RIP Donna Summer 1948 – 2012

By , May 17, 2012 12:52 pm

Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder

Listen/Download Donna Summer – I Feel Love 12″ Edit

Greetings all.

I should start be reminding you all that the Funky16Corners Radio Show takes to the airwaves of the interwebs this (and every) Friday night at 9PM on Viva Radio. We have a very special tribute to the Ladies of Soul lined up for you, so I hope you’ll fall by and open up your ears. You can always come by the blog over the weekend and pick yourself up an MP3 of the broadcast, or any of the more than 100 previous episodes in the archive.

This has been an incredibly brutal week as far as losses to the world of soul, funk and now disco, with the news of the passing of the great Donna Summer.

Summer, who died after a battle with cancer at the age of 63 was a huge part of disco, and later the world of pop soul.

The song I bring you today is by far one of my favorite disco records, but was really much, much more than that.

I’ve gone on the record at length of my long and somewhat rocky history with the sounds and culture of disco, from my callow youth (when it was all going down) right on through to my more mature appraisal in recent years.

Back in the day, there were a lot of records now thought of as disco that I loved – and many that I did not – but few have such a solid place in the pleasure centers of my memory as the tune I bring you today, ‘I Feel Love’.

When Donna Summer first entered my ears in 1975 with ‘Love To Love You Baby’ I was smitten, but I think it would be fair to say that it had as much to do with the erotic nature of the song and its effects on my adolescent mind as anything else.

However, two years later when Summer’s collaboration with Giorgio Moroder ‘I Feel Love’ came pulsing out of my radio* my mind was good and truly blown.

The song, which managed to hit the Top 10 on the R&B and Pop charts, was a remarkable bit of visionary dance floor artistry that would anticipate a lot of what was to come in dance music of all stripes over the next decade.

It’s always interesting to listen to the evolution of the synthesizer, from its roots in experimental music, on through novelty, psychedelia and on into dance music.

That its users struggled to imbue it with real musicality is without question.

That Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte managed to win that fight and create something remarkable is also – once you’ve slapped on the headphones and poured this concoction into your brain – a certainty.

Listening to ‘I Feel Love’ 35 years later, even after High Energy, House, and synth pop, it still sounds new and innovative.

A lot of this has to do with Summer’s remarkable voice, the element that managed to take the mechanical pulse of the synthesizers into the human realm.

The mix I bring you today clocks in at just a hair over eight minutes, but there was also a 15 minute mega-mix of the song and it’s not hard to imagine a disco full of chemically altered party people moving with the beat for the whole record, eventually collapsing into a blissful heap.

This is the record about which Brian Eno is reported to have raved –

“I have heard the sound of the future. ‘This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.”

Donna Summer went on to have a huge career in the 80s, crossing over heavily into the pop market with a much more conventional sound (which can still be heard on oldies radio, and at weddings wherever they happen).

Nothing she did, though, hits me like this.

The song was later covered by Bronski Beat (with Marc Almond) in a very cool version.

I hope you dig it.

Lets all hope for a better week next week.

Keep the faith




*I wore out the 45 I bought back then and upgraded to this 12″ a few years ago

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2 Responses to “RIP Donna Summer 1948 – 2012”

  1. Great photo! There was a time not too long ago when divas were truly divine…sad day.

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