Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Donna Summer - The Wanderer

Today (October 20th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of The Wanderer, the eighth studio album from Donna Summer and her first release on the Geffen Records label. This 1980 release spent eighteen weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 13. It also went to number 55 in the UK, number 54 in Germany, number 18 in Australia and Norway, number 16 in New Zealand, number 15 in Sweden, and number 12 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one opens with the title track. "The Wanderer", the lead single, found its way to number 48 in the UK, number 30 in the Netherlands, number 13 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 9 in Sweden, number 6 in Australia, number 5 in New Zealand, number 4 in Canada, and number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This song about a girl who likes to party all night (but does not experience any shame in that "morning walk of shame") has a bouncy beat with vocals delivered in a slinky, seductive style.

"Looking Up", the fourth single, failed to get notice on the charts. The song has a positive message about the benefits of an optimistic viewpoint.

The mid-tempo "Breakdown" tells the tale of a woman who is losing control in her life. It features a steady beat and strong synth riffs as well as traditional piano.

The B-side to the second single was "Grand Illusion". I like how the instrumental intro flows from speaker to speaker to set up a weird, sci-fi vibe. But I am not so much of a fan of Summer's usually angelic vocals being distorted in parts through some kind of electronic means; thankfully they are released a bit midway through the track.

"Running for Cover" was the B-side to the third single. This one has a clean, soft rock sound to it; she does very well with it.

Side two begins with "Cold Love", a track which earned Summer a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. As the second single, it was frozen at number 44 in the UK and number 33 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

"Who Do You Think You're Foolin'", the third single, failed to get past number 100 in Australia and number 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100. As with the previous track, one really has to be a student of the school of pop music (like I am) to remember this one after all these decades.

Things keep rocking with "Nightlife", a song about a woman who lives for wild and exciting evenings.

"Stop Me", the B-side to the first single, initially reminds me of David Bowie's "Young Americans"; both openings share a few similar attributes and sounds.

The album closer "I Believe in Jesus" garnered Summer a Grammy nomination for Best Inspirational Performance.

Back in high school, I only owned the 45 single for the title track. It wasn't until a number of years ago that I digitally purchased the entire album for my collection (when I was filling in on the recently departed singer's back catalog). This is one I definitely would have enjoyed completely back in the 80's.

For more from Donna Summer, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Had this one earmarked in case you missed it ;)

Did not recognize Donna Summer's voice when I first heard "The Wanderer" on the radio. Was pleasantly surprised upon finding out a couple of weeks later when I found the 45 which teased the forthcoming album of the same name on the back.

Liked the new direction of the music though the disco rock hybrid had been hinted at on the Bad Girls album and in particular the song "Hot Stuff" with the heavy metallic guitar licks, the throbbing four on the floor drums and new wavish synth lines.

My two favorite songs on The Wanderer are the title track and "Cold Love", though I appreciate the more personal lyrics and varied genres and tempos offered up on the album as a whole. From all accounts, Ms. Summer would fully bloom and blossom on her next project but execs shut it down before it even had a title and the project wouldn't see the light of day until 15 years later when it was released as I'm A Rainbow in 1996. And though it was released on the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack, I've always thought "Highway Runner" would have fit better on The Wanderer than on I'm A Rainbow.

Hopefully, I'm A Rainbow will see a 20th Anniversary review here on your site next year, Sir.

Spotify links:
Bad Girls
The Wanderer
I'm A Rainbow