The Madonna musical locomotive picks up speed.
Brittle, bouncy, dusted with hits, and featuring one of the key Madonna images (that Monroe hair, the blue make-up and statuesque pose - like an Athena poster, though not so classy), True Blue remains one of the key albums in Madonna's discography.
At the time of release, in 1986, True Blue seemed to draw a line between the Madonna of before (fun, sweaty, great to dance to) and what would follow from then on (expertly programmed, packaged for the whole wide world), and to a degree that is how it has turned out to be.
With Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray pulling the levers, True Blue comprises nine tracks, divided, sort of like in the olden days, in two halves. On the A-side, there are the hits (Papa Don't Preach, loud, proud and biting with lyrical confidence; Open Your Heart, which has dated somewhat since 1986, and Live To Tell, which is all drama, drama, drama), plus a couple of other tracks which get lost in the shadow of the album's big sellers.
On the B-side, it's the sweet, if rather twee, True Blue, which came with perhaps the worst promotional video Madonna has ever appeared in, and La Isla Bonita, which remains more fun than it really ought to be.
And then there are the more blatant album fillers.
Of these, White Heat (A-side) is probably the most effective, partly because it is so urgent and frenetic; Where’s The Party (A-side) just sort of bumps along; Jimmy Jimmy (B-side) is very excitable, and Love Makes The World Go Round, is er, jolly.
On the whole, it's not that True Blue is particularly weak (which it isn't) or that it's unmemorable (which it certainly is not); rather, that it feels so heavily programmed. OK, so all the synthing-up and down the tracks, while Madonna warbles about doing her best impression of a singing sensation, is entertaining, but it is also a little cold.
Not on True Blue the pointy bras, screaming campery and moments of flatulent frippery which made those Madonna-watching late-80s moments so memorable (and amusing). Instead what we have here is the genuine sound of the compact disc age: It's new, technological, comes with a promotional video, and the kids will just love it.