Thursday, September 4, 2014

Donna Summer - Cats Without Claws

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Cats Without Claws, the twelfth studio album from Donna Summer. This 1984 release went to number 91 in Australia, number 84 in Canada, number 69 in the UK, number 39 in Germany, number 19 in the Netherlands, number 15 in Norway and number 10 in Sweden. Here in the US, it spent seventeen weeks on the Billboard Album chart with a top spot of 40, and it also went to number 24 on the Billboard R&B chart.

Side one starts with “Supernatural Love”. Released as the second single, it went to number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 51 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 39 on the US Billboard Dance chart. The mix of synths with guitars is a good combination.

“It’s Not the Way”, the B-side to the third single, is also a solid club track. It clearly shows that Summer was able to transition from her disco days over to the dynamic dance floors of the mid-80’s.

Summer delivers a powerful cover of the Drifters‘ 1959 hit “There Goes My Baby”. As the album’s first single, it went to number 52 in Australia, number 31 in Canada and the Netherlands, number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 20 on the US Billboard R&B chart. I remember this one from the radio airplay it received back in 1984; I think she does a great job making it her own.

Summer dispenses advice to a troubled girl with the mid-tempo “Suzanna”.

The title track “Cats Without Claws”, an urban coming-of-age story, closes the first half.

Side two begins with “Oh Billy Please”, a woman’s impassioned plea for a guy to return her love.

“Eyes”, the third single, charted in the UK for one week at number 97. The voyeuristic song very much has a European, new-wave sound to it.

“Maybe Its Over” was picked as the B-side to the first single. Gary Herbig’s saxophone gives the track a sorrowful aspect.

For “I’m Free”, the music looks to a Caribbean flavor. Summer’s vocals are up-lifting and inspiring.

“Forgive Me”, the closing track, won Summer a Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance. The piano arrangement is clean, giving the singer plenty of room to let her voice soar.

As a Donna Summer fan, I am surprised I missed out on most of Cats Without Claws back in the day. However, I was very happy to be able to hear this out-of-print album, thanks to YouTube.

For more Donna Summer, click here.

1 comment:

Mark said...

This album, along with 6 other Donna Summer albums, will be re-released in deluxe editions later this year:

I'm tempted to buy the box set.