Thursday, June 13, 2013

Donna Summer - She Works Hard For the Money

Ready to bounce back after 1982’s self-titled Donna Summer (click here for that review), the R&B singer released She Works Hard For the Money on this date (June 13th) in 1983. This eleventh studio album for Summer went to number 28 in the UK, number 27 in Japan, number 14 in Germany, number 12 in Norway, number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 200, and number 8 in Sweden.

Side one opens with the title track which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. “She Works Hard For the Money”, as the lead single, went to number 52 in Japan, number 26 in Ireland, number 25 in the UK, number 17 in the Netherlands, number 11 in Germany, number 9 in Norway and number 4 in Australia. Here in the US, it went to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance charts, and number 1 on the R&B chart. I owned a copy of this song on a 45 as I loved the strong dance beat and empowering lyrical message. The album cut features extended instrumental breaks, including Gary Herbig’s super saxophone solo.

“Stop, Look and Listen” was released as a UK single and charted at number 57. With an up-tempo synthesized groove, this song shines a spotlight on the struggles of poverty in our own backyards. I remember this one specifically from the 12 inch dance single remix that often played in clubs at the time.

“He’s a Rebel”, a jaunty rocker that sings the praises of Jesus, won Summer the Grammy award for Best Inspirational Performance. The horns riffs in the background are a really nice accent.

The B-side to the second single was “Woman”. The lyrics reflect a conversation between two girl friends with one giving the other advice on how to better serve her man. This one has a solid R&B groove to it.

Side two begins with “Unconditional Love”, a bouncy reggae track featuring Musical Youth. This second single went to number 57 in Australia, number 43 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 28 in Ireland, number 14 in the UK, and number 9 on the US R&B charts. It celebrates the no-strings-attached adoration of the Lord above.

Summer then performs a duet with gospel singer Matthew Ward on “Love Has a Mind of Its Own”. This beautiful piano-based ballad was released as US single, going to number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 35 on the R&B chart and number 19 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

“Tokyo”, with its R&B/synth blended swing, was the B-side to the UK released single.

“People, People” puts a bouncy beat to its lyrical request to return back to prayer.

The closing track “I Do Believe (I Fell in Love)” was also the B-side to the first single. I remember this ballad from flipping the 45 that I owned; it goes for that deep emotional connection and is delivered by Summer’s powerful and persuasive vocals.

She Works Hard For the Money certainly has a strong spiritual side to it, but it also sees Donna Summer returning back to her dance music roots as well. I think the blending of the two works very well in her favor.

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