Warning: Contains Male Nudity (yup, you heard me right, nude dudes)
To continue the Lenny Kravitz theme a little I’ve dug out my copy of Madonna Justify My Love, on 12″ of course (Fnarr-fnarr!). The first Madonna record I ever bought, I’ve doubled that now, it’s a good one too. I bought it on 2 January 1991 in Swansea, having heard a two-minute, umm, snatch of the tune and the 30 seconds of the video that the BBC were allowed to show*. It was good too, odd, slightly spaced out, nothing at all like her too brassy, anti-subtle, in-yer-face, ‘ooo I’m fondling a crucifix’ previous stuff – I wasn’t much of a fan then, although retrospect and nostalgia means I’m no longer a bit sick in my mouth every time I hear ‘La Isla Bonita’.
Sorry, where was I? the cover was a bit of an odd one, the attractive fleshy Like A Virgin -era Madonna was long gone, to be replaced by a stringy lady of indeterminate vintage, wearing a fair quantity of dead cow, possessing painfully swollen lips, sporting a facial expression that just screams out ‘kidney stones’ to me and who is, on this evidence, primarily concerned with holding her boobs on**. The back cover is similarly puzzling, showing her to be a bit bandy-legged and possessing a strange half-human/half-wyvern-like claw in place of her right hand. Was this sexy in 1989? I have no idea, quite frankly it terrifies the pants off me in 2014.
Music? cynical punk that I am, I really liked this one still once you sashay past all the overblown 9 1/2 Weeks stylings, there is a coolly unusual tune here. Madonna opts for a whispering, post-coital delivery over sparse trip-hop inflected beats, this was radical stuff for such a big artist at the time and if you hear it in context of her greatest hits The Immaculate Collection (where it first appeared) it was subtle dynamite. Lenny Kravitz did a fine job here, both with the construction of the track which, again, was radically different from his own stuff and the production – although not giving Ingrid Chavez a co-writing credit when, apart from a few minor changes by Madge herself, it was based on a poem she wrote for Kravitz, was just shady.
The Justify My Love 12″ gives you a William Orbit remix, which flows a little more fluidly without losing the essential individuality of the track and, I know this is breaking 1537’s Third Law but, it is better than the original track. The B-side is the original version of ‘Justify My Love’ and a wearisome remix of ‘Express yourself’ by Shep Pettibone. The title track is excellent though.
Now memory played tricks on me here I associated Justify My Love with Madonna’s Sex book, but a little research shows there was two years between them. Now I like nude chicks as much as the next dude^, but that book … was such a, umm, bum move, here we have the biggest female icon on the planet and that’s all she can think of doing with that status, that power? faking a clinch with Vanilla Ice, leaning over a wall sans knickers, standing nude in the road? Ewww. Although back here in 2014 it all looks a bit tame compared to the various shenanigans of Rhianna and Cyrus.
Luckily Wat Tyler were on hand to save us. Riding in, borne aloft on the wings of (1537 faves) Damaged Goods records label they released The Sexless EP which contained the awesome ‘Justify My Book’ which says all that needs to be said on the subject (see Spotify below, non-Canadians). Now a picture, they say, tells a thousand words personally I think the ones on the picture disc must double that, at least. Add in the terrific track ‘It Makes Me Belch’ and you have the perfect mix of brilliance, punk, sharpness, hilarity and abject childishness that, excuse me Madonna, tickles my G-Spot. Wat Tyler – a thousand times sexier than Madonna, remember: you read it here first.
P.S – have included their AWESOME Christmas track on here too: Satan’s Power!!
*this mostly seemed to be about a tired woman wandering down a corridor; look it takes all sorts I know, but if that gets you off just walk into your nearest office building I guarantee there’ll be loads of them in there – you sick little puppy!
**I have scanned the lyrics looking for clues to this concern, in vain. Was there a spate of celebrity boob thefts around that time? Any guesses?
^possibly more, on account of my being such a mean stud muffin.