Bad Girls

Donna Summer

Casablanca, 1979

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Before Madonna became the dance floor’s reigning queen, we had Donna Summer to keep the disco ball turning. It’s no mere coincidence that Madonna would take a cue from Miss Summer when she blended all the songs on her latest album Confessions On A Dance Floor into one seamless extended dance mix.

Yes, even before Prince took his own double -- and sometimes triple -- albums to the level of the art form, we had Summer to thank for delivering one impressive sprawling album statement after another. And her eighth album, Bad Girls, was where Donna’s music career really took flight. Aided once again by her stalwart producers Moroder and Bellotte, she took this collection of disco tracks straight to the top of the charts. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Yes, there are some places where the genre begins to sound repetitive and wears a little thin, but collectively, it remains her most successful and memorable album to date.

Sides Two and Four are the best sequences on Bad Girls. Many people will be most familiar with Side One, which contains the No. l hits “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls,” but they are doing themselves a disservice by not paying more attention to the many other great songs that follow. The best thing I can say about “Hot Stuff” is that it showed Donna Summer in a rock and roll mode of sorts and pointed to the direction her subsequent release, The Wanderer, would take.

Though it is a lesser known single, “Walk Away” is a song that I have grown to love. It is immediately followed by the dramatic “Dim All The Lights,” which starts out with a slow intro that gives way to another burst of high-energy dance music. Rounding out this impressive trio of tunes is the galloping “Journey To The Center Of Your Heart,” a track that deserves more attention. Things start to drag somewhat during the ballad stretch, though they do cement Summer as the premier female vocalist of that period. Especially heartfelt and affecting is “There Will Always Be A You.”

Just as she did with I Remember Yesterday, Donna saved the best for last on Bad Girls.  This time around, she’s got three amazing cuts to close things out on the strongest possible note. The first, “Our Love,” is right up there with “I Feel Love” as one of the best all-time Summer songs. Whenever Moroder broke out his secret weapon, the synthesizer, you just knew things were bound to get interesting. Adding to this excitement is “Lucky” and the long version of “Sunset People.”

Disco may have run its course by 1980, and I may have been too young back then to enjoy the hedonistic night life firsthand, but whenever I listen to Bad Girls I can imagine what fun it all must have been, and what it would have been like to hear the reigning queen at the top.

Rating: A-

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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.