6 August 2011

the sidewalk talk on Jellybean's Wotuspki!?! reissue

*** UPDATE 8 Aug ***

Thanks to those who have left feedback about the Wotupski!?! reissue CD, I have listened to the CD and can confirm that all versions of Sidewalk Talk on on the CD are actually same Dance Mix and not the different mixes as listed on the CD's track listing. I've contacted Gold Legion to point out this error and will post an update.

I guess this mis-pressing is a bit of a collector's item now.


“If you’ve listened to Madonna sing Holiday, Borderline or Lucky Star, then you already know what “wotupski” sounds like. It’s a time and place; a cityscape. “Wotupski” is New York City in the 1980s. Disco nights and neon lights. “Wotupski” is the thumping vibration of boombox beats and makeshift dance floors in playgrounds and parking lots. Made of cardboard and clouds, it personifies desire and ambition in songs, in sweat, in sweet dreams and in street cred. “Wotupski” is a firecracker and a shooting star. Never meant to be a memory, it was meant to be a moment lived forever in music.”
– David Nick Ybarra, 2011.
Last month Gold Legion reissued a limited edition CD of Jellybean’s debut album Wotupski!?! featuring Sidewalk Talk, written by Madonna. Mastered from the original master tapes, the limited edition CD contains the original five track album, plus four bonus tracks – including the Funhouse Mix and the Dance Mix of Sidewalk Talk. The CD’s 16-page booklet features a 5082 word essay written by David Nick Ybarra. The following extracts from Ybarra’s comprehensive essay on Wotupski!?! focus on Sidewalk Talk:

“Whether Sidewalk Talk was planned for Wotupski!?! or added at the 11th hour is debatable. The press kit notes for Wotupski!?! make no mention of Sidewalk Talk nor any of the other four cuts from the album except for The Mexican. In fact, when the album was pressed, the customary advertising sticker adhered to the cellophane wrap stated “Features the single The Mexican” conspiciously excluding Sidewalk Talk which would have been an obvious selling point. Nevertheless, its inclusion on Wotupski!?! remains the most critical aspect of public interest in the album’s longevity more than The Mexican or any of the other cuts on the album, regardless of their qualities.

The remix 7” and 12” single releases of Sidewalk Talk came about upon the unofficial buzz that Madonna had not only penned the song but also sang lead on it. The first part of the rumour was entirely true, but the second half continues to be a matter of debate amongst diehard fans. While Madonna’s vocals on Sidewalk Talk are prominent, the secondary lead vocal heard is the verse rap “sung” by Catherine “Catt” Buchanan. A mysterious figure in the Jellybean legacy, her lone credit as lead on so important a recording for Benitez is mildly baffling. Audrey Wheeler, who with Cindy Mizelle and Madonna were the only vocalists on the track, has no memory of her presence in the studio but offered the possibility that Buchanan’s vocals were recorded separately or added later. This poses the possibility that Sidewalk Talk was intended for Madonna’s debut solo album in 1983 but scrapped instead, making it available for Benitez to utilize for his own debut a year later. If so, Benitez may have recycled the rejected cut and replaced Madonna’s vocals on the “rap” verses with a suitable unknown singer who wouldn’t overshadow his own solo debut album lest Wotupski!?! be mistaken as a vehicle for another artist other than Jellybean. No singer was afforded more than one lead on Wotupski!?!
In fact, though Madonna is credited as the songwriter and vocal arranger for the cut, she is credited only as a “backing vocalist” in the credit details while “Catherine Buchanan” is listed as the song’s lead singer. As mysteriously as she disappeared, “Catt” Buchanan would re-emerge a final time some four years later with the self-produced European-released 12” single, Love Is, in 1988 for Arista/BMG Records. The spelling of her first name would be changed (or corrected) to “Catharine”, however a clue to her former ties to Jellybean would be revealed by her choice of co-producer, Michael Hutchinson. Hutchinson had been Benitez’s associate producer on Wotupski!?! Not only is the vocal on Love Is recognizable as the voice on Sidewalk Talk, but the former song is performed in a verse/rap style nearly identical to the latter Madonna-penned track. Even the melody of Love Is sounds like a slower-paced take on the melody for Sidewalk Talk. Craftily cropped images for the cover art of Buchanan’s single, Love Is, depict an attractive blonde woman’s face, hair and makeup styled in a studio look that is also Madonna-esque. It didn’t help. Copy “Catt” Buchanan faded further into obscurity while Sidewalk Talk made music history for Madonna and Jellybean.

(thebeatswithin: Click here to listen to the Club Mix of Love Is)

Label stickers for Sidewalk Talk finally included the selling-point “Written by Madonna” prominently in their advertisement but avoided any mention of her vocals on the remixes. It didn’t matter. Sidewalk Talk went running to the top of the charts anyway. The single would impact the Billboard charts four times in three years as a number one Dance hit in December 1984 and in February 1985, as well as a Hot 100 chart hitter in ’85 and best selling Maxi-single release in 1986.”



andrew said...

So....Sidewalk Talk in NOT Madonna???? Gosh, it bloody well sounds like her!! All these years I've believeed that it is her!! I thought maybe it wasnt her through the chorus but definitely her through the "rap" verses.......I'm afraid I'm a little confused!!! :)
BUT .....
am very glad to hear fr
om you :)

Anonymous said...

Catharine Buchanan sing/raps the verses of Sidewalk Talk and Madonna sings lead on the chorus. There is however a demo version of Sidewalk Talk that Madonna recorded with Stephen Bray, which features Madonna on all lead vocals, including the verse rap.

andrew said...

ok.....wait....I think the vrsion I have is with M.......let me listen to it and I'll get back to you

andrew said...

OH NO!!!!!!!!!! I think the version I have is the one with Catherine doing the verses.....I'M SO DISAPPOINTED!!!
I always assumed that it was M but after listening to it now I can tell that it aint her! I want the demo version!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!

Rabbitbunny said...

The inevitable box set has to come out Sooner Than Later and I hope and pray that Sidewalk Talk is on it. As a stopgap song between the records Like a Virgin and True Blue, it's one of the forgotten Madonna tunes in her ladyship's discography but Sidewalk Talk clearly deserves another listen, shot and chance.