Music

Donna Summer: Bad Girls (Deluxe Edition)

Mervin Malone Jr

Donna Summer

Bad Girls (Deluxe Edition)

Label: Deluxe Edition
US Release Date: 2003-07-29
UK Release Date: 2003-08-04
Amazon
iTunes

Originally released as a double-LP in 1979, Bad Girls fully established Donna Summer as pop icon. Replete with the epic production work of Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, in addition to Summer's own songwriting, the album unanimously validated her celebrity with critics. Now, at long last, this crowning opus of Summer's career has received a superb remastering as part of Universal Chronicles' Deluxe Edition Series.

Donna Summer was already a flourishing presence on the pop charts, even before Bad Girls. Indeed, she had scored two massive hit singles the preceding year: one with the Paul Jabara-penned "Last Dance", for which she won a Grammy, the other with a cover of Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park". Bad Girls, however, connected with a larger audience than any of her previous full-length albums, producing four Top 10 singles and going double platinum.

Bad Girls, with its hedonistic mood and horny themes, perfectly embodies the protean nature of Donna Summer's career. This is, after all, the now religiously conservative Donna Summer who no longer performs her orgasmic, star-making single "Love to Love You Baby" because of her religious beliefs. This is also the same Donna Summer who supposedly made homophobic remarks years later, a claim she still denies.

A concept album, Bad Girls is sung entirely from the perspective of a streetwalker, whom Donna Summer portrays. The immortal rock-disco hybrid "Hot Stuff" opens the album, segueing effortlessly into the equally timeless title track. Summer then proceeds to camp it up on the horn-laden R&B track "Love Will Always Find You". Summer showcases a powerfully haunting falsetto on the ballad "There Will Always Be a You". Summer's tone remains conversational throughout, her numerous emotional flourishes referenced by subtle pitch changes.

Moroder and Bellotte constructed an ideal sonic landscape to accompany Summer's dramatic vocalizations. Their designs for Bad Girls are noticeably naked of disco strings, instead favoring synthesizer melodies, horn sections and the occasional saxophone riff. Moroder and Bellotte's eclectic production give the album a more pop-friendly touch.

It is important to note that Bad Girls (Deluxe Edition)" is a two-CD reissue. Disc One contains the remastered album, whereas Disc Two, dubbed "12" Singles & More", contains many of Donna Summer's most important singles in their full extended forms. "Dim All the Lights"; "Last Dance"; "On the Radio" -- these form the crux of the Donna Summer mythos. Also included here are the full versions of the synth-disco classic "I Feel Love" and Summer's timely duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)". Noticeably absent is "Love to Love You Baby" -- which, in its full extended form is well over 15 minutes -- no doubt due to spatial limitations.

Bad Girls (Deluxe Edition) is an excellent listen, with a fluidity that should keep discophiles and casual listeners interested. It harkens back to a time when songwriting and vocal ability were integral to modern popular music. Perhaps they will be again, someday.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image