Friday, April 25, 2014

Donna Summer - Bad Girls

Today (April 25th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Bad Girls, the double-record seventh studio album from Donna Summer. It spent forty-nine weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, including six weeks at the number 1 spot. It also reached number 24 in the Netherlands, number 23 in the UK, number 9 in Japan, number 7 in Germany, number 6 in Australia, number 3 in Norway, New Zealand and Sweden, and number 1 in Canada and on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one ignites with "Hot Stuff", a song about lusty yearnings. As the first single, it went to number 14 in Ireland and the Netherlands, number 12 in Japan, number 11 in the UK, number 10 in France, number 8 in Belgium, number 7 in New Zealand, number 5 in Germany, number 3 in Austria, on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 2 in Italy, Norway and Sweden, and number 1 in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the US Billboard Dance chart. Thanks to a thumping beat and a smoking guitar riff, the song won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. It was ranked number 104 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time and number 67 on Billboard magazine's list of the Greatest Songs of All-Time.

The second single "Bad Girls" reached number 14 in the UK, number 13 in Sweden, number 9 in Germany, number 8 in Norway, and number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, Dance and R&B charts. This quintessential disco song paid tribute to street-corner prostitutes; the lyrics were inspired by a police officer who mistook one of Summer's assistants for a lady of the evening.

The opening of "Love Will Always Find You" has a bit of a Latin flavor to it thanks to the horns.

"Walk Away", as a single, went to number 36 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 35 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The song is about having the strength to put an end to a relationship when it is time to, even if there are some lingering feelings left.

Side two bows in with "Dim All the Lights". This third single peaked at number 44 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 29 in the UK, number 25 in Germany, number 13 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance chart. I have always liked how this one goes from slow to fast in the matter of a single verse. And I get goose bumps whenever Summer holds those big long notes.

"Journey to the Center of Your Heart" is next. The title brings to mind the Jules Verne sci-fi classic Journey to the Center of the Earth. The keyboards give the song a bit of a cosmic flair.

The funky "One Night in a Lifetime" is all about a one-night stand of passion.

The first half of the record concludes with "Can't Get to Sleep at Night", a song about a long distance relationship.

Side three opens with the pledge of the country ballad "On My Honor".

"There Will Always Be a You" was the B-side to the third single.

The string of ballads continues with the intimate "All Through the Night".

The mid-tempo piano-based "My Baby Understands" rounds out the set. I like how it builds slowly.

Side four starts with the bouncing beats of "Our Love". My favorite part is the bridge where it is just the percussion and Summer's vocals.

"Lucky" is next. Again, we get some trippy cosmic keyboards at work here.

The album's final track "Sunset People" charted at number 46 in the UK and number 42 in the Netherlands. Here we get a full six and a half minute version of this song about those who spend their evenings on the Sunset Boulevard of Los Angeles.

Being a huge disco fan, Bad Girls is a must-have. While I did not own a copy back in the day (double albums were expensive for teenagers on a fixed allowance), I did get most of the major hits from it when I got my copy of On The Radio in December of 1979 for Christmas.

A few years ago, I did purchase this album digitally when I was filling in on my Donna Summer collection. One touch I like here is how the dance tracks often roll seamlessly into the next; that is a great production trick to keep the listener engaged for the entire side.

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