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2.0 out of 5 stars THE "NOT-SO-"COMPLETE STUDIO ALBUMS REVIEW - ANOTHER POOR RELEASE, YET AGAIN...UGH!, March 20, 2012
This review is from: Complete Studio Albums 1983 - 2008 (Audio CD)
This very set makes me thank the high heavens that Madonna left Warner Bros. From the very tacky, uninspired cover all the way down to the CD's themselves, this set has zero to no appeal to any longtime Madonna fan.

With that said, this set is not the complete studio set as it is missing Madonna's 1990 studio album I'm Breathless, containing one of the biggest worldwide hits of her career, Vogue. Some will argue that this is a soundtrack release but ultimately only includes four songs from Dick Tracy while the rest were inspired by the Breathless Mahoney character. How can you have a "Complete Studio Albums" box-set and leave out an album that contains, arguably, the biggest hit of her career? That's not the only hit that's missing for you casual fans that are considering this purchase.
You will also not get:
Justify My Love
Into The Groove
Who's That Girl
Causing a Commotion
You Must Love Me
I'll Remember
This Used To Be My Playground
amongst many more glaring hits.

I am aware that many of these songs mentioned were soundtrack songs or greatest hits songs, etc, but this goes to show that Warner had an opportunity to include a bonus disc or an extra DVD/Blu-Ray for that matter to make this a complete collection. I know that's asking for too much here so I am going to pull back and just discuss what IS included.

So what you do get are 11 Madonna albums in their original form except her first three albums. The first three Madonna albums, Madonna, Like A Virgin and True Blue went through a remastering process in 2000 which was impeccable from a sound perspective. As part of the remaster process, bonus tracks were added to all three albums along with artwork that was reminiscent of the original vinyl version of these albums. All of these components came together to give us Madonna fans a reason to go back out and buy an album we already had. Those three remastered versions are part of this collection. The remaining eight albums are untouched and in their original form. Like A Prayer, Erotica and Bedtime Stories are in desperate need of a remaster, while Ray of Light could use some freshening up as well.

Please be advised that these CD's DO NOT come with their booklets or in standard CD jewel cases but are actually housed in card sleeves which WB/Rhino is using as an opportunity to sell as a collector's item. This is not a value as far as I am concerned. Most of these physical CD's can be purchased at any used record store for under $5. I see American Life and Bedtime Stories in the dollar bin at my local record store quite often.

Honestly, WB/Rhino, I am feeling "love spent." Why do you keep putting out sub-par Madonna product? We want to buy quality Madonna material. Most of us fans have all these albums and not only that but we've managed (no thanks to you WB!) to get our hands on all the rare stuff too, including the b-sides, the unreleased material, the unreleased remixes, the unreleased instrumentals. Why can't you package what we really want? You're in it to make money and we're in it to shell out money BUT we're not a bunch of idiots who are going to run around and buy everything that comes out with the name "Madonna" plastered on it. We want quality!

Lets not focus on the missed opportunity for a second. Forget the unreleased material because god forbid someone, somewhere has to do a little bit of work and dig or get some papers signed (or whatever it takes to get rare material released) so that a dying record label can make some more money.
For this very release, I think every single Madonna fan would have run out and bought this set in the exact physical form you are offering with minimal complaints IF you had only remastered ALL 11 albums. Major missed opportunity.

***************Update*********August 2012**************

So my original review above from a few months ago was based on the Amazon price of $80 or so.
Today the price sits at $39.99. It's not a bad value anymore. That's $3.63 an album. I still stand behind my review above about the overall bad quality of this product but it doesn't make me as angry when the price actually reflects the quality. This could be a great gift for a newbie fan.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 32 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 20, 2012 3:07:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 20, 2012 3:10:32 PM PDT
The reason "I'm Breathless" was not included here is because it is not a proper album, it is a soundtrack album to the film "Dick Tracy" containing the songs Madonna sang in the film. The remainder of the songs were recorded to be included, but were not used in the final cut of the film. "Vogue" (recorded after the "Like A Prayer" album release) was included as a filler to make the album longer as at the time there was no actual album for the single to appear on and didn't justify a re-issue of the "Like A Prayer" album to include an extra track, which is why it doesn't fit in with the rest of the album. As for the other soundtrack songs not included, they never appeared on any of her albums unless you count the UK 1985 re-issue of "Like A Virgin" that included "Into The Groove". Madonna had final say of what appeared on her albums, so blame her instead of WB/Rhino, as it states on the box "The Complete Studio Albums" and that is exactly what it is. Seeing that this box set has been put together, I'm sure it won't be the last one as I'm sure that WB/Rhino will want to keep the Madonna back catalogue alive.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2012 3:54:04 PM PDT
PourHomme80 says:
KM, I don't care what the reasons are for why a song was or wasn't left off an album. As far as we are concerned I'm Breathless is considered a Studio Album and contains music from AND Inspired by the film Dick Tracy. It was not a soundtrack to Dick Tracy (as there was already a soundtrack available separately for the movie) but a full proper Madonna album that tied in with her experience as Breathless Mahoney.

Just to help clear up some of your facts, Vogue was recorded to be included as a B-side to Madonna's final single off Like A Prayer, Keep it Together. WB decided that it was so amazing and far from a "filler" that they used that song to anchor her 1990 album, I'm Breathless. There is some absolutely gorgeous music on I'm Breathless and there is no reason that it shouldn't have been included on this "complete" albums anthology.

Once again, I am not concerned about how these albums were released 20+ years ago. I have those versions already, and most likely in many different formats. My gripe is that WB has done nothing to get us Madonna fans to go out and buy this product. At the minimum, every one of these albums should have been remastered for this collection but could EASILY have included some extra's for the fans.

I appreciate the input KM but this box-set is a waste and takes a toll on our environment as well. People can just go to any used record store and buy these old albums if they don't already have them.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2012 6:57:57 AM PDT
Ben says:
Totally agree with the reviewer, this is a disgrace to Madonna. I will not buying this so-called complete studio albums. WB sucks.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2012 7:52:13 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 21, 2012 7:53:56 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2012 11:24:09 AM PDT
GarionOrb says:
Actually, PourHomme80 is right. I'm Breathless is technically a studio album. And no, the songs on that album were NOT intended for Dick Tracy as the album was recorded after the film wrapped (except the three Sondheim songs recorded specifically for the movie). "Vogue" was recorded to be a B-side of "Keep It Together", but Madonna and the studio felt the song was strong enough for a proper release. It was included on I'm Breathless for that purpose and to entice people to buy that very unconventional Madonna record. I'm Breathless turned out to be a multi-platinum selling album in its own right, and should have been included in this collection.

As for the collection itself, I didn't think Warner would put forth any more effort in releasing it than it absolutely had to. And the fact that the records are in cardboard sleeves really turns me off.

Posted on Mar 21, 2012 3:44:40 PM PDT
I agree with the reviewer, as a long time Madonna fan I feel we get shafted. Madonna is one of the most successful female artists in history and she doesn't even have a proper box set. Its another missed opportunity leaving us diehard fans left empty handed.

Posted on Mar 21, 2012 4:34:33 PM PDT
dj says:
"The remaining eight albums are untouched and in their original form. Like A Prayer, Erotica and Bedtime Stories are in desperate need of a remaster, while Ray of Light could use some freshening up as well."

Desperate need of a remaster??? Why??? Their peak loudness and decibel distribution is up to par even by today's standards (which is sadly slipping, due to over-compression and poor brickwalling). A remaster would only clip the waveforms at the top and bottom of the peaks and introduce that tell-tale "snap, crackle, pop" into the songs that isn't part of the original recording. In fact, the 2001 remaster of Madonna's eponymous debut record was atrociously loud and compressed, ruining the dynamics inherent in the original. No thanks, but I'd rather control the loudness with my volume knob, not the sloppy "remastering" of some over-worked, under-paid sound tech who was told to make his product louder than the other label company and hitting the dynamic range of the original master to get there.

And complaining about the LP replica sleeves (vs. jewel case) is moot since it's in the product description.

But you are right on about some of the more obvious omissions. I won't be buying this set for that reason alone. We can also wait for the upcoming "Original Albums" series, which will be the first five albums in the same LP replica sleeves, though the remastering problem will still probably persist there as it does here.

For more info on how remastering has ruined Madonna's (and other artists') work, see justiceforaudio.org, specifically the Dynamic Range Database: http://dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?search_artist=Madonna&sort=dr&order=asc

Posted on Mar 22, 2012 7:50:52 AM PDT
MV says:
The full list of singles not included:

No.1 Singles
Crazy For You
Into The Groove
Who's That Girl
Vogue
American Pie

As well as other singles:

Gambler
Causing A Commotion
The Look Of Love
Hanky Panky
Justify My Love
Beautiful Stranger
You Must Love Me
I'll Remember
This Used To Be My Playground

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2012 6:56:16 PM PDT
Alice says:
Just to add to the discussion, Madonna's official website does not even consider "I'm Breathless" an album (and they shockingly include "Celebration"). It is listed under Soundtracks along with "Who's That Girl".

Source: http://www.madonna.com/music/albums/

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2012 1:07:22 PM PDT
PourHomme80 says:
I appreciate all the technical insight you provided "dj...9" I also checked out the website you suggested. With that said, I still have to say as someone who just loves good music and doesnt necessarily have the ability to hear the technical nuances you mention, I absolutely love all the remasters. They sounded to crisp and fresh and not just "loud" but elements of the songs became more present that I hadnt even noticed before. So on this point, lets agree to disagree. I absolutely hope that Like A Prayer and Erotica get the same type of remaster. Im looking forward to the upcoming vinyl re-releases, possibly remastered? who knows.
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