Sad indeed - she was part of my adolescence.
Very sad news. Not one of the great voices in my humble opinion. Difficult to tell with all of that era's production. For such a big star, there was also an odd kind of anonymity and a slight deficit of charisma. Many of the huge hits were not particularly well crafted songs either. Still, she was the "Queen of Disco" and there are three that do stand out for me, two because of their historical significance and one for just being a great record. The first two, "Love to Love You Baby" and "I Feel Love" were both extraordinary pieces, the long version of the former coming in at 17 minutes. 10% Summer and 90% Giorgio Moroder. The first virtually ushered in disco and the second was at the heart of it. Oddly, neither was very representative of what disco became.
"Love to Love You" was innovative. We can forget now how it was at the cutting edge of electronica. It was just a few years on from the amusing but amateurish plinkety plonk of Gershon Kingsley's synthesised "Popcorn". That tune had been made famous here by Hot Butter in 1972. It was also years ahead of Gary Numan, OMD, Ultravox, BEF, Heaven 17 and the Human League. Mainly British kids who had saved up to buy the latest machine to experiment with in their bedrooms. Back in the mid 1970s, I suppose we had felt that the new electronic devices would be best suited to rock genres. In the commercial field, the mellotron of Roxy Music and the multi-layered tracking in 10CC's "I'm Not In Love". In more grandiose areas, Can and Tangerine Dream. Arguably though there were two pivotal moments when synths became commercially serious. Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" in 1975 is the obvious one. Summer and Moroder's soft extended Euro throb, released in the same year, is the other. Vague and targeted, joyous and pained, it was orchestrally plush and arrived without a maths degree. It left an impression and predated electronic dance by 15 years.
Some might recall early disco in the round. Andrea True Connection; Silver Convention; Deodato. In many ways they were entirely similar to "Love to Love You Baby" and the punchier "I Feel Love". In other senses, they were poles apart. The former were, well, just records. The latter were a cultural side turning off Bowie's favourite Berlin streets where Minnelli's dark Cabaret had become a post-Apollo space rocket. Sex and drugs had been turned into swirling aural smoke and plastered hedonistically onto fairy light walls. And it wasn't all Moroder's wizardry. Summer's vocals mattered. Banned by the Beeb for being too suggestive, they took forward what had begun with Jane Birkin, Curtis Mayfield and Barry White. Time magazine alleged that 22 orgasms had been simulated to produce the record. The papers had a field day. I recall vividly Summer's explanation to an "outraged" journalist in The Sun. She had intended to sing normally but on the day of the recording was in terrible pain following a visit to the dentist.
None of this necessarily sat easily with her temporarily abandoned Christianity. She suffered anxiety and depression and fell into an addiction to prescription drugs. On hesitantly returning to the Bible in the eighties, she got herself into hot water with gay people who were large in number among her fans. Indicating uncertainty rather than malice, she tried to repair the damage, but she was also heading in an adult orientated rock direction which wouldn't prove as popular anyway. Tracks were churned out. There was even a collaboration with Streisand which, incredibly, was wholly unmusical. But this also brings us to that third song. In 1982 she recorded the overblown yet unusual, musically worldly and winning "State of Independence", a song originally recorded by Jon Anderson and Vangelis. It won't be considered her greatest achievement but it may be her most enjoyable moment for me.
Last edited by Lateralthinking1; 18-05-12 at 01:49.
Very sad news RIP.Her music wasn't for me, what a good looking woman she was
"Music is the best means we have of digesting time".
W. H. Auden
'Love to love you baby' must have come out in '75. I was working in a bar in Glasgow at the time and for a short while there was a rather voluptuous lassie - I hesitate to use the word hefty - and when the bar closed at lunchtime we used to hear her wail along to Donna's song from the lounge bar, like a siren trying to lure us unsuspecting sailors onto the rocks - me and my pal averted our ears and kept on drinking - them were dangerous waters.