Sunday, December 30, 2007

BBC Radio 2: Classic Singles - I Feel Love



Listen: BBC Radio 2: Classic Singles - I Feel Love


Just a couple of things to acknowledge before 2007 draws to a close. First of all, Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco herself turns, believe it or not, 59 on the 31st. Although some of her fans on the message boards out there might fuss about her weight and her wigs lately and, perhaps rightly, lament her recent snub by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; by all accounts, at nearly 60, the lady still sounds remarkable in concert. Not to mention, if there was ever a poster girl for "black don't crack," she'd be it.

Secondly, although I'm around eight months late for this, her seminal classic, one of the most iconic Summer/Moroder/Bellotte compositions, "I Feel Love" also turned 30 this year.. Although it was an anniversary that went relatively unacknowledged, its influence certainly has not. Reportedly called "the sound of the future" by Brian Eno upon hearing it for the first time, "I Feel Love" was one of the touchstones of not only disco, or even Donna Summer's career, but of the pop music landscape in general. Along with all the other groundbreaking electronic records of its time, its success seemingly opened the floodgates for all manner of electronic experimentation (and imitation) on the dancefloor and beyond, solidifying the legacy of its producer Giorgio Moroder, perhaps just as much, if not moreso than Donna herself. Arguably much of what could be considered 'electronic music' today owes a debt to its legacy...

Released in May 1977 and included on Donna's "I Remember Yesterday" (1977, Casablanca) LP, "I Feel Love" was, in my opinion, the one shining moment on what was likely the weakest of Donna's otherwise excellent string of disco concept albums. Although not necessarily a bad album, one couldn't help but feel that the whole time travel/nostalgia concept probably sounded much better on paper than on record. Between the cover and its unflattering deer-in-headlights photo of Donna, and a largely unconvincing mish-mash of disco styled nostalgia, "I Feel Love," the album's 'song of the future', with its powerful, pulsing sensuality, placed right at the end of the record, effectively obliterated everything else..

Granted, most people reading this are likely well aware of its significance, so consider this a little bit of preaching to the coverted, so to speak.. However, in honour of its 30th anniversary, I thought this might be a good opportunity to put up the audio from the Classic Singles documentary on "I Feel Love" by the good people at BBC Radio 2. The broadcast, which originally aired November 2005 (which I'd been holding on to ever since), runs approximately 30 minutes and gives what is probably one of the most recent and comprehensive overviews/tributes to this song that I know of. Hosted by the one and only Alison Goldfrapp, herself no stranger to the Moroder influence, the program runs like a documentary on not only the influence and making of "I Feel Love" itself, but also of Giorgio and his evolution as a producer up to that point.

Although not nearly as detailed and in-depth as Radio 2's "The Record Producers" doc on Nile Rodgers from nearly a year ago, they manage to cover a good bit of ground in its 30 minutes, with much of the program being devoted to Giorgio speaking in his own words. Although unfortunately Donna herself didn't take part in it, they included some choice confessionals from the likes of Jimmy Sommerville, Debbie Harry and the Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic, who manages to sneak in the best quote in the whole thing. I'm sure they could have easily gone an entire hour, but even within the 30 minutes, Giorgio still manages to shed some light on some pretty interesting points regarding the making of "I Feel Love" and his own feelings about its influence..

Although it has been argued that Giorgio could have had anyone sing "I Feel Love" and made it a hit, given the feel of Donna's essential yet often dismissed vocal stamp combined with her immense popularity at the time, it's doubtful whether any other combination could have made quite the same impact or created the same magic. Although not among her most explicit, "I Feel Love" still remains one of Donna's sexiest moments on record, with the effortlessly sensual caress of her voice providing the perfect counterpoint to the cool, mechanical precision of the music. Aside from groundbreaking, it's nonetheless a wonderfully sublime moment of shiny, glittering electro-eroticism; the hypnotic, throbbing pulse of its unforgettable bassline resonating today, just as it did thirty years ago.

Also, just in case anyone's in need of additional visual aid after all that, here's a wonderful vintage live performance of "I Feel Love," complete with synths and robot dance:




Donna Summer - I Feel Love (Live)
Uploaded by DonnaSummerVEVO


..and here's yet another, more recent (and more polished) live performance from her 1999 VH-1 "Live & More..Encore" special:




Donna Summer - I Feel Love (Live & More..Encore! - 1999)
Uploaded by EndlessDonna


PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #40: MUNICH MACHINE - A WHITER SHADE OF PALE (1978, CASABLANCA) (SUNDAY APRIL 29, 2007)
BBC RADIO 2 - THE RECORD PRODUCERS: NILE RODGERS (SATURDAY JANUARY 6, 2007)
NEW DEAL FOR DONNA (THURSDAY AUGUST 3, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #14: SUZI LANE - OOH LA LA (1979, ELEKTRA) (SATURDAY APRIL 8, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #5: GIORGIO MORODER - FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1977, OASIS/CASABLANCA) (FRIDAY FEBRUARY 3, 2006)
DONNA SUMMER - I GOT YOUR LOVE (MONDAY JANUARY 16, 2006)

PURCHASE:

DONNA SUMMER - THE DANCE COLLECTION CD (INCLUDES 'I FEEL LOVE' 12'' VERSION)
CD UNIVERSE | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.COM

DONNA SUMMER - BAD GIRLS (DELUXE EDITION) (2 CD) (INCLUDES 'I FEEL LOVE' 12'' VERSION)
AMAZON.COM | CD UNIVERSE

LINKS:
DONNA SUMMER TRIBUTE SITE
DONNA SUMMER - I FEEL LOVE @ WIKIPEDIA
DONNA SUMMER - I FEEL LOVE 12'' @ DISCOGS
DONNA SUMMER - I FEEL LOVE (PATRICK COWLEY REMIX) 12'' @ DISCOGS
DONNA SUMMER - I FEEL LOVE (PATRICK COWLEY REMIX) 12'' @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
DONNA SUMMER - I FEEL LOVE (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
DONNA SUMMER - FEEL LOVE @ ROLLING STONE
DONNA SUMMER - I REMEMBER YESTERDAY LP @ DISCOGS
DONNA SUMMER - I REMEMBER YESTERDAY LP (REVIEW) @ WARR.ORG
GIORGIO MORODER @ WIKIPEDIA
GIORGIO MORODER INTERVIEWS
GIORGIO MORODER @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
AND WE DANCED - I FEEL LOVE
SONGFACTS - I FEEL LOVE

CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, ARTICLES & RAMBLINGS, INTERVIEWS, DISCO NEWS, VISUAL DISCO

11 comments:

juana said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR TOMMY = FELIZ AÑO NUEVO TOMMY

Kenneth said...

There are quite a few songs I never grow tired of and this is definitely one of them. This is Giorgio at his best, electronic wise. You sure can hear the influences it has had on many records released over the years.
I just love it. It's also the very first 7" disco single I bought at the time. Unfortunately I don't have the realplayer installed, for some reason it has never agreed with me before the few times I've installed it, but just to hear the file, which sounds interesting, I'll give it another try. It's not the same computer either so I might be more successfull this time.
I hope you, and everyone else visiting your blog, have a Happy New (Disco) Year!

Michael B said...

What a milestone in popular music! Things started when the machines got soul.

ish said...

I visited New York City in the summer of 1977. Young and naive I ended up at the Gay Pride festival one weekend night. New York's village was different back then... a kind of night-time home to New York's gay community at bars tucked between the now-gone elevated west-side highway and now-gone dark looming piers of the riverfront. It was pre-AIDS gay culture at its height and blaring loudly from the sound-system at the festival was "I Feel Love." It was a kind of magic; and that song became the soundtrack to the time. Thirty years. Yikes!

DungeonDJ said...

I've heard this many times elsewhere (adding credence to your post) that the Moroder/Summer classic "I Feel Love" was the "Avant Garde" of avant garde, electro/synth music. The song certainly has an unprecedented staying power. It sounds as if it could've been recorded recently, well, as far as I'm concerned. I also agree that her album, "I Remember Yesterday", was probably the least popular of all her albums but, (I'm assuming) you unintentionally didn't clarify that, this is only a comparison to her (own) other albums. When compared to other albums from the same period, "I Remember Yesterday" was still a great album. The open, Title, track was on par with other groups (Dr. Buzzard, etc.) who were fusing the 40s Big Band sound with Disco. The songs "Back In Love Again" and "Love's Unkind", pay homage to the early 60s Rock sound without injuring either genre. Though I have this album, I don't think this biases me in pointing this out. As far as her being dissed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, well, I never took their politics too serious anyway. You're on the money with this post, 8 months late doesn't matter. Thanks again Tommy.

Tommy said...

Juana - Happy New Year to you too! :)

Kenneth - yeah, definitely one of Giorgio's best, most enduring moments.. I'm sorry you couldn't listen to the program though. I wish I knew a way to convert .ra to .mp3.. Anyway, I hope you'll be able to hear it soon. Thanks for the comment and a Happy New Year to you as well! :)

Michael B - A true milestone, indeed. Thanks for the comment!

Ish - Thanks for sharing your memories of the Summer of '77! If the documentary "Gay Sex In The 70's" was anything to go by, that along with what I remember Peter Shapiro saying in his book (The Secret History of Disco), there couldn't have been a more perfect song for that time and place. Thanks again!

Hey Dungeon, regarding "I Remember Yesterday," I can't really speak to the album's actual popularity, and even if it's far from my favourite I'd probably stop short of calling it awful, myself. I'd agree, her albums with Moroder/Bellotte, even "..Yesterday," hold up pretty well when compared to other albums from their time.

As far as comparing the album, I did try to place my opinion (par. 3, line 3) of "..Yesterday" within the context of Donna's other disco concept albums of the time (from 'A Love Trilogy' to 'Bad Girls,' 'Live & More' excepted, of course). Perhaps it didn't come across clear enough, but I really wasn't really aiming to compare outside of that.

Good point about the similarity with "Cherchez La Femme" though.. Although I thought the lyrics and concept were quite clever; come to think of it, I never really warmed up to that song either (practically sacrilege for a disco fan, I know..). So I suppose I'm a little biased in that regard.

Anyway, thanks as always for taking the time to comment. It's appreciated! :)

M.E. Grant said...

Donna, Giorgio and Alison Goldfrapp all together? I could have an eargasm!

Terry Miller said...

site looks fab tommy! happy new year!

s always your fan, terry

basso said...

wow - thanks for that vintage live performenace of "I feel love". This has always been one of my favourite disco tunes, but now after having seen her peform it that way -
it's my #1!
all the best for 2008,

basso @
thegrowingbin.blogspot.com

Tommy said...

M.E. Grant.. haha.. Alison's voice just about does it for me, I have to admit.. She's literally got the coolest speaking voice.

Hey Terry - Thanks and Happy New Year to you too! Glad to have you as a fan :)

Basso - No problem, glad you enjoyed it! Happy New Year to you too! :)

citinite said...

Thanks for posting the I Feel Love video here... This is a great site!

You can find my original article on this video here:
http://citinite.wordpress.com/2007/12/02/donna-summer/

Cheers!

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