A blog about my favourite movies, music, and TV.
02 August 2009
Donna Summer (1982)
I took this soulful gem out for a spin in the car yesterday and it stuck me that it's probably one of the best of her 80's album, certainly better than The Wanderer, Cats Without Claws, or the dreadful All Systems Go!
Donna decided she was a going to go a bit more rock as the 80's kicked in and the result was The Wanderer album, which earned her a GRAMMY nod for the single Cold Love. She quickly recorded a follow up, I'm A Rainbow, which was eventually scrapped - only the track Romeo was released on the Flashdance soundtrack, until the album was finally put out on CD in 1996. It was felt that Donna needed to appeal to her base, and so she was sent to work with Quincy Jones.
The Donna Summer album was a much bigger hit in the UK, peaking at #13 on the charts, and gave her two modest hits in Love Is In Control and State Of Independence, which hit the Top 20 again in 1996. But what of the album?
It kicks off with the funky Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger), which harks back to Donna's disco roots, with electronic vocal effects, and disco-ish beat, with loads of horns. It also has some great gospel inspired background vocals, which feature prominantly thoughout the album. To me this is a classic Donna single, up there with any of her 70's stuff, I especially like the rawness of her vocals, something that had become a feature of 1980's The Wanderer.
Mystery Of Love is a nice one, it goes for a more mid-tempo funk for the verses, Donna sings them softly, before gliding into the soulful chorus. It really gets going after the second the verse. Next up is The Woman In Me, the final single taken from the album. It's a ballad, and a fantastic one at that. It's very 80's soul, the track is driven by Donna's powerful vocals and some sparse (by 80's standards) production, it's very sexy! "I don't need an excuse, it's so easy with you, to be the woman in me,"...
State Of Independence featuring the All Star Choir (including Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Lionel Richie, and many more) is the third track. It's a bit of an 80's classic, with elements of soul and gospel. I have no idea what the State of Independence is, but I am guessing it's probably America, who cares? This is an amazing collaboration that doesn't get anywhere near enough airplay on oldies radio or TV these days.
Livin' In America is next, and I love this one! Again, it's pure tat, it starts off with an air of cool funkiness about it. This one is all about living the American dream! I think the chorus would make most people cringe! Especially when the kids start singing along with her, "You're living in America, you're living in the home of the dream! You can be what you wanna be!"
Protection was written by Bruce Springsteen, and as such is pretty rocky, I believe this one was going to be a duet at one point. I think it's great, I especially like its fast pace! I also love the way Donna's vocal tracks are layered over each other at times, a great effect! This could've been a good single. It was nominated for a GRAMMY.
If It Hurts Just A Little is such a filthy title, and there's some great vocals on this one, it's not the best song on the set, but the excellent production and the gorgeous harmonizing between Donna and the background singers is perfection. Love Is Just A Breath Away builds up beautifully with Donna's soft high vocals steadily getting louder and forceful as the track gets going. Sadly it's a bit fillerish, but it sounds good so it can be forgiven.
The album closes with some old fashioned style with the jazz standard Lush Life, now I'm not an expert on the genre, but Donna does a good job, although I have a feeling it was an afterthought, as it isn't as well done as the rest of the album. With Donna's range you'd have thought she'd make more of it, but it's fine. It was apparently a hard album for Donna to complete as she was heavily pregnant while making it, nevertheless overall I think it's well up there and for anyone else would've been seen as quite an accomplishment. The mix of rock, funk, and soul makes this a must have for me.