Today in Madonna History: March 8, 1988

On March 8 1988, Papa Don’t Preach was released in the CD Video format in the U.S.

The CD Video format, introduced in Japan in 1987, combined the technologies of the standard audio compact disc with LaserDisc video on a 5″ gold-coloured disc.

The Papa Don’t Preach CD Video (which was also released in Japan and in the U.K.) included the song’s 1986 music video together with the 7″ Version, 12″ Version and the U.S. b-side Pretender on the audio portion of the disc. It was Madonna’s only commercial release in the short-lived format.

Today in Madonna History: December 15, 1990

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On December 15 1990, the LA Times printed a feature article by Robert Hilburn, about Madonna’s forth-coming laser-disc release of the Blond Ambition tour.

Can Madonna sell laser-disc players as well as she sells herself? Pioneer Artists, the nation’s leading distributor of music-related laser discs, hopes so. In a move virtually unprecedented in the video industry, Pioneer has just released Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour Live exclusively on laser disc. Normally, video packages of this nature are released on videocassette two to six weeks before they are released on laser-disc. In this case, however, Blond Ambition won’t be released on videocassette for at least a year.  Steven Galloway, president of Pioneer Artists, said he hopes the fact that an artist of Madonna’s stature would release a video only on laser disc will send a signal to millions of potential laser customers that the new format has finally come of age.

Galloway said that the laser exclusive with Madonna grew out of an agreement last spring for Pioneer, the electronics hardware and software giant, to sponsor her tour.

“I contacted her manager, Freddy DeMann, long before the tour started in hopes of getting the laser-disc rights to any video that was going to be shot in association with the tour,” Galloway said. DeMann was meeting with potential corporate sponsors at the time, Galloway said, and he asked if Pioneer would be interested in sponsoring the tour. The company apparently jumped at the opportunity.

“Madonna is the ideal artist to reach the new demographics that we are hoping to attract with the new, low-priced combination CD and laser players . . . the young, hip 18-35 audience,” Galloway said.

“Until these low-priced players arrived, laser discs were considered something just for the high-end market . . . a rich man’s toy. But that has changed and Madonna seemed the ideal artist to drive that point home.”

And what about the Blond Ambition package itself?

The video is based on the same concert in Nice that HBO broadcast live last summer, but the new, edited laser version offers much more of the vitality and charm of the show itself than the HBO special.

Today in Madonna History: May 25, 1985

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On May 25 1985, Madonna’s self-titled video collection hit number-one on Billboard’s Top Music Videos chart in the U.S.

Released on VHS, Beta and 8″ LaserDisc, the “video ep” included four of her earliest music videos (while it excluded the low-budget and rarely seen video for Everybody, it included a previously unreleased extended version of the Lucky Star video). It marked Madonna’s first foray into the home video market.

Today in Madonna History: February 2, 1991

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On February 2 1991, Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour Live hit #2 on the Top Laserdisc Sales chart in the USA.

The live concert was released only on Laserdisc by Pioneer Artists as part of the sponsorship deal of the 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour and was released to promote the Laserdisc format. It contained the final tour date filmed at Stade de l’Ouest in Nice, France on August 5, 1990 which had previously been shown and produced by American network HBO as part of a television special Madonna – Live! Blond Ambition World Tour 90.

Track listing

Express Yourself
Open Your Heart
Causing a Commotion
Where’s the Party
Like a Virgin
Like a Prayer
Live to Tell
Oh Father
Papa Don’t Preach
Sooner or Later
Hanky Panky
Now I’m Following You
Material Girl
Cherish
Into the Groove
Vogue
Holiday
Family Affair/Keep It Together

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: February 25, 1992

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On February 25 1992, Madonna: Blond Ambition World Tour Live won Best Music Video – Long Form at the 34th annual Grammy Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The tour was exclusively released on Pioneer LaserDisc.

Fans would love for Blond Ambition to be released on DVD and Blu Ray with a live CD companion!