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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Apr-18 > MADONNA the second coming

MADONNA the second coming

CHANNELLING SPIRITUALITY AND STATE-OF-THE-ART ELECTRONICA, MADONNA LAID HERSELF BARE EMOTIONALLY, ESCHEWED THE HEADLINE-GRABBING ANTICS OF HER PAST AND PULLED OFF THE MOTHER OF ALL COMEBACKS WITH HER MYSTICAL MASTERPIECE THAT NOW CELEBRATES ITS 20TH BIRTHDAY – HER 1998 ALBUM,RAY OF LIGHT
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When Madonna announced the imminent release of her seventh studio album at the beginning of 1998, it was met with a curious mixture of anticipation and trepidation as to what the pop superstar would come up with given the series of changes, both personal and professional, she had undergone since Bedtime Stories in 1994.

The strident sexual crusader, whose every song and video was as prominent in the headlines as it was in the charts, had been displaced with mawkish MOR balladry and a Lloyd Webber musical. The fact that Madonna was a first-time mother and approaching her 40th birthday did little to ease the concerns of even the most ardent of her acolytes, none of whom could even dare to imagine the techno tour-de-force she was about to deliver.

Since the birth of her daughter in October 1996 and her obligatory promo duties for her award-winning role in Evita, Madonna had kept a low profile for the majority of 1997. Alongside producer William Orbit and programmer Marius de Vries, the singer was holed up in California’s Larrabee Studios, where she worked around the clock ensconced in a world of techno wizardry.

Work had begun in January when, in a serious quandary as to what her next creative statement would be, Madonna went into the studio with a number of writers and producers including Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, Rick Nowels and Patrick Leonard to determine the feel of the record.

While Warner Brothers favoured Madonna continuing with the R&B sound predominant on her Bedtime Stories album (which had given her one of her biggest ever US hits with Take A Bow), she was leaning towards the sound of other cuts from that record – Sanctuary, the Björk-penned Bedtime Story and her 1995 Massive Attack collaboration I Want You, which featured on the Marvin Gaye tribute album Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye.

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