Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Donna Summer - The Donna Summer Anthology (1993)

Admitting to liking Donna Summer seems like something I should be doing at a 12-step meeting. Even though it can be embarrassing, I've often confessed my love for disco music on this blog. Donna Summer is the "Queen of Disco" so when I found a copy of this double disc set for $3, I knew I couldn't pass it up. The only downside to buying this CD used is that the booklet wasn't included so I don't have any liner notes. I'd better love disco music because here we have 2 1/2 hours of music.

When Summer and producer Giorgio Moroder teamed up in the mid -'70s, they locked on to a formula that they wouldn't vary from for the next 6 years. Once disco was over, they had a hard time carrying on, but there are at least 2 tunes from the mid and late '80s that I recognize. As big as Summer was here in the US, she was even bigger in Europe. Those people must just love to dance. These tunes bring back some great late '70s memories and I enjoy the relentless disco beat, but now when I listen to them, I'm distracted by Summer's voice which was never really that strong. She has some pitch problems and needs more breath support in her upper register. But what do I know? She's the music superstar and I'm not.

Hey, did you know there was such a thing as the Dance Music Hall of Fame? Well, there was for a short time in the 2000's. Of course, our girl Donna was an inductee.

Tracks: Of the 34 tracks here, I only recognize about half of them. The others I don't have any need for because I'm not really looking to discover new Donna Summer music, I just wanted to hear the old tunes. However, there is a 1975 cover of Barry Manilow's Could It Be Magic that I hadn't heard before and it makes me chuckle to hear that as a disco tune.

All the big disco hits are here and I love 'em all: Love To Love You Baby, I Feel Love (see below), Last Dance, Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, Dim All The Lights, No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) with Barbra Streisand, and On The Radio. Summer's last top 10 hit, from 1989, This Time I Know It's For Real, is here as well. By that time, she had left Moroder and was working with the Stock Aitken & Waterman team, better known for their work with Rick Astley.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I Feel Love should be considered a groundbreaking song. With none of the typical disco strings and high-hat cymbal, the backing tracks are all electronic. Pretty gutsy for 1977, but the song paved the way for techno dance music in the '80s and beyond. People may argue that Kraftwerk was the real pioneer in electronic music and there's certainly some truth to that, but Kraftwerk didn't get the radio airplay this song did.

Minor hits that I had forgotten about until now: Love's Unkind (which shamelessly pulls its verse melody from Summertime Blues), I Love You, MacArthur Park (which contains some of the most unlikely metaphors in pop music history), Heaven Knows, Sunset People,and The Wanderer.

What is going on here? Disc 2 could be best described as schizophrenic. After starting with two disco hits, we get some boring ballads including a puzzling rendition of Evita's Don't Cry For Me Argentina which tries (and fails) to be a soaring power ballad. There's also forays into guitar rock (Cold Love), pseudo-world music (State of Independence and Unconditional Love), new wave pop (She Works Hard For The Money), and Quincy Jones R&B (Love Is In Control). Makes my head spin.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: When the song Hot Stuff was popular in 1979, I remember TV personality Steve Allen appearing on a variety show where he did a dramatic reading of that song's lyrics. Pretty funny. Speaking of Hot Stuff, my high school marching band played a horrible arrangement of that song during my freshman year. Admittedly, most marching band arrangements of pop music are bad, but this arrangement was truly horrible.

In 8th grade (1979-80 for me), we learned how to disco dance in PE class. I always danced with a girl named Tiffany and, I must say, we were awesome disco dancers (for 13 year olds).

1 comment:

  1. Love me some Donna Summer music, too. Between my Dad and my Texas Grandma, I was fortunate enough to hear all five of Summer's albums on 8-track from 1975-1977 while she was still relatively unknown to Top 40 fans. And thanks to Granny being a smoker of Salems, I smell menthol whenever I hear any song from Four Seasons Of Love.

    Anthology is but one of the not quite a dozen hits compilations here in the Archives; it was purchased specifically for that lesser-known music on Disc 2 and at a $4.99 price point to boot.

    However, the Donna Summer disc that gets the most spins round these parts however is my own special non-stop disco mix of 1979'sOn The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II. It is a similarly mixed, expanded to double disc set with the extended 12" mixes in place of the original's single versions. I also added my three favorite Summer songs that that were left off the original double album: "Walk Away", "Prelude/Could It Be Magic" and "With Your Love".

    And I'm looking forward to the 2013 Donna Summer remix album Love To Love You Donna in October. I may only listen to it once but I will get it. The first three remixes I've heard thus far did not make good impressions. (There's this one on Spotify if you're curious.)

    And I'm right with you as far as "I Feel Love" and its impact on modern music. So is this guy