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Madonna Speaks About Album Producer Orbit

February 21, 1998 12:00 AM ET

Fifteen years after her debut, is Madonna still relevant?

The numerous radio and Internet leaks of "Frozen," the lead single from her forthcoming Maverick/Warner Bros. album, Ray Of Light, implies audiences think so.

The set, slated for worldwide release March 3, shows the pop chameleon sewing intense words into edgy electronic backdrops and jagged guitar grooves. More than half of the disc's songs were written with William Orbit, a pioneering techno producer. "I've always found something melancholy about his music," Madonna says of Orbit. "Since I'm attracted to that sound, and since I tend to write a lot ofsad songs, we seemed like a good match."

Orbit is equally pleased with the set's results, primarily because Madonna "insisted upon the purity of [his] arrangements, which worked astonishingly well with her pop songs."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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