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Madonna, despite having as many hit compilations as one would expect from an artist of her stature and stature, has always seemed reluctant to look back or indulge in career nostalgia.

As polarizing as his later albums are at times, he could never be accused of cashing in, as so many veteran actors do, on round after round of the same old set list designed to hit all the obvious musical marks, if he pleases the most lukewarm of fans and earn millions easily. But she almost went too far the other way. The hits have sometimes felt grudgingly performed at his live shows for the past 20 or so years, and have sometimes been so drastically redesigned – an approach that can be thrilling when it works, no doubt – the spirit of the original track has sometimes been painfully undermined.

All that to say, it’s fun to watch Our Lady of the Remix – who in popdom deserves that title more? – look back so lavishly with the August 19 release of “Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones,” (☆☆☆ out of four) a new 50-track remix collection available digitally, in a three-disc CD set and a sold-out six-LP vinyl edition, as well as “Finally Enough Love”, a 16-track release on single, double vinyl and digital CD. The releases are the first since it was announced last summer that Madonna was returning to her original label, Warner Records, under a new deal that would include a series of deluxe catalog reissues. It celebrates its record-breaking 50 No. 1 hits on the Billboard US Dance Songs Club chart, starting with “Holiday”/”Lucky Star” (only “Holiday” is here, though) in 1983 and culminating with “I Don’ t Search I Find” in early 2020 from her 2019 album “Madame X”. The title of the collection is taken from this track. For context, those following her record of 50 No. 1 hits on this chart are Rihanna (33), Beyonce (22), Janet (20), and Katy Perry (19); Madonna’s record here is the highest number one by any artist/group on any Billboard chart.

It’s also particularly nice to see since remixes have been so central to Madonna’s career. The only time she’s ever released anything like this before was either very early (the 1987 “You Can Dance” remix album) or weirdly random (the 2003 “Remixed & Revisited” EP) .

This collection is not, as one might guess, a collection of his all-time greatest remixes or even necessarily the versions of the songs that made their mark. General Xers who gobbled up his maxi singles throughout the 90s and beyond will find that their stash, if kept, is still the only source (not counting unofficial YouTube posts) for classics such as the remix of “Shep’s ‘Spressin’ Himself”. ” from “Express Yourself” from the maxi “Justify My Love” (also home to the deliciously strange “The Beast Within Mix”), the remix “Waiting” (a non-single) from the maxi “Rain” or one of the delicious varied (for example “Madonna Gets Hardcore”) on the maxi import “Bye Bye Baby”.

Even if you’re a top-notch finalist — and there are certainly people like that in the Madonnaverse — your experience won’t be tainted or boosted by the included or excluded mixes.

Tons of other remixes here are just slight variations of mixes we’ve heard before. I haven’t followed these releases like a hawk for the past few years, but if you’ve collected them in any capacity over the years, there’s likely to be a new balance of familiar and unfamiliar motifs and passages sprinkled throughout.

Most of the remixes retain the bulk of the lyrics from the album versions and are tight edits (no 10-minute drum solos). The first cuts on the first record are the least radical, which isn’t surprising given 80s remixing trends. they have been modified, retain the spirit of their album counterparts. There is no radical thumpa-thumpa version of “Everybody” or “Material Girl”, for example; disc three, containing the most recent material, is by far the most rave-hammered/influenced.

Most notable to me were the laid-back, up-tempo vibe of the “Underground Club Mix” of “Erotica” (straight from the vintage maxi “Erotica”), the “PSB Maxi Mix Edit” of “Sorry” (so far, a promotional mix only), the “Eddie Amador Club 5 Edit” from “Give it 2 Me” (vintage, but never commercially available until now) and “Avicii’s UMF Mix” from “Girl Gone Wild”, which features a instrumental spider motif that could almost function as a fugal theme.

Overall, though, there are a few bumps to how it all goes, especially if you’re listening from cover to cover. Some tracks – for example the “Sasha Ultra Violet Mix Edit” from “Ray of Light” with its pulverized beat pattern or the laid-back, ultra-chill vibe of the “Bob Sinclar Space Funk Edit” from “4 Minutes” (this edition of which has never before been released other than on a 12 inch vinyl picture disc) – gives needed contrast to the mostly relentless 4/4 beat patterns. But after a while, especially on discs two and three, it all starts to sound a bit more like “Hooked on Madonna,” from the famous ’80s “Hooked on Classics” series, which put classic themes on dance rhythms. Sure, some of this is to be expected given the nature of the release, but as a real-world experience, it’s tedious at times.

And while the DJs are all obviously talented and sometimes quite creative, halfway through disc two you start to wonder if a wiz/nerd with access to the stems could have come up with something nearly as good on a Yamaha Clavinova or the As. Almost.

It also moves much faster through its catalog than you might think. Since classics like “Papa Don’t Preach” and “La Isla Bonita” weren’t #1 dance hits, we get to “Like a Prayer” and “Vogue” barely halfway through the first. disk.

When a single not written by Madonna pops up – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” (from “Evita”) or Don McLean’s “American Pie” (from “The Next Best Thing”), they jump as significantly better examples of songcraft than almost anything Madonna has ever invented herself. Going straight from “Pie” to “Music,” one of M’s most lyrically tasteless compositions to my ear, is particularly painful. Sure, there are dozens of pop masterpieces here, but the covers tend to accentuate the moss on cuts like “Turn Up the Radio” or “Jump.”

On the brighter side, however, the vocals sound louder and softer than I remembered. Yeah, they’re probably auto-tuned and otherwise toned down in the studio, but there were several bits – ‘Nothing Really Matters’, ‘Keep it Together’, ‘Deeper and Deeper’ – when it’s clear that Madonna is a better studio singer. that she never gets credit for.

The booklets are also comprehensive and well done with detailed track information and photos of all of his unique works.

Although there are 50 tracks here, the math is a bit fuzzy. “Angel,” which featured in conjunction with its flip side “Into the Groove,” is missing, as is “Causing a Commotion,” which was released on Record Store Day vinyl in April, though it’s annoying that it isn’t. the. Because “You Can Dance” topped the chart as an entire album and Britney’s duet “Me Against the Music” wasn’t from a Madonna project, there’s a little wiggle room. numerically in the way this set has been organized.

Madonna’s new remix album “Finally Enough Love” brings together vintage mixes of her many hits, but often in slightly different versions than what was previously commercially available. (Photo courtesy of Warner/Rhino)

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Henry R. Wright