The Immaculate Collection



January 16th, 2005 | 37 replies

Release Date: 1990 | Tracklist

#278 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums Of All Time.

Madonna, in case you hadn't realised, is undoubtedly one of the most important artists in modern music. Responsible for pushing women into musical and cultural territories they hadn't been before (she was the first female star to make real use of the music video, for instance), she was also an immense success (she's got more Top 10 hits in the UK than the Rolling Stones and Beatles combined). She can be considered a female David Bowie, a chameleon ready to change image and tact as often as the tide. And though it can be hard to remember these days, she was also a VERY controversial figure in her heyday.

The Immaculate Collection is an early Greatest Hits album, tracking Madonna from her self-titled debut (sometimes referred to The First Album), to Like A Prayer, and tacking on two singles from just after that period in Justify My Love and Rescue Me.

Holiday (2/5)
Propelled by very simple, vaguely-exotic percussion and a ska-lite rhythm guitar, this song is the aural equivalent of a cocktail mixed up in a dodgy Mediterranean-themed bar in the West End of London. It's summery, and fairly pleasant, but it's also immensely mediocre. Madonna is undoubtedly at her best when she's at her edgiest, and this is far too plain.

Lucky Star (2/5)
Precisely more of the same. Really, nothing more can be said. It's a companion to Holiday, and nothing more. You couldn't have picked two worse tracks to kick the compilation off with - except maybe an acappela version of the rap from American Life, I guess.

Borderline (2.5/5)
The third and final offering from 'The First Album'. It's a little better, introducing more advanced music, bolstered backing vocals, and a stronger melody. Still horribly average though.

Like A Virgin (3/5)
That's more like it. Much catchier than the first three tracks, and features a much more confident and sexual vocal performance from Madonna. The feeling you get from this start to the album is of an artist struggling to find a sound and claim it as her own, very early in her career. Which makes sense - the album is ordered chronologically. Has a diluted, vague ska sound.

Material Girl (3/5)
The intro to this always reminds me of Beat It by Michael Jackson. Check it out, you'll understand why. Much like Like A Virgin, it won't change anyone's life nowadays, but it's a solid pop song. One thing that should be noted here is that the sound has changed for lite-ska, to lite-industrial. Seriously.

Crazy For You (3.5/5)
It sounds incredibly 80s, it's a cover version (the original was by Vision Quest)and you're not going to have to serach far for a better ballad from that decade, but never mind that. The melody is the best yet, as is the arrangement. It's something of a departure from the rest of the album so far, and it's a welcome one.

Into The Groove (3.5/5)
The intro is horrid, but the melody is great. The melody's everything in pop, I guess. It's more eminently dancable and more feel-good than anything before. The lyrics are inane, but they're not invasive enough to ruin the song. Not a bad piano solo either. This is Madonna finally finding her sound and making it hers. Or so we thought....

Live To Tell (3/5)
Slower than anything so far, and lent a lethargic, loping feel by the synthesizers. She's clearly experimenting with her sound, bringing in different moods, themes, and deeper lyrics. She adapts to this much quicker than to what came before, that's for sure. Not a Madonna classic, but a solid song.

Papa Don't Preach (4/5)
Begins like an advert for a newspaper, with a string section. This song forms something of a middle ground between Live To Tell and Into The Groove. It's one of Madonna's most famous songs, and rightfully so. The best lyrics of the album so far.

Open Your Heart (3.5/5)
You'll notice that the ratings for every song on this album have been getting progressively higher and higher on a steady curve. The effect Papa Don't Preach has on this album is that the listener expects it to soar into a steady stream of classics. Inevitably, Open Your Heart seems like a disappointment. It's harsh on this song, which isn't bad at all. It's a little too close to Madonna's early style, but it's not as bad as Holiday or its ilk by any means.

La Isla Bonita (4/5)
Much, MUCH better than Holiday. You get the feeling Madonna wasn't happy with that song, and decided to revisit the theme with her new-found musical maturity. She succeeds. It's more convincing, sung with more passion, and to top it off it's got some seriously cool acoustic lead guitar playing. Melody to spare, too.

Like A Prayer (4.5/5)
Best song yet, easily. It feels, in a odd way, a lot less time-locked than everything else on offer here. Musically, it's a thrilling synthesis of the bubblegum pop presented on The First Album and Like A Virgin, and the musical unfurling of Madonna's wings found on True Blue. It's also the first real hint of Madonna's real strength as an artist - the ability to shock and stand out from the crowd. On a side note, the video is hella cool too, and enhances the effect.

Express Yourself (4/5)
So 80s it hurts. The intro really needs to be cut from the song too. But despite that, it's a classic pop song. Energetic, glossy, and blissful. You'll have heard this, trust me, although the title makes it a little difficult to remember the song (I get NWA in my head instead :) ) Interesting fact #1 - Madonna once called this her 'Tribute To Sly & The Family Stone'.

Cherish (4/5)
I'll admit, I have something of a personal affinity to this song. Childhood memories, and such things. Anyway, it's a great example of just how pop should be - it's easy to listen to, uplifting, and it gets you moving. Take your 10-minute bass solos and shove em, they're bad for you. I really like the arrangement here too - there are elements of it in my own compositions, even though this is the first time I've really listened to this song in about 6 or 7 years.

Vogue (4.5/5)
So, we've got the album figured out by this point. No, actaully, we haven't. Hearing Vogue is like stepping into a different world. Icy and sexy (though not on the level of the awesome Frozen) with a high-pitched synth drone low in the mix throughout that subtely suggests something is very wrong.

Justify My Love (5/5)
Saving the best for (almost) last here. After the steady upward curve of the album up till this point, this is the climax, as it were. Built over yearning strings and that ever-present Funky Drummer sample, Madonna produces one of the most deeply sexual vocal performances of all time. "Talk to me. Tell me your dreams. Am I in them"" Stunning. Interesting fact #2 - this was produced by Lenny Kravitz.

Rescue Me (4/5)
More of the same as Justify My Love, just not as good. It's a shame that this ends the album rather than Justify My Love, but that's the way it goes, I suppose.

Madonna has gone on from this album to make greater records (Ray Of Light especially), but this remains the best compendium you'll find of her early career. Still, it feels a little more educational than enjoyable, especially for the first half of the album. And though the programming is chronological, it sucks.

If you're a pop fan, you'll want this, but don't make it a priority. Fans of other genres who are looking to expand their horizons are directed to Ray Of Light, and advised to download the song I have rated 4 or over.

Within The Genre - 4/5
Outside The Genre - 2/5

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user ratings (141)

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 23rd 2004


I think the opposite. The earlier dance pop stuff was at least enjoyable. The later songs got progressively worse.

October 23rd 2004


good review, terrible cd 'nuff said

Dancin' Man
October 23rd 2004


I don't like Madonna mostly because it's not super-produced. If the music is going to be written how it is, I want the production to be perfect. Britney Spears is what I go for in times of darkness (by darkness I mean when no one's home or nearby)

October 23rd 2004


Album Rating: 3.0

[QUOTE=Fast Fingers]I don't like Madonna mostly because it's not super-produced. If the music is going to be written how it is, I want the production to be perfect. Britney Spears is what I go for in times of darkness (by darkness I mean when no one's home or nearby)[/QUOTE]

That's a fair point, and I pretty much agree with you. Except with me it's Girls Aloud and Rachel Stevens. But Britney is also good.

Dancin' Man
October 23rd 2004


I also like boobs. A lot.

October 23rd 2004


Madonna's older stuff was great, i think so anyways
and this is a good CD

November 29th 2004


Surely I must not be reading some of these comments correctly- or is it that Madonna's music is just not your style? Because Immaculate is one of the most acclaimed compilations ever released- in any genre- and well worthy of all its praise. The album defines an era, serves as a soundtrack of the times- like few others do. To boot, the music is a blueprint for pop over the last couple of decades.

Britney Spears, on the other hand, has not made music that holds up when stacked against Madonna. I actually enjoy Spears' Greatest Hits for what it is, but in no way is it as grand, or defining of an era, as Madonna's was. The music on Immaculate also goes hand-in-hand with the defining videos that were made for the tracks- when you hear most of the tracks on Immaculate, you think of the accompanying images.

One review- this from the UK's Select- said it very well: "So there it is: good sex, bad sex, dominance, submission, money, religion, race, image, reality, sleaze and innocence. Pop culture comes no better and we should be grateful." Reviews instantly celebrated how the music was great, and that it essentially defined every pop culture moment of its era.

One thing that hardcore fans complain a lot about is that the versions on Immaculate aren't the original studio versions. However, the casual fan probably wouldn't pick up onthat for most of the tracks- Like a Prayer and Express Yourself are the most "changed," being danceier remixes. Into the Groove also was notable in its differences, with the glorious "Now I know you're mine" buildup completely chopped. Overall, though, I have little problem with this- easily my most-listened-to Madonna album.

Among her studio albums, Like a Prayer and Ray of Light are neck-in-neck as her best work.

November 29th 2004


Album Rating: 3.0

I just feel most of it sounds very dated. Era-defining it may well be, it still sounds corny (well, the first three tracks, certainly) listening to it today.

I say Ray of Light is her best album, personally.

September 8th 2005


I actually like Madonna a bit, especially her most recent works, like Ray of Light. Good pop music, I say.

October 10th 2005


She's a smart artist especially all the controversy that was made with that video.

December 11th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

This was an awesome cd.5/5.

My only complaint is that it is missing "Who's that girl" and "Dress you up".

December 11th 2005


Madonna's Ray of Light is actually not too bad, despite it shamelessly rips off the 98 electronica scene

December 19th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

I think "Jusify my love" is possibly the worst track on the album.It has that same "talking" voice that she overuses so much nowadays and it is very repetitive even more so considering that it's like a 5 minute song.

I also prefer the remixes on this album compared to the older stuff.Well most of them anyway.Having been a huge Madonna fan for 11 years now, I like how alot of her older songs such as "Lucky Star" and "Holiday" have been shortened up for this cd.If some of the tracks would have remained their original length then their would have been less time for some of the other tracks on the album and alot of the songs would begin to bore newer Madonna listeners.

December 19th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

As for Britney Spears...she has maybe two good songs and the rest is crap.Madonna writes or co-writes alot of her own songs and actually gets invloved in her concert productions and record productions.Britney Spears doesn't do anything but try and look sexy(ugly face....nice body) and sing her songs(try to).Hell she doesn't even sing her songs...the studio has devices in which it takes her off key vocals and makes them in key.I believe it might be called a vocal-d-esser? Maybe not? But anyways I know it sounds crazy but I have worked in studios many times and its no secret among producers of the many techniques that pop singers use nowadays that were not available 15 years prior.

December 19th 2005


Ah, Madonna.

Ocassionally excellent music, hypocricy, and acting in terrible films.

April 10th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Make that terrible acting in terrible films.

This compilation is some kind of wonderful.

August 27th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Essential album.

Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2010



January 28th 2011


No intentions on getting the album. Sorry, not a huge fan of Madonna. But I will say "La Isla Bonita" is the shit.

March 21st 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Jamming Borderline right now on Such a great pop song.

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