| "It's in every woman to be seductive, be she a teacher or a whore!"|
GETTING A record banned by the dear of BBC is as surefire a way of getting a hit as I know of and it's a route that has proven to be immensely popular over the years. However, it is fairly rare for a soul-oriented record to gain this dubious accolade! A current recipient of that back-handed compliment is the eloquent Ms. Donna Summer and she is amused by the whole thing because she really can't see what all the fuss is about.
"How do I feel about it?" she answered with a smile in her voice when we finally tracked her down during her heavy schedule in sunny Los Angeles. "I'd say it's the best thing that could have happened for the record because it will get a lot more publicity than it would have otherwise done. I think you'll find people curious enough to go out now listening for the record. But I truly don't understand what the problem is unless people have got dirty minds and hear something in there that I didn't intend.
"From my days in London, I remember things like the dirty strip clubs in Soho why don't these people turn their attention to that
kind of thing because that's a million times more damaging than
my record. Alter all. what is wrong with making love it isn't as vicious and negative as some small-minded people obviously think it is…and unless you have experienced making love, how can you talk about it on the strength of what other people say?
"Sex can be beautiful but I honestly didn't think of the sex aspect when I made the record."
The press reports built around the record suggested that the sultry lady was thinking of her boyfriend Pete when making the record and. though this makes for an even more dynamic press-release, it is quite a distance from the truth.
"I actually found it very hard to sing," she admitted. "Basically because I sing heavier and at first I found myself singing it too loud. When we first started, there were no. words other than "Love To Love You Baby" so I made it up as it went along, in the hope that what I was saying fitted the mood of the music. It took four and a half hours in all just to put my vocal track on — and I ended up handling it the way it is. And that's just about the only way it could be put across.
"It got me to such a point that I threw everybody out of the studio except my producer and he calmed me down by telling me just to sing it the way I felt it, rather than the way I felt it should be sung. Let's face it, it's in every woman to be seductive — whether she is a teacher or a whore.
"Do you know something, people — have actually asked me if I was touching myself when I was singing! But to produce that sound I had to concentrate on just that and I wouldn't have been able to do it with any kind of distraction. Then I thought about it more and I now answer that I was seduced during the session that's what they want to hear — but the smile vanishes when I explain that I, was seduced by the music! Now I have got so used to it that I can sing it that way without really thinking — it comes naturally to me."
Donna has a history of controversy when it comes to making records because her first European hit was entitled "The Hostage" and dealt with the sore subject of a kidnapping victim. "Actually, the song is a very interesting one," the lady enthralls. "It's completely unsoulful as you'd know it, but it was very successful in Holland, Belgium and France.
"In fact, just about every song I have ever recorded has some kind of controversy surrounding it. I've always had to decide whether it was against my morals or not. To be honest. I was against recording "Love To Love" because I felt it was against my image. And I found it very difficult to sing the song as I felt it was against my singing style.
"I have a hit in Germany, too. now — and it's called "Woman Of The Night". It's all about a prostitute, although the word never actually occurs in the song. It's all about the normality of the woman's life and it's really a tender song."
So where do you go after "Love To Love"? Is there a subject that remains sacred? But seriously, where do you go after that? "Well, we've finished the next album already," Donna explains. "We've tried to branch out a little and to expand. There are songs there that will appeal to the discos, though because that's where my first fans came from. But I've also recorded other people's material.
"The first side is all one track although it incorporates four different songs that run into each other. It's interesting because the four are called "Try Me"; "I Know", "We Can Make It" and "Try Me I Know We Can Make It". The second side has three songs plus Barry Manilow's "Could It Be Magic" and it's that last one that I feel will become the next single."
Having heard the song, I had to ask whether there was anything in there that might appeal to the raincoat brigade? "Well…yes, I guess there might be!" Donna hesitantly laughed. "It all starts off with a rap about me not wanting my baby to go and leave me and as the music builds up, there's a climactic part where I moan: "Come, come, come" and then pause as the music becomes seductive. But then I sing "come into my arms" to make it all sound so innocent!"
For biography freaks, Donna is the third of seven children and was born in Boston in September 1950. In 1968 she joined the original German touring company for "Hair", although she was offered identical parts in either New York or London. But she decided that she would like to travel and learn another language, so Munich seemed the answer.
"The Hostage" was the lady's first international record — being released in the U.K. on the now — defunct People label. Now with her huge success in the States, she is having to work from two homes — Munich and a new one in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. But she will continue to record in Munich where her producers are Britain's Pete Bellotte and Italian, Georgio Moroder.
On speaking with the lady, I can only confess that she wasn't any
thing near to what I expected — you, can make of that what you will! But she is sincere, charming and stands more than a fair chance of eventually living down "Love To Love" and developing into an international star.