I Remember Yesterday

Donna Summer

Casablanca, 1977

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/23/2007

When Donna Summer first broke onto the music scene with the extended orgasm known as “Love To Love You Baby,” few would predict just how much staying power this blossoming diva would have. Not only did she exceed everyone’s expectations and have a lengthy music career, she was one of the few disco artists to survive into the 80s. 

Then everything changed. She started renouncing her decadent past, turned her back on her sizeable gay fan base and become a born-again Christian. By 1984, Donna had shifted her focus back to her family and would only record when she needed to for financial reasons. 10 years later, she would begin to perform periodically, even inviting back her gay fans as a mea culpa. After all, they were the ones who, let's face it, had made her the Queen of Disco. nbtc__dv_250

Donna’s fifth album, I Remember Yesterday, takes the listener on a journey through time.  The swingin’ title track leads things off and makes one wants to dance the Charleston in their living room. Longtime producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte must have really liked this song, since it is featured twice. Although it did become a single, it is a little too campy to be truly essential.

Next up is a pair of tunes that sound as though they come straight out of the 60s girl-group era. With its backdrop of saxophones and strings, “Love’s Unkind” is a definite standout, and the Supremes sound-alike “Back In Love Again” is irresistible right down to its simple refrain of “Ooh, baby.”

The second half of I Remember Yesterday charters a course to more familiar disco territory, albeit with a slightly more soulful edge. Fans of R&B will dig the funky “Black Lady,” especially when it comes to Donna’s full-bodied vocal performance. The song “Take Me” is a more straightforward dance number, with just the right combination of grit and polish.

The break-up ballad “Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over)” comes at just the right point, giving the listener enough time to catch their breath and recharge their batteries for the big finish -- which is the first pop song to feature the Moog synthesizer as the sole instrument, “I Feel Love.” This influential track is essential listening in so many ways; it was ahead of its time and is still regarded by some as the "sound of the future." But more importantly, it never gets old -- and is getting its due recognition by being included in many Best Songs Of All Time lists.

Moroder would attempt to duplicate the feel and success of “I Feel Love” with subsequent Donna Summer projects, but this would prove to be an exercise in futility. Not only does "I Feel Love" make its album an instant classic, it is her finest song of Summer's entire catalog, and comes on an album that, for the most part, measures up.

 

Rating: B+

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Casablanca, and is used for informational purposes only.