The album with which Donna Summer made her boldest stab for the cross-over market, Bad Girls gets a wondrous dust down in Universal's Deluxe series. Boasting no fewer than four hit singles, it marked the end of the first phase of Summer's career when released in May 1979. Conventional rock had long viewed the double album as its greatest prize; now the disco diva who was first heard groaning in 1976, was to claim it back again from the Peter Framptons of this world, with this, her third twin set in a row.
Working with several different writing teams, overseen by long-term producer Giorgio Moroder, Bad Girls was Summer's first entirely American album. It's a huge 15-track work encompassing rock, soul, showbiz and electronica. The opening pairing of "Hot Stuff" (forever now associated with that signing-on line) and "Bad Girls" prepares you for the fact that this is a very special record.
The Moroder-controlled trilogy of "Our Love", "Lucky" and "Sunset People" -complete with its bizarre, unsettling time shifts -is where, beyond the key singles, the real beauty of the album remains: a music steeped in melancholy. Sharing an extremely similar feel to his then recently completed No.1 In Heaven with Sparks, these tracks are perfect advertisements for the lush sensuality of Moroder's arrangements, humanising machines in a manner that only Kraftwerk or, later Underworld, could attempt.
You can, at times, understand why the rock establishment hated this. Some of Bad Girls has a Seaside Special feel to it, demonstrating Summer's musical theatre upbringing; no matter how you strive to be kind, tracks such as "Love Will Always Find You" are simply weak vaudeville pastiches.
The second disc - apart from the 17m 35s' worth of the "MacArthur Park Suite", frankly too much cake (rain-sodden or not) for this listener to bear - proves why Summer is routinely cited as being the discerning disco goddess. The 8:15 original of ''I Feel Love'' proves to be the rightful high-water mark of her collaboration with Moroder. "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)'', her duet with Barbara Streisand and her first production without Moroder, is still possibly the gayest record of all-time.
Summer's voice is the revelation of this repackage; rich and emotive yet so long reduced only to the wails and whirrs of her big hits, it helped set the blueprint for the enormous diva vocals of Italian house. This is borne out further by the previously unreleased demo of "Bad Girls", which locates it totally as an R&B tune.
Bad Girls was the end of Donna Summer's heyday. Disco began to suck and she soon left Casablanca and Moroder. Where she will finally rest within the pop canon may be anyone's guess, but Bad Girls is a fantastic reminder of when she was the Britney, Christina, Mary J and Missy of her day all rolled into one. --Daryl Easlea
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