Donna Summer - Mistaken Identity

Saturday 1st February 1992
Donna Summer - Mistaken Identity
Donna Summer - Mistaken Identity

RATING 6 6 6 6 6 6
LABEL: Eastwest 454

Reviewed by James Attlee

Donna Summer first hit big 17 years ago with her gold-selling debut disco classic 'Love To Love You Baby'. Back then many wrote her off as a puppet of her German whiz-kid producer Georgio Moroder, the man responsible for the first wave of Euro-disco. Since then she has confounded expectations by recording a string of platinum albums and sterling hit singles including the Quincey Jones produced classic "State Of Independence". Her position as Queen of Dsco took a bad knock, however, when anti-gay remarks (wrongly) attributed to her sparked off a backlash among her sizeable gay disco following. With the record set straight via a court case, Donna has returned with an album co-written and produced by Keith Diamond (Billy Ocean, Sheena Easton et al). The question is, how does a woman with her own teenage daughter poised to enter the business pitch it in a post-Madonna, post-Kylie world? Mellow out? Clue: for the album cover she's dyed her hair blonde and sports blue contact lenses and leather. Perhaps there's nothing here of the calibre of "State Of Independence" but I wouldn't rank Diamond with Quincey anyway. Donna Summer has one of the finest voices in contemporary black music and when it's allowed to shine through the slightly identikit grooves, still sends a shiver up the spine. The opener, "Get Ethnic" is a fine dance floor stomp. Why is a black woman who dyes her hair blonde so much more credible singing "it doesn't matter what skin you're in" than a black man who's bleached his skin and changed his features singing "it doesn't matter if you're black or if you're white"? Ask Jacko. The ballad "Heaven's Just A Whisper Away" allows that voice to insinuate itself around a love song in a way that bears out my earlier claims for its owner's singing abilities, although it almost gets drowned in schmaltzy strings at one point. "Friends Unknown" allows her to stretch out and reveal a pretty massive debt to gospel. For the rest, the lyrics are pretty much according to the gospel of the dance floor: "Work your body...everybody up on the dance floor now... Let there be love all over the the babies...". On "What Is It You Want" however, she reveals, "You know what? - I think I'm gonna run for President." -Donna, you got my vote.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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