Happy Birthday LAP!
It was March 21 in 1989 when Sire Records released Madonna‘s fourth studio album, the majestic Like A Prayer.
The album was released by Madonna without the arrogance of self-proclaiming it a “piece of pop art”, but after listening to the album today, 25 years after its original release, that’s what it really is and it really stikes me how true and precise the definition by Rolling Stone magazine was: Like A Prayer ” is as close to art as pop music gets. Like a Prayer is proof not only that Madonna should be taken seriously as an artist but that hers is one of the most compelling voices of the Eighties.”
With Like A Prayer, a collaboration with her historic music partners Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray (wish she would reunite with them once again for the new album), Madonna drew from her own personal story, from the strictness of her Catholic upbringing and the premature death of her mother Madonna Fortin to the the painful divorce from actor Sean Penn, the rivalries with her brothers and sisters and the difficult relationship with her father.
She combined elements of her own life to create songs telling larger than life stories about religion, self-confidence, family values, the search for self esteem and the longing to be loved for who we are.
The most amazing thing is that this is an album that you like to listen in its entirety. there is not even one song that I’m temped to skip.
1. “Like a Prayer” Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:39
Madonna plays with Gospel and creates one of her ultimate songs ever. Despite the controversy of the original video it’s still a fan favourite today and she often uses it in the
final parts of her shows to build a climax.
2. “Express Yourself” Madonna, Stephen Bray 4:39
First of two songs on this album with Steve Bray. Inspired by a song called “Respect Yourself”, it’s the ultimate hymn to self respect and own empowerment. A great video inspired by Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” directed by David Fincher.
A right track really born a winner as its still today a fan favourite!
3. “Love Song” (with Prince) Madonna, Prince 4:52
Not the really best track on the album for me but it’s nice duet with Prince
4. “Till Death Do Us Part” Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:16
A track reminiscent of her divorce to Sean Penn, tragic and dramatic lyrics masterly combined to a poppy and light music instrumental, musically showing the contrast between light and darkness of a doomed marriage.
5. “Promise to Try” Madonna, Patrick Leonard 3:36
Madonna in one of her most personal songs ever. A sad, piano song dedicated to her late mother Madonna. She tries to come to term with such a sad loss.
Some of her most touching lyrics ever.
6. “Cherish” Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:03
A bright, positive song about the search of true love. Madonna convinced her close friend Herb Ritts to try to put his photos into movement by directing his first video ever for this song.
7. “Dear Jessie” Madonna, Patrick Leonard 4:20
A sweet lullaby dedicated to Patrick Leonard’s daughter Jessie.
8. “Oh Father” Madonna, Leonard 4:57
this song is a masterpiece both musically and lyrically. Madonna draws from her personal relationship with her father to create a song in which she runs away from this father figure that is compared to a strict father, an abusive husband and unforgiving cruel God. Not to mention the AMAZING black & white video directed by David Fincher with the sewed lips of her dead mother and herself as a child dancing on her mother’s grave.
9. “Keep It Together” Madonna, Stephen Bray 5:03
Don’t forget that your family is gold. Second and last song on the album with Steve Bray. A song about family values inspired by Sly and the Family Stone’s Family Affair,
later used as an intro to this song in the Blond Ambition Tour.
10. “Spanish Eyes” Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:15
A song about Latin gang wars, a prayer for a child died during these fights. In later prints of the album cd the song titled changed to “Spanish Eyes” to “Pray For Spanish Eyes”.
11. “Act of Contrition” Madonna, Patrick Leonard 2:19
Closing track featuring Like a Prayer lyrics backwards, hinting to a satanic joke, and lots of guitars courtesy of Prince.
I also like to remember that Like A Prayer was also a “scented album”. All covers and inner sleeves smelled of Patchuli Oil, and my copies are still scented today!
The album also contained a leaflet with facts about Aids. Awareness has always been important to Madonna, who lost lots of friends to the disease.
So, Happy Birthday Like A Prayer!! I have enjoyed you a lot for 25 years and I’m sure old and new fans with enjoy you for years to come!
Stay tuned for the Like A Prayer Top Collectable” list coming up this week end!