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Madonna LIKE A PRAYER

Madonna’s fourth studio album is an immaculate collection of songs which saw the superstar looking inwards for divine inspiration. Taking in grief, loss, redemption and empowerment, with the celestial Like A Prayer she created her own new testament
Out of all of her studio albums, Like A Prayer is Madonna’s most explicit attempt at a major artistic statement
FRANK MICELOTTA ARCHIVE/IMAGEDIRECT/GETTY

Though Madonna had already established herself as the definitive female pop artist of the 80s with a catalogue of classic hits under her Boy Toy belt, she had found herself at a crossroads in her public and professional life when she entered the studio in 1988 to work on her fourth album. Devastated by the breakdown of her marriage to actor Sean Penn and having recently turned 30, Madonna was feeling increasingly introspective, compelled to confront her feelings about the life-altering events that she had brushed aside for years.

Two years on from True Blue, her most successful album to date, and feeling immense pressure to follow it up, she was desperate to shift focus back to her work from the tabloid caricature that she was becoming thanks to her tumultuous union with Penn.

Sean’s propensity to lash out at paparazzi photographers had made him public enemy number one in the tabloids and even landed him in jail. Madonna’s willingness to stand by her man made her guilty by association and earned the couple the moniker, ‘the Poison Penns’.

Meanwhile, her ‘scandalous’ antics with bisexual comedienne Sandra Bernhard – dressing in matching outfits for an appearance on David Letterman’s talk show which implied their relationship was more than platonic – and teaming up with Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey and dubbing themselves ‘the Snatch Batch’ (a take on Sinatra’s Rat Pack) to frequent New York’s infamous lesbian nightclub, Cubbyhole, only fanned the flames of her tabloid notoriety.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 34 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! Farewell to 2019! Our massive end-of-year special rounds up the very best of the year in vinyl. First up, we bring you the top 100 new albums of the last 12 months, selected by an expert panel of record shop owners, labels, bands, writers and festival organisers. Once you've filled your Christmas list with that lot, we've picked the top 20 reissues of 2019. You'll find interviews with some of the heroes of the year, too, including Fontaines DC, The Specials, Amyl & The Sniffers, Weyes Blood, Bill Callahan and The Murder Capital. If you're on the lookout for a new turntable, amp, speakers or headphones for Christmas, you'll want to check out our extensive Gear Of The Year awards, and after more than 10,000 of you voted, we name our second annual Record Shop Of The Year. Pick up your copy to find out who's won! In other news, former Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant sits down for a chat about his new boxset and podcast, while Beck opens up about his latest album, Hyperspace. We also reminisce with The Pop Group over their classic 1979 album Y and tell the story of the label that brought us Love, The Doors and MC5: the one and only Elektra Records. If all that's not enough, you'll find the widest range of vinyl-related news, features and reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for Vinyl lovers.