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: August 1, 1990

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On August 1 1990, “Madonna In Concert” was taped by SACIS-RAI at Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain on the second to last date of Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour.

The special was broadcast in Spain, Italy, the UK and Australia. It also aired on Canada’s MuchMusic on September 10, 1990. After being heavily promoted by the channel in the weeks leading up to the broadcast, the special aired in an edited version during its prime time slot, followed by an uncensored airing at midnight.

In addition to its intended use for broadcast, the recording also served as an unused safety net for her HBO special from the final date in Nice, France a few days later.

Today in Madonna History: July 2, 1990

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On July 2 1990, Roman Catholic groups condemned Madonna’s “Blond Ambition” concert as blasphemous due to her controversial show’s sex and religious themes and planned to cancel her concerts in Rome and Turin.

Madonna made this speech in response to the threats:

I am an ltalian-American, and I am proud of it.
Proud of being an American because it is the country I grew up in, the country that gave me the opportunities to be who I am today and a country that believes in freedom of speech and artistic expression.
 
My show is not a conventional rock show but a theatrical presentation of my music.
And, like theatre it asks questions, provokes thought and takes you on an emotional journey.
Portraying good and bad, light and dark, joy and sorrow, redemption and salvation.
I do not endorse a way of life but describe one, and the audience is left to make its own decisions and judgments.
This is what I consider freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of thought.
 
Every night, before I go onstage, I say a prayer not only that my show willl go well but that the audience will watch with an open heart and an open mind and see it as a celebration of love, life and humanity.

*This is an edited transcript of the speech.  The full speech is included in the video posted above.

 

Today in Madonna History: May 29, 1990

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On May 29, 1990, Toronto police threatened to arrest Madonna on the grounds of lewd and obscene behavior for the “Like A Virgin” masturbation sequence in her Blond Ambition concert.  The show went on unaltered, and no charges were made after the tour manager gave the police an ultimatum: “Cancel the show, and you’ll have to tell 30,000 people why.”

Madonna performed 3 sold-out concerts at the SkyDome, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.