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Summer Fever Pick for May 2016:

Four Seasons Of Love (1976)

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"An album for all seasons..." - Casablanca, 1977

Well, you know it had to happen - an album that contains a play on Donna's name. Talk about marketing possibilities! LOL I am of course talking about Four Seasons Of Love - a concept album that both lyrically and musically explores love from the beginning of a relationship to its end. Four Seasons starts logically enough with Spring Affair - an innocent string-laden crush that develops into the much hotter (not to mention sexier) bass and horn driven Summer Fever. But unfortunately the relationship is not meant to last, and in Autumn Changes things cool down, until finally we reach Winter Melody - a beautiful yet melancholy song about a love that's gone. But rather than leave the listener on a low note, Donna comes back with a reprise of Spring Affair - perhaps as a reminder that love will come again.

As concepts go - this one is pretty basic. Four seasons - four songs (not counting the reprise of course), but the thing about Four Seasons Of Love is that it is carried out so well. Rather than having an album with several distinctly separate tracks, all the songs on this album flow together into one non-stop music mix. (Well, ok - back in the 70s when vinyl ruled, you would have to physically turn over the record after Summer Fever. But I bet if Giorgio was mixing it now for CD, he'd seamlessly blend Summer Fever right into Autumn Changes.) As an added bonus - the music is all wrapped up in one of the most striking album covers of Donna's career. Today's diva-wannabes take note - the Four Seasons cover proves that you can be sexy AND classy at the same time.

So this month I invite you to revisit what Casablanca touted as "an album for all seasons" - Four Seasons Of Love.

 

Other Art:

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Click any image for a larger version
ad.jpg (224165 bytes) spring.jpg (73682 bytes) summer.jpg (87581 bytes)
Magazine3.jpg (18918 bytes) autumn.jpg (86300 bytes) winter.jpg (86424 bytes)
bwspring.jpg (27131 bytes) stuff.jpg (138590 bytes) donnasumjet.jpg (19699 bytes)

 

The Inspiration:

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If the "autumn" pictures of Donna look a little familiar, there is a good reason why.  They are based of the famous "blowing skirt" pictures of Marilyn Monroe from the movie Seven Year Itch. (Marilyn photo from marilynmonroe.com)

Click either image for a larger version.

marilyn.jpg (30310 bytes) alt.jpg (44168 bytes)

 

A Few Quotes:

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From the lady who brought you Love To Love You, Baby and A Love Trilogy, comes the definitive love album... Critics have called it "disco perfection" - Four Seasons of Love ... an album for all seasons.

- 1977 ad

FOUR SEASONS OF LOVE 

Like Donna Summer's previous American releases, Love to Love You Baby and A Love Trilogy, Four Seasons of Love is an extended exercise in ecstasy, but where the earlier albums had sustained their lush, throbbing title tracks for one entire side, pushing the long LP cut to its logical extreme, here the whole album is one continuous song cycle. Four Seasons traces the blossoming and eventual withering of a love affair from the exhilarating Spring Affair through the steamy, passionate Summer Fever and ominous Autumn Changes to a crisp, lovely end in Winter Melody, which blends back into a reprise of Spring and the promise of a new affair. The music is one unbroken landscape, interrupted only by the changing of sides.

Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, who produce Summer's records in Germany with the "Munich Machine," Europe's answer to MFSB, again mesh the orgasmic ebb and flow of lovemaking with the euphoric energy of disco dancing, creating the perfect pulsing back drop to Summer's breathy, seething vocals. The songs build and break, surging on clean sweeps of violins, but because they ease off before reaching a climax, Summer and the orchestra are able to keep it up indefinitely without dissipating the record's vibrant energy. For some, the format must seem confining, but on the dance floor or in the bedroom—Summer's main spheres of influence—this kind of creative foreplay is so rich in nuance and texture that other considerations are swept aside.

- Vince Aletti Rolling Stone issue 231

"The first single was Spring Affair, an effervescent pop concoction that was the most radio-friendly recording Donna had made to date. Summer coos and whispers the lyric over a thumping bass and drum track and a chorus of female background singers.

- Josiah Howard, Donna Summer: Her Life & Music (Tiny Ripple, 2003)

"On Summer Fever, Donna males the most of the decidedly sparse lyrics, only occasionally letting her vocals take center stage. The entire song is sung in her highest falsetto, and if it weren't for the obvious fact that the production was extended for discos, it would be on equal ground with Spring Affair as an inventive catchy track."

- Josiah Howard, Donna Summer: Her Life & Music (Tiny Ripple, 2003)

"In listening to Autumn Changes a lot recently I've noticed that it almost sounds like an early-mid 80s song during the part where Donna sings 'yes we can, oh sure we can....' It makes me think of Do You Really Want to Hurt Me (Culture Club) and has a lighter synth touch to it and an absence of the violin/strings that are present elsewhere. I had never paid attention to this part before and was surprised at this more 'modern' sound."

- SteveWrksHrd, posted on the Endless Summer forum April 15, 2003

"I used to dismiss Autumn Changes but I really love the production now. I agree with what you mean about the almost-reggae sounding bridge. The overall production is great, really tight with an almost latiny beat. "

- V16trola, posted on the Endless Summer forum April 16, 2003

 

The Tracks:

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(Click the icons for streaming MP3 clips)

1.  Spring Affair (D.Summer/ G.Moroder/ P.Bellotte)
2. Summer Fever (D.Summer/ G.Moroder/ P.Bellotte)
3. Autumn Changes (D.Summer/ G.Moroder/ P.Bellotte)
4. Winter Melody (D.Summer/ G.Moroder/ P.Bellotte)
5. Spring Reprise (D.Summer/ G.Moroder/ P.Bellotte)

 

Other Stuff:

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Four Seasons of Love came with a free 1977 calendar featuring pictures of Donna for all seasons. (See other artwork above)
Various items were available to fans to promote this album - including t-shirts, stand-ups, etc. You want to talk about a sign of the times? You could get all 4 available shirts for less than $20 (including postage)! Hey, you think if I mailed in the form they'd still honor that deal?  LOL
There are VERY rare promotional videos for Spring Affair, Autumn Changes and Winter Melody
Spring Affair and Summer Fever occasionally found their way into Donna's live shows even as recently as 1995 - usually as a medley.
Spring Affair and Winter Melody are usually the only songs from Four Seasons that appear on "greatest hits" compilations. The interesting thing is that American compilations will only have Spring Affair, but European collections will often have both. (I've always preferred Winter Melody myself - does that make me a closet European?  ;-) )
Four Seasons of Love peaked at #29 on the Billboard Album chart.

 

YouTube clips

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Thanks to all the YouTubers out there who keep the classic clips around.  :-)

 

Purchase Info:

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You can purchase Four Seasons Of Love at Amazon.com, Amazon UK  and other on and offline vendors. Or you can get it boxed with Love To Love You Baby and A Love Trilogy  in the Chronicles box set also available at Amazon, Amazon UK and other vendors.

 

     

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