Friday, May 18, 2012

Donna Sumer • Dance Tribute

Donna Summer I Feel Love Donna Summer Thank God It's Friday
Donna Summer Live & More Donna Summer & Barbra STreisand No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

There are something about certain singers and songs that can bring you back to a time, and for me, Donna Summer is one of those talents. After hearing about her passing yesterday after a long fight with breast cancer, I thought it would be a great time to revisit a few of my favorites of her songs from the era when Disco ruled the airwaves, as well as some great Pop song that still sound fresh and true. I'll start with what was an introduction of sorts, for it was the first time I heard of a talented singer named Donna Summer. She was somewhat unknown, an American in Europe appearing in some Broadway-style shows. She released an album in the UK, working with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, wünderkind of a new electronic sound. Summer wrote lyrics to the music of Moroder and Bellotte, and one of those songs was released in 1975. It went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, attracting some controversy. It seems an Urban legend was born when the BBC said while recording "Love To Love You, Baby," Ms. Summer had 23 simulated orgasms in the extended version of the song. Suddenly, both Summer and the song were notorious. And also helped with the sales, making it the song that everyone wanted to hear.

Out to prove she could handle more than moans and groans, Summer continued to record great music. This included a little song for a movie soundtrack that with a lesser talent, might have escaped notice. But place a song by the Paul Jabara in the hands of Moroder and Summer, and you can just imagine the fireworks. I can tell you, it was a song that pretty much closed out every dance I attended in my senior year of high school, and the early college years. It also was often the final song played at gay clubs through the early 1980s. In 1978, "Last Dance" made it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, off the soundtrack album for the movie Thank God It's Friday.

"Last Dance" was not her only release in that year. In fact, it was not ever her most successful song of the year. Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte found an older song by Jimmy Webb, recorded in 1967 by actor Richard Harris, an odd combination of spoken word and song. "MacArthur Park" went to #2 on the chart in 1968, and went on to be covered by many. But in 1978, it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, when "MacArthur Park" was sung by Summer like it had never been sung before, or likely every again. It was a track on the album, Live and More.

There are very few singers who could stand their ground with the voice of the great Barbra Streisand, and even fewer who could sing with her and still shine. In 1979, Summers did just that on the #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" There is such beauty in this song, as you can hear both Donna and Barbra raising the bar with amazing vocals. Sadly, I could not find any video of the two singing, so you just have this brilliant audio.

To enjoy more of her music, you can find The Journey: The Best of Donna Summer on iTunes and Amazon, or her Live And More album, on iTunes and Amazon. You can also find Donna Summer: The Dance Collection, a compilation of the eight top extended play versions of some of her most spectacular Dance hits, on iTunes and Amazon.

Donna Summer The Dance Collection cover Donna Summer The Dance Collection Back Cover

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