Monday, February 15, 2016

Donna Summer-Crayons (2008)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 15, 2016

Hail to the Queen! Hail to the Queen! If the late disco legend were still here, she would surely be reigning supreme, lighting up the music charts and exercising her dominion over her legions of fans while enticing new followers and dance lovers alike into her expanding kingdom! If there was a CD in my collection that I would worry about becoming irreparably damaged from so many physical handlings and replays, Donna Summer's final studio album would have to be it! Little did I know that the disco queen's then-comeback effort would have such highly addicting quality to the point where I keep going through the same motions of taking it out, listening, putting it back, taking it out again, listening again, putting it back again.....see a pattern here? Somehow, I've managed to break the least for the moment. As with so many albums I've gotten super-addicted to, I've literally lost count of the number of compete plays I've enjoyed of this entertaining collection—wonderfully performed and wonderfully produced with some of the best beats I've ever heard! It had started a few years ago when the inspiring, motivational jam "Stamp Your Feet" stomped into my ears and became their best friend! 'S-T-A-M-P, stamp it all around'—the cheerleader-like chant is so extremely catchy with those big-time tribal drum beats blasting through your speakers, plus the suspenseful, mid-tempo techno adding some glitzy and glam and really spicing it up! I remember I'd stayed stuck to just this one song for literally weeks and not listening to much of everything else, as I couldn't get that 'S-T-A-M-P' nor the ' you ain't goin' down ' at the main chorus out of my head. "Mr. Music" is, well, a music lover's paradise with all sorts of intense techno and electronic synthesized sound effects providing plenty of ear candy and that energetic club vibe! One of the more colorful picks in this crayon box is the disco queen's collaboration with the iconic reggae sensation Ziggy Marley on the title track. This jam is full of fun lyrics (a bit of this color, a little bit of that color), it catchy and is 100% hip! 'What's up? Tell me what's a-happening'—I love it when she says that! "The Queen Is Back"—a song like this is an absolute must for a disco queen releasing a comeback album after years of inactivity in the studio. The beat to this one is CRAZY awesome, highlighted by the intense, hard tones of the piano keys as if to personify her re-emergence from the music depths in a majestic uh-oh-here-she-comes kind of way. Donna's got a message that everybody wanting to make it big needs to hear on the big-time jam that follows: "Fame (The Game)". Once you've gotten hooked to the explosive techno rock beat, pay close attention to her words of wisdom about the awful reality about being a celebrity. Everything from putting on make-up (and the 'fake-up' of getting hair extensions and Botox), answering 'yes' or 'no' to the same questions, flying between Paris and New York and London in a week and the Paparazzi wanting to see you bleed (that's my favorite line) is the total truth. The moral of this story? 'Be careful what you wish for' (another one of my favorite lines), as she warns several times throughout, plus the reminder that everywhere you go, there'll be an entourage made like you were living large (I like that line, too). Donna shows off some dazzling colors oh the warming bossa nova groove, "Drivin' Down Brazil" and, a personal favorite of mine, "Slide Over Backwards", which is totally un-disco with its pokey beat and Southern harmonica sound, but is the surprise jewel on this album, as she rears back and breaks it down with some of that old-fashioned soul. I bet she recorded "Slide Over Backwards" early in the morning while her voice she was still groggy and her voice was a bit rough. If you hadn't seen it on this album, you might not even recognize it was her singing this! Now here's something that is very much disco and serves the disco queen all the respectful justice in the world: "I'm A Fire". The producers were even thoughtful in making this a nice 7+ minute piece, just like the disco tunes of old from the 70's that played on for extended minutes at a time. Simply pop-tastic is "Science Of Love", where the combination of glitzy electronic synthesizing and a splash of techno join forces again to electrify your ears. In some parts of the song, it almost feels like throwback pop from the 80's! The last two pieces in this crayon box are full of brilliance: "Be Myself Again" and "Bring Down The Reign". The former has a haunting, mellow appeal about it that forces you to feel the songwriter's words of wanting to return to a former point in time while the latter's ethnic vibe (love that thunder and ambiance in the intro, then the tribal chants of the African vocalists) puts you in a spiritual state of mind as she, in some respects, amidst the celebratory glee, reinforces the theme pushed forward on "The Queen Is Back":

1. Stamp Your Feet
2. Mr. Music
3. Crayons (feat. Ziggy Marley)
4. The Queen Is Back
5. Fame (The Game)
6. Sand On My Feet
7. Drivin' Down Brazil
8. I'm A Fire
9. Slide Over Backwards
10. Science Of Love
11. Be Myself Again
12. Bring Down The Reign

*****BONUS TRACKS*****

13. Be Myself Again [Klyk's Full On Instrumental 2009]
14. Be Myself Again [Klyk's Full On Mix 2009]
15. Be Myself Again [Klyk's Full On Mix Instrumental 2009 Alternative EQ Mix]

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