Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
LYING ON HER STOMACH WRITING LYRICS
"WE NEVER TALKED ABOUT DOING an album together," says Madonna's old friend Shep Pettibone, the ace remixer who coproduced and cowrote 10 of Erotica's 14 tracks. "I just started making instrumental demos and sending them to Indiana, where she was making A League of Their Own. When she finished the movie, we started working hard. We would record, then she would fly down to Miami to do shoots for her book, then she would come back and record again.
Pettibone, 34, whose remixing skills have punched up songs for Prince, George Michael, Mariah Carey, the Pet Shop Boys and dozens of others, grew up in New York City and Asbury Park, N.J., where he got a job in a small R&B record store with a predominantly black clientele. He moved back to New York at the height of the disco boom, worked as a club deejay and put together on-the-air "dance parties" on New York radio stations. He turned to full-time remixing in 1985. He's in complete command in the studio, and he played or programmed almost every sound (except vocals) on his Erotica cuts.
The album's basic tracks were laid down in Pettibone's studio in his Manhattan apartment. "Madonna composed a lot of the lyrics laying on the floor on her stomach with her legs up, writing in her notebook," he says. "Everything went really fast. I surprised myself by coming up with a couple of ballads, but mainly Madonna wanted a raw type of deal, which is what I do. Make it strong and make it hit you. Everything with a harder edge."