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Great songs but awful remastering
on 13 February 2006
This was a difficult review to write because I adore Madonna's work from the 80s and most of her best songs are included here but, basically, this is a travesty of a greatest hits album.
Firstly, all the songs were remastered in 'Q Sound', which was an attempt to make tracks recorded in stereo sound like surround sound. Unfortunately, the technique didn't work very well and many of the tracks sound quiet and kind of distant.
Secondly, all the tracks apart from Vogue (and Justify My Love and Rescue Me, which were recorded for this album) are edits and, without exception, I think the original album versions are far better. A few songs don't seem too much different - La Isla Bonita, Cherish, Material Girl and Like A Virgin don't suffer too much, but a number of the others have basically been butchered. The worst offenders are:
Holiday, Lucky Star and Borderline - These tracks are from Madonna's eponymous first album, which was very dance-orientated so the originals are quite long (all over 5 minutes) and very 'bass-y' (which I love) but, for The Immaculate Collection, all three were shortened and sped up to reduce the running time of the album. Even worse is the fact that the basslines have been pushed back in the mix and the vocals brought forwards, which I feel betrays the original intent of the music. Also, the horrible guitar parts of Lucky Star have actually been emphasised, which I don't think was a very good decision.
Like a Prayer and Express Yourself - Both have had new basslines added and the gospel parts of Like A Prayer have been toned down, which is sad.
Papa Don't Preach and Open Your Heart are also noticeably different and Into The Groove is actually a remix of the original, so on the whole, I actually don't think it's fair to call this a 'Greatest Hits' as it is really closer to a remix album. I think this gets overlooked by a lot of people because they haven't heard the originals and the songs are admittedly still pretty great even despite being cut up.
My last complaint is that a few of her big hits were not included, particularly Dress You Up, Angel and True Blue but, with a limited running time it's natural that some tracks would have to be cut, so I don't see this as a serious criticism.
All in all, the songs are great but it's a real shame that they're all edits because the originals have a lot more character. If you're a Madonna fan, I really think it's worth buying 'Madonna', 'Like A Virgin', 'True Blue' and 'Like A Prayer' if only to hear all the songs included on this album (plus a few other gems) in all their original glory.