So, I haven’t been able to teach music-focused courses for a few years (budget cuts). This means that I haven’t been forced to set time aside to listen to and think about music as music, music for its own sake, music history for its own sake, etc. And I miss that. So, this summer I’m going to try to post a strictly music post every Friday. Basically, this is me geeking out, and sharing some of that with you all. Hopefully I won’t get too busy or distracted to do this.
I thought I’d start with Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer’s 1977 “I Feel Love.” It’s a classic disco track, and one of the first electronic dance records.
Summer and Moroder original:
Patrick Cowley’s 1982 extended mix is the classic remix of this song:
What is that sample around 10:54 and then again at 11:08-11? The descending triplets? I’m pretty sure it’s sampled by Clint Mansell in the soundtrack for Pi the move. If it’s not a sample, then they’re sure using similar equipment/patches/etc.
Mixed with Yaz’s “Don’t Go” by Lemon 8:
I don’t have much to say about it, other than it’s a brilliant track.
Covered by Bronski Beat/Marc Almond:
The vocals are even more regimented and “quantized” to the 4/4 meter than Summers’s originals. The shift from black female (presumably hetero) singer and chorus to openly gay white male singer and chorus is worth further consideration, especially in light of the fact that gay white men often appropriate/identify with black pop divas. What we need to think about in this context is the role of the synthesizer, the fact that Moroder and Summers’s original is one of the first electronic dance records. The vocals in the Bronski Almond are definitely more “bluesy” and “soulful” than Summers’s breathy, ethereal ones. There’s also much more of a bluesy/rock feel to the rhythm section. It’s as though the stereotypical blackness in the original was located visibly in Summers’s (female) body, but had to be asserted musically by Almond and Bronski Beat. [There is also gestures here at the beginning and end to the other Moroder/Summer collaboration, “Love to Love You Baby”.]
Covered by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers:
Sonically there’s a lot in common with the Bronski Beat version; the sexual politics, however, are vastly different. Here, does Summer serve as just another black musician who white rock bands domesticate? This time, they’re domesticating Moroder’s European-synth sound as well?
Madonna’s reworking into “Future Lovers:
This is clearly an attempt to trace her lineage back to Summer and Moroder. The interesting thing is that when Madonna uses “I Feel Love,” it’s a 30 year old song that still, in 2007, sounds futuristic.