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May 22, 2024

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A Tribute To Madonna: Volume 1 (Cleopatra Records)

By: Geoff Melton

Not surprisingly, when the idea of doing a Madonna tribute album came up, Cleopatra Records had more than enough willing participants. As a result, what we have here is Volume 1 of Virgin Voices (A Tribute to Madonna) (Volume 2 is scheduled for release later this year). Unlike most tribute albums, Virgin Voices is an extremely solid release that seems split between versions that are more in the spirit of the original and those that are total reconstructions. Among those staying close to the original is the definite standout of the disc, the powerful "Bad Girl" from James Hardway with Amanda Ghost and Boy George. Others on that side of the line include Loleatta Holloway's "Like A Prayer", mixing disco and gospel into a stirring track; "Like A Virgin (LCD Mix)", "Live To Tell", and "Vogue" from Bow Wow Wow's Annabella Lwin, Berlin and Astralasia respectively, which sound like electronica/techno remixes of the originals, and Heaven 17's "Holiday" and Dead or Alive's "Why It's So Hard" sounding like dance remixes with male vocals. When it comes to the reconstructions the cuts usually sound more like the band that's covering them, with the perfect example being Informations Society's "Express Yourself", which to these ears falls a bit short, sounding too close to their hit "Pure Energy". Most of the others fare better with excellent versions of "Swim" from Spahn Ranch and the driving dance-beat pulses of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black's "Burning Up" leading the way. Following close behind are the slowed down sounds of Front Line Assembly's "Justify My Love" and Silverbeam's "Bedtime Story", along with KMFDM's "Material Girl" and Gene Loves Jezebel's "Frozen" (Razed In Black Mix), a strong, hard-edged, electronica-based version, which is actually the most surprising cut on the disc, sounding nothing like the original nor like the band itself. With virtually no misses among its fourteen cuts, Virgin Voices - Volume One is a rare tribute, in that it works almost completely from start to finish.
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