The marketing of this major summer release seemed straight out of the previous year's successful Batman juggernaut. In fact, the official logo was pretty spiffy: a profile of the famous comic strip detective in primary colours on a black background:
In the spring of 1990, after coming off a string of hits from her 1989 album Like a Prayer, she released a strange album that featured the three songs from the Dick Tracy movie ("Sooner or Later", "More" and "What Can You Lose?", all written by Broadway veteran composer Stephen Sondheim, who received Oscar nominations for two of the songs at the 1991 Academy Awards), as well as songs supposedly "inspired by" the movie and the one song that was merely tacked on to the end, "Vogue", which has nothing to do with the movie or this experimental album of 1930s / 1940s musical styling. At the time of its release, I thought it was a cool album and quickly took a liking to the unusual songs. But the last time I listened to it, I found it extremely dated and almost embarrassingly bad (cheesy doesn't begin to describe it).
After "Vogue" became a huge hit (one of Madonna's best songs), she inexplicably released "Hanky Panky" as a single, which I thought was a throw-away song. There were other songs worthy of release as a single: "Something to Remember", "Sooner or Later", and "Back in Business." She returned to Betty Boop form with "I'm Going Bananas" and "Cry Baby", which are two hilarious songs. Besides "Vogue", though, the other favourite on this album are both parts of "Now I'm Following You" (part 1 is actually a duet with Warren Beatty and part 2 is a dance remix). Besides this Madonna tie-in album, the Dick Tracy film also had a soundtrack album with songs from other artists in the appropriate 1930s / 1940s music style, as well as the official score, featuring the music of composer Danny Elfman (another connection between Batman and Dick Tracy!). I don't think I've ever seen a film before or since that had THREE soundtracks. Talk about overkill.
In retrospect, the Dick Tracy film was more hype than anything else. While I admire the creative use of primary colours, the plot and some scenes were too reminiscent of Batman and I felt that they tried to do too much by giving Dick Tracy more villains than he can deal with at one time, two women vying for his attention, and a streetwise orphan kid to bring out his caring side (practically causing his girlfriend to melt in his arms). It was all just a bit too much for one movie. Nice try, though. Still, when I think about that summer twenty years ago, what comes to mind is my high school graduation, my enlistment in the Navy, my obsession with Johnny Clegg's music, the Dick Tracy versus Bart Simpson products, and Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. There were other movies that summer (particularly sequels to Gremlins and Die Hard), but Dick Tracy is the only one I remember. That's "something to remember"!