Diva Number One

Boy, Mister Death has been busy lately whacking legendary musicians. Last week it was Donna Summer taking a dirt nap.

I’ve never been much into disco. I grew up a rocker and was part of the whole anti-disco movement when I was young. Disco Demolition Night is one of my fondest memories from that time. But I certainly appreciate the influence disco had musically and culturally and I also appreciate Ms. Summer’s position as one of the giants of the musical form. And so we bid her farewell.

Miss Fish “Love To Love You Baby” (Donna Summer)
When people talk of the coarsening of the American culture they rarely mention this song. Which is odd because it is still one of the most blatantly sexual songs I’ve ever heard.

This version keeps the original rhythms but includes some pretty twisted vocal stylings that at times sound like a cheesy “adult” audio loop from the Fifties.

London Gay Men’s Chorus “Last Dance” (Donna Summer)
I’ve never really gone out looking for covers of disco songs before and I didn’t realize how challenging it would be. It seems like disco music is very popular with the karaoke, workout, and stripper markets, all of whom want something that sounds just like the original without the need to pay all those messy licensing fees to use the music.

This is a refreshing exception, all the more fitting since Ms. Summer was such a gay icon. The choral arrangement works with the throbbing disco beat and the call-and-response between the chorus and the oversinging diva is pretty funny.

Hitboutique “She Works Hard For The Money” (Donna Summer)
Now here’s somebody doing something imaginative with a Donna Summer song. It’s a strange song for a languorous samba, since it sounds like she’s done working and is just going to chill on the beach with a cold drink.

Orquestra D’Soul “Bad Girls” (Donna Summer)
I knew a guy in college who was obsessed with the fact that Donna Summer recored a concept album about prostitution. I must admit that it’s one of the more unique concept albums out there.

I really like the salsa arrangement on this one.

Donna Summer “MacArthur Park” (Richard Harris)
This being Cover Freak I had to include the cover that Ms. Summer had a number 1 hit with. It starts out sounding every bit as ponderous as Richard Harris’ version, but then they whip out the disco rhythm section. Lyrically speaking it’s still one of the dumbest songs ever written though.