Believe it or not, today marks the 40th anniversary of the recording of White Night, the debut single from my band The Lines, which I have written about a couple of times. I don’t know where all that time went, and so very quickly…I just looked around, and it was gone! A lesson for my younger readers.
Here’s another significant anniversary: although I have dated this entry according to the session date, as is my custom, we have just passed the 20th anniversary of the release of Madonna’s finest and best-selling album.
Back in early 1997 I was in London, during the last days of the Crouch End version of Guerilla Studio. It was a creative time. Some excellent Blur mixes were done, later included on the compilation Bustin’ and Dronin’. Mainly though, William Orbit was trying to finish an album called Strange Cargo 5. I thought the album sounded fantastic, but Warner Brothers somehow didn’t share the enthusiasm and a release date was not set.
When William heard that Madonna was looking for songs he sent the album to her. She loved it, used pretty much all of it…and so Strange Cargo 5 became Ray of Light.
Madonna was in superb voice at the time, having recently completed the quasi-operatic Evita. I’ll never forget first hearing her singing on Substitute For Love: the blend of her vocal and William’s instrumental style was truly a match made in heaven. Never that much of a fan (apart from Holiday obviously), Madonna really impressed me with the strength and depth of emotion she brought to these tracks.
I personally didn’t have much to do with the album, apart from cheerleading William and trying to help him keep his aging equipment operational. I seem to recall doing a glockenspiel part on To Have And Not To Hold. It didn’t earn me an album credit, but I got a platinum disc, and here it is.