Saturday, April 1, 2017

Donna Summer - Once Upon A Time (1977)

“Once Upon A Time” (album) by Donna Summer (1977)

Release Date: October 31, 1977
Produced by Girogio Moroder and Pete Bellotte
Chart Positions: #26 (US), #24 UK, #9 Norway, #10 Spain, #27 Canada, #31 Japan, #44 Australia
Certifications: Gold (US, UK, Canada)

Singles: “I Love You”(#37 US, #10 UK and Norway, #6 Netherlands, #16 Italy, #21 Spain, #27 Canada, #47 Australia)
“Fairy Tale High” (N/A)
“Once Upon A Time” (#14 Italy)
“Rumour Has It” (#53 US, #19 UK, #21 Denmark and Germany, #20 Netherlands, #64 Canada)

Once Upon a Time is Donna Summer’s sixth studio album and is the album released just before her pinnacle with “Bad Girls.” It was released on October 31, 1977, and peaked at #26 on the US Billboard 200, #13 US R&B chart and #24 on the UK Albums Chart. The entire album charted as one entry at #1 on the US Hot Dance/Disco chart. Once Upon a Time includes the singles "I Love You", "Fairy Tale High", "Once Upon a Time" and "Rumour Has It".

The concept album was Summer's first double album, telling a modern-day Cinderella-themed story through means of disco music. The album's story concept was conceived by Joyce Bogart, Susan Munao and Donna Summer based on an idea by Al Bogatz. The songs were written in collaboration between Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. The album was recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich. Arrangements were handled by Bob Esty while electronic arrangements were the work of Moroder. The artwork was designed by Stephen Lumel and Gribbitt! with photography by Francesco Scavullo.

Summer's previous two records were musical concept albums: 1976's Four Seasons of Love told the story of a love affair by relating it to the four seasons, while 1977's I Remember Yesterday presented a musical catalogue of musical styles and lyrical themes from the past, present and an imagined future “I Feel Love” was the imagined future). Once Upon A Time is another concept album—the first "disco opera" per Robert Christgau *—developed by Joyce Bogart, Susan Munao and Donna Summer as a modern-day Cinderella narrative.

Throughout the album and as described in the liner notes storyline, the songs tell the story of a young woman who lives in a fantasy world of make-believe in which she is seemingly trapped, but thanks to her belief in her dreams she embarks on an adventure that ends with the man she loves entering her life. The "rags to riches" story is brought into the modern day via the use of the electronic disco sound. * Robert Christgau is a music critic that has covered music for Esquire, Cream, Playboy, Billboard, Rolling Stone Magazine, NPR and other popular music and entertainment periodicals.

The excellent use of strings brings a lush quality to both the disco numbers ("Faster And Faster To Nowhere") and the ballads ("Happily Ever After"). With this album Summer, Moroder and Bellotte focused on writing full flshed out songs as opposed to minimal lyrics of the previous albums each song tells a complete story. That’s not to say the previous albums were not good – they were great it’s just with this album the songwriting, most precisely the lyrics improved tenfold.

"I Love You"

The first single release “I Love You” became Donna Summer’s third US top 40 hit reaching #37 on the US singles chart. The song was a big hit in Europe making it into the Top 10 in the UK, Norway and Netherlands. “I Love You” is a dreamy disco song that brings about a wonderfully optimistic feel as you listen to it. The second single “Fairy Tale High” came and went pretty quick. It received airplay in dance clubs across the US but did not make it on to the charts. “Once Upon A Time,” the album’s third single also did not chart but received extensive dance club play. The fiurth and final single “Rumour Has It” is a cult classic that became one of the album favorites and was one of the most played songs in the night clubs from the album. “Rumour Has It” charted at #53 in the US and made it into the Top 20 in the UK and Netherlands. Album highlight “Working The Midnight Shift” is a song that many fans feel was a missed opportunity for single release. The song received major club play, was a working-class anthem predating "She Works Hard For The Money,” “Midnight Shift” told the story of a waitress who worked the late shift but still made it out to see her friends before the clubs closed. The song sports a dark disco flavor that was very popular in the underground discos and in the later 70s worked it’s way into the mainstream discos.

Donna Summer 1977

Donna Summer 1977


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