Madonna – California Girl (Godfather Records GR 697/698)

California Girl (Godfather Records GR 697/698)

Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA – July 21st, 1987

Disc 1 (70:08):  Open Your Heart, Lucky Star, True Blue, Papa Don’t Preach, White Heat, Causing A Commotion, The Look  Of Love, Dress You Up, Material Girl, Like A Virgin, Where’s the Party, Live to Tell, Into the Groove

Disc 2 (69:24):  La Isla Bonita, Who’s that Girl, Holiday.  Bonus, Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA – April 23rd, 1985:  Intro., Dress You Up, Holiday, Madonna PSA, Holiday (continued), Into the Groove, Everybody, Angel, Gambler, Borderline, Lucky Star

California Girl documents Madonna on the Who’s That Girl? tour in 1987.  Her second major tour, this was also the first one where she visited the world with dates in Europe and Asia.  There were two shows in the Bay area of California, on July 20th and July 21st.  For California Girl, Godfather use a very good to excellent professional recording of the event.

She delivers a stunning performance this night.  So much so that she confesses to the audience that she’s “sweating more than I did last night … I mean that as a compliment.” 

Because the show is concentrated on the visuals, it’s important to follow the visual cues in the music and have an understanding of the show.  The description from Wikipedia is helpful, stating that: 

“The show started with a performance by Level 42. As their performance ended, the lights started blinking all around the stadium and Finch appears on stage, looking for Madonna.  He is followed by two other dancers, who jump around the stage and disappear. Then Madonna’s silhouette is visible behind a screen which has paintings by Tamara de Lempicka on it.   She performs dance moves behind the screen, which starts going up slowly. She wore a black pointy corset and fishnets like the costume in the music video of ‘Open Your Heart’. 

“After dancing on the stairs, using a chair as a prop, Madonna descends and starts singing the song. Later Finch joins her again and they dance together till the song ends. This was followed by the performance of ‘Lucky Star’ during which a disco ball spun above the stage; as Madonna and her dancers moved around it, the light from the ball flickered on them like a star.  For ‘True Blue’, Madonna came up on the stage wearing a blue, silk taffeta dress and a blue scarf hidden in her bosom.  The stage had a similar blue setting like the original music video. Madonna is backed up by her singers who play her girlfriends.

“At the end of the song Madonna is asked to dance again by the dancer playing her man in the performance. During ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ Madonna wore a black jacket over her dress and walked around the stage while singing.  The screen in the background showed portraits of Pope John Paul II and then-President of the U.S. Ronald Reagan, along with scenes of John Perry III’s short film, The Nightmare, ending with the words ‘Safe Sex’, as Madonna finished the song.   She dedicated the song to the Pope, marking her first conflict with the Vatican, as Pope John Paul II urged Italian fans to boycott her concerts.

“Madonna in the music video of ‘La Isla Bonita’. She wore a similar flamenco style dress while performing the song on the tour.

“During ‘White Heat’—which featured dialogues from the 1949 James Cagney film of the same name—a video screen displayed a scene from the film, with Cagney saying the dialogue: ‘A copper … a copper fellas’.   The video screen moves up and Madonna appears, wearing a lamé jacket and holding a plastic gun in her right hand. A large cut out of Cagney appears in the middle and Madonna finishes singing the song, while pointing the revolver towards her dancers and pretending to fire at them, as sounds of gunshots are heard. She followed it with ‘Causing a Commotion’ which ended with Madonna pointing to her dancers and musicians across stage and uttering the line ‘He/She’s got the moves baby’ numerous times. 

“For ‘The Look of Love’ the spotlight was focused on her. The introductory music of the song started and Madonna roamed around the stage, pretending that she was lost. She wanted to portray her Who’s That Girl film character Nikki, when she was lost in a similar sequence in the film. After she finished singing the song, Madonna pretended to walk forward by pushing through the air, as the conveyor belt took her backwards, ultimately taking her away from the stage. Then a red phone booth appears on the stage, in which Madonna’s silhouette appears to be changing costume.

“She emerges from the booth wearing the Edna Everage inspired costume and starts singing ‘Dress You Up’.  Then she sang ‘Material Girl’, while stretching her legs on stage and showing her underwear and followed by ‘Like a Virgin’, during which she took off her outfit piece by piece, until she was standing in a black corset, and ended the performance while flirting with an young male dancer who played her bridegroom.

“A backdrop then started showing the newspaper reports on Madonna’s 1985 Playboy nude picture release. The backdrop moves up as Madonna appears, wearing a loose-fitted black pant and top, with bejeweled glasses, for singing ‘Where’s the Party’.  For ‘Into the Groove’ Finch joins her on stage to dance alongside. Madonna then wore a pink bolero jacket which had the can of soup and the words ‘U’ and ‘DANCE’ flanking it. At the end she is joined by her backup singers and dancers. Together they take a bow to the audience and finish the performance. 

“Next Madonna sang ‘La Isla Bonita’ as a part of the encore, wearing the same red flamenco dress she had worn in the video. For ‘Who’s That Girl’, Madonna—flanked by Finch and a male dancer—strutted around the stage, asking the audience to join her on the chorus. Lastly, Madonna performed an energetic version of ‘Holiday’, signaling the celebratory and wholesome nature of the song’s theme. The song featured a new arrangement, with a guitar solo in the intermediate portion added by Leonard. She sang the final chorus twice, then asked the audience for a comb so that she could fix her hair and finished the performance, after taking a bow with her dancers to the audience.”

The bonus tracks come from her first US tour in the spring of 1985.  Taped at the Cow Palace in San Fransisco, it also is from an excellent soundboard recording and has live versions of early Madonna songs such as “Everybody,” “Angel,” “Gambler” and “Borderline.”  Overall an excellent Madonna release by Godfather.   

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  1. If the bootleggers had paid closer attention to the torrent they grabbed the bonus tracks from, they’d have noticed Madonna played the SF Civic Auditorium on 23 April, not the Cow Palace. I was at the show as well. I had blocked out the Beastie Boys opening act at the Civic until now. Thanks for jogging my memory. ;’/


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