Friday, October 26, 2012

My Amazon Reviews: Donna Summer "Bad Girls"

Toot Toot, Hey, Beep Beep
5 Out of 5 Stars

Disco was always a producer's medium. Most of the records were based on a single, often made by studio musicians and just as often, not being capable of following things up. Donna Summer was part of that machine for her first few albums, which often seemed lackluster in comparison to her vibrant, catchy hit singles. But then came "Bad Girls." Summer was still teamed with a simpatico producer (the trendmaking Giorgio Morodor), but she had become the closest thing Disco had to a reigning star (quick, other than Village People, name one disco act with a lasting and recognizable career), and for the first time, an album that hung together as an entire piece. And not just a single disc, either. "Bad Girls" roared out of the box as a double disc collection.

Donna Summer's "Bad Girls" took all the tropes of disco (throbbing beats, swirling strings, catchy hooks) and made it into more than just the hits. Summer also pushed the medium by going outside the dance floor with ballads ("On My Honor"), straight ahead pop ("Dim All The Lights") and electric rock meld with the dance material (Jeff Baxter's red-hot solo in "Hot Stuff," preceding Eddie Van Halen with Micheal Jackson by a decade). Tie it to a concept about creatures of the night and the whole city scene, and you had disco's first bona fide ground-breaker. Summer helped by having the chops to carry the album vocally, while Morodor jumped effortlessly from dance to his patented Euro-sound and the poppish ends of the album.

There was much more than the classic singles. "Sunset People" would have been a hot had the times been concerned about over-exposure for albums (same with "Walk Away," a minor hit nonetheless), while closing the album's concept about waking up on the strip and seeing a new day dawn with promise. "Dim All The Lights" continued the new idea of starting a dance-floor smash with a slow into and hitting the meat of the song with a blast (think "Last Dance" and "On The Radio"). "Like everybody else," she belts on the title track, "they want to be a star." So did Summer, and "Bad Girls" said it all across two long players. Perhaps her artistic peak as a singer and writer, it's also her best album overall.


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