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After Martika had huge success with her self-titled debut Martika from 1988. It was Martika's fun dance-pop sound that gained such a strong reaction worldwide when she first started her musical career. Her most popular single Toy Soldiers topped the American chart whilst her debut gave Martika another two hit singles. For her follow-up, Martika wanted to extend her sound by following a more mature sound. She began writing with American musician Prince whom she approached about a collaboration. She also began writing with several other songwriters such as musicians Les Pierce and Michael Cruz. Due to the various producers and songwriters, the album has plenty of variety to offer. As an attempt to target an adult audience, the album's material featured elements of pop, gospel, jazz, funk, R&B and traditional Cuban music. The lyrics on the album were also more adult-orientated - many tackling numerous social issues. In 1991, Martika released her second and last album Martika's Kitchen.
The album opens with the same-titled song Martika's Kitchen which was written solely by Prince. This song opens with a strong use of a simple percussion beat, followed by a fun, melodic synthesizer melody, backed by fun bass guitar and percussion. Martika performs some one-liners throughout the opening before the main verse begins. The song's verses feature some rather fun and adventurous vocals from Martika, backed by synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features some strong backing vocal behind Martika in places, backed by the synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. The song's main melody is instrumentally played before entering the next verse. This following verse is in the same format as the pervious verse but with a small use of backing vocals that work nicely alongside the lead vocal. Following the second chorus is a strong vocal section that starts with some casual lead vocal over synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. Shortly following, Martika performs another strong vocal section that almost acts like a rap where she performs with plenty of lust. After, the final verse is performed whilst the next verse follows, backed this time by strong organ. The ending of the song features the final chorus whilst a strong organ solo is slowly fades the song out with the help of Martika's one-liners. Lyrically, the song refers to lust and desire with the lyrics being particularly suggestive. Overall, this is a great opener to the album, a memorable melody, strong vocals and a fun theme throughout. The entire song has a playful attitude, perfectly appealing to fans of Martika's debut album even though this song may be a more mature effort. "Come on get some in Martika's kitchen baby, you bring the noise and I'll bring the smile. It's been so long since you've been down in the kitchen baby, my desire's running longer than a country mile..."
Spirit follows and was written by Martika, Prince, Levi Seacer Jr. and Frankie Blue. The song opens with a fade in of shaking percussion before a more stronger percussion beat is present, followed by a simple synthesized piano melody which allows Martika to perform a small section of spoken vocal, whilst another synthesizer melody plays along. The main melody is then fully played instrumentally, highlighting the piano, rich percussion and synthesizer. For the verses, Martika performs some strong vocal, backed mainly by a dominant mix of bass guitar and percussion before the piano and synthesizer is added. A strong chorus follows with a great gospel feel where Martika performs one line and soulful backing vocals mainly sing the song's title after each line. This is backed by a strong mix of piano, synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. The following verse is in the same format as the first verse but here a small amount of backing vocal is used. After the second chorus, a strong melody of synthesizer and piano is played whilst the backing vocals repeat the song's title. Shortly after, the melody is paused whilst Martika performs two lines with casual vocal, backed solely by strong percussion. The third verse begins with Martika's vocal over only synthesizer drones and percussion, the second half of the verse features the return of the piano melody. Following, Martika and backing vocals repeat the song's title once again before leading into the two final choruses. Cleverly, the first of two choruses features no synthesizer whilst the second chorus builds the sound back up with the usual mix of instruments. The song closes with backing vocals repeating the song's title. Lyrically, the song refers to world peace, love and never letting your spirit die despite the hard way of the world. Overall, this song isn't the most strongest track on the album and may take more than one listen to capture the listener but overall the song is a strong album track. "An angel came to greet me, it happened in a dream. He spoke of my reality, not being what it seems. Within us lives the new world and this world he calmly said, will only be when evil and all it's sorrows are truly dead..."
The next song is Love...Thy Will Be Done which was written by Martika and Prince. The song opens with a peaceful combination of synthesizer and percussion. The melody of the song isn't particularly dominant and instead allows Martika's vocal to be the song's highlight. For the song's main vocal section, Martika gives a truly fantastic vocal performance, both sensitive and beautiful. Halfway through this section, female backing vocals is added behind the lead which adds a nice effect of togetherness before lead vocals are solely performed again. A short solo section follows with synthesizer being the highlight. The next vocal section follows a similar format to the first section although it is slightly shorter. After, the same solo section is performed again with some background harmonic vocal from Martika. Following is the next vocal section, again followed by another strong section that features some more great vocal from Martika with plenty of backing vocals as well as small amount of male backing vocal. Next is the main vocal section once again which is then followed by a repeat of the same section, this time with a stronger percussion beat that almost symbolising handclaps as well as a strong amount of backing vocal. The song comes to a finish at this point whilst small synthesizer drones are continued, creating a strong atmosphere of peace. This synthesizer builds up to a more louder ending before nicely fading out. Lyrically, the song refers to spiritual and romantic feelings, perhaps an allegory between romantic love and the love for God. The song could even be interpreted as the point of view of a newborn Christian. Interestingly, Prince has performed this song on numerous occasions himself, particularly during his tours in the late 90s. Overall, this song throughout is very simple musically and yet very effective. Martika gives a fantastic vocal performance whilst the entire song is very atmospheric and relaxing. "Love, thy will be done. I can no longer hide, I can no longer run, no longer can I resist the guiding light. It gives me the power to keep up the fight. Love, thy will be done, since I have found you my life has just begun..."
A Magical Place is a duet between Martika and musician Christopher Max whom also solely wrote the song. The song opens with Martika singing the song's title before entering the song's melody. A small part of the melody features a quick use of keyboard that almost resembles an Indian/Hindi sound. Background synthesizer drones are present along with percussion, bass guitar and a hint of background guitar. The first verse opens with some strong vocals from Martika, backed by two layers of synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. This section is followed by the next verse which features lead vocals from Max. Shortly following, a section that acts as the pre-chorus features some strong rings of synthesizer in the background with bass guitar and percussion before the song leads into the chorus. The chorus itself features vocals solely from Martika, backed by lead synthesizer, backing synthesizer drones, bass guitar, guitar and percussion. The next verse features lead vocals from Max whilst Martika performs the backing vocals. For the second chorus, the format is the same as the first chorus but with the Indian/Hindi keyboard melody making an appearance. Following the second chorus is a new vocal section which features casual vocal from both singers together, backed by percussion, bass guitar and a small amount of synthesizer. A solo section follows which features the Indian/Hindi keyboard melody before the song's ending is performed. The song's ending simply consists of the final choruses. Lyrically, the song seems to refer to love and how one person sees their lover as their saviour because they found a magical place in them. Overall, this song shows some strong vocals from Martika and some interesting instrumentation but it doesn't stand up to many other tracks on the album. One strong point is that the song has a whole array of musical influences but overall lacks in melody and direction. With the nature of the song, the listener is unable to sing-a-long whereas they could with most other tracks on the album. "You slay me, you bring me hope in a world full of fear. And you get me off to a start that never stops. Like wild horses on a windy day, I feel you now, and you're blowing through me like a melody..."
Following on is Coloured Kisses which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. This song is another grand moment of mature pop from this album. The song opens with a strong melody consisting of piano and synthesizer whilst the rhythm is created by bass guitar and solid percussion. During the song's opening, Martika performs some one-liners before going straight into the first verse. For the song's verses, Martika performs some truly amazing vocals which makes the lyrics stand out even more. The lead vocals are backed by strong piano, background synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features more great vocal, added by some great female backing vocals whilst the synthesizer, piano, bass guitar and percussion hold the music together. Following the chorus is a short instrumental that highlights the song's main melody as well as some strong synthesizer. After the second chorus comes a new vocal section that features some dominant synthesizer, more fantastic lead vocal, bass guitar and percussion. A solo section follows which highlights the song's piano melody and synthesizer once again whilst Martika performs some one-liners over the top. The following chorus features vocals solely by Martika without the backing vocals whilst the ending of the song has the final chorus without piano. Lyrically, the song is very powerful with the verses allowing Martika to explain the meaning of each colour whilst the chorus directly gets to the song's message. The lyrics refer to the magic of her lover's kisses and the effect they have. Interestingly, the song was later covered by R&B singer Nina Girado. Overall, this is a great song with some excellent vocals, memorable melody and some great lyrics. "Red, the fire that burns my heart when you're near, it wraps me up, now I find the space to feel blue. Like the water, it fills me with peace, when you leave me again, I'll still breathe within..." and "Yellow is the sun that shines on me, like your smile it sets me free, seasons change to blacken my mood. When I falter my heart goes astray, I remember the nights when you'd take me away..." are two examples of the great lyrics.
Safe In The Arms of Love was written by Martika, Michael Jay and Michael Cruz. Jay was the producer of Martika's debut album and also wrote a fair amount of the debut album's material. The song opens with the sound of peaceful twinkling before a friendly guitar melody begins, followed by some emotive saxophone whilst atmospheric synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion play in the background. The song's verses feature some heartfelt vocals from Martika, backed by guitar, synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. A strong pre-chorus follows which features some more emotive vocals, backed by synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. For the song's great chorus, Martika gives both an emotional and memorable vocal performance over the song's main melody consisting of guitar, synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. Following the chorus, the saxophone plays a short instrumental before the next verse. For the second chorus, the same format of the first chorus is followed but this time female backing vocals sing with the lead vocal. After this chorus, a new vocal section is performed with some strong synthesizer backing whilst Martika performs some dramatic vocal. Female vocals are also present in this section. A strong saxophone solo immediately follows which greatly adds to the song's memorability whilst Martika performs some harmonic vocal in the background. For the song's ending, the final chorus is performed whilst a strong mix of guitar, saxophone and percussion fades the song out, capturing the sensitivity of the song right till the end. Lyrically, the song refers to a love that has slowly fallen apart, allowing the two lovers to go their separate ways although they both know that one day they will return to each other once again. Overall, this is a great album track with plenty of emotion and atmosphere. As always, Martika's vocal is in top form which adds greatly to the song itself. "You said my heart's an open book, there are pages of my life you've never seen. You're always there between the lines, but there's so much more you just can't seem to read. Pieces of dreams pull us our separate ways, but we'll return someday..."
The next song that follows is Pride & Prejudice which was written by Martika and Michael Cruz. The song opens with a quick strum of synthesized guitar before the instrument plays the song's main melody. Percussion is slowly added whilst a small amount of sound effects are used. The song's verses feature some strong vocal from Martika, backed by the synthesized guitar and a small amount of bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features some fantastic lead vocal, backed by female backing vocals, synthesized guitar, a strong drumbeat, bass guitar and blasts of saxophone. The second chorus follows the same format as the first chorus but features lead vocal by the female backing group whilst Martika performs some lines over the top instead. Following the song's second chorus, a new vocal section features a strong combination of great lead vocal, lively backing vocal, synthesized guitar, saxophone, bass guitar and percussion. Following the third chorus comes another vocal section where Martika performs a rap like verse. This section features some casual but solid vocal from Martika, backed by bass guitar and percussion with a small amount of guitar. Following this section, saxophone makes a strong return whilst Martika performs this rap again with more vocal power, backed by backing vocals, saxophone, bass guitar and percussion. The song's ending features one-liners from Martika, backing vocals, saxophone, lead electric guitar, bass guitar and percussion. Lyrically, the song is rather self-explanatory, focusing on how pride and prejudice stops the world from being one. The song also tackles racism and homophobia. Overall, this song is another fantastic album track with some strong vocals, memorable instrumentation and some good use of backing vocalists. "Pride and prejudice, keep us from being together. Lies and cowardice, the walls that keep us locked out. Sticks and stones may break us but the fire of hate will burn us down, now we're all alone with the war inside our souls..."
Take Me To Forever is another strong moment of mature pop on the album, this time with a strong lyrical message whilst the song echoes Martika's hit single Toy Soldiers, from her debut album. The song was written by Martika and Michael Jay who both wrote Toy Soldiers. The song opens with a strong synthesizer melody which immediately creates a feeling of sensitivity. For the song's verses, Martika gives a beautiful vocal performance, backed by two layers of synthesizer, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. A great pre-chorus follows which features dominant lead vocal, backed by synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. The song's chorus is nothing short of spectacular. Again, Martika gives a brilliant vocal performance, backed by emotive synthesizer, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. The song's main melody is instrumentally played after the chorus, just before the next verse is performed. Following the second chorus, a new vocal section is played which features more breathtaking vocals from Martika, backed by the synthesizer, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. The next chorus features female backing vocals performing the lead whilst Martika performs some vocal over the top whilst male vocal makes a small appearance in the background. This is repeated for the next chorus as well. The song's ending features the song's main melody with Martika performing some one-liners over backing vocals. This fades the song out perfectly. Lyrically, this song is perhaps by far the most emotive on the album. The lyrics are based on the point of view of someone who was considering suicide before turning to perhaps a lover for guidance. Overall, this song echoes many great features from the memorable melody, meaningful lyrics and most importantly, Martika's vocal which makes each line of the song important. "And sometimes I can't face it, no, no, when I take a look inside. Oh, and I just don't like what I see, is there nowhere left to hide?" and "Cause when I look into the mirror, I see what I've become, and I've lost my own direction. Only you, only you can lead me home..." are two examples of the meaningful lyrics.
Following on is Temptation which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. This song certainly resembles a funk-influenced sound and opens with a large whirl of two wild synthesizers that quickly fade into the song's main melody, backed by funky bass guitar and strong percussion. Martika performs a couple of one-liners over the melody before the song enters the first verse. The song's verses feature some fun and strong vocal from Martika, backed by bass guitar, percussion, guitar licks and a hint of synthesizer. A strong pre-chorus follows and features some more strong lead vocal, backed by female harmonic vocals, bass guitar, piano and percussion. The song's chorus presents itself as a highly infectious moment where Martika performs some fantastic vocal, backed by lively female backing vocal, synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar and percussion. For the second verse, the same format as the first verse is used but with backing vocals present. Following the second chorus is a new vocal section which features more strong lead vocal and backing vocal, with synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar and percussion keeping the melody and rhythm intact. This section closes with a wonderful use of harmonic vocals and strong percussion before entering the next pre-chorus. Following the next chorus is a new vocal section where Martika performs a rap-like verse. The lead vocals here a strong and work perfectly over synthesizer drones, bass guitar and percussion. For the ending, the song fades out with both Martika and backing vocals performing one-liners. Lyrically, the song refers to an affair and the temptation of two lovers who both know what they are doing is wrong but cannot force themselves to stop. Overall, this song has a great funk-influence throughout which Martika proves herself more than capable of adapting to different musical styles. A strong song throughout with plenty of memorability and fantastic instrumentation/vocals. "Did you ever want something so bad, you'd risk it all? No matter what the consequences are? You've lost control of something deep inside your soul, and now it's gone a little bit too far..."
Don't Say U Love Me follows and again features a funk-influenced sound, written by Martika and Prince. The song opens with blasts of heavy synthesizers and percussion which lead into the main funky melody, backed by bass guitar and Martika who whispers the song's title a few times. The song's verses feature some strong vocal, backed by synthesized bass, synthesizer and percussion. A strong pre-chorus follows which features some solid vocals, a new synthesizer layer, synthesized bass and percussion. The chorus features some more strong lead vocal, background female backing vocal, brass instruments, synthesizer, synthesized bass and a steady drumbeat. Following, a strong but short synthesizer solo is played whilst Martika performs a quick harmonic vocal before entering the second verse. This verse is in the same format as the first verse but with some strong backing vocal added. Following the second chorus is a strong section that highlights the song's melody whilst harmonic vocals are performed by both Martika and the backing vocalists. Following this section, Martika whispers some strong lines that almost act like a rap, shortly joined by backing vocalists who sing their own line before Martika performs the final line of the section. Afterwards, a strong synthesizer solo is added to the song which is carried along by the synthesized bass, percussion and a hint of background vocal. Following the final chorus, Martika performs some one-liners before another short but strong synthesizer solo is performed with background vocals. This solo extends into the final pre-chorus which follows immediately after. The ending of the song features backing vocalists who repeat the song's title over some fun synthesizer, synthesized bass and percussion which nicely fades the song out. Lyrically, the song's lyrics are from the point of view of a lover who wishes to be set free and no longer wants to hear her lover's empty promises. Overall, this track may not be the strongest on the album but it does stand up as a great album track with a fun feel and some strong vocal. "Don't say that you love me baby, cause I don't wanna know. Our love is like a roller coaster, up and down we go..."
The next track is Broken Heart which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. The song opens with an interesting male vocal effect that acts as the bass guitar. Martika performs a small little chant over the top whilst a steady use of percussion joins the song. The song's verses feature some strong lead vocal, backed by the vocal effect, occasional background chant heard in the introduction and a small use of female backing vocal. For the pre-chorus, Martika gives a strong vocal performance, backed by synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features some pleasant lead vocal, backed by guitar, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. The second verse follows the format of the first verse but with the use of the occasional backing vocal. Following third chorus, a new vocal section that acts as a third verse is performed. This section features some fantastic lead vocal, backed by synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar, percussion and a small use of backing vocal. Following this section is a strong brass instrument solo which adds a nice layer over the synthesizers and percussion. The ending of the song features the final two choruses before fading out. Lyrically, the song refers to crack babies and the song cleverly addresses this issue by starting with the point of view of the mother before the listener is given the point of view of the child. Overall, this is a strong album track with some interesting instrumentation and some great lyrics. Martika gives a strong vocal performance throughout which makes the lyrics even more meaningful. "I said, hey, can't you see what you're doing to me? I gave you my heart, but you can set me free. Because I'm not in the mood to be apologized to, there's more to this life than your drugs and your booze..." and "For the past nine months or so, I ain't feeling so sweet. They told me I had to behave myself so I'd be healthy. I thought I did everything right, now everything's gone wrong, our baby's got a broken heart, he ain't feeling so strong..." are two examples of the lyrical message.
The album's closer is a Spanglish track titled Mi Tierra which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. This song features the special guest Celia Cruz who was one of the most successful Salsa performers of the 20th century. The song opens with a Cuban-flavoured brass section, piano, and a rich amount of percussion. The first and second verse features some solid vocal from Martika, carried by piano and percussion. For the chorus, male backing vocals are present that repeat the song's title whilst Martika performs a line after the backing vocalists. After the chorus, a short brass section instrumentally plays before entering the next verse. This verse is performed by Cruz and is sung in Spanish, backed by brass instruments, piano and percussion. The next verse is performed by some strong vocal from Martika, backed by piano and percussion. For the second chorus, a strong use of brass instruments run behind the vocals throughout. Following the third chorus, a new section is present, featuring backing vocals over piano, brass instruments and percussion whilst the lyrics remain in Spanish. The next verse features Martika performing some Spanish lyrics, followed by Cruz taking over on lead vocal whilst Martika performs backing vocal. Afterwards, a strong brass instrumental is performed, backed by piano and percussion. For the final minute of the song, the final chorus is performed, followed by a final vocal section performed by Cruz and backing vocalists. This nicely fades out the song out. Lyrically, the song refers to any Cuban-American's inability to visit their homeland as both Martika and Cruz fit into this category. Overall, this song makes a fair album closer and acts nicely as a bonus track but unless the listener is particularly interested in Cuban-influenced music or Spanglish lyrics then this song holds limited appeal. The song's message is certainly strong thought where Martika in particular performs a strong vocal that shows a clear longing for her to be connected to her homeland. The song's title in English means My Land. "A paradise I've never seen with my own eyes but through stories I'm told. Some had to flee, their children are free but living without you, I'll never be whole..."
Upon release, Martika's Kitchen sadly failed to keep Martika's commercial success in America alive despite the critical praise of the album. The album was a huge hit internationally though and the singles saw their own strong amount of success. The album peaked at #9 in Australia, #15 in the UK and #111 in America whilst charting in various other countries. The lead single was Love...Thy Will Be Done which was a big hit worldwide, peaking at #1 in Australia, #9 in the UK, #10 in America as well as becoming a hit in other European countries. The next single was Martika's Kitchen which was a fair worldwide hit, peaking at #17 in the UK, #21 in Sweden, #29 in Australia, #34 in Canada but flopping in America, only peaking at #93. The final single was Coloured Kisses which failed to chart in America but peaked at #39 in Australia, #41 in the UK and #83 in Germany. Safe In The Arms of Love, Spirit and Mi Tierra were all released as promotional singles somewhere in the world.
After the album's release, Martika decided to move away from music and began working as an actress in the early 1990s cop show Wiseguy, with Steven Bauer, but she soon faded from the public eye around 1993. In 2001, Martika began to re-emerge by stating that a new album was to be released however this never actually happened. In 2003, she joined her husband, musician Michael Mozart, to form the band Oppera which adopted a latin pop sound. Oppera have released two albums although only little success has been achieved. In 2004, rapper Eminem sampled Toy Soldiers in his song Like Toy Soldiers which achieved big worldwide success. In 2009, Martika changed her name to Vida Edit and confirmed that she was appearing with her husband in a new web-based television program titled J8ded.
Overall, I highly recommend this album for any fan of 80s/early 90s pop. A strong album overall with excellent production throughout. Martika proved herself capable of working with numerous musicians as well as being able to adapt to any musical style she wished. This was Martika's attempt at creating a mature sound. Whilst America didn't quite take to the album as hoped, Martika's Kitchen still proved to be an artistic triumph.
I have made a preview of each track available via Youtube which gives a good feel for each song on the album: www.youtube.com/watch?v=INJT0IOzn​sk
Review originally posted on Ciao
Martika's Kitchen was the second hit album from the voice that was Martika and is something of a more mixed bag than her debut was with some truly great songs but many more less memorable ones too!
The album begins with the title track which is actually pretty good; fast-paced and funky, it sets a good tone and leaves the rest of the album with much to live up to. Spirit, though still okay but nothing special, follows on as the second track on the album and has a kind of vintage Madonna-esque feel to it though Martika's sound is very, very different.
Love...Thy Will Be Done is the strongest song on this album and perhaps the one that most people will remember. It has lost none of its edge in the intervening years since this album was released and is still a nineties classic today! Prince's influence can be plainly heard (and even features on backing vocals I believe), something that I am not sure is a good or a bad thing ~ not being much of a Prince fan myself!
Magical Place, the next song, is one of the weakest tracks on the album and has a very irritating pop feel to it that does very little for me whatsoever as can be said for Coloured Kisses, both of which don't feel like the same Martika from her debut a few years back. Though it is true that sometimes an artist needs to try different sounds to expand and grow, still for me these two tracks really don't fit her voice and are kind of more filler tracks for the album rather than decent contributions.
Thankfully, things start to get back on track with Safe In The Arms Of Love though it is not until Pride And Prejudice that I begin to feel, listening to this now, that we start to get back to the Martika of old! This is more the Martika I loved listening to rather than the version we see more of here, largely due to Prince's influence perhaps as this is the only thing I can think of that has changed since the last album! Prince himself has had something of a chequered career and that is why I feel as though he is the main reason why this whole album never really comes together as one big, cohesive whole!
Take Me To Forever and Temptation come next and once again feel quite weak when compared to stronger songs that Martika has recorded in earlier years. Again these tracks are both okay but nothing amazing and are only redeemed by the last three songs, Don't Say You Love Me, Broken Heart and Mi Terra which up the pace a little and just feel stronger and more satisfying to listen to. There is no questioning Martika's vocal talent, she has a great voice that I have loved ever since the first time I heard Toy Soldiers, sampled by Eminem in recent years, it is just a shame that sometimes here not all of the songs do her justice!
Overall, this is an okay album but don't expect anything as great and memorable as her debut offering by any means!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Martika's Kitchen
3 Love... Thy Will Be Done
4 Magical Place
5 Coloured Kisses
6 Safe In The Arms Of Love
7 Pride And Prejudice
8 Take Me To Forever
10 Don't Say U Love Me
11 Broken Heart
12 Mi Tierra