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Ray Of Light - Madonna

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  • may alienate followers of Madonna's old pop sound
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      25.03.2010 18:22
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      An Average Album

      I've always quietly been a fan of Madonna. It's not something I usually make widely known but keep on the sly. That said I only have two of her albums. This one 'Ray Of Light' came out back in 1998 and was one I really like at the time. I thought it time I gave this album a review, so here is what I think of each song:

      1. Drowned World/Substitute For Love - Not a song I liked at first but it has grown on me over the years. It's got a real mellow laid back feel to it and some nice lyrics. A good solid start to the album. 4/5

      2. Swim - A nice little riff plays in the background on this one. There is a really fresh sound to this one and some good lyrics. One of the songs on the album I enjoy. 4/5

      3. Ray Of Light - Title track and a song that Madonna did really well with when she released it. This is quite a dancy song that really makes you want to move around. There is a great beat and some clever lyrics that flow very well. 5/5

      4. Candy Perfume Girl - Quite a strange song. A gloomy sort of sound to this one, it almost sounds like its underwater. Some nice lyrics but its not really anything special, the music is just a little average. 3/5

      5. Skin - Another slow start to this one and then it builds up. This is another song with a dance beat in the background, but it does not work on this song. This is quite a poor effort. 2/5

      6. Nothing Really Matters - This is an improvement on the last song but still nothing special. A steady beat and some good sounds and nice lyrics. Is a pretty simple song but it works OK. 3/5

      7. Sky Fits Heaven - Its all sounding a little repetitive now. All the beats sound the same. The last three songs could just be one long one. Nothing to rave about on this one either. 2/5

      8. Shanti/Ashtangi - Madonna was going through her Indian phase here by the sound of it. A song in what sounds like Urdu and has Indian sounds. Pretty poor really. 2/5

      9. Frozen - Finally something to rave about. This song was massive for Madonna and its not hard to see why. This is a really beautiful haunting song. There are some good lyrics and a fantastic sound to it. The chorus is really something special and the strings on the song are fantastic. 5/5

      10. The Power Of Goodbye - My favourite song on the album. I think it's such excellent music and the strings in the background are perfect. A really nice song that I've always loved and still often listen to. 5/5

      11. To Have And Not To Hold - After the last to massive songs this one is something of a let down. Pretty boring and pretty average lyrics. This one is only really suitable as a bit of filler. 2/5

      12. Little Star - Were back to the weird underwater world with this one. Its just a weird sound that I don't really like. The music is slow and boring and there is little positive to say about it. 2/5

      13. Mur Girl - How does she end the album. Quietly. This is a really slow song with little music in it. However its not a bad song and quite easy to listen to. Its not a big finish though that would have been handy at this stage. 3/5

      Overall this is an album of contrasts. There are some really special songs on there but at the same time there is some real guff! Overall its pretty average really, I tend to just listen to the big songs on this one and don't bother with the rest. Certainly not one of her best albums.

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        31.05.2009 19:10
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        Certainly worth checking out

        "Ray Of Light" is the 7th album by Madonna and was released in 1998. It won 4 Grammy Awards, marked a change in musical style and helped revive the Material Girl's career. The musical style is mainly electronic with production work by William Orbit; digital sounding effects and interesting samples are usually present in the background of the tracks. The lyrics are introspective dealing with topics such as: love for her daughter, new beginnings, the death of her mother, materialism and relationships. The tempo is varied with a few up tempo dance tracks; most are mid-tempo tunes and the last track "Mer Girl" has a complete absence of any beat at all.

        I enjoy the reflective and meaningful lyrics present in the album that show a more intimate side of Madonna, although they are never going to win any awards. Overall the tracks are fairly consistent, melodic and contain good production by William Orbit. The album sleeve contains the track lyrics, which is an additional bonus.

        The album kicks off with "Drowned World / Substitute For Love" - a tranquil and reflective tune helped along by piano tinkles in the background - and the following track "Swim" continues along similar lines with a memorable humming backing vocal. Upbeat dance tracks inject some energy into the album as the halfway mark is approached; "Skin" has very distinctive samples from what sounds like an Arabic bazaar and "Sky Fits Heaven" is filled with electronic bloops and squiggles.

        "Shanti / Ashtangi" is particularly striking as it is sung completely in Sanskrit. It consists of 2 mantras:
        - Om shanti shanti shanti which is a prayer for peace
        - And an Ashtanga Yoga mantra that pays homage to Patanjali who compiled the Yoga sutras.
        The unusual nature of the track is likely to polarize opinions - I personally find it refreshing and the saturation of Hindu inspired samples throughout maintains my interest.

        "Frozen" is an album highlight for me containing sweeping strings, a brooding melody and a middle-eastern theme but there are question marks about its originality. It was banned from Belgium because the opening four-bar theme plagiarizes "Ma vie fout le camp", composed by Salvatore Acquaviva of Mouscron.

        The album ends with the weird and twisted "Mer Girl" - a beat-less track describing how Madonna is running away from her dead mother incorporating dark lyrics such as:
        "And I smelt her burning flesh, her rotting bones, her decay.
        I ran and I ran - I'm still running today."
        This is probably intended to be a catharsis for her because it certainly doesn't make for easy listening and is an unusual end to the album - not a track you will be leaving on repeat!

        In summary: this is a more reflective electronic pop album with sufficient variety and meaning to justify a listen if you haven't already. "Ray Of Light" is also far superior to her most recent efforts in my opinion.

        [Also reviewed on Ciao and Epinions]

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          06.06.2008 15:29
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          An excellent album from the queen of pop

          I've always been a big fan of Madonna, from her early works where she was just an innocent pop star right until she turned into the sexy eroticist that she became in the mid 90's she was constantly changing her look and musical style and in fact still is to this day. I gave my brother a bit of stick at the time for coming home with "Ray of Light" but this is 10 years ago so I hope I can be forgiven. When I started to appreciate music more I realised why he'd bought it.

          Again she this was more progression from Madge and she kicked off the album by releasing the chilling "Frozen" this was a really powerful song and although pretty depressing to listen to it was very different and I loved it. Then of course she brought out the single to match the album title "Ray of Light" this brilliant dance track was a sign of where Madonna was heading and it's one of the fashionable songs of the late 90's which still holds credence on dancefloors today.

          Track Listing:

          1. Drowned World (Substitute For Love)
          2. Swim
          3. Ray Of Light
          4. Candy Perfume Girl
          5. Skin
          6. Nothing Really Matters
          7. Sky Fits Heaven
          8. Shanti/Ashtangi
          9. Frozen
          10. Power Of Goodbye
          11. To Have And Not To Hold
          12. Little Star
          13. Mer Girl

          All in all this was a really good album, sure there are a lot of tracks whic vary vastly in their style but it's typical of Madonna to do this. From start to finish I liked this album and nothing on it was terrible.

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          12.03.2008 00:08
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          Madonna's 1998 album 'Ray of Light'

          Madonna Ciccone has been nicknamed the 'Queen of Pop', and is wll known for groundbreaking music releasing themes of music and religion onto the stage with controversy attached. Following the release of her 1994 album 'Bedtime Stories', Madonna took a break from recording music and concentrated on the film production of the musical 'Evita', in which she takes the lead.

          Following the birth of her first child Lourdes, Madonna wrote the bulk of the tracks on 'Ray of Light', her 1998 album. Its release heralded another 'new' Madonna. As a solo performer, she is constantly reinventing herself for fear of repeating herself within her music. This is evident in this album with the 'modern' sounds created by the majority of the tracks. There are 13 tracks in all, including the hit tracks 'Ray of Light', 'Frozen' and 'Nothing Really Matters'.

          These are the tracks:

          1. Drowned World/Substitute For Love
          2. Swim
          3. Ray Of Light
          4. Candy Perfume Girl
          5. Skin
          6. Nothing Really Matters
          7. Sky Fits Heaven
          8. Shanti/Ashtangi
          9. Frozen
          10. The Power Of Good-Bye
          11. To Have And Not To Hold
          12. Little Star
          13. Mer Girl

          While this is a good collection of music technically, Madonna has never been my favourite performer. She has no doubt appealed to another young generation with this album, as well as revitalising her fans from previous releases, and it is easy to see why true fans would like this change.

          Her voice remains a powerful weapon at the same time as being a soothing sound. Tracks such as 'The Power Of Good-Bye' prove this, yet I do not find interest personally in listening to the entire album. Tracks such as 'Skin' and 'Little Star' are nice tracks, but I find them too deep and meaningful to just listen to without thinking about reaons for them being written. Collaborations with William Orbit and Patrick Leonard are not unfamiliar to Madonna, yet this time Leonard's involved stopped before entering the studio for recording. While I cannot tell how this might have changed the album, I prefer the Madonna of the 1980s and early 1990s, and am not too enamoured by the Madonna we hear on 'Ray of Light'.

          Since this album, she seems to have returned to a style which fits with the times. 'Ray of Light' was almost too different, released at a time when a lot of artists were experimenting greatly with their music in a controversial way.

          I rate this album at 3 stars. Although I am not a fan of this album, I still appreciate the musical quality involved here and the deep and meaningful aspect. It is soothing music.

          'Ray of Light' is available from amazon.co.uk for £4.98 new.

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            04.11.2002 15:37
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            "Ray of Light" came out in 1998, and it seemed to be heavily influenced by some of the events surrounding her life at the time. Following on from the starring role in the film of "Evita", and her decision to have her baby, Lourdes. (yes, that's the way Madonna does things - unlike most of the rest of womankind, she decides to have a baby). It's a rather more mature album than some of her previous ones. She gets down to basics, universal truths - like religion / relationships, love, loss, communication - and having the baby may well have been partly responsible - it concentrates your mind on the important issues of life. Musically, motherhood seemed to have resulted in a more slowed down, slightly more sober, Madonna, and this album's all the better for it. I'd describe it as quietly powerful, in a similar way to some of Bjork's material. Another undeniable influence, or factor, is William Orbit. He was brought in to produce a few tracks but ended up doing almost all of them. "Ray of Light" is, I think, her most unified album - it certainly doesn't come across as a collection of dance-oriented A sides plus dance tracks to fill things out, as some of her albums have been. The closest contender to what I'd call a 'unified' album before was "Like a Prayer". This could be down to William Orbit?s role - just one track ("Little star") doesn?t have his involvement. But even this song sounds like it?s part of the complete whole. As far as the overall 'sound' is concerned - the album had a new style. But this didn't make it more 'difficult', rather more welcoming, if anything. It was definitely a chunk of popularised electronica. There are plenty of samples (bleeps like telephone ringing tones - that communication theme) but it all sounds integral, and not at all intrusive or gimmicky. The album is so cohesive
            that I often find it difficult to distinguish some of the tracks. Some might call that a disadvantage - it depends what you are looking for. And I'll admit there are times when it all gets a bit on the 'easy listening' side, but that's ok if you're in that kind of mood. The single "Frozen", had its video cruelly (and deservedly) spoofed by French and Saunders, but the song itself is enduring. "The power of goodbye" is another wonderful tune, which crept up on me at the beginning, but I find myself humming it after listening to it. Those influences from Madonna's (very public) life keep surfacing: "Power of goodbye" is about her Penn marriage, "Little Star" is about the baby Lourdes, and "Skin" is about her mother (as are "Nothing really matters" and "Swim"). "Mergirl", the final track, is very eerie. It's like a ghost story in a song - and a horrific one at that. What a way to end an album, it's the kind of thing that Kate Bush used to do. The song was apparently one of the first to be recorded, and even then it didn't take long, just came out. There's that engaged telephone tone again, this time mixed with pianos - it all works fine. "Ray of light" seems to be reduced in highstreet Sales on a regular basis - so snap it up if you see it. 13 tracks and 66 minutes long, and well worth the £4.99 I paid for it.

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              19.09.2002 04:48
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              "Like a VURR-URR-URR-GIN, touched for the very first time, Does your heart beat next to mine?" Certainly, on the cover of 1998's Ray Of Light album, Ms Ciccone, despite her advancing years, opted for the winsome, come hither image, all pleading and promising eyes, windswept hair covering her gorgeous features, dreaming of progress in the bedroom department, a magical Gypsy Queen, a misty eyed high class Call Girl, clothed from head to foot in a sort of weird blue polythene jumpsuit effort. Wander inside the obligatory CD booklet of lyrics and feast your eyes on the gratuitous sight of Mad Donna, in skimpy see through top, flashing her infamous nipples for all to see and clearly enjoying a private joke. "LIVING in a MATERIAL WORLD, and I am a MATERIAL GUUUURRRLLLL!!" She does this sort of stuff so professionally and elegantly, like a peculiarly high class kind of call girl, dropping THAT LOOK from THOSE EYES. Young boys would do well to recall that she's had the last twenty years or so to perfect the act, the grasping of THE PUNTER, promising that she's all yours, to do with as you will, just as long as you're willing to part with the reasonable entrance fee. Beware, however, because there ain't any refunds and this is strictly business. "I'M KEEPING MY BAYBEE." Anything you say girl, you're the boss, we're only spectators to your courting of the media machine, standing by, breathlessly hoping that you'll drop your guard and usher us in to your gentle caress, like a Venus Fly Trap, putting your honey on display, but only interested in the snatch of the capture. Beware the Harpy. "STRIIIIIKE A POSE, THERE'S NOTHING TO IT - VOGUE!!!" On the other hand... Madonna has made some of the most memorable, the most credible, the most thoughtful and most thoughtless pop records in the last two decades of the
              Twentieth Century, striking out from the post New Wave Floozie who burst onto an unsuspecting world with the insubstantial Holiday, easily dismissed back then as a half hit wonder who would soon fade from view - just like Toni Basil, The Regents, Lene Lovich, Haircut 100 and a thousand other starry eyed hopefuls. Except she never did disappear and if anything her presence grew as time went on, until she became part of the machine, a glimmering star in the pop firmament, a feature of the status quo. And then boredom and a desperate urge for credibility grew, so that Hanky Panky and working opposite Warren Beatty in the ferociously gaudy Dick Tracey as Breathless Malone just wasn't enough any more and the flirtation with real grown up sex became the route to instant infamy and deeper honour. In Bed With Madonna, not so much a craze but the only thing to claim if you were intent on being hip. The later period in Madonna's enormous career is the most interesting phase, as Maddy enters a time when she no longer needs to make records when she and Guy Ritchie can live on past earnings and triumphs, when money no longer matters, and it's artistic credibility which is the prize. For my part, what Ray Of Light began was brought to tremendous fruition by the supreme Music album, but it is a pretty neat treasure in its own right, catapulting Mads into a New Age, all synths and mystical weirdness and a total lack of need to conform in any way whatsoever, opting for breathy, misty eyed performances, religious depths and metaphors and a recreation as Ms Credibility. It's also a pretty wonderful, trance like collection of 'songs' where it's more the atmosphere than the stories which count. I prefer Music, but this evening Ray Of Light is perfect enough for my purposes. You have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy it, and Ray Of Light is certainly not good time, party music. In fact, it's quite sobering,
              gentle and ephemeral. Of course, you also get the idea that if she could have had one wish, Madonna would have opted to drop twenty years and replace Shirley Manson in Garbage, to become a genuine rock animal, but if such a miracle and a bizarre pairing wasn't on the cards, then forced mysteries and misty eyed tales from the crypt would just have to do. DROWNED WORLD/SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> According to the sleeve, this was written by committee with Rod McKuen, Anita Kerr and David Collins joining Madonna and regular co-writer William Orbit on the creative duties. It doesn't really have too many traces of the obvious danger of creating a camel, and instead plods along seductively enough with some excellent synth effects and atmospheres over easy but sharp drum patterns and nice acoustic guitar picking. Sadly Madonna herself could be literally any pretty, empty headed bimbo singer on this one and she never really lets the foot off the brakes. It's a canny enough song, mind, pet, just nothing particularly awe inspiring, though creates a nice, blissful mood. SWIM >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> In contrast to its predecessor, Swim does cook a nice little recipe, with some strident drums and insistent guitar riffing. Mads is more at home here and comes up with some nice couplets: "Children killing children while the students rape the teachers, comets fly across the sky while the churches burn their preachers." There are a fair few religious overtones with all manner of baptism images and preoccupation with washing away all the sins. Lovely synth and guitar carve out a great mood poem. RAY OF LIGHT >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Blissful, marvellous, wonderful pop music and a real highpoint of the album this, with throwaway references back to the Sixties in its circular, rolling feel and acoustic guitars, but the throbbing compelling rhythms a
              nd textures of the synth are what really makes things, along, of course, with Madonna's voice and attack, great, great stuff which saw this as a cult hit single and set the mood for the excellent Beautiful Stranger nonsense from Austin Powers. Huge shards of electronic noise and battering drums leave you with little option but to lie back and think of England. One of Madonna's finest moments, even if there was more composition by committee (five of the buggers this time). Still, it goes to show that these approaches can pay off occasionally. This song is how George Harrison would sound if he had discovered synths instead of sitars. CANDY PERFUME GIRL >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Twitchy sinister synth and muted guitar usher in this one, before electronic percussion picks things up and sets an intoxicating framework within which Mads has plenty of room to roam and explore with delicious singing. It's a bit of a plodder, but the music really creates a wonderful, restless atmosphere which is never gentle enough to relax to. This one would not have sounded out of place on the first Garbage album and sports definite overtones of Stupid Girl mixed into things. Love it to death. SKIN >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Hushed and blissful, whispered and textured, moody and undulating, a perfect piece of electronic pop, where the standard over the top electronic rhythms are reined back and interwoven skilfully to fit the melody rather than corrupting and overwhelming it. It never gets you jumping out of your chair, but that?s not what this album is about. It's all about understatement, hints, rumours and pastel shades. Make of it what you will, but enjoy the mood. NOTHING REALLY MATTERS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> This is one of the more uptempo offerings on show here, owing its life and pace to the solid, reliable electronic rhythm track, and its interest to the whimsical ad hocker
              y of the synth stabs, burbles and squeaks. Great, nonsensical, hippy dippy rubbish it may be, like the effort of someone who's had a joint too many, convinced that this is DEEP, MAN, but somehow it still makes sense with its tinkling piano and pop folk vocals lines, a bit like the Nolans on acid. SKY FITS HEAVEN >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> More twiddly synth lines, thumping (but always understated) electronic drums and a total religious trip. Instant Karma gonna get you. Disposable, pretty bland fare, but at least it doesn't hurt your head. SHANTI/ASHTANGI >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I always hate it when they sing in another language, but certainly this is good stuff, with Mads coming over all Female Maharishi. Great distinctive treatments and beautiful rhythms, with those crazy Indian drums. Of course, it generally means tup all when they start to deal with such cultural exploitation but it's got enough about it to make you want to come back again and again. FROZEN >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Huge, sweeping strings, muted synths, almost hushed vocals and big, echoey moments made this a thoroughly listenable hit single. It's unashamedly slow in pace, but builds some great atmospheres and dynamics. The electronica is actually quite mannered and indulgent if you listen to this song too many times, but certainly the first time you experience Frozen it's a great song. I remember her performing this on the National Lottery Programme, with wistful, dry ice presentation and sleeves right down to her fingers, all balletic and Romany and Elf like. She looked like she was auditioning for the part of Galadriel in The Lord Of The Rings, when she'd been better off as Sauron's bit of stuff. It's a great romantic piece of nonsense in reality, but certainly effective and thoroughly addictive, even at more than six minutes. THE POWER OF GOOD-BYE >>>
              >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Insubstantial and a touch annoying. Bland, hippy words, and the music is done much better elsewhere. It leaves you pretty unmoved. TO HAVE AND NOT TO HOLD >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Simplistic, catchy, but toned down sub-Depeche Mode melody and rhythms. Nice, and easy to listen to, its rhythms nag away at your brain and get you loving it despite yourself. LITTLE STAR >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Bleeping synths, clipped, stunted vocal phrases, moody rhythms, a ticking, clicky bottom bit (if you know what I mean). Nice, pleasant hippy nonsense about butterflies. This from the girl that sang about being a Material Virgin who wanted to go on a package holiday. Still, all part of growing up. MER GIRL >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> After a few sub-standard tracks, this is more expansive and powerful and we forget the butterflies to consider instead things altogether darker: "I ran to the cemetery and held my breath and thought about your death ... I'm looking there still and I smelt her burning flesh, her rotting bones, her decay." Belying the subject matter, the music is gentle, dream like and enticing. Therein lies the strangeness of Madonna - a supreme pop sensibility coupled with a burning desire to stretch and achieve critical credibility.

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                09.05.2002 06:42
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                • "may alienate followers of Madonna's old pop sound"

                Released as another rebranding of Madonna, this cathartic album came out some four years after her last studio album 'Bedtime Stories'. But boy, was it worth waiting for! Heavily influenced by the birth and early life of Madonna's first child, Lourdes, and with a big liquid feel; melodies and rhythms wash and flow into each other. This, however, is not a current of water but of electricity: the album is propelled by synthesized sounds, electronic drumbeats and artificial noises. Madonna's collaboration with the British producer William Orbit has become a modern day legend. Drowned World/Substitute For Love is a hybrid of two component songs, and you can tell the difference between the two halves. But they have been welded together so seamlessly that it just seems like different phases of the same song. This is reputed to be Madonna's favourite song from this album, and even if one does not agree, one can certainly see why. It contains a poignant lyric which shows Madonna in the sudden realisation of how shallow fame can be. 'Drowned World' stays in the senses long after the final track has faded, such is its beauty and power. In a soundscape that sounds like a submarine trying to surface, the track shimmers into your senses for a full 6 minutes. The opening is spooky, all ethereal airs opening onto a gorgeous slow vocal before breaking into an equally slow beat that builds easily on a stuttering pattern before a guitar picks in 'Substitute For Love' which opens into a backbeat kicked dubby groove. There is even the hint of a jungle breakbeat, which is a piece of genius by producer William Orbit. Madonna's singing is extraordinary: beautifully phrased, no over-reaching, pure and emotive. Then, almost from nowhere, big, fat electric guitars drop into the mix and the whole thing metamorphoses into a rock song. In a video that was criticised as being too much like the plight of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, she flee
                s from pursuing paparazzi, only to have her picture taken by hotel maids. Sporting a simple look in the video, Madonna creates a dreamy atmosphere and this is a worthy start to the album. The song is inspired by British author J.G. Ballard's apocalyptic 1962 novel 'The Drowned World', which is the first of four futuristic disaster novels by Ballard - each with their own theme of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth - in which the protagonist, at the end of a long journey through fire-engulfed and fantastic worlds, discovers the Truth. 'Drowned World/Substitute for Love,' draws the analogy between Ballard's ravaged landscapes and Madonna's former soul-killing obsession with success. Mature Madonna's 'truth' has turned out to be not showbiz but love, motherhood, and family. This is especially well expressed in two different ways by two parts of the song: in one part she sings "famous faces, far-off places, trinkets I can buy. No handsome stranger, heady danger, drug that I can try. No ferris wheel, no heart to steal, no laughter in the dark. No one-night stand, no far-off land, no fire that I can spark...", starting softly and increasing in volume and emotion until the end where her rage is something quite marvellous - one of the best parts of the entire album. The second is at the end, where she sings softly "and now, I find I've changed my mind. This is my religion.". In Swim, Madonna tells of the evils of the world and comforts the listener. It is a very soothing and guitar-laden song, and the water theme is evident in the music and the flow of words. The gorgeous indie-rock guitar intro of this dubbed-rock song has been described by some as one of the best guitar intros of all time, and the pronounciation of the vocals are poignant because the day that Madonna sang them, she had a call on the way to the studio that her next door neighbour - Gianni Versace, the famous fashion designer - had been murde
                red. Though Madonna's lyrics skirt vaguely around the issue of the world's loss of spiritualism, she sounds 100% sincere and the track is over almost too quickly. Title track Ray Of Light has a very different beat, with a strikingly distinctive guitar riff. Energetic, dynamic, pulsating and even operatic at times, the title track has been hailed as the best song by Madonna, by a lot of people. The video is unmissable for its speeded up effects, mirroring everyday life. What most people don't know is that this is a cover of a song by Curtiss & Maldoon in the 1970's. 'Sepheryn' was a song they had originally written and recorded (see thumbnail below which is of a retrospective 'best of' collection they released after Madonna's version became a hit) and it was reworked by a niece of one of the duo, Christina Leech for herself. Neither of the previous versions however, was anywhere near as successful as this song, which benefits from 'orbitalisation' and Madonna's mastery of voice, gliding in and out of falsetto range, even tossing off a little Aretha-like growl and culminating in a shriek of sheer ecstacy - for the only time on the record, she breaking into wails, losing language altogether, before regaining it with "and I feel, and I feeeeel like I just got home" - which is remarkable in that it works in the context of the song, something that only true masters can achieve. The intro is like a rising sun after a nuclear holocaust and its a stunningly optimistic dance orientated track where Madonna voice soars way way above the fallout. The music bops from hypnotic disco to anthemic pop in a way that is simply remarkable. Sounding like Kate Bush on an E-pill, 'Ray Of Light' is the perfect antidote to the miserable lyric of all her female (and male) songwriting contemporaries. So proving that a great great song can still be a happy one. What exactly it is about, is a matter f
                or debate. To me, it's about a journey through life to death, signified at the end by Madonna headbutting a glass pane and collapsing almost in ecstacy while the Earth spins on. Candy Perfume Girl has a feel of rock, almost neo-punk in style and yet strangely ambient hip-hop at the same time. The lyrics are very wierd indeed (though at heart it is a simple song beckoning a lover onwards) as is the music (packed with beats, distorted sound and circus-like music breaks), but the overall effect is actually rather good. The androgeny theme of Madonna of yesteryear is revisited here with an improbable merging of sexes, "boy/girl, boy/girl, boy...", which perhaps is not about adrogeny after all, but pure and simply rather about sex! Only Madonna knows. With Skin (originally and slightly pretentiously called 'The Flirtation Dance'), Madonna delves as deeply into the underground as she ever has. At the beginning of the song Madonna quavers "Put your hand on my skin," as if she were a tiny waif trapped inside an old transistor radio, even as a bone-shaking groove wells up and threatens to swallow her. Of course, she returns, full-size, and rises above the hurtling rhythms. With its arabic embellishments and hastening beats, 'Skin' manages to keep up the impossible standards set by the first three tracks. It has a very trancey feel at times, and though not instantly likeable in the way 'Ray Of Light' is, it grows on you, and it grows during the song as well, in a manner that reinforces the dreamy quality. Slowly building up, wave after wave, it has a more spicey and eastern feel to it than the previous songs. Very Eurodance-influenced, it's a complex dancefloor stomper twisted by Orbit from a Pat Leonard song, thus combining Orbit's technical wizardry (running vocals through hi-hats, thereby deconstructing the vocals and the music) with the proven genius of Leonard's songwriting. Nothing
                Really Matters is a lively song telling how love (of her daughter Lourdes) overcame selfishness (of her previous materialistic, fame-hungry lifestyle). The video is memorable for the red kimono Madonna wears and for the 'Geisha' look she sported. This is possibly the closest Madonna gets to her old style of song, straightforward dance pop, floating by almost as if it's asleep, a knowing return to the disco diva-effortlessness of 'Vogue', but with Madonna free from the narcissistic outer-shell of old, free to announce: "I've realised, that nobody wins..." Sky Fits Heaven is a glorious, heavy bass-led track peppered with mad drumming and eerie synth sounds - one that, in my opinion, should have been released as a single. It is very uplifting and perfect for playing in the car on a hot day on the highway ("travelling down, this road, watching the signs as I go, I think I'll follow, the sun..."). It continues the theme of the album, namely making your own life, and 'the sky is the limit'. Shanti/Ashtangi is quite unlike any other song Madonna had ever sung, being almost tribal techno. Heavily influenced by India, there is not a single word of English as it is sung entirely in the ancient language of Sanskrit. The words are genuine mantras, and send a shiver down the spine with their authenticity, helped by capable pronounciation by Madonna. There is, however, a bit of humour there - for instance, some of the music in the middle sounds just out of Bollywood rather than out of Vedic Hindu scripture. I find a phrase from the song helps when you're nervous, e.g. before an exam. 'Om shanti' is a combination of the sacred hindu meditative syllable 'om' and 'shanti', which means 'peace'. Frozen (another Orbit/Leonard collaboration) was the first single released from this album and is frankly, quite astonishing. Also influenced by India (evident from the me
                hindi figure of 'om' written on her palm in the spectacular video), this atmospheric beauty is haunting (especially the chorus), wierd and beautiful in equal measure. A magic spell seems to be cast on the listener, as Madonna beckons "give yourself to me", to the backdrop of windswept ambience and blunted beats which deepen the pathos of the song's lyrics. Time loses all meaning when listening to this song, and indeed it does seem to transcend time. It moves with an eerie, theatrical intensity, sheer simplicity is what makes it stick. Though it is a ballad (though it doesn't sound like a typical ballad), and though it is certainly slower than the preceding tracks, there is nothing boring about this track. It opens on strings before breaking into one of those glorious vocals that just oozes sensuality and atmosphere. The song folds back on itself with strong but random-sounding kettle drums echoing and a string-blissed centre which add to the grandeur of this majestic song, and Madonna's clear voice really adds the icing to this most delicious of cakes. Like 'Ray of Light', this is a clearly groundbreaking track. Power Of Goodbye is another great song. The intro is incredibly cool and the blue-hued video sees Madonna looking simply stunning without any embellishment, healthy and shining. It is arguably the most compelling ballad of Madonna's career. Music-wise, acoustic guitar blends into keyboard reggae rhythms as Madonna bids farewell to a lover. Drawn from despair, it is an altogether beautiful ballad. In this song Madonna echoes what she first considered in her 'Promise To Try' back in her 'Like A Prayer' days, namely closure and the ability to move on - in this case the end of a relationship, rather than the loss of her mother in 'Promise To Try', perhaps talking about how she was finally over her ex-husband, Sean Penn. Madonna's voice is simply beautiful and radiant here.
                To Have And Not To Hold is a very capable ballad - a delicate chant-like track in which Madonna's voice weaves through the melody - but it suffers through no fault of its own from following the previous few songs. The Indian theme is maintained, with the repetition of a Sanskrit phrase from Shanti/Ashtangi, and it is about how the relationship is there, but not complete. Some of lyrics are really good "like a moth to a flame, only I am to blame..." Little Star is a pretty music box-lullaby of a song and is, quite clearly, about Madonna's daughter Lourdes. Charming and full of motherly love, the song gently instructs the baby to "never forget who you are, Little Star" and thanks God for the present. Touching, genuine, like all songs of this nature by acclaimed artists, this also has the virtue of being a good song (with good lyrics) too, which is something other artists, understandably perhaps blinded by parental love, often fail with when approaching this issue. Mer Girl is the last song in the album and it is so wierd, it can put you off. There's always one, isn't there? Across a canvas of echoes and shades, Madonna intones a lyric that, if it were a poem, would puzzle thesis writers for years to come. It begins "I ran from my house that cannot contain me and a man that I cannot keep, from my mother who haunts me even though she's gone and my daughter that never sleeps", and then expands into a weird pastoral/feminist fantasy ending amid "burning flesh and crumbling tombstones". But stick at it, listen to it with your eyes closed and with no distractions, and you'll discover that it is actually really good. Built slowly around an engaged telephone tone and filled with spoken word, it draws you into its dreamworld and is depressing, haunting and downright bleak at points. Inspired by a family gathering where Madonna took cover from a downpour under a tree and watched rain falling on
                'crumbling tombstones', it is a waking fever-dream flight from ghosts that can't be shaken ("I ran to the sky, out to the lake, into the rain that matted my hair and soaked my shoes and skin"). 'Mer Girl' is about everything that the rest of the album isn't, i.e. negativity and hopelessness - and the death of her mother when Madonna was a child. Or is it? Perhaps the very fact she has written about her nightmares has been a positive thing, perhaps it has helped achieve the 'closure' as advised in 'The Power of Goodbye'. Whichever way, 'Mer Girl' is disturbing but is further proof of the self-assuredness of this great songwriter. Another spine-chiller, though it doesn't try to frighten. A strange, but fitting end to this emotional, sometimes downbeat, sometimes vibrant and totally mad album. Actually, there is a bonus song, available in some parts of the world - Has To Be. It is an evocative and moving song, where Madonna quietly sings 'I know there's someone out there, waiting for me, there must be someone out there, there just has to be." The haunting but familiar Orbit squeaks and bubbling sounds with delicate guitar strumming compliments the choiral backing to create a shimmering soundscape, by now familiar to anyone listening to this album. There is a hint of the East in the song, but not as much as in some of the other songs on the album. A wondrous song that European fans will have missed, unless they bought the import version. Rating Four years since her last studio album, this was the longest gap in Madonna's recording career to date, despite the release of her greatest ballads collection 'Something to Remember' and her musical film 'Evita' in 1995-1996. While still managing rather stable sales figures of 6 or 7 million, Madonna had past her commercial peak. The success of 'Evita' could have managed to remove her from the pop career
                altogether but Madonna returned to the studio with a new confidence in her voice (thanks to Evita), and her life (thanks to the birth of Lourdes). In contemplative mood, she arrives back on the scene she once dominated, just as the era of dance had branched out into garage, techno, and trance music. With her own melodies, and the services of trance wizard William Orbit, Madonna came back with an album that re-established her role as the premiere female of pop/rock. In her absence had come a number of females who suddenly had become sexually awakened (Alanis Morrissette, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson). Hell, even Icelandic banana-case Bjork was singing about cunnilingus and other sexual habits. Madonna, of course, had moved on. Motherhood seemed to have changed her perception of life and her won celebrity. This album contains ethereal pop-styled melodies nourished with beautiful sunlit vocals - brainchildren of Madonna and such talented songwriters like Patrick Leonard, Rick Knowles and Babyface. Renowned dance producer William Orbit then came along and embedded wave after wave of sizzling funky rhthyms and state-of-the-moment techno soundscapes into these songs, turning them into breathtaking, adrenaline-charged tracks that sound like they have been derived from out of this world, yet earthly and human enough to remain in it. In this most human of albums since the similarly cathartic 'Like A Prayer' of 1989, the sound of a numb Madonna - perhaps guilty in the past of projecting idealised, if self-empowering, images instead of her true self - trying to reconnect to her own emotions has poignancy akin to the Tin Man searching for a heart, or Spock struggling to come to terms with his human half. It is here that Madonna truly reaches the status of artist (rather than a mere pop singer, albeit the most famous one of all time) though there were hints of this in 'Like A Prayer'. Whether it was the birth of her first child, or th
                e singing lessons she received before 'Evita', or both, Madonna's voice has definitely grown and has acquired some new dimensions to it. Orbit's contribution cannot be overemphasised, but it is an equal partnership of invention (it is interesting, for instance, to note that this album is far deeper and more evocative than any of Orbit's own, admittedly very stylish, albums), and Orbit rates Madonna very highly as a producer. In my opinion, this is easily Madonna's best original album to date. A MASSIVE 10/10.

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                  18.04.2002 05:27
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                  Madonna returned to her main craft of music after taking time out to play Eva Peron in Hollywood's version of Evita. Some of the songs which she sang in Evita have been released, but she had released no new material for a while. She also took time out to have baby Lourdes. Her image changed most dramatically for this album and is a long way off from her material girl image. She changed and grew with the birth of her first child, she's a mother now and she's behaving like one. People may say that they didn't like the direction she went in but you have to appreciate that Madonna is her own woman, she always has been and she always will be. Frozen was the first single to be released from the album and it went straight to number one in March 1998 staying there for only one week. The video has amazing special effects and an eerie vibe with Madonna playing this magical, mystical woman in the desert. The special effects and beautiful scenery make this video and match the sounds of the song perfectly. The album contains thirteen tracks, Madonna originally recorded fourteen tracks but cut the fourteenth because she feels that thirteen is a lucky number. All of the songs on the album are certainaly heavily influenced by the birth of her first child and her new found faith and belief system. The first track Drowned World/ Substitute for Love contains the lyrics 'I traded fame for love/ without a second thought/ it all became a silly game/ Some things cannot be bought'. A slow sad song of love. The girl is certainally not material anymore, though a lot of her lyrics may have more to do with her relationships with men than the new love in her life Lourdes. Since this album, her image appears to have returned to more of her old self so this may have all simply been a self reflective stage. The second track Swim reminds me of the Levi advert Underwater Love and is certainally very similar. The third and title
                  track, Ray of Light is a very bouncy and catchy tune with elements of hope and joy weaved into it. The fourth tune Candy Purfume Girl, a crazy tune, yet fun, continuing the eerie feel of the album. Skin is a very eerie and strange track but it has a very distinct sound, you either love it or hat it. Nothing really matters has a dance music type of sound with eeriness, it is a fast beat track. The seventh track, Sky Fits Heaven is my favourite, full of emotion, love and peace. 'Travelling down their own road/ Watching the signs as they go/ I think I'll follow my heart/ It's a very good place to start'. Shanti/ Ashtangi is a foreign language song taken from the Yoga Taravali. It sounds Eastern, although I'm not sure what language it is. The War of Goodbye and To Have and not to hold are sad love songs about failed relationships 'Freedom comes when you learn to let go/ Creation comes when you learn to say no'. The twelfth track Little Star is written about Lourdes 'Never forget who you are/ Little Star'. It sounds like a lullaby; very soft and gentle. The final track is Mer Girl, a very strange and eerie track that sounds like a strange dream or nightmare that Madonna might have had. 'I ran from the house/ That cannot contain me/ From the man that I cannot keep/ From my mother who haunts me.../ From my daughter that never sleeps'. It seems that Madonna wrote this when she was having delusions after a bout of insomnia. The overall sound and effect of the album is very good. A different sound from what we are used to hearing from Madonna. If you like the sounds of people like Portishead only less scary then you'll love this album. As far as i'm concerned, it was all downhill from here...

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                    17.01.2002 02:14
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                    This is my favourite album of all time, no doubt about it. Some people can't understand why; they say that the album is too samey, too beepy - basically, too innovative and different from the rest. This album is still a regualr CD I play 3 years on and each song is special. 1. Drowned World/ Substitute For Love is an underrated track. Brilliant lyrics (another quality this album is superb in) and emotional vocals make this one of my favourite Madonna tracks ever - something i can listen to in any mood. 2. Swim is Madonna once more in philosophical mode, with thought-provoking lyrics and a tune that you won't forget. 3. Ray Of Light - The best song ever. The lyrics are basically nonsense, but you can make them mean whatever you want. The song covers so many genres and touches so many emotions. This is one to truly lose yourself in the music. I've cried, laughed, danced and despaired to this one. 4. Candy Perfume Girl - One of the weaker tracks, if that's possible on this CD. lightly repetitive, but a great pop song. 5. Skin - Madonna is dying on this one and needs kissing. I've always felt this track is Madonna's own take on the end of Evita, because of the similarity. It's snother stunner. 6. Nothing Really Matters - Another part of this great album, with some of the best lyrics but not the msot memorable verses. 7. Sky Fits Heaven - This blends into one with Nothing Really Matters in my opinion and are easily confused, but is still a great track. 8. Shanti/Ashtangi - The bizarre track that got the media buzzing becasue it's an actual holy chant. Obscure and can be aggravating if you're listening to the album to relax, but bizarre songs are just another part of Madonna. 9. Frozen - the first single and undoubtedly a classic. Sums up the album really - eomotional, lyrically brilliant, haunting and catchy. 10. The Power of Goodbye - Possibly
                    better than Frozen, with even more haunting tunes and a very emotional vocal from the Queen of Pop. 11. To Have And Not To Hold - An amazing track but seems to be the leats memorable of the lot for me. 12. Little Star - A beautiful, catchy, very touching song with lyrics for Lourdes, but anyone can relate to them. 13. Mer Girl - This closing track is the darkest of the bunch and could certainly be described as a bit morbid. Great for being sad, lonely or depressed - or all three. When reviewing these tracks, I've sometimes been a bit repetitive. But this album is everythign and more that I have described. Emotional lyrics and vocals, catchy tunes, suitable for any mood - and if you're quick, it's a fiver in most sales at this very moment! Everybody's been saying Kylie is the Queen of Pop since she came back - I love the girl, but she could never do an album like this. William Orbit's magic touch worked so well for this album and it's ashame much of his other work did not compare. Rumour has it there are a few songs that were recorded but not included on the album - these have never surfaced but I live in hope!!! I might even have to get another copy - due to over use and moving it around from player to player my copy has got a bit scratched! And it's a perfect gift too! Buy it!

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                      17.07.2001 21:31
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                      This album is the most thought provoking and subtle album I think Madonna has ever produced. It is perhaps a little less commercial than 'Music', yet 'Music' clearly owes a lot of its style to this album. Tracks like 'Frozen' show why Madonna has been popular for so long. The combination of instrumentals, electronic riffs, and brilliant vocals make tracks like frozen instantly memorable. Also, the album successfully combines a wide variety of styles; from the discordant and haunting 'Mer Girl ' to the dance-style 'Nothing Really Matters'. This album will go down in my opinion as a classic, I find it hard to imagine that anyone would not find something to love about this album. I haven't got time to review each track individually, but the album really does come as a package- so it wouldn't really be appropriate to- it's an experience- you'll want to listen from start to finish.

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                      11.07.2001 09:26
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                      We used to copy Madonna's dance routines when we were in primary school and now at the age of twenty-five I still want to be her. ** Ray of Light shows that Madonna is more than a beautiful woman who can take her clothes off and shock people. This glorious record sees her and lyrist Pat Leonard in a resounding return to form. The lyrics are personal and insightful. This combined with the collaboration of William Orbit results in one of the most energized CD's for a long time. This CD also features the talents of Marius De Vries and Rick Novels. Has Madonna got this musical melting pot set at the right temperature? The CD is a technicolour rainbow made up of: 1. Drowned World/ Substitute For Love. 8/10 ' I traded fame for love/ Without a second thought' The CD begins with this frank confession. The whole Madonna 'vibe' has centered upon her 'Blonde Ambition'. She now admits that this came at a cost. Musically this is a little melancholy, but superb to listen to if you've just realized the person you're involved with is a bit of a waste of space. 2.Swim 6/10 ' So we can begin again/ Wash away all our sins/ Crash to the ocean floor'. It opens with quite funky guitar, with a bubbly underbelly. The background is an eclectic collection of sounds as Madonna sings of the troubles of sin and modern society, asking for a sort of Noah's Ark renewal of herself 3.Ray of Light 10/10 ' She's got herself a universe' This track is so effervescing that it floats to the top of this CD like a helium balloon. Enough of the description. If you haven't heard this and found it buzzing round your head like a demented wasp, then you are not of this planet. Brilliant. What has Anna Friel got to do with the whole thing though? 4. Candy Perfume Girl 6/10 'Speak delicious fires/ I'm your candy pe
                      rfume girl' The beat is once again quite funky, the lyrics quite sensual, but it somehow lacks a hook that sinks into your head. It is like a pair of tights that are a size too small. This record is in my humble opinion, a stretch too far. 5.Skin 8/10 ' Do I know you from somewhere?/Why do you leave me wanting more' This track has a rather pumping beat. For some reason I think it is one of the horniest and honest songs Madonna has done in a long time. It encapsulates that feeling of when you are just totally besotted with someone new. 6. Nothing Really Matters 9/10 'Now that I am grown / Everything's changed/ I'll never be the same/Because of you.' Once again this song dwells on the mature realization that the birth of her daughter Lourdes , is a life altering experience. Madonna once again acknowledges her flaws and looks forward to her future. Great dance song , once the beat kicks in. 7. Sky Fits Heaven 7/10 'Sky fits heaven so fly it / That's what the prophet said to me.’ Another dance track. I originally didn't like this song much but the chorus is as contagious as measles. This once again acknowledging the journey Madonna has made and the way she has to go. 8. Shanti/ Ashtagi 8/10 ' Thousand headed, white/I bow respectfully.' Madonna writes this with William Orbit. It based upon Buddhist text of Yoga Taravali and ancient Sanskrit. The music is given a deliberately eastern tinge, and is strangely melodic and soothing. How Madonna gets away with these things I'll never know.... 9. Frozen 10/10 'Now there's no pint in placing the blame/ And you should know I suffer the same'. This gloriously orchestrated track is possibly my favourite on the entire CD. Veronica Electronica, what a weirdly macabre and inspiring persona. This track is so vulnerable. Ama
                      zing. 10. The Power of Good-Bye 8/10 ' You were my lesson I had to learn/ I was your fortress you had to burn' Written by Madonna and Rick Novels. This track got a lot of stick when it was released if I remember correctly. This track doesn't have the boundlessness of Ray of Light and maybe you do get to a point in the record when you're thinking, well just say goodbye then, but its very good I'm getting over him/her music. 11. To Have and Not To Hold 7/10 'My heart is in your hand / And yet you never stand/ Close enough for me to have my way/' Another Novels collaboration. The lyrics aren't my favourite, but it has a somewhat Latin flavour to it than rubs along nicely 12. Little Star 7/10 'God gave a present to me/ Made of flesh and bones' An ode to little Lourdes. This is a pleasant enough track that, although lacks the same presence as other tracks on this CD, is nevertheless flawlessly produced and touching 13. Mer Girl 6/10. ‘And I smelt her burning flesh/ Her rotting bones/ Her decay’ Madonna and William Orbit collide in this strange track. Madonna narrates a dark tale. This is a somehow claustrophobic experience, A rather weird note on which to end such a optimistic album. The only downside to this CD is that it took so long to be made. Madonna has shown again that she is an inventful woman and she is here to stay. This CD sees Madonna at a crucial time in her life. A new mother, a person with a renewed interest in spiritual matters. She takes a gamble with the number of influences she fuses in this offering, but as a whole, this risk pays off in abundance. What else can I say but if you haven't already done so: BUY THIS CD Many thanks to those who read this before I became accustomed with the dooyoo way. I hope my newly acquired knowledge has improved it
                      somewhat :)

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                        08.07.2001 08:06
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                        Released in 1998, Ray of Light marked a profound change in Madonna’s music AND life. The reason – she had become a mother, and the effect on her of motherhood really shows on this album. More introspective, thoughtful and biographical than previous albums, Madonna has grown up, but being Madonna this does not mean she has become a boring old fart. Far from it, she brought in William Orbit as producer and co-writer on many tracks and created an album which is a classic for the late 1990s, spawning five top ten singles along the way. The tracks are sparser, less immediately “poppy” and bouncy than some of her previous best work, but the arrangements work well here because even though the music is still excellent and the tunes still catchy, Madonna’s voice and words are pushed to the front and you are made to listen to and think about them. The words tell us a lot about Madonna, her life and lifestyle, her daughter, the death of her mother and more. Her voice is as good as if not better than before. Ray of Light is one of those albums that grows on you the more you play it. Although a number of the tracks have been released as singles, it hangs together really well, and there are many highpoints including Substitute For Love, Swim, Ray of Light, Skin, Nothing Really Matters, Frozen, Little Star and the haunting Mer Girl. This is a superb album, which sounds just as good today as it did in 1998. If you thought you would never buy a Madonna album, it’s time to think again.

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                          07.06.2001 23:03
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                          After a couple of years of no new material I couldn’t wait to grace my eardrums with the sounds of ‘Ray of Light’. I am not going to bore you with commentary about the good lady, there are plenty of books to read about her...and The Sun has kept us pretty well updated. So briefly, ‘Ray of Light’ was released in 1998 on Warner Bros/ Maverick, and boasts a number of hits. Drowned World/ Substitute for Love, Ray of Light, Nothing Really Matters, Frozen , The Power of Goodbye and Little Star were all released and were hits in the UK charts. The album topped the UK album charts for a number of weeks, and to date has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. To the record! It marked another complete change for the Queen of Pop, not only in image, but in sound. William Orbit worked on the album with her, and thus it has a very different sound to previous albums. He provides an array of soundscapes, from rock guitar to cutting beats. Her voice has much more depth to it, and the album has a spiritual feel to it in places. Here is a run-down of the songs on the album. DROWNED WORLD/ SUBSTITUE FOR LOVE As soon as I first heard this I knew this album was going to be radically different. The whole song has a dreamy/ floaty feel to it. Instantly you realise just how much Madonna has matured in her vocals. The drums are great, some nice fill-ins, and the electronics sound amazing. Slow tempo, but about 3 and a half minutes into the song it gets a little louder and more uptempo. SWIM This starts with some funky guitar riffs. And then in come the sheen of Orbits electronics. They aren’t harsh sounding though. Those guitars are soft, and the drums are subtle. Chilled out. RAY OF LIGHT Smashing song. Great guitar riff, brilliant rhythm, and marvellous vocals. Has a dance like feel to it. Contrary to popular belief she isn’t singing about Anna Friel either. (the chorus is ‘and I f
                          eel’). It stormed the charts, and there are a couple of great dance versions about. Very uplifting, much more cheerful than other songs on the album. CANDY PERFUME GIRL More of those catchy guitars and electronics, with another funky rhythm, sounds quite mechanical. Another chilled out song. Again gets a more rock feel to it half way through. Stronger guitars and more electronics. SKIN This is much more trance like. Synths and electronics accompany the vocals at the start. Then there is the backing ‘put your hand on my skin’ vocal, which repeats several times through the song. The fast rhythm takes you away with fairies. NOTHING REALLY MATTERS Again electronics feature throughout. A great dance/ trance song. Really cool interlude in the middle. SKY FITS HEAVEN Another trance influenced song. This is a cracker. Good rhythm, and catchy lyrics. Nice to chill out to. One of my favourites!!!! SHANTI/ASHTANGI The most bizarre track of the album. It is weird. Obviously the Yoga influence coming out, as it is a chant which has been made into the song. Caused some stir amongst some religions. It is certainly the track I least like FROZEN One of the great tracks on the album. This has some cracking drums in it (apparently Orbit banged trash cans to make that ‘tinny’ atmospheric sound) and there are some great strings too. The song has a big atmosphere to it, it is dark and cold. I love this track. Also the vocals are pretty fine. THE POWER OF GOODBYE A suberb track to lead on from Frozen. It again has a big atmosphere. The electronics are superb and Madonna’s vocals are pretty damn good here too. This is another slower tempo song. Floaty song which is lyrically sound. TO HAVE AND NOT TO HOLD This is one of the tracks that stand out least to me. Slightly more uptempo, but not much, with less background goings on. The electr
                          onics are still very much evident. LITTLE STAR About Lola. This is nice, but not to the point of mushy. Great rhythm, uptempo, electronic sounding song. Again those trance vibes shine through, and some of the noises that creep in sound like a Sonic the Hedgehog game. But its still good. MER GIRL A very dark track with minimal music surrounding it. I find the lyrics quite disturbing in places. A mellow ending to a superb album So, go and have a listen. Fans and non-fans will be surprised by this album, but she has hit top form. I must admit, I hated this album the first time I heard it except for Frozen and Ray of Light, but it grew on me massively. At the time, Madonna said this was her best work to date (along with Bedtime Stories). You will be pleasantly surprised at her vocals, which have much more depth to them than previously. Thoroughly recommended!

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                            08.03.2001 21:56
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                            I think that even in the light of her new album, this is Madonna's best album. The tracks on Ray of Light are more mature than her previous work but not trying to be quite so 'groovy' and up to date as her latest album. Madonna is having an age crisis and feels the need to have a baby, a settled married life and an album full of new styles of music all in one go. She does carry it off really well but it just seems a bit unnecessary and I fell that her '97/'98 style of music suited her better. The music on 'Ray of Light' is a good mixture of quiet, thought-inspiring music and louder, faster pop tracks. The title track is probably the best known of these because it rocks! One of the more obscure tracks is 'Skin'. The music is a combination of electronic noises, reminding me of early prodigy tracks. There is also a little bit of piping of an indian origin (the asian and oriental seems to have inspired a lot of this album). The track reminds me of playing a game such as 'wipeout' because of the 'electronic' feeling and because it seems to get faster and faster. The words seem very frantic. AAAAArgh. As ever with Madonna's music, the catchy tunes complement her voice perfectly. Often you find that singer's voices aren't good enough to survive on their own so they need really strong music tracks to disguise it? Madonna's work thrives on her fantastic voice. Buy this CD if you remember and enjoyed? 'ray of light', 'nothing really matters' and 'the power of goodbye'.

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                              20.02.2001 00:44
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                              Although my taste in music is highly eclectic, I don't particularly have a penchant for 'dance' music. It has to have a certain quality to attract me and for me to like it. Madonna's album RAY OF LIGHT has just such a quality. The album is unlike any other Madonna album I've ever heard, and really shows how important the producer is in 'pop' music. RAY OF LIGHT is produced by William Orbit, and his talent shows through in every track. Orbit re-invented certain classical music pieces on his album PIECES IN A MODERN STYLE, and his technique comes through in this album, with some wonderful touches of 'spacey' sound effects. With an album of this quality it's hard to pin-point my favourite tracks as they are all so good. My stand-out favourite though is the first track on the album 'Drowned Love/Substitute For Love'. Whether you like Madonna or not, get hold of this album. It's not like her usual stuff and it may make you re-assess your view of her.

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                            • Product Details

                              Disc #1 Tracklisting
                              1 Drowned World (Substitute For Love)
                              2 Swim
                              3 Ray Of Light
                              4 Candy Perfume Girl
                              5 Skin
                              6 Nothing Really Matters
                              7 Sky Fits Heaven
                              8 Shanti/Ashtangi
                              9 Frozen
                              10 Power Of Goodbye
                              11 To Have And Not To Hold
                              12 Little Star
                              13 Mer Girl