Despite what popular wisdom suggests, it was disco rather than punk that proved to be the key pop-cultural movement of the 1970s. Donna Summer remained one of its totemic figures throughout her career, via a succession of genre-defining collaborations with writer/producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte.
The perception of disco as a producer-driven idiom led to widespread dismissal of Summer as simply a cipher upon with Moroder and Bellotte projected their creative vision. Yet for someone who, twice in two years, helped change the idea of dance music forever, her contribution was somewhat undervalued.
Moroder may have developed Love To Love You Baby from Summer's hook into the soft-porn, prog-R'n'B epic that became the foundation of Eurodisco, but it's difficult to picture any of her immediate peers committing to the concept quite so whole-heartedly. Likewise, you'll search in vain for Patti, Chaka, Aretha or Diana's equivalent of I Feel Love, a record that more closely resembled Tangerine Dream than anything on the Billboard R&B charts.
Summer was astute enough to recognise that Moroder's introduction of concept-album values to disco offered not only a showcase for her spectacular voice, but also the platform for an enduring career. Because Summer never completely abandoned the dancefloor, crawling from the wreckage of disco never became the issue that it was for other acts of the era.
And when tastes changed in her favour, she was perfectly poised for a late-period career flourish that returned her to the charts and secured her lifetime disco-diva status.
Paul McGee @Paul_McGee
3:31 PM | 18/05/2012
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