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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Loving Donna Summer Too Much?

Maybe holiday-timed releases are loving Donna Summer a little too much. As in smells like exploitation spirit this season!

Love to Love You Donna is the much-anticipated release on the Universal/Verve label serving up 13 remixes of some of the deceased diva's legendary songs. It does offer an update of the Queen of Disco's legacy for today's dancefloors.

It kicks off with the divine "Love to Love You, Baby" mix by the fantastic Chris Cox that perfectly preserves the integrity of the Giorgio Moroder/Pete Belotte original while creating a more contempo, upbeat and exciting sound to put us in a gotta-dance frame of mine. No way club and partygoers are going to stay on their asses once this is played, djs.

The second track on the album is the Duke Dumont deconstruction of "Dim All The Lights." Not good. But it's followed by the Frankie Knuckles/Eric Kupper "Hot Stuff" with hot keyboards putting it across for some lounge action if not intended for big room dj'ing. Album version clocks in at 6 minutes.

Afrojack's "I Feel Love" offers us a nice, 6-minute bit of updated electronica against Donna's distinctive vocals from this iconic song. On the other hand, the Benga work-over of the same song is more than a tad bit dirge-like and boring. Believe you me, it takes some kind of talent to make this number a big bore but somehow Benga managed it. No excuse to have a 7:15-minute track on this collection of this dross.

Jacques Greene's handling of "On the Radio" is likewise glum. It actually offended me on an aesthetic level. Luckily, it's followed up with a freestyle version of "Last Dance" by Masters At Work that really works and restored my faith in this collection.

Chromeo & Oliver have their fingers on the trigger for a happy-house mix of "Love Is in Control," already out to djs in an extended mix. The album version is just a 4-minute version of this song but it's distinctly a highlight. Holy Ghost's "Working the Midnight Shift" re-do is also a fairly inspiring and upbeat job of delivering the song to 2013 clubgoers and Donna fans.

Gigamesh's "Bad Girls" remix is a commendable remix but will hardly supplant the original version of the song in anyone's mind. Still, give it a spin, toot-toot beep-beep. "MacArthur Park," as remixed by Laidback Luke sounds impatient and clumsy as it gallops along loudly. Hot Chip's dub edit of "Sunset People" lost me at the starting gate.

The album ends in class and style, however, with "La Dolce Vita" mixed by Giorgio Moroder. 

The Boston Globe wrote: "Donna Summer was known as the “Queen of Disco,” but the Boston native was successful in several formats... the focus of “Love to Love You Donna"... is squarely on Summer’s triumphs under the glittering mirror ball." Yes, indeed.

Universal/UMC/ Spectrum in the U.K. have released Donna Summer: I Feel Love The Collection, as well. It gathers 19 of the diva's hits (radio edits) including the rarity, "Theme from The Deep" and '80 favorites like "Unconditional Love" and "She Works Hard for the Money." It also includes a second disc of seven extended 12" mixes, as well, that should impress fans.








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