The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Summer Fever Pick for May 2018:

Live & More (1978)

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It's a magical mystical night... 

OK, confess! How many of you just automatically said to yourself (or out loud), "and you know, you're also on a live recording"? I know every one of you hardcore fans out there did! You can't fool me!  LOL And I bet some of you even started singing Try Me! (Those of you reading this at work probably got some pretty strange looks from your co-workers too! LOL)

Now for you brand new fans out there, let me make it clear that this month I'm showcasing the 1978 album called Live & More and not the 1999 album/video Live & More Encore. (Look for the 99 album to be showcased another time.) The titles are similar and the concepts are the same, but they are two different records. And just so you know, when I talk about Live & More, on the site or on the message boards, for the most part I refer to the original vinyl release and not the CD version - which has some significant differences. Maybe I'm showing my age, but this time the magic truly is in the grooves of the vinyl, whereas I find the changes made to the CD release to be extremely annoying.

Live & More is the first Donna Summer album I ever got. I bought it for one song that I had heard on TV and fallen in love with, Mimi's Song, but I quickly discovered all the other gems on it. Because it was my first Donna album, to me all those live songs were the "original" versions and later when I got Donna's previous albums, I had to get used to the studio versions. To this day I still prefer the live version of Try Me. And to this day there is still magic in that vinyl. Whenever I take out my well worn copy of Live & More, I am instantly transported back to 1978 - back to a time when a 14 year old kid stood there in the local department store wondering if this album by a woman she hardly knew of was worth blowing all that allowance money on. (It was and since then I've blown quite a few allowances on Donna with no regrets yet.  :-) ) So this month I invite you to relive the album that started it all for me - Live & More.

 

Other Art:

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These are the other pictures that appeared on the vinyl release. The one in the upper left, was also used as the cover for the CD release.

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The gold record

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Best Of Live & More
 picture disk

 

A Few Quotes:

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The famous "more more more" fans expressing their approval at the end of Last Dance.
The "magical mystical night" intro to Try Me.
So how does disco sound live? Well, when you have the good sense to use the same engineers who painstakingly created your highly electronicized recordings in the studio for on-the-spot recording at the Hollywood Bowl, the results can sound surprisingly right. Sides one and three of the two-record Live and More concert set on Casablanca are filled with Donna Summer's top disco hits. Included are three songs from her classic album Once Upon A Time - the title song, Fairy Tale High and Faster And Faster - all done at a faster tempo than the originals. Judging from the crowd's enthusiastic response, the song everyone at the concert has been waiting for was Last Dance (there's a wonderful moment when what sounds like the entire audience, knowing the arrangement by heart, anticipates the return of the uptempo section of the song with a great roar).

- Edward Buxbaum, Stereo Review Feb 1979

What surprises me is how well the songs hold up to listening without dancing. There's a richness of melody in them and an attention to the lyrics that most disco lacks.

- Edward Buxbaum, Stereo Review Feb 1979

Donna talking about MacArthur Park on CNBC Talk Live, 1991
But the arrangement [of MacArthur Park] is high pop artistry, Donna sings the pants off it, and the two new Summer/Pete Bellotte/Giorgio Moroder songs woven into it (making it the MacArthur Park Suite) - One Of A Kind and Heaven Knows - are simply terrific.

- Edward Buxbaum, Stereo Review Feb 1979

It's very simple. The songwriter, Jimmy Webb, was in love with a girl, and they went for a walk in MacArthur Park. She says, "Look, we have been together for a long time now; you have to marry me." She proposes. He says no. She meets somebody else that she was keen on. Now MacArthur Park is what? It's where he lost her. So he goes back and sees the old men playing checkers under the trees, and the cake is the wedding cake. . . .  The wedding cake that he blew. It's melting in the rain. And he will never have that recipe again

- Richard Harris, Premieremag.radicalmedia.com, 1995

On I Feel Love performed live:

Then, almost as though she finds Giorgio's mesmerizing "popcorn tracks" too confining, she begins to sing, "Feel it!" on the offbeat, gradually transforming the song into a fevered gospel and bolting into a coltish dance. I'm reminded of that moment at the end of Once Upon A Time's second side, when, after fifteen minutes of brilliant electronic tension, Cinderella's dream - to be free of the machines - true, signaled by an acoustic piano flourish. The first time I heard that, I thought of Metropolis, Fritz Lang's archetypal science-fiction film about man's revolt against the machines, and its simple maxim: "The mediator between the mind and the machine must be the heart."

- Mikal Gilmore Rolling Stone March 23, 1978

He got me to sing [Last Dance] by coming to Puerto Rico, where I was performing, and he literally cornered me in that bathroom with his cassette recorder. I'm in the bathroom, I don't know, putting on makeup or doing whatever, and he turns around, locks the door and whips out this cassette recorder and says "Now you're gonna listen to my song." I said, "I don't believe it." I said, "Paul, you're crazy, you're nuts." Now my boyfriend is outside the door, not knowing what the heck is going on in this bathroom. And I'm in there for a long time. And I'm hysterical laughing, cause it's hysterical. So anyways, I liked the song and I said when I come back I'll do it.

I knew it was a winner, and when I sang it, I fell just, like, under a spell for awhile. I couldn't stop singing that song. And it was contrary, because usually I don't listen to any of my tapes after I've recorded them. The first week after they're recorded I usually put them away and I don't listen to them anymore. Last Dance I listened to for,  I don't know. I used to put it in the car and drive with it down Mulholland, blaring loud in the car, and singing. I could just sense that song was going to be a hit.

- Donna Summer, The Hot Ones (radio interview) March 6, 1983

Donna talking about Last Dance on The Maury Povich Show in 1993.
Donna talking about Last Dance on Later with Greg Kinnear in 1995.
Of all the songs from those days, I probably still feel most connected to Last Dance. I sing it and it brings tears to my eyes.  For me it's become a poignant song. There were a lot of people in my life at that time who are not with us anymore. It's like I'm singing to the memory of people who are special to me.

- Donna Summer, DMA December 1994

DMA: What would you say is the highlight of your career?

DS: Probably when Last Dance won the Oscar.

DMA: That was a great moment...

DS: For Paul Jabara. I was very proud of him and happy for him and very happy to have sung that song and very happy he trapped me in the bathroom and made me listen... very happy for all of it. That was probably the high point..."

- Donna Summer, DMA July 1997

Donna and Paul Jabara accepting an American Music Award for Last Dance in 1979. 

 

The Tracks:

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

1. Once Upon A Time (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
2. Fairy Tale High (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
3. Faster And Faster (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
4. Spring Affair (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
5. Rumour Has It (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
6. I Love You (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
7. Only One Man (D.Summer/B.Conti/V.Weber)
8. I Remember Yesterday (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
9. Love's Unkind (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
10. My Man Medley:
The Man I Love (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin)
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good (D.Ellington/P.Webster)
Some Of These Days (S.Brooks)
 



11. The Way We Were (A.Bergman/M.Bergman/M.Hamlish)
12. Mimi's Song (D.Summer/V.Weber)
13. Try Me I Know We Can Make It (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
14. Love To Love You, Baby (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
15. I Feel Love (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
16. Last Dance (P.Jabara)
17. (vinyl release) MacArthur Park Suite
MacArthur Park (J.L.Webb)
One Of A Kind (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
Heaven Knows (D.Summer/G.Moroder/P.Bellotte)
MacArthur Park (Reprise) (J.L.Webb)
 




17. (CD release) Theme From The Deep (D.Summer/ J.Barry)
BONUS CLIP: Heaven Knows by The Brooklyn Dreams from their Sleepless Nights album (1979) and their Music Harmony And Rhythm CD (1996).
FULL SONG BONUS: Donna singing an acoustic version of Last Dance on The Maury Povich Show in 1993.
FULL SONG BONUS: Donna singing Mimi's Song on the Tonight Show in 1978. THIS is what got me started on this journey.  :-)

 

Video

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A few videos courtesy of CasablancaBook TV.
Check them out on YouTube then check out the book. :-)

Live & More mixing session

The Deep TV commercial

MacArthur Park

 

Other Stuff:

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Donna was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female for MacArthur Park, and she won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance Female for Last Dance.
Last Dance won the Oscar for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture. Just a note - the award went to Paul Jabara, not Donna. (The award always goes to the songwriter instead of the performer - which is a good thing because I don't know how they would hand an award to an animated character every time Disney won in that category!  LOL)
1979 was declared the Year Of The Child and in honor of that, there was a concert to benefit UNICEF. A number of top pop acts donated one of their songs to the cause at the televised concert. Donna's contribution was Mimi's Song and she brought Mimi with her for the performance. ("Mimi it's bedtime - say goodnight....."  ;-) )
MacArthur Park was Donna's first number one single in the US.
Donna was the first female artist in history to hit with three solo number one singles in one year - that streak started with MacArthur Park. And she is the only artist to have three number one double albums in a row - that streak started with Live & More.
Heaven Knows was originally called Baby Please. There is an alternate version of it recorded by the Brooklyn Dreams with Donna and Joe Esposito switching parts.
According to an article in Ebony Magazine (October 1977), Thank God It's Friday was originally titled After Dark.
Donna's sisters Mary and Dara Bernard, along with Carlena Williams formed a group called Sunshine and they recorded an album that was produced (or co-produced) by Donna. The album was called Watchin' Daddy Dance, and unfortunately it never got released. But one song did manage to escape the vault and find its way on to the Thank God It's Friday soundtrack. (See the Bonus Picks below.)

 

Bonus Picks:

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Thank God It's Friday (1978)

I remember going to the movie theater back in 78 or 79 to see a double feature of Saturday Night Fever and Thank God It's Friday. I remember that SNF seemed like it was 10 hours long - probably because I was eager to see Donna in TGIF and because I had already  seen SNF the weekend before. SNF finally ended, there was a short intermission and the next thing I knew Love & Kisses' Thank God It's Friday started playing as the various movie characters were shown in turn getting ready for their big night at the disco. I will never forget that when Donna walked into the shot, the entire theater went absolutely NUTS! You would have thought she was there in person!

As movies go, TGIF wasn't a great masterpiece, but it was fun and it has an awesome soundtrack. With artists like Paul Jabara, Diana Ross, Thelma Houston, The Commodores and of course Donna, it couldn't miss. And most importantly, the soundtrack introduced us to a song that would become Donna's signature song - Last Dance.

But Last Dance is not the only Donna song on the album. TGIF is one of the very few places you will find With Your Love, and until very recently, it was the only place you could find  Donna's recording of Je T'Aime. If that's not enough reason to run out and find this album, then you collectors take note of this: TGIF contains the ONLY Sunshine song to ever escape the vault - Take It To The Zoo

Now I do have to warn you about one thing. When TGIF was finally released on CD for the first time, it was incomplete. It was issued on one disk that was missing a number of songs - including Je T'Aime.  Later, it was reissued as a two disk set that brought back all the songs. It's getting harder to find either version these days, so if you see it then grab it. The video, however, seems to be more readily available.

Donna-related Tracks:

With Your Love
Last Dance
Last Dance (reprise)
Je T'aime (Moi Non Plus)
Take It To The Zoo (by Sunshine)

Thank God It's Friday is available for sale in several different configurations:

1 CD soundtrack album now out of print.

2 CD soundtrack album also out of print.

DVD available at Amazon.com.

 

 

The Deep (1977)

What can I say about The Deep that is Donna-related? Well not much really, the only connection is that she sings two tracks on the movie soundtrack. Actually, make that two versions of the same song. The Theme From The Deep (Down Deep Inside) is a pleasant mid-tempo dance track that got more attention in Europe than it did here in the US. It is paired with a Love Theme version of Down Deep Inside which is meant to be a "ballad" version. The idea of a love theme was a good one, however the execution was flawed. It sounds like they slowed down the instrumental track of the original version and then had Donna put new vocals over that.  To be honest - that always drove me crazy!

The Deep soundtrack was never released on CD, but you can sometimes find used vinyl copies for sale - sometimes even in the original blue vinyl! But you can get the original version of Down Deep Inside on the CD version of Live & More.

Down Deep Inside
Down Deep Inside (Love Theme)

*The Deep is out of print, but you may be able to find a copy on eBay, Gemm or Musicstack.

 

 

Purchase Info:

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You can purchase Live & More at Amazon.com, Amazon UK, and other on and offline vendors.  (Quantities are limited and may have longer than usual shipping times - which leads me to  believe that the album will be out of print soon.)

     

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