Sunday, 20 May 2012

Donna Summer

Sad news of Donna Summer's passing.  Here was a true artist that although always labelled "disco" delivered much more.  Her career in the 70's will forever be associated with the dancefloor and her work with Giorgio Moroder.  Together they took the US disco movement in a fresh direction with the use of electronics that until that point were the tools of experimental rock bands.  Her "I Feel Love" was ground-breaking, and whilst those sounds are familiar to us all now in all genres of music it is her and Moroder's legacy.  One obit this week quotes Bobby Gillespie as saying that he bought "I Feel Love" on the same day that he bought the Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen".  Summer moved away from the scene by recording more mainstream songs on her albums "The Wanderer" and "She Works Hard For The Money" with great success.  For me, her reinvention was complete when she recorded the self titled album produced by Quincy Jones and featuring "State Of Indepedence" "Living In America" and the jazz standard "Lush Life".  Yesterday I spent a long train journey in the company of her career on my ipod.  Her "On the Radio" greatest hits concentrates on her dance-floor hits but includes many lesser known tunes (here anyway) such as "I Love You" and "Sunset People" alongside her "Love To Love You, Baby" her voice and delivery are superb, she was a writer and production contributor.  The "Four Season Of Love" album marked the emergence of dance as a major force outside of the 4 minute (or extended 10 minute) single.  The album shows the magic between Summer and Moroder and Pete Bellote by delivering a consistent piece. 
Much will be said this week about her, the trials with the conflict of her faith and the sexual nature of her image, her dismissal as a diva disco queen - we should value a game changing body of work, the result of the fate of the early coupling with Moroder/Bellotte and her second and third coming.  Hopefully it may be a catalyst in helping Disco find it's place in serious music history.
For now let's remember her as a fantastic artist.

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