I've been re-listening to Donna Summer's work since she died, and I have to say she was really incredible. 'Macarthur Park Suite' is just exceptional, even beyond the stigma of disco. One of a kind, indeed. I can't think of any contemporary singer who could do this kind of work.
What an amazing range she had! Her incredible voice and her spirit must be rockin' the heavens as I write.
Her concept albums also transcend disco. The Four Seasons of Love LP is sublime. The singing, arrangements, lyrics are all wonderful and Donna had her hand in most of it. I believe time will be very kind to Donna's legacy and body of work.
Giorgio Moroder deserves the credit for her success. Without him, she'd be just another pretty singer.
She also proved to be terrible at making her own creative/career decisions, as is evidenced by the bulk of her post-Moroder output.
I liked her stuff with Quincy jones
R3 is pretty, no, VERY stupid.
Her work with Stock, Aitken y Waterman was also great
A lot of her post-Moroder stuff was great. The stuff with Q, She Works Hard For the Money, Cats Without Claws, the highly underrated All Systems Go, and, of course, the classic SAW collabo with "This Time I Know It's For Real".
Yet, R3, Moroder was not able to duplicate the success he had with Summer with any other "girls."
I still think "The Wanderer" is one of her best albums. It was a new sound for Donna after the heyday of disco. "Looking Up" is an amazing song and should been the lead single instead of the title track.
A lot of uptight queens in here who confuse nostalgia with quality.
Donna Summer would have been nothing without Moroder. Nothing.
R11, join R3 as you both nosedive off a cliff.
She may have been nothing without him, he may have been nothing without her. She came up with the album concepts and lyrics. The "Bad Girls" concept was all hers. The minimalistic, droning lyrics in "I Feel Love" was her idea, since Moroder wanted her to sing full verses. Clearly her interpretation was the one best suited to
I think it's safe to say that it was a symbiotic creative relationship.
Disco sucks that is why it ended and is over.
Summer was a disco suck. Had she tried harder and worked more on her voice she could've been something other than a disco luck out.
Laura Bragnigan had the same musical styler and a better set of pipes but she was years late at the scene. So she never made it big.
Donna was only at the right place at the right time.
How humiliating is it to have the last hit of your career be a Stock Aitken Waterman. I mean no real "queen" of anything is reduced to singing with the likes of SAW and Rick Ashley, Bananarama, Samantha Fox and Kylie Minogue. Oh yeah and don't forget Laura Branigan who's last album of any note contained SAW songs.
[quote]The "Bad Girls" concept was all hers. The minimalistic, droning lyrics in "I Feel Love" was her idea, since Moroder wanted her to sing full verses. Clearly her interpretation was the one best suited to that song.
That is simply not true and you know it.
r15, which part are you having trouble believing and why? Moroder (and Bellotte for that matter) weren't lyricists. Summer wrote the lyrics for most if not all of the hits they collaborated on. All of this has been discussed over the years in interviews, and in the fact that Summer has co-writing credits on those songs.
Here's a quote from her concerning "Bad Girls":
[quote]I had the idea and went to my husband … we went into the studio one evening and just said ‘you know what, I want to write this song …’ It was based on a story of a girl that worked at our office that had happened that day actually. Police were bothering her. She was walking down Sunset Blvd. and they were just trying to pick her up … but they were harassing her and kind of treating her as if she were a prostitute, and this girl in no way looks like a prostitute. So it kind of irritated me enough to stimulate my mind and I started thinking about the girls who really do walk on that street. That how the song really came about.
At 8:29 in the Youtube clip posted below, she talks about recording "I Feel Love" and the decision to ditch most of the lyrics she'd written and keep it simple to suit the music.
Donna Summer wasn't just some Rihanna-like producer's prop who simply showed up in the studio and sang what she was told. I thought most people realized that.
They still haven't released the full version of the MacArthur Park Suite, which is a shame.
R14, thanks for farting on this thread. Now, kindly f@@k off!
After her death I pulled out the Casablanca boxed set and yes MacArthur Park is perfect but the one that really surprised me was Love to Love You Baby which I always thought was a novelty throwaway. Ok granted lyrically it's non-existent but Moroder's production is masterful.
"One of a Kind" is my favorite part of "McArthur Suite." I think that song could have stood on its own if the lyrics had been fleshed out a bit and made a bit repetitive. That tempo change at "Right from the start..." is amazing.
Love "One Of A Kind"...the uncut version is brilliant.
R14 is too fat to dance and too ugly to get into dance clubs.
No mention of "Last Dance"?
Donna Summer's music turned the world/reality into a giant live musical!
Her remake of State of Independence (POST Moroder/Bellotte) is one of her crowning achievements. It still moves me.
I know, R26! Particularly since everything Rod Temperton touched back then turned to gold.
She wrote "My Baby Understands" from "Bad Girls" all by herself, no co-writers, very powerful, raw rock ballad.
Some of you are just refusing to face reality here.
Donna Summers peaked in 1979. She had three consecutive double albums hit No. 1 on the charts. She had million-selling singles.
After 1980, she had precisely two major U.S. hits: She Works Hard for the Money (which has not aged well) and This Time I Know It's For Real (which was a success because of SAW, not Donna).
Some of you may have enjoyed her post-1980 work, but very few others did. Most of her albums from that period aren't even in print anymore.
R29, and what's your point? That's not what we're talking here.
R29, Donna Summer was a musical institution to a generation. Her songs gave voice to a musical genre and a decade. She has inspired many, collaborated with legends, and is a legend herself. Her chart success, no matter how big or small, did NOT end with the '70s. What exactly have YOU done lately?
Oh shut up, R29. Donna Summer is a legend and her music from 30-plus years ago is an institution. 20 year-olds know 'Bad Girls' and 'Last Dance,' among others. That's an incredible legacy, when people that young know Donna's music.
BTW, check out Donna and Richard Carpenter doing 'Superstar.'
[R32] that is unbelievable....I wish I'd heard her sing live. As for the dopes on this thread saying she was nothing without G. Moroder, tell me without using Google if Moroder is even still alive.
[quote]They still haven't released the full version of the MacArthur Park Suite, which is a shame.
The version I have is almost 18 minutes long. How could there be more?
Donna Summer's post-Bad Girls output might not have been quite as successful commercially, but she made a lot of great music between 1980 and 2012. That's just a fact. "Melody of Love," "Dinner With Gershwin," the Crayons album - all great.
"Love Has A Mind of It's Own," is a beautiful duet (with Matthew Ward) that was released in the 1980's. It wasn't very well-known, sort of over-shadowed by her mega hit "She Works Hard For The Money," but if there is actually anyone who would doubt the glory and strength of her legendary voice-that song should dispel any doubts about her gifts.
Speaking of, "She Works Hard For The Money" (and "Bad Girls"), she deserves a respect and credit for creating ever-lasting hit songs that force society to confront the humanity and dignity of fellow human beings who, for reasons we do not know, find themselves working in difficult, distasteful, ans sometimes degrading professions. I believe that a woman of Ms. Summer's stature writing and singing about these woman is perhaps the most noble and lasting accomplishment of an already extraordinary career.
Donna Summer was one of the greats. How lucky we were that recordings of her work will be with us forever. If I could say anything to her now, it would simply be, "Thank You, and enjoy your eternal reward after a generous life well-lived."
"Donna Summer would have been nothing without Moroder. Nothing."
Yeah, look at all the success Giorgio had after Donna.......................
Laura Branigan never made it big?
Sadly, Laura died.
[quote]Yeah, look at all the success Giorgio had after Donna
Well, he went on to write/produce for David Bowie, Blondie, Sparks, portions of the "Flashdance" and "Top Gun" soundtracks, Berlin, Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler and Elton John. He was easily more successful than Donna.
Also, Moroder did do the "Scarface" soundtrack, too.
R41, yes but everything he did with those artists was basically a rehash of what he did with Donna. Blondie's Heart of Glass is a carbon copy of Donna's Queen for a Day.
Moroder only did one song with David Bowie and that was for the soundtrack of Cat People. It doesn't compare to the work Moroder did with Summer.
I've been listening to Once Upon a Time and MacArthur Park Suite and there's more creativity in just those two albums than anything he did with the other artists.
BTW, according to wiki, Once Upon a Time was made in 3 days, without sleep and Donna was hospitalized for exhaustion once it was finished. There are 16 tracks on that album. And it's brilliant.
I totally agree with you, r43. Although, Moroder didn't produce Blondie's 'Heart of Glass', he produced 'Call Me', which could have very well been sung by Donna and would have fit nicely on the Bad Girls album.
Donna was more or less Giorgio's muse (not his puppet) and they both equally benefitted from that relationship and we get to reap the rewards with so much great music that they created together.
oops, you're correct, R44, I got those Blondie songs mixed up.
From the top, R43 proves he doesn't know what he's talking about.
Moroder's big success stopped at the same time Donna's stopped. So I don't get where he was more successful. His biggest post-Donna success was with Irene Cara with the song from FLASHDANCE. Which was written for.....you guessed it, Donna!
The attempts to turn Cara into a Summer for the eighties backfired when she got entangled in a shitload of issues with her record company and was essentially blackballed from the industry for a number of years.
To clarify, the song from Flashdance was written by Moroser, Bellote, and Cara. The music--and the style--was intended for Donna. It was after she--or, more likely, Geffen Records yo whom Donna was signed at the time--turned it down that Cara was given the chance to write the lyrics and record the song. To involve her in the project though, and probably to point out how wrong Geffen had been in shelving a Summer double album that Summer and Moroder had worked on, Summer's song Romeo was used on the movie's soundtrack
"Flashdance: What a Feeling" was initially sung by Brooklyn Dreams's Joe "Bean" Esposito, a long-time friend of Donna's and Moroder collaborator (of course, Donna's husband Bruce Sudano was in The Brooklyn Dreams as well). The makers of the film wanted the song from a woman's perspective, and thus hired Irene Cara to sing it.
David Geffen really bungled up her early 80s career. Donna's last album produced with/by Moroder was I'm a Rainbow in 1981, but Geffen, disappointed by the more moderate success of The Wanderer (1980) album compared to her 70s LPs, shelved Rainbow and had Donna work with Quincy Jones to make a more R&B flavored record. There's some good tracks on the Donna Summer (1982) album (e.g., 'Love is in Control', 'State of Independence'), but if she was allowed to continue in the more New Wave and eurodisco sound (Moroder), she probably would have had even more success. There's some really great, fresh sounding songs on Rainbow like 'Romeo', 'Melanie', 'Highway Runner' that could have been big hits for Donna in '81-'82.
Her time at Geffen seemed like it was jinxed. Donna apparently owed Casablanca/Polygram one more album so Geffen leant her out and that's when she made 'She Works Hard for the Money' (1983), her biggest single and album success of the 80s. The sound of that single was very reminiscent of her work with Moroder and what he was doing in the early 80s. I bet that irritated Geffen to no end.
Thankfully, 'Romeo' ended up on the Flashdance soundtrack. It was too good of a song to have been completely shelved.
"Melanie" is about her oldest daughter, Mimi. Melanie is her real name.
The album also included the song "Brooklyn", which is about her second daughter of the same name.
Sadly, her youngest, Amanda, never got her own song. However, she is mentioned in the song "Driving Down Brazil" from 2008's "Crayons".
The full "MacArthur Park Suite" is available on "The Dance Collection". You can still get it through Amazon and iTunes.
The MacArthur Park Suite from the Youtube link OP posted has much better sound quality (even with the scratches) than the one from iTunes, which sound thin and there's no oomph to it. I just downloaded the video from Youtube from OP's link and made an mp3 out of it and it rocks.
Glad I could help, R54!
r52, Mimi also had "Mimi's Song" - that daughter got two songs about her.
[quote] The attempts to turn Cara into a Summer for the eighties backfired when she got entangled in a shitload of issues with her record company and was essentially blackballed from the industry for a number of years.
Oooh gurl…spill! What did she do?
That's right Cara was basically being groomed to be Donna Summer 2.0 everyone was comparing them. She even wore a similar hair style.
On Wiki the info on there about Donna and Geffen makes it sound like they got into something heated. Geffen did her no favors except lending her out to Casablanca was a good thing. He really did stall her career for whatever reason.
Reading between the lines I get the feeling that Geffen and Donna had some negative feelings about each other. Maybe he's the one that started the rumor about her comments on AIDS.
Pete Bellote didn't write "What A Feeling", it was Keith Forsey. Moroder didn't write any of the lyrics. Forsey wrote the first version of the song, then Cara revised it with him.
Cara sounds like Donna Summer's understudy
Irene Cara was nowhere near Donna's level of talent. Irene also had a major coke habit and that interfered with her career.
Geffen and Donna did not get along, and there are rumors that it was Geffen who started the (false) shit about Donna and AIDS being God's punishment. Unfortunately, Donna waited years to respond to the rumors, and by then it was almost too late. She should have said something about all of it being false right away.
R59, I have always believed that David Geffen was behind the "Adam and Steve", AIDS rumors.
Would Geffen really be that evil? Especially being a gay man himself?
The story I've always heard is that a reporter named Jim Feldman saw Donna's Atlantic City show where he claimed she spouted a lot of anti-gay rhetoric. He wrote about it in his review for the Village Voice.
There was a discussion on the Donna Summer forum a while back about this. Those who went to the shows on the tour said that she made the Adam and Steve remark, but it came across more as a stupid attempt at a joke than a legitimate hateful statement. But no one said she ever made any remarks about AIDS, or speicifically said that being gay is a sin. There's a lot of information on this period of her career that is covered in some good articles.
I always thought Donna had a bit of a Lauryn Hill type breakdown. Both despised the level of superstardom that they achieved and sought solace in religion. But where Lauryn completely went off the rails, Donna was able to pull herself together. I never thought Donna was truly an anti-gay bigot, but I do think she was lost for a while. It's well known that during that period, she would only work with devout religious people like herself. From video directors to makeup people.
The truth is, Donna Summer's career faltered because she was a fucking cunt. Her husband, too. Both had terrible reputations in the industry.
The suite is the greatest 17 minutes ever!
R65, where the fuck did you hear that?!
I never heard anything about Donna being a bitch. She had a reputation as a kind person.
In the '80s I saw a drag queen do a version of "She Works Hard For The Money" as "He Sucks Hard For The Money".
That pretty much ruined the song for me.
Wow, OP. Just played MacArthur Park Suite and it is really amazing.
Richard Harris was rolling over in his grave before Donna was put in hers. Still prefer his "MacArthur Park."
I love her version of Could it Be Magic... way better than Manilow's.
A lot of people thought 'She Works Hard For the Money' was a song about prostitutes (like Bad Girls) until they saw the video.
Is the old man still playing Chinese checkers by the tree?
"Is the old man still playing Chinese checkers by the tree?"
I link lat game is hollilly lacist.
Old thread but just downloaded this.
Let me address the Moroder shit. I love Moroder, he's tied with Donna as my favorite artist, but he was a nobody before he hooked up with Donna. He'd been writing and producing for 10 yrs before he met her, and had nothing more than a handful of European hits to his credit (mainly "Son of My Father" by Chicory Tip, which he co-wrote but didn't produce.) He was dirt poor, the measly money his productions generated had to be put back into making new recordings.
Donna comes in for some background work, Moroder is extremely impressed, and has her record 3 demos which would be shopped around to other singers. But the record companies kept saying we want the voice on the demo, hence her recording career was born. The first release wasn't a hit, but then The Hostage and Lady of the Night were big hits in a few European territories, leading to a full-length album. Shortly after came Love To Love You, which was Donna's idea. She sang the chorus melody and the title to Moroder, who took it from there. Moroder had 3 European and one global smash within a year of meeting Donna, and it's supposed to be coincidence? They both needed each other to make it big, and Moroder admits this, that it was a two-way street.
Roberta Kelly, Chris Bennett and Suzi Lane were all attempts to recreate his success with Donna in the 70s, and they all failed to make even a tiniest dent in the pop mainstream. He had no sustained success with any singer in the 80s, the closest was Irene Cara, and her album peaked at about #80. It also didn't have a fraction of the critical acclaim of his albums with Donna. There was no follow-up album, there never was after Donna, he was known for soundtrack albums only. The insistence that Moroder get all the credit, despite his complete inability to reproduce the success with others, is frankly racist. Some people obviously just think the white guy should get all the credit.
This is a satirical thread, right? MacArthur Park is one of the cheesiest pieces of Velveeta ever recorded.
The original version, yes, Richard Harris didn't even hit the high notes, they had a studio singer step into do that, it was ridiculous. But it is a difficult song to sing, it takes a great singer with incredible power and range, and that's what it finally got with Donna. Her version is no cheesier than Streisand, who would have a helluva time singing it herself.
[quote] In the '80s I saw a drag queen do a version of "She Works Hard For The Money" as "He Sucks Hard For The Money".
Interestingly Donna, at the height of her born-again hysteria when this was recorded, changes the lyrics to "Makes Them Hard For The Money" during the fade-out on the album version. I remember one reviewer noting that and saying she keeps you guessing. She eventually started singing Love To Love in concert again, the last 10 yrs or so, and telling bawdy Mae West type jokes. We were finally getting a bit of the old Donna back, but it didn't last long.
This is why we keep coming back to DL. There is always a new idea, or thought, or a suggestion of ideas and thoughts long gone by that renew us. Digging these songs of D.S. on the YouTube, had forgotten all about them....
I downloaded the full "Macarthur Park Suite" to my ipod over the weekend and have been listening to it in my car to and from work all week. It's truly epic.
Giorgio's picture sleeve for Son of my father, 3:15, and Donna's for Love to love you baby, 3:38 from my collection. I saw Donna front row center at the time of I feel love. I was so close I saw the moles on her legs...I always liked The Theme from the Deep best.
The original full version of Donna Summer's MacArthur Park Suite is now on the remastered version of the "Live & More" Album, currently on iTunes...and, mastered for iTunes!
It still holds up well, and is probably the best disco song ever released.
[quote] Donna Summers
R29, the long list of shit that you know nothing about starts with not getting Donna's name right.
So fuck off and find a grease fire to play in.
[quote]Donna Summer's music turned the world/reality into a giant live musical!
Sadly! Donna was working on a musical version of "Once Upon A Time" based on her book "Ordinary Girl" but it never panned out.
And, speaking of "Once Upon A Time" it was also a musical album revelation!
Cats Without Claws and The Wanderer still hasn't been released on iTunes yet. It's not even available on Amazon either.
R87 They're both available on Amazon on CD from third party sellers, but at very expensive prices.
Summer and Moroder are the perfect example of an artist and a producer being perfectly in sync. Summer gets much credit for her records. Moroder was never able to duplicate the quality of the work her did with Summer as consistantly as he did with her. Once Upon A Time, Bad Girls, and especially The Wanderer are still 3 of the greatest female statements put on record. I'm A Rainbow was a hit record, too bad no one realized it at the time. Donna is severely underrated artist. She LP tracks usually rocked more than they were dance material, so it's appropriate that she got her due as such after she passed...unfortunately after she passed.
BTW...It's the 30th Anniversary of Springsteen's Born In The USA and he and Summer worked together kind of under the radar. Both "Protection" and "Cover Me" were written by him for her, as he was a fan. I so wish a proper vocal collaboration would have come to fruition from them.
A Donna/Bruce duet would have been something. Too bad that never happened.
And I agree with what r89 said. Donna's album tracks were just as good as the singles from each album.