madonna disk 88 298.
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Confessions on a Dance Floor
Time plays a big role in Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor. "Hung Up", the throbbing opening track which has already saturated our airwaves, begins with the ticking of a clock before bubbling over into reverb-drenched disco gumbo that includes the main riff of Abba's "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme". And the second track "Get Together" opens up with an alarm clock.
Confession is actually like a wake up call to get back on the dance floor - it's Madonna's return to her New York club scene roots with 20 years of worldwide fame behind her. With squelching synths and pulsing bass, and a really annoying cymbal backbeat dominating the tracks, the only thing missing is the strobe lights. It's not a disc you can really listen to without moving - which means either you have to dance or you have to leave the room. Both are acceptable options, or alternatively you can just succumb to her formidable charms and admit that the disco "beautiful people" had the right idea 25 years ago.
Madonna latches onto a new collaborator for each album, and this time techno DJ/producer Stuart Price gets the nod. His insistence at returning to the days of Studio 54 is not always successful. The hundred beats per second of "Future Lovers" makes you physically jittery - and its intriguing faux-psychedelic refrain is ruined by Madonna's insistence at talking throughout the song like an automaton.
The song segues nicely into the playful "I Love New York" which evokes a trashy rock sound despite the clunker couplet of "I love New York, other places make me feel like a dork." I guess, for better or worse, her study of Kabbala hasn't infused all her lyrics with deep philosophical meaning.
Which brings us to "Isaac" - which has been hyped all the way to Mount Merom, due to some misguided rabbis here who opposed the song because they thought it was about 16th century mystical rabbi Yitzhak Luria. It's actually one of the few non-dance floor songs on the album and boasts one of its most convincing performances, thanks to the Yemenite vocals of Yitzhak Sinwani which dart between the song's mizrahi-meets-Manhattan motif.
The closer "Like it or Not" sounds like an updated version of Peggy Lee's "Fever" - blues for the 21st century. "Like me or Leave me because I'm never going to stop" she insists, while comparing herself to Cleopatra and Mata Hari. Which is not far off. Madonna is a force of nature, and Confessions on a Dance Floor is another startling reinvention that leaves the listener breathless. Even with those annoying cymbals.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Baxter Dury is the son of the late punk/new wave novelty singer Ian Dury whose left us with a number of minor classics like "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll" and "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick." On his second album, the young Dury hones his airy and spare guitar pop that only occasionally bares a trace of his father's whimsy.
Owing more of a nod to British cult favorites Shack or newer sensations like The Walkmen, Dury hits the melodic nail on the head with "Francesca's Party" with is haunting repeat of the lines "No matter how hard you try, you fall from grace", and with the buzzing "Lisa Said." "Waiting for Surprises" and "Young Gods" are spacey ballads full of echo, dubs, and surprises, while "Sister Sister" Sounding it was recorded in his bedroom with a good four-track machine and The Velvet Underground's Maureen Tucker on drums, Floor Show is full of unassuming charms and unexpected emotional edges. Baxter's father would have been proud that his son was at least following in the "rock & roll" element of his legacy.