Sunday, April 11, 2010

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Stephen Bray, Stephen Bray

Steve Bray and Madonna pre-stardom.

In the Madonna world, what can one really say about Stephen Bray? He's so instrumental in the music and myth of Madonna. Everyone pretty much knows the story. Madonna and Stephen met years ago when she was at the University of Michigan and when she went to New York and needed a drummer, she called on him. Fast forward to The Demo Tape they made that got her signed to the legendary Sire Records and the rest is history. The greatest pop songs in history were composed and produced by Stephen Bray and Madonna. Period.

Fans call for Pat Leonard's return, I call upon Stephen - the way Madonna did when she went to New York. I dig the groovy stinky funk. Into the Groove, Express Yourself, Laugh To Keep From Crying, Ain't No Big Deal, Pretender, Angel, Over and Over, Stay, True Blue, Each Time You Break My Heart, Causing a Commotion - and many more before and in between - ending with the wonderful Keep It Together. Don't know what happened between them and don't care. Madonna, just bite it and bring him back. If it has to do with the brilliant Pre-Madonna that he released, that showcased your wonderful raw talent as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, thank him for it because it was the only cool thing released during those (at the time) dreadful Streisand years (1996/97) and adds to your brilliant musical legacy.

In 2005, Stephen did the music and lyrics with Brenda Russell and Allee Willis for the Broadway Musical of Alice Walker's The Color Purple produced by Oprah Winfrey. It opened on December 01, 2005 at The Broadway Theatre in New York.

Stephen was nominated for a Tony Award for his work on The Color Purple. Here's some footage of them talking about creating that musical score.

video

17 comments:

  1. Totally agree! I've always wished she would work with Stephen again.

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  2. I had no idea that they stopped working together after "Keep It Together." What dreadful thing did Striesand do in 96-97? I've never really paid any attention to Striesand's work so I think I'm missing something.... :(

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  3. It would have been a great collaboration if they had still worked together after the early years. It would have been interesting! Great post!

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  4. Brenda Russell is everything.

    Piano in the dark! And Dinner With Gershwin.

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  5. Madonna doesn't write anything. Period. The credit goes all to Bray, who wrote catchy tunes. But she is smart enough to recognize a potential hit when she is offered one. Then she makes some subtle changes, adds some silly three or four words to the lyrics and she makes the song "hers", getting songwriting credit. But is this songwriting? I don't think so. Unfortunately she's been losing that talent to recognize potential hits, or maybe she stole everything there was to steal. Who knows? She's burnt out.

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  6. jc - when i said the streisand years - i was referring to evita. after 'something to remember' and the like, some of us early fans were fearful she was going to go the streisand route - just cool-less. thank god she bounced back with 'ray of light'. now i can look at those years and appreciate them but living through them was awful.

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  7. We agree on the Streisand part...it was so reote from "Into the groove", "Burning up" or "Gambler" to sum it up : her roots that were exposed on the pre-madonna album. How fresh, etheral and good was the original "Stay" ?
    I too wish that she would go back to her Emmy roots and to Bray. She tried to on "*Confessions" but failed by discoifiding the production too much. Comparing the demo of "Get together" to the released version, even if the changes are not so drastics you can feel the emergency and immediacy on the demo that the released version lacks.

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  8. PS : My dream production partner with Madonna is James Murphy of LCD soundsystem. There's something in his music that is closed to Madonna's early 80's manhattan sound, embracing disco, punk,funk, new wave and folk that would be so perfect for her.

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  9. Pheel, unrelated to this posting, but about what you said yesterday:
    Where can I get more information about the La Isla Bonita-Jean Paul Gaultier-Blond Ambition number?
    I'm very curious! And thanks for mentioning that!

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  10. pheel - the original stay is perfection. and yes with confessions - as good as it was - it was missing 'that' dirty american funk. xo

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  11. Fortinastar > It was mentionned in french daily newspaper "Liberation" when "Blond ambition tour" hit Paris in july of 1990. Madonna was on the cover, a pic from the "Vogue" performance from the show. Inside there is an interview of Jean Paul Gaultier with original sketches of the costumes he made prior to the ones that were selected by MAdonna. On these sketches she appears as a brunette with the same hairdo as in the "Like a prayer" video, she wears a bathrobe because he wanted her to take a shower on stage ( which she replaced by the masturbation scene. On the back of the bathrobe there was a tag "Taste heaven". In this interview he talked about the "La isla bonita" costumes and how at the last minute he had to redo all the costumes because from when he took Madonna's measurments to the time she was about to start the tour she had lost a lot of weight and his team was forced to go to L.A to resize everything.
    A while ago i posted the sketches on a forum, it was a bad capture with my phone^^
    I moved a lot since then so i have to look into my boxes to enearth them again :)

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  12. Pheel -- Thanks sooo much for your explanation. (I understand the gypsy life!)
    I hope one day you're able to unearth those images and maybe have our good friend PW post them?! That would be awesome!
    Or is anybody out there that may have a chance to get a hold of that French Liberation July 1990 article?

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  13. i agree, i love her early stuff - emmy and breakfast club... the in the beginning album of bray is great and shows madonnas music so natural. express yourself and into the groove are some of my alltime madonna favorites... in the pre-madonna era my favorite stuff is the fabulous gotham tape from 1981... high society and get up are so damn good songs, wow! the lyrics, the raw sound - wow!!

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  14. daniel - 'get up' is one my favs!!! i love all those early recordings. makes me so thankful for the internet. xo

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