Rarely a fortnight went by without the magazine being stuffed with tons of Madonna news, posters and song words. It was a must-have for every young Madonna fan and it definitely helped to ignite my passion for pop music.
In particular, I remember being super excited when Smash Hits published a feature on Like a Prayer that included interviews with Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray. I was only about 11 years-old at the time, but I had been reading the sleeve notes of every record I owned since as long as I can remember, and probably every record in my parents' collection as well for that matter, so of course I knew that Patrick and Stephen were the guys behind all my favourite Madonna songs of the time.
As well as the interviews, the Smash Hits feature revealed the titles of some previously unreleased Madonna songs ('Supernatural', 'First is a Kiss' and 'Love Attack') and from that moment on I was determined to know more about Madonna's creative process in the recording studio, but I never dreamed I would actually wind up speaking to her co-producers. Over the past few years I've been lucky enough to work on a project that has so far led to me speaking to over 100 people who have worked in the studio with Madonna, so in a way, I guess some of my childhood dreams have become a reality, which is pretty cool!
madonnalicious: It certainly sounds like an exciting project!
Peter: It has definitely had its moments, but it's also been a big test of my patience, my tenacity and had been a LOT of hard work!
madonnalicious: What's been the most exciting moment?
Peter: There's so many. My very first interview was so exciting I could barely hold the phone! And then my first face-to-face interview was backstage at a big music festival where I bumped into lots of bands, including Scissor Sisters - who I also totally worship. Visiting the Library of Congress was also definitely a highlight because it's where I first heard the so-called 'Rain Tapes', as was going to The Music Building in NYC, although the smell was pretty bad! There have been a few more since then and definitely more on the horizon, but I can't really talk about that - yet!
madonnalicious: Your Record Collector feature revealed for the first time information about the Tilt cover of Madonna's 'I Can't Forget', which we featured on madonnalicious a couple of weeks ago.
Peter: Yes, which Tilt re-titled 'Come Closer'. I can't believe it was actually in record stores for so long before so many fans became aware of its existence. But it's a great version of her song, isn't it?
madonnalicious: Yes, good lyrics and a cool song. (Tilt's Vaults can be ordered from Zavvi at www.zavvi.co.uk/music-Dance-House-Tilt-Vaults) You also revealed information about another cover of an unreleased Madonna song - Sophie Ellis Bextor's cover of 'Revenge' from the Ray of Light sessions.
Peter: Yeah, that's right. I was surprised to hear about that. Greg Fitzgerald who co-wrote 'Revenge' told me about that and by the way, he's as nice a guy as he is talented and you must check out his Black Fras project at his website here at www.freeconstruction.org.uk/blackfras.com
Greg had worked with the equally talented Rick Nowells, who as fans will know worked with Madonna on some tracks that made it on to Ray of Light, albeit re-recorded with William Orbit. 'Revenge' was one of just a number of songs that Madonna recorded with Rick that she didn't release and some of them were offered to other artists to record, however, only Laura Pausini's version of Madonna's unreleased 'Like a Flower', re-titled 'Mi Abbandono a Te', would get an official release.
Many fans already know about Kylie recording another Madonna/Nowells track from the Ray of Light sessions, 'Alone Again', because it was so well publicised, even making the cover of The Sun. But unfortunately, someone (not Madonna or Kylie) had a change of heart at the last minute and the song didn't make it onto the B-side of Kylie's 'Come Into My World' as planned. At least we finally go to hear Kylie's version of the song on the soundtrack to her White Diamond documentary last year.
The same thing more-or-less happened with Sophie, which is a shame because her version of 'Revenge' is amazing and in my humble opinion it could easily have been a single. Greg even went to the trouble of recording a live orchestra for the song that really adds a new depth not heard on Madonna's version of the song. Sophie has often mentioned in interviews how she admires Madonna's stage persona and, like Madonna, Sophie also assumes a character when she is performing, albeit in a less theatrical way. So, I think she was a great artist to record a Madonna track.
Interestingly, Greg Fitzgerald also produced Jessica Simpson's 'Forbidden Fruit', which many people at the time mistook for a Madonna/Mirwais production.
madonnalicious: It makes you wonder if there are any other artists who have recorded any unreleased Madonna songs.
Peter: Well, it's funny you should say that. For example, Rico Conning, who has worked with William Orbit from the year dot, including his work with Madonna, told me that the Swedish girl group, Sahara Hotnights, covered 'Run'; one of the unreleased songs from the Madonna/Orbit Music sessions.
madonnalicious: It certainly sounds like there's quite a lot of material out there that perhaps fans aren't even aware of.
Peter: There's definitely a lot more out there that even her most hardcore fans don't know about. In fact, there's stuff out there that even her record label don't even know about. In fact, quite surprisingly (or maybe I should say not surprisingly, if you know anything about Madonna), there's stuff that she's recorded over the years that she doesn't even have in her possession any more, with the only copies of the songs being owned by her co-writers, even though I guess she would legally own the copyright.
But the scariest thing is that these tracks could get lost or destroyed over time. But what may seem like an important part of history to a Madonna fan is just another work-in-progress recording to a producer. And don't even get me started on Madonna - she's even been known to instruct her studio engineers to delete ideas in front of her! But I guess that's all part of her creative process and if she thinks an idea doesn't work in the studio the first time, why would she want to re-visit it and keep it around for posterity?
I guess that's just one of the secrets to her success - her unrelenting quality control.
madonnalicious: Have you any more plans for any other Madonna-related magazine features?
Peter: Most definitely! I'm actually working on a feature for another magazine, that is a lot more in-depth and features much more from my interviews with her collaborators. As soon as I have details of exactly when and where you can find it, you'll be the first to know!
The July edition of Record Collector magazine is hitting international newsagents now. If you can't find it in your country, you can order the magazine at www.recordcollectormag.com
To order a copy of Tilt's Vaults, featuring 'Come Closer', please visit www.amazon.com/Vaults
To contact Peter Magennis, email Pet[email protected]