Today in Madonna History: December 19, 1987

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On December 19 1987, Madonna’s haunting ballad The Look Of Love peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart. The third and final Madonna single from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack, it was released only in select European countries and in Japan.

The Look Of Love was written, produced and recorded by Madonna and Patrick Leonard during the second of a three-day studio session, with the title track of the soundtrack being written and recorded on the first day. Additional musicians were brought in for overdubs and mixing was completed for both tracks by the end of the third day.

Despite being a set-list staple on the Who’s That Girl tour – the song’s limited release, moderate chart success, along with the fact that it has not been included in any of Madonna’s subsequent retrospective collections has led to it being largely forgotten, although fans frequently cite it as an underrated gem.

In a 1991 interview with ICON magazine, background vocalist Niki Haris expressed fond memories of performing the track with Madonna during the 1987 tour:

“My favorite song ever to perform with Madonna was a song called The Look Of Love from the Who’s That Girl Tour [Niki sings: Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide…]. That is one of the greatest songs and Madonna sings it really great. That’s my favorite song of all time as far as singing with her.”

The single reached number six in Ireland, number eight in the Netherlands and number ten in Belgium, while it peaked outside the top-ten in Germany, Switzerland, France and Japan.

Today in Madonna History: December 13, 1990

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On December 13 1990, Blond Ambition World Tour Live was released exclusively on laserdisc by Pioneer Artists. It featured the final tour date, recorded on August 5th in Nice, France, which had been previously broadcast live on HBO.

The release was part of a special arrangement with Blond Ambition Tour sponsors Pioneer Artists as a means of promoting their struggling laserdisc format. The laserdisc went on to win a Grammy for Best Music Video – Long Form at the 34th Grammy Awards, which is notable for being Madonna’s first-ever Grammy win.

With the eventual demise of the laserdisc format, this landmark tour has never received a proper release on DVD or Blu-ray. Although widely bootlegged (in varying degrees of quality), it is currently unavailable to purchase in its entirety in any official form, much to the disappointment and frustration of fans. A 2012 Blu-ray release of the accompanying tour documentary Truth or Dare – which features a select number of performances from the tour filmed in stunning technicolour during her shows in Paris – failed to offer up any additional performances not already included within the documentary (a previous VHS release of Truth or Dare had included bonus performances of Hanky Panky and Like A Prayer).

Madonna’s current manager, Guy Oseary, and even Madonna herself, have acknowledged fans’ very vocal requests that the tour be properly released on an accessible format. Guy confirmed through his Twitter account in 2011 that a recent meeting with Warner had taken place concerning the reissuing of Madonna’s tours on DVD and that the talks were “a start”, but he also noted that the process would take time, as they did not know what footage remained available for a potential release, nor its condition. During a 2013 fan chat on Reddit when Madonna was asked about the possibility of a Blond Ambition Tour DVD release, she offered the terse response: “when I can find the tapes in the archives.”

Meanwhile, seemingly remastered audio/video footage of the Nice show mysteriously turned up on YouTube in 2013, along with the caption “Master submitted to Reliance Mediaworks in 2011. Full digital remaster, error correction, frame by frame color grading (RELM.NS) DTS-HD master audio from original stems (Nasdaq:DTSI).” The user uploading the footage appears to have created a YouTube account for the sole purpose of streaming the tour and does not reply to comments requesting further information on the source of the footage, making it difficult to ascertain its legitimacy. While there are noticeable signs of improvement in the audio mix, the video quality is inconsistent, with some shots showing improved colour grading and others appearing excessively dark and overly filtered. Whether the quality issues are the result of a highly compressed upload file or if they are evidence of its possible inauthenticity as an officially commissioned remaster are a matter of speculation.

Incidentally, Reliance MediaWorks’ parent company, Indian conglomorate Reliance ADA Group, is the major shareholder of IM Global, which provided financial backing and acquired international distribution rights for Madonna’s film W.E. in 2011.

The saga continues…