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…

Today in Madonna History: December 8, 1992

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On December 8 1992, Deeper and Deeper was released by Maverick Records as the second single from Erotica.  The song was written by Madonna, Shep Pettibone & Anthony Shmikin and was produced by Madonna & Pettibone.

“Someone said that romance was dead
And I believed it instead of remembering
What my mama told me
Let my father mold me
Then you tried to hold me
You remind me what they said
This feeling inside
I can’t explain
But my love is alive
And I’m never gonna hide it again”

Today in Madonna History: December 5, 1994

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On December 5 1994, Madonna began filming the music video for Bedtime Story at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, CA.

The video marked her second collaboration with director Mark Romanek and featured cinematography by Harris Savides. To assist in the process of developing her ideas for the video into something more tangible, Madonna again turned to storyboard artist Grant Shaffer, who had previously collaborated on her videos for Deeper And Deeper and Rain.

Madonna recalled the inspiration for the video in an interview with Aperture magazine:

“My Bedtime Story video was completely inspired by all the female surrealist painters like Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. There’s that one shot where my hands are up in the air and stars are spinning around me. And me flying through the hallway with my hair trailing behind me, the birds flying out of my open robe – all of those images were an homage to female surrealist painters; there’s a little bit of Frida Kahlo in there, too.”

The effects-laden video was shot over six days and has been noted by Madonna as being one of the more grueling video shoots of her career. Filming of a scene that featured Madonna bathing in blue-coloured water yielded unexpectedly colourful results; when Madonna emerged from the water, she later recounted, it quickly became apparent that her skin had been temporarily stained blue.

Fortunately any on-set difficulties were not evident in the final product. Following several months of post-production work, the video’s stunning surrealist imagery was enthusiastically received by viewers upon its release in March, 1995.

A very special thank you to artist Grant Shaffer for generously sharing a selection of his original storyboards used in the development of the Bedtime Story video! We’d like to invite readers to check out more of Grant’s art on his official website – including his sketches for Deeper And Deeper, Rain and Madonna’s Japanese Takara commercial.

Today in Madonna History: December 3, 2005

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On December 3 2005, Confessions On A Dance Floor entered the Billboard 200 album chart at number-one with sales of of over 350,000. It was her third consecutive studio album to reach the top and her sixth chart-topping album overall in the US.

Internationally the album hit number-one in 40 countries, including Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Brazil and Australia.

Today in Madonna History: November 28, 2006

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On November 28 2006, Jump peaked at #20 on the Austrian Ultratop 40 singles chart. The song was the fourth international single from Confessions On A Dance Floor.

The maxi-single featured remixes by Stuart Price (under the pseudonym Jacques Lu Cont), Axwell and Junior Sanchez; an Extended Album Version and Radio Edit (the US vinyl edition also added the “unmixed” Album Version); and a previously unreleased b-side, History, written and produced by Madonna & Stuart Price.

Recorded during the Confessions On A Dance Floor sessions, the released version of History was in actuality an uncredited Stuart Price remix of the otherwise shelved original production. An alternate version of the Price remix streamed on Madonna’s official website for a brief period but has yet to surface in quality above streaming grade. More of the song’s history came to light when an incomplete clip of the final non-remixed version, as well as several complete demo takes (featuring nixed chorus lyric “I thought that we were related” instead of “Defined by our greed and hatred”), leaked online in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

While the remix of History is a sparse and stripped-down slice of electro-house that recalls some of Stuart Price’s earlier solo work as Les Rythmes Digitales, the pulsating urgency of the original production with its heedfully hopeful bridge make it the more definitive rendering of the song.

Today in Madonna History: November 20, 1993

On November 20 1993, Madonna – Live Down Under: The Girlie Show (taped November 19th at Sydney Cricket Ground) was broadcast on HBO-TV. In Australia, Madonna postponed a scheduled concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground due to severe rain.

Recording of the November 19th show had been intended to serve as both a practice run for the following night, and as a safety show in the event of technical difficulties or cancellation of the November 20th concert. With Madonna apparently satisfied with the safety footage captured on the 19th, neither the December 3rd show at the Cricket Ground nor the rescheduled date (December 4th) served to provide supplemental footage for the eventual VHS/laserdisc release. The only notable differences between the HBO broadcast and the released version were some alternate camera angles and additional audio mixing.