The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Summer Fever Pick for June 2016:

I Remember Yesterday (1977)

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"There's something inside that I just can't hide..."

If Four Seasons Of Love is Donna's first concept album, then I Remember Yesterday is the second. Eight tracks take the listener on a journey through time and love making stops in the Big Band era, the 60s Motown era and beyond - culminating in the futuristic I Feel Love. And one of the wonderful things about the songs is their diversity. They all flow together and work as a unit without sacrificing each song's distinct style - and that allows Donna's versatility to shine through the whole record.

Probably for the first time since Love To Love You Baby, Donna gets to truly express her range as an artist. She moves effortlessly from the warm low tones of Can't We Just Sit Down up to the high falsetto of Take Me, from the innocent playfulness of Back In Love Again to the worldly toughness of Black Lady, and from the nostalgia of the title track to the futuristic I Feel Love. If there were people who thought of Donna as merely a one trick pony, then this album proved how wrong they were, and in so doing, paved the way for the future successes of Once Upon A Time and Bad Girls. In my opinion, I Remember Yesterday marks the turning point from Queen of Love to multi-dimensional recording artist. So this month I invite you to relive the magic of I Remember Yesterday.

 

Other Art:

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A Few Quotes:

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I Remember Yesterday finally revealed Summer as not just a centerfold gasp but a brassy pop/soul stylist in the Bette Midler-Melissa Manchester mold. But the album's signal achievement was I Feel Love, in which they underlined Summer's dreamy vocals with jittery, diamond-hard synthesizer rhythms accented by a whiplash.

- Rolling Stone January 12, 1978

I Remember Yesterday was a random sampler of twentieth-century pop vocal styles, from the Hollywood "jazz age" title track to the electronic reverie of "I Feel Love," the album's biggest single. 

- Rolling Stone, March 23, 1978

Side 1's playful take on music of the past makes the listener realize that Donna can deliver. Whether it's a salute to the Big Band Sound (I Remember Yesterday), The Supremes (Back In Love Again), or a trip to a German Beer Garden (Love's Unkind), in these songs Donna is having a blast of a good time and is taking us all along.

- Ken Allan, March 2001

Cut of the month is Love's Unkind a remake of Then He Kissed Me that I prefer to the original for the way it's solo saxophone opens a window in the wall of sound.

- Robert Christgau, critic for The Village Voice

I had worked with Donna Summer on what I would consider conventional disco albums before even thinking of using a  synthesizer. We were going after a concept album, as in I Remember Yesterday where we deliberately utilized techniques of the past to key each song to a different time- one from the '30s, another from the '40s; one with the Motown sound, another like Phil Spector. When we decided on a futuristic sound I thought the only way was to use a synthesizer. It's nearly impossible to compose with a synthesizer. By its nature, improvisations are much easier, so I went into the studio and recorded I Feel Love as it was composed. All I used was an electronic bass line and an electronic drum. That's the big  difference between normal and electronic recording. With a normal recording we start with four or five musicians to lay down the rhythm tracks, then we add all the dubs. With electronic music I start with the bass line. I know the first 64 bars are a certain amount of chords and I start laying down the bass line with these chords. Then I put on a second sound, a polyphonic sound, which fills in the whole thing. Then I add particulars- most of the time electronic drums- and then slowly start doing the overdubs and all the little effects. The last thing is the melody. With I Feel Love the melody came to me as I repeated the bass line. The whole composition and recording process took a little more than a day. None of us thought it would become such a huge hit, let alone change the face of disco as it did.

- Giorgio Moroder, Feature Magazine 1979

On I Feel Love:

I had already had experience with the original Moog  synthesisers, so I contacted this guy who owned one of the large early models. It was all quite natural and normal for me. I simply instructed him about what programmings I needed. I didn't even think to notice that for the large audience this was perhaps a very new sound. We did the whole thing in a day

- Giorgio Moroder, New Musical Express December 1978

BONUS AUDIO CLIP: David Bowie talking about I Feel Love on VH1's Disco Explosion, 1996
BONUS AUDIO CLIP: VH1's 100 Greatest Dance Hits segment on I Feel Love featuring comments by Giorgio Moroder, Tom Moulton and Donna. Narrated by Harry Anderson.
I heard I Feel Love on the radio yesterday...and I swear that could be a hit if it were released today. It STILL sounds fresh and new... still ground-breaking.

- Eldo Estes, AOL messageboard March 21, 2002

On I Feel Love:

Giorgio brought me these popcorn tracks he'd recorded and I said, "What the hell is this, Giorgio?" I finished it sort of as a joke.

- Donna Summer, Rolling Stone March 23, 1978

I Feel Love was in its own time cutting-edge. As simple as that song is, people still regard it as a forerunner of a whole movement.

We tried to write other lyrics to the song, but it just crowded the beauty of what it was technologically. It's simple – just the lyric "I feel love", but it's something that anybody can sing, all over the world.

- Donna Summer, The Telegraph June 24, 2004

On I Feel Love:

You know when Pete Bellotte and I began writing that song we started with a lot of words and then we hit on ‘I feel love’ and realized that was it. It was like a chant. And then the rest we wrote in like two minutes and we looked at each other and I said ‘Pete I think that’s it’ and I was kind of difficult to go ‘is that really it?’ Could it be that simple? But that was it. It’s like when you’re doing a painting – you just have to know when to stop cause if you keep going it just becomes a mess. But I Feel Love was just one of those songs where we knew it didn’t need too much humanity to it because it was all about the technology. I mean you guys hear all this new stuff all the time now – but you have to understand that at the time there was nothing like it, nothing. It was very seductive and right on the cutting edge of the technology of the time, because Giorgio was obsessed with all the new machines coming out. And just the excitement of that – you can still feel that in the song.

- Donna Summer, Attitude August 2004

 

The Tracks:

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Click the audio icon to hear any clip in streaming MP3 format

1.  I Remember Yesterday  (D. Summer/ G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)
2. Love's Unkind (D. Summer/ G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)
3. Back In Love Again (D. Summer/ G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)
4. I Remember Yesterday (Reprise) (D. Summer/ G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)
5. Black Lady (D. Summer/ G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)
6. Take Me (D. Summer/ G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)
7. Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over) (T. Cauley)
8. I Feel Love (D. Summer/ G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)

 

Video:

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The TV commercial

I Remember Yesterday

Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over)

 

Other Stuff:

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Believe it or not, when I Feel Love was first released as a single, it was the b-side to Can't We Just Sit Down. Radio deejays flipped the record over and the rest is history.
Back In Love Again has the same melody as a previous single, Something's In The Wind. (See below.)
Nearly 20 years after it's initial release in 1977, I Feel Love was remixed and released again as a maxi-single in Europe. (See below.)
The phrase "wherever you go take a little Summer with you" made its first appearance in the I Remember Yesterday liner notes.
I Feel Love became Donna's second top 10 hit in the US.
In 1999, I Feel Love was used as a basis for mixes of I Will Go With You (the Club 69 Trippy Dub) 
and Love Is The Healer (Eric Kupper's I Feel Healed mix).
Madonna covered I Feel Love in her 2006 tour - which got Donna lots of mentions in the press lat the time  :-)
When I Remember Yesterday was remastered following Donna's death, an alternate demo version of Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over) was used. You can hear a sample at the iTunes store.

 

Bonus Picks:

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I Feel Love maxi-single 1995
1. Rollo & Sister Bliss Monster Mix
2. Masters At Work 86th St. Mix
3. Summer '77 Re-Eq '95
4. Melody Of Love Junior Vasquez DMC mix
Denver Dream single 1974
1. Denver Dream (P. Bellotte)
2. Something's In The Wind (G. Moroder/ P. Bellotte)

*Note, there are bootlegs of these songs in circulation that are slightly sped up. The clips I posted are played at the correct speed. (For the fan mixers and other techno geeks who have MP3s of the sped up version that you want to fix, I found that stretching the songs with a ratio of 103.4 was pretty close to perfect. Yes I am a super-geek.  LOL)

 

Purchase Info:

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 This one is out of print - well the CD is anyway.  But you can find used copies for sale at Amazon US, Amazon UKGemm.com, Musicstack or eBay.  Having said that, Amazon US and Amazon UK list a German box set that includes Love To Love You, A Love Trilogy and I Remember Yesterday - but you will find that it is rather scarce and high priced. Now if you don't mind a downloaded copy, hit iTunes or Amazon's MP3 store [US, UK] and you can grab the tracks for a reasonable price.

 

     

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