5th August 2021
I remember hearing ‘love to love you baby’ in a very cool record store in my home town of Middlesbrough. Alan Fearnley’s was the place to go to hear the latest imports and it was definitely a hot spot for disco lovers. Of course I bought it straight away.
But it wasn’t really a song (or album) I played often, it was a bit to many moans and groans for my liking really. However the next album release ‘ love trilogy’ was something else. With its majestic 17:57 long ‘try me I know we can make it’ it was just sublime, and still is, even if it does feature some more moans and groans. Her version of ‘could it be magic’ remains the best cover of the Manilow song to this day.
As was the case back in those golden days of vinyl, Donna released two albums in 1976. ‘A love trilogy’ was followed by ‘four seasons of love’ 4 tracks… 5 actually, celebrating the seasons. Spring affair, Summer fever, Autumn changes, Winter melody and Spring affair (reprise). It’s a fabulous album packed full of powerful disco anthems, and a rather slushy, but still gorgeous ode to winter.
‘I remember yesterday’, released in 1977 was the LP that catapulted Ms Summer to superstardom, primarily due to the monster that is ‘I Feel Love’ a truly classic piece of music, one that to this day still fills dance floors across the planet. I loved the 12″ version which seemed to go on forever, it was hypnotic and great to dance to. Some of the other tracks on this album were a little too commercial for my taste, but, the follow up, yes another two in one year, was to be a sensational, double album filled with genuine classic tracks.
‘Once upon a time’ is a themed opus about a working girl (a recurring theme in many of her songs) and every single track, of which there are 16, is fantastic, from the opening title track to the pulsating ‘now I need you’ onto the glorious ‘I love you’ and more, it is a work of sheer brilliance and if you have never heard it I urge you to check it out.
Then along came ‘live and more’, yet another double album, this one released in 1978, she really was a busy girl, but, and this is only my humble opinion, this album features her best ever piece of work.
‘MacArthur park’ is another 17 minutes plus track and it just beggars belief in how good it is. A cover of a song made famous by Richard Harris, it oozes quality from the starting beat to the end, I love it.
Check it out here: MacArthur park
‘Bad Girls’ was packed full of big numbers and proved to be Donna’s most successful album, however for me it was a little formulaic and lacked the adventure shown on her previous albums. However it still had classics ‘hot stuff’ ‘bad girls’ and ‘dim all the lights’ on it.
After the release of ‘bad girls’ things went a little wonky and the music becomes less relevant, and of course there was the infamous aids quote which lost her lots of fans. But as she was a fighter, she came back and went to Stock Aitken Waterman who helped put her back in the charts.
Personally I thought this album to be a little bit of a sell out, it has S.A.W stamped all over it (obviously) so it’s generic beats mean the tracks could be covered by anyone in their stable of artists.
The same can be said for ‘she works hard for the money’ it’s an album I own but it’s not one I choose to play.
There were a few more releases, all featuring hits here and there but nothing that has the groundbreaking feel of the first few albums.
The last release before her untimely passing, ‘crayons’ was a return to some of her previous glory. The album was strong, cohesive and had lots of good tracks, she was definitely on her way back to reclaiming her ‘queen of the disco’ crown, but it wasn’t meant to be.
So, if you ain’t that familiar with Donna Summer, you should definitely check out some of the first albums she released, I guarantee you will enjoy them.
And listen to this, it’s good and bad in equal measure. The video is the same…. it’s an early release, that’s all I will say:
Donna Summer, the true queen of disco.