29
Jun 08

DONNA SUMMER – “I Feel Love”

FT + Popular169 comments • 8,400 views

#409, 23rd July 1977

One of the remarkable things about “I Feel Love” is that it still sounds futuristic now. Not because the effects and techniques it uses remain way ahead of what pop’s capable of, but because it helped fix the idea of what “the future” would sound like: its specific mix of voice and electronics evoking gleaming hedonism, endless clockwork pleasure. “I Feel Love”, like robots and spaceships on sci-fi magazine covers, represents a fixed future we can’t ever quite get past.

But at the same time “I Feel Love” is a thing very much of 1977 – its sounds and beats somehow antique, with the way its internal rhythms often seem to shift out of phase giving the track its mechanical feel. It’s the pop equivalent of Voyager (which launched within weeks of “I Feel Love”‘s release) – the furthest out we’ve ever gone, but powered by primitive late-70s kit.

Back on Earth “I Feel Love” has been refitted and retooled countless times – if not a remix then another track borrowing its pulsing bassline chassis. That’s testament to its success as a pop song as well as a machine age wonder: for all that Moroder’s innovative arrangement suits the tune’s spacey bliss and transforms Summer’s coo into something entranced, “I Feel Love” is still catchy enough to have worked as a much more trad disco or glam-pop record.

The arrangement is what shifts it from good to legendary, though, from the first interlock of bassline and synthesised pulsebeat. It’s Ptolemaic pop, the play of cycles and epicycles: Moroder setting up minutely intersecting circling rhythms and watching as they interact in a music of the spheres that hasn’t stopped turning yet.

9

Comments

  1. 1
    Martin Skidmore on 29 Jun 2008 #

    I might have given this a 10, I think. The beats are as irrestible as any dance music ever, and I love the way Donna’s vocals seem to fade in and out over it, an ethereal feel enhanced by the soft syllables. It’s one of those rare records that I feel, probably wrongly, could be ten times longer without losing its grip on me.

  2. 2
    Tom on 29 Jun 2008 #

    Yeah, this is certainly one of the higher 9s.

    Apologies (yet again!) for the slowness of updates. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things this week.

  3. 3
    DJ Punctum on 29 Jun 2008 #

    For a time in 1977 it was fashionable, and even desirable, to speak of and revel in the “dehumanisation” of pop. One disco hit from that year, “Welcome To Our World Of Merry Music” by Mass Production, summed up the mood by name and title alone. But there was also Bowie, writhing on the edge of total extinction on side one of Low, and then absenting himself, other than as a ghost, throughout side two; the neutered, encased howls of Iggy on “Nightclubbing,” also produced by Bowie; the first wave of instrumental synth hits such as Space’s “Magic Fly” and Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene Part IV,” both of which seemed free from the touch of any human being (which did not in itself make them bad records; quite the reverse). And of crucial course there was Kraftwerk and there was Trans-Europe Express, but I will leave it to Lena to comment further in this regard.

    And then there was Giorgio Moroder, and his preferred singer Donna Summer. And there was the then-new cult of the extended 12-inch single, to prolong dancers’ drug-induced ecstasy on dancefloors; “Love To Love You Baby,” a semi-banned top five hit in early ’76, sold mainly on the glorious 16 minutes and 47 seconds of its full-length 12-inch incarnation. Summer and Moroder’s subsequent work provides a curious parallel to that of Scott Walker; the expatriate, slightly lost American reworking American musical memes in densely European ways (the echt-Spector of “Love’s Unkind” has the clarity and slight coldness of a European studio). Even Moroder’s minimalism was dense; listening to their masterpiece, 1977’s double album fairytale Once Upon A Time…Happily Ever After, there are always at least three different basses on the go. That record denies the lie of “inhumanity”; listening to the still-astounding eleven-minute segue of “Now I Need You”/”Working The Midnight Shift,” you have to remind yourself that Underworld didn’t record this yesterday, and that its emotional essence is about a shattered and abandoned human being long since condemned to existence rather than life.

    “I Feel Love” comes at the end of the album I Remember Yesterday, an electro-xerox of the history of 20th century pop, and its sudden surge into the future is as shocking as that of “A Day In The Life” or “Good Vibrations” at the end of their respective albums. The song, even on seven-inch, lasted for five minutes and 55 seconds – the same length as “Bohemian Rhapsody” – and I bought it in Listen Records on the same Saturday afternoon that “Pretty Vacant” came into the shop (in the following Tuesday’s chart, the latter entered at #45 on two hours’ sales alone; the next week it vaulted up to #7). I loved them both, of course, but despite the already reliable tornado that was “Pretty Vacant” (the headlines in the papers at the time were “This Time The Pistols Keep It Clean” – didn’t they listen to the way Lydon pronounced “va-cunt” over and over?), after one listen to “I Feel Love” I knew this was the real future.

    The record itself stands at the crossroads of just about everything. The lyrics are pared back and minimal to a degree not witnessed since “Tutti Frutti” – fascination over meaning again – but then the meaning was so unambiguous and precise. Summer sings “Ooohhh, it’s so good, it’s so good…” and “Ooooohhhh, heaven knows, heaven knows…” with curlicues straight out of Patti Page, or maybe Laura Nyro. The impression is of signifiers of love derived from second-hand knowledge of The History Of Pop, cut up, minimised and encased within an unending and palpable pulse.

    Then we reach the gliding sustenatos of the chorus, which now betrays psychedelia, but instead of guitars-as-sitars there is this unplaceable electronic harmony, not quite mechanical and not quite lubricious. And then, after the second verse and chorus, Moroder has the unprecedented audacity to fade Summer’s voice out altogether, leaving just the metronomic beat and the basic eight-note rotogravure pulse. This was something no one could recall having happened on a pop record before, and…

    …it just continues. Synthesisers and additional rhythms in different keys and at different angles and tempi fly in and out of the track like transient constellations. It is hypnotic and enticing and entirely alien, and demands a rare degree of micro-listening; to catch all the different little imprints and tones before they vanish, knowing that each changes the basic DNA of the track imperceptibly but irreversibly. In truth the recording was far less complicated; the bass pulse was a four-note riff played in the left channel which immediately echoes half a beat later in the right. But its implications changed the way pop music sounded forever.

    And there is something of the triumphant as the framework, the mesh, lets Summer back in: “Ooooohhhh, I got you, I got you…I go-ooooo-t youuuuuu…” Some think she is trapped in the Moroder machine, but it is much more apparent that this is Summer singing from the inside of herself; the pulses are the arteries, carrying the blood to the hippest of hips, a speed and rush which no drug or machine could provide; she is singing of life, in life, of herself and gladly and ecstatically in herself. It is self-pleasure, and I can understand the remarks of Ken Burns (a different one) in his sleevenote to Rhino’s The Disco Years: Volume 5 compilation where he wonders whether Summer was so securely trapped within that Munich machine that she would have extreme difficulty feeling anything, even if I completely disagree with them.

    “From here to eternity, that’s where she takes me,” sang Moroder on his own, equally avant-garde hit single a few months later; and “I Feel Love” takes us into a gorgeously golden future as unapologetically as “God Save The Queen” – the sequencers, the style being the content, the irrefutable and marvellous pulse plugged into our thankfully still beating hearts and minds; it could go on forever (and Patrick Cowley’s subsequent fifteen-minute remix seemed intent on testing out that theory) and thereby ensures that pop, and life, and love, and not in that order, can go on forever. And ever. “I Feel Love” is the beginning of this writer’s time. Ten to the power of forever.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 29 Jun 2008 #

    Follow that! I think that we all have to raise our game when we’re faced – about once a year – with something this transcendent and epochal.

    Well, here’s a question that might help us rethink this song from a different perspective: Does feeling love actually feel like ‘I Feel Love’?

    Two things are going on with the music here; There’s the internal mind, locked on one enticing thought ad infinitum, refracted and repeated again and again, each time very slightly different through the tone having slightly altered. And then there’s the tremendous sense of incessant forward motion, due to the motoric thing, which feels as much to me like driving or train travel as dancing.

    The combination of these two things; inner thought and feeling, combined with bodily movement make this an really intense experience to listen to, either on a dancefloor or on headphones, even on the tinniest of transistors.

    It manages to convey something of the first sense of dislocation (not dehumanisation), when you are aware that your body, thoughts and feelings are starting to be out of sych with each other. When you don’t fully know what you’re doing anymore, but are keeping things together by still really concentrating on what you are doing. Becoming drunk is probably the most obvious example of this, but some sorts of breakdowns also produce the same sensation, as indeed does surrendering a large part of your own control to the presence and actions of a loved other.

    So yes, the sensation of feeling love internally is physically quite a lot like this record.

    It’s astonishing, and it never stops being so.

  5. 5
    DJ Punctum on 29 Jun 2008 #

    And via that, I think a path can even be traced between “I Feel Love” and MBV!

  6. 6
    Neil on 29 Jun 2008 #

    Can’t follow either of those last two comments, but I’d like to say that I loved the idea of “Ptolemaic pop”!

  7. 7
    rosie on 29 Jun 2008 #

    I had a little bet with myself that this would one of Tom’s 10s but I lost. Certainly I can see it as Tom’s epiphany.

    For myself, yes, this is a high scorer, but yes, a 9 not a 10. I think I probably depart from Tom here in that, as electronica goes, and I’m not a fan I’m afraid, this is up there with my absolute favourites. The reason for this, I think, lies in its very primitiveness, perhaps. That throbbing, almost but never actually monotonous, beat is a perfect complement for the most primitive music of all, Donna Summer’s dreamy, sexy voice. The electronica is always there, but it’s always Donna to the fore. And I love the way the phasing comes in and out, and the the rhythm breaks up into a subtle syncopation – that’s what keeps it from tedium, I feel.

  8. 8
    lonepilgrim on 29 Jun 2008 #

    i’m sure someone could or must already have traced the path back to the krautrock acts – the blissed out tones and motorik rhythms that I had got to know via tangerine dream and kraftwerk were tailored into a more potent, irresistable form with this – and yes it could go on forever – and yes it deserves a 10

  9. 9
    Tom on 29 Jun 2008 #

    Good work DJ P!

    I do find it quite interesting that while the comments box was straining at the leash to get to punk, this record – surely of comparable significance to future ‘plot developments’ – has crept up on us a bit. Or maybe that’s just my impression?

  10. 10
    rosie on 29 Jun 2008 #

    Not only that, Tom, but for those with eyes to see this and not the Sex Pistols is the way ahead.

  11. 11
    Lena on 29 Jun 2008 #

    It was only last night that the complacent world of ‘rock’ got another reminder that there are other kinds of music that are popular, that can move the crowd…

    And I can well imagine some people, in 1977, being annoyed with this, this woman’s voice floating above and inside the constantly changing and pulsating beats, her voice repeating the same words, until the words themselves (almost, not quite) are expanded to include the music, the words are music…for those whose definition of ‘rock’ was accepting the guitar/bass/drums/singer mode only (meaning the Pistols were fine, by the way, if rude), this song getting to #1 must have been an affront – especially when the singer simply disappeared, and the music hypnotically took over…

    …and elsewhere in Germany, what can I say?…

    The beat skips and bounces, skips and bounces. Six notes repeat over and over, going up, up, up, up, up, UP. Then the melody, stately, perhaps a bit cold, but there and unmistakable. Doppler notes come….and go….a man sings about Paris, Vienna, Dusseldorf. The song pushes along in an orderly fashion, with odd pauses and breaks, but always with a sense of purpose and nobility. There is that beep-beep-be-be-beep which is oddly funky as well, though I don’t know who, outside of a few, heard it as such in ’77…

    …but I am sure Moroder did, and that he and Kraftwerk were thinking along the same lines (Kraftwerk have an album called Man-Machine, but “I Feel Love” is a cheerier version of what could be called Woman-Machine). The biggest difference between the two artists is that while Kraftwerk were underground – you had to know about them to know about them – Donna Summer was #1. Donna felt love until that feeling was simplified and amplified to a beating heart sped up; Kraftwerk took the Trans-Europe Express and turned what was merely mechanical and gave it soul. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of either of these as they are just as radical as ever…

    …and I only mentioned Jay-Z in the beginning as I am sure that he caught up with them (and much else) in his own time, and understands them in a way that, say, Noel Gallagher doesn’t.

    (I should also add “I Feel Love” gets an 11, and that its pulsing beat will return, slowed down some, will return quite soon.)

  12. 12
    will on 29 Jun 2008 #

    I was frightened of this record when it came out in 1977. A conservative child, it seemed to me to be a harbinger of some future hell where all music would be made by machines and robots, dehumanised, in fact. In comparison, the Pistols seemed deeply reassuring. They played guitars and Pretty Vacant had a nice melody, didn’t it? I Feel Love seemed to suggest that by 1990, let alone 2000, the electric guitar would be as redundant as the lute.

  13. 13
    Ken on 29 Jun 2008 #

    Sigh.

    I don’t get it. I really don’t. There has never been a moment where this song has not struck me as monotonous and boring. (And you know what, while I’m marking myself as a fierce iconoclast/rockist tool, the charms of Abba (save “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo”) are completely lost on me.) The best I can get is a kind of forced admiration. I wish I could explain it better, but I’m never going to be able to make any kind of personal connection with this.

  14. 14
    vinylscot on 29 Jun 2008 #

    Lena mentioned Kraftwerk here, and I remember my mate saying to me – “Have you heard the new Donna Summer song? – it sounds like Kraftwerk!” – a bit of an overstatement, but I think that conveyed how “different” it was to our ears at the time.

    On this song’s second week on the charts, The Rah Band appeared with “The Crunch”, and before IFY was out of the top 10 we had “Magic Fly” and “Oxygene” showing us that electro (of a kind) was a force to be reckoned with. For once I find myself agreeing with Marcello’s musings above – this truly was the start of something and was every bit as important as the advent of p**k which happened alongside it.

    Patrick Cowley’s later remix is obviously one of the greatest remixes ever, and other tracks shamelessly ripping this off – the Ping-Pong Bitches “Beat You Up”, and De Lacy’s “Hideaway” spring to mind, only stengthen this record’s claim to be one of the all-time classics.

    This also established Moroder as something other than a wacky one-hit wonder with his production on “Son Of My Father”, and while he did some great work (e.g. Sparks, Sigue Sigue Sputnik) and some successful work (e.g. Electric Dreams) he never really hit these heights again, despite some decent stuff recorded under his own name – “From Here to Eternity” LP and bits of “Midnight Express”.

    Donna Summer herself had hinted at greatness before, both with “Love To Love You Baby” and the “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It” cycle on the first side of the “Love Trilogy” album, both produced by Moroder (with Pete Bellotte), but this one track cemented both of their reputations.

    From memory, I think Donna Summer was adversely affected by a move from GTO to Casablanca which flooded the market with Donna singles, and coupled with the next album being a (largely unimpressive) double (I agree with Marcello re “Now I need you” but this was the very template for the “one good album stretched out into a double” syndrome which seemed all around us at the time – everyone had to make at least one of every four of their albums a double, whether they had the material to support it or not.), this rather stalled her UK career. A bit more attention on quality control around this time might have secured a far more lucrative career for her, although she certainly had a few fine moments still to come.

    (Brief #2 watch – this saved us from the delights of Boney M’s “Ma Baker” at the top of the chart.)

    With the benefit of hindsight, probably the most important #1 of the seventies, and certainly one of the best – a cast iron 10.

  15. 15
    Dan R on 30 Jun 2008 #

    In hindsight, this is the great musical shift of 1977, not punk. Punk was conservative in its radicalism, in the way it was, in part, about restoring rock to its radical roots, even as it reconnected popular music with the early-twentieth-century modernist cabaret and its desire to épater les bourgeois and so on. But it restored and reminded and recreated; for punk there was no future politically and, in a sense, artistically; it was the second wave that tried to shape the future in artistic terms.

    What always strikes me about this single is its single minded determination to be what it is. It strips the lush strings of disco away, and somehow makes those earlier records seem to lightweight, too concerned to be liked. The jackhammering electronic rhythm, with its squealing washes of jubilant pain, seems entirely defiant about the new sound it’s making. And of course, with the same oxymoron than would fire up UK Garage twenty years later, the vocal is all feeling, intense feeling, even if amorally articulated and centred on one emotion of desire. And that all creates a sense of year zero – a false sense, as has already been noted – but the uncompromising becoming-to-itself of electronic dance music in this single is unmistakeable.

    The coincidence that also powers the epochal character of this record is that Elvis died when it was at number 1. The king is dead, long live the queen.

  16. 16
    Waldo on 30 Jun 2008 #

    The main thing to be said about this was not so much how good it was but how different and unusual. Moroder to thread, of course.

    “I Feel Love” has Ravel-style properties and Donna’s siren shrieks add to the fun of the ride. This one was memorable simply for not being the same as all the other disco stuff on offer back then, and for this reason the fact that it appears unduly lengthy actually works in its favour, it seems to me.

    Donna, of course, had already been the victim of one of those knee-jerk BBC bans, Auntie deciding that “Love To Love You Baby” was too steamy for broadcast. Preposterous! Sure it was about Donna getting rooted but so what? Jane Birken clearly simulated climax at the end of “Je T’aime…” but in LTLYB, Donna was proffering no more orgasmic groans than she did later on “Down Deep Inside” (suggestive title or what?), a beautiful song which the Beeb simply didn’t have the guts to ban, since it was a soundtrck to a crap movie and the Corporation would have just looked like the nannying tossers they were and continue to be.

  17. 17
    Billy Smart on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Re: 15. God, it’s never struck me before – If Elvis had clung on for another couple of years, he’d have gone disco at some stage!

  18. 18
    Dan R on 30 Jun 2008 #

    His first posthumous hit, ‘Way Down’, has major disco elements…

  19. 19
    Tom on 30 Jun 2008 #

    …which we won’t be discussing today ;)

  20. 20
    Dan R on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Whoops, apologies…

  21. 21
    Martin Skidmore on 30 Jun 2008 #

    (re comment #2: Much as I love Popular, one advantage for me of the low frequency of late is that my comics posts get higher in the ‘most read’ charts – one was even at #1 for a short while! Popular entries get several times the readership – and quite right too.)

  22. 22
    Tom on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Martin in the non-Popular bit of FT your comics posts are HEAVYWEIGHT BRUISERS!

  23. 23
    Martin Skidmore on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Did you mean to write unPopular?

  24. 24
    LondonLee on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Like Lena said, I’d give this 11. It’s another of those unassailable pop mountains like “Dancing Queen” which render you speechless (well, me anyway) though again, my actual favourite Donna Summer record might be “Could It Be Magic” instead.

    I’ve always thought Hot Chocolate’s “Put Your Love In Me” was this record’s fucked-up twin. It came out the same year and I’d be interested to know how much “I Feel Love” influenced HC.

  25. 25
    Billy Smart on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Thinking about it, ‘Put Your Love In Me’ also sounds a bit like dub to me, as well, in the echoing and spaced-out (in both senses) percussive knocks. It’s certainly a song that encourages myriad impressions and interpretations on the part of the listener.

  26. 26
    SteveM on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Hard to think what stops this being a 10 really – what stopped you Tom?

  27. 27
    Tom on 30 Jun 2008 #

    My not loving it as much as “Hot Love”, “Dancing Queen” or “Eleanor Rigby” I guess!

    If I factored “importance” in it would totally be a 10. But I try not to, except inasmuch as it uplifts or drags down a specific record for me.

  28. 28
    rosie on 30 Jun 2008 #

    The really odd thing desperately uncool old me finds, given the way IFL is filed and labelled, is that I can’t imagine dancing to it. Not the kind of dancing I like anyway. I can imagine having sex to it (not difficult) and being stoned, or both, bot not

    Comparisons with Ravel have been made. Ravel’s most famous repetitive piece is of course a dance, a bolero. This feels to me much closer to the minimalism of Steve Reich or Terry Riley; were Fiona or Verity to play it to bring Late Junction to a close one night I wouldn’t be in the least surprised. So something that had been around for a good while for a minority audience, which had been poking and prodding its way into the more esoteric reaches of rock for ten years and more, now surfaces in the mainstream.

  29. 29
    Tom on 30 Jun 2008 #

    I actually played this at the last Poptimism, and the crowd (those who were left at the end anyway) went wild!

    I did shift it up to +4 or so though.

  30. 30
    DJ Punctum on 30 Jun 2008 #

    It is a DISGRACE that “Bolero” title track of 1984 TOP TEN EP The Music Of Torvill & Dean has NEVER been played at Club Poptimism HANG YOUR HEAD IN SHAME EWING for LOONY LEFT disrespect of NATIONAL HEROES

    (actually “Bolero” will have to be the last song played at forthcoming Club Poptimism On Ice event…)

  31. 31
    thevisitor on 30 Jun 2008 #

    Re: 15 & 17. I think Wichita Lineman may have told me this, but apparently Kelly Marie’s Feels Like I’m In Love was originally written for Elvis.

  32. 32
    Billy Smart on 30 Jun 2008 #

    We may be coming on to discuss that in more detail… Written by a man who’s already featured twice in Popular!

  33. 33
    Matthew K on 1 Jul 2008 #

    A STONE COLD 10 IF ANY OF THESE SONGS ARE! RESIGN!

  34. 34
    Dan R on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Bolero is an underused pop rhythm isn’t it? I’m struggling to think of many uses in pop. The Buzzcocks did one. There’s something by, yikes, Jeff Beck. Did T&D spark an efflorescence of Bolero rhythms in pop?

  35. 35
    Waldo on 1 Jul 2008 #

    # 33 – No, DON’T resign, Tom. You will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed or numbered. Your mark is your own.

  36. 36
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Believe me, Waldo, I know how you feel. And they have taken quite a liberty.

  37. 37
    rosie on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Meh! Stand your ground, Tom. I agree that IFL, while undoubtedly a great track, is not that easy to love.

    If Tom were going to resign for failing to grant a 10, he should have done after House of the Rising Sun (a track at least as important in pop history as this one), Good Vibrations or Grapevine!

  38. 38
    Pete on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Or indeed for giving Angelo a FIVE!

  39. 39
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    I agree with Mark that every track should get a 10. Absolutist impulse > 16th century Silesian choral meticulousness.

  40. 40
    Tom on 1 Jul 2008 #

    9 is a very high mark!

    There are lots of glaring potential 10s on the way over the next few years so I expect to be making this point repeatedly. :)

  41. 41
    Tom on 1 Jul 2008 #

    As for Angelo, the review on that one surely makes it clear that it’s a deeply shoddy record which I happen to enjoy a bit, rather than (as a lot of 4s and 5s are) a well-crafted one which happens to bore me. Don’t focus on the mark, in other words!

  42. 42
    Pete Baran on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Ah, gentle ribbing that’s all.

    As for I Feel Love, not much to add to the above in its omnipresence in and out of dance fashion. But whilst the Moroder throb is the ground breaking chassis to the record, Summer is the heart. She slips and slides over the backing hinting and crescendos and then backing away until the time is right, and she holds THAT note. The phrasing and control she has over her synthesized orchestra has a lot of Jazz about it.

    I have never, ever heard anyone do it at karaoke, and would really like to see someone try.

  43. 43
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    The reason no one does it at karaoke is because they get stuck for something to do during the long instrumental break in the middle.

  44. 44
    Pete Baran on 1 Jul 2008 #

    From my days as a Radiohead karaoke singer, there is nothing nicer than the look of fear on a karaoke hosts face when the words 2 Minutes Instrumental come up halfway through the song, any you start freestylin’.

  45. 45
    Drucius on 1 Jul 2008 #

    I sense much hostility to the punk rock in this thread, by jingo. No change there, then.

    This isn’t the future of music, it was barely the future of pop. It’s a nice wee song and a good singer, I’d give it 6 or 7, but it’s certainly not as earthshaking as is being made out. It’s still basically just a disco record at heart, after all.

    I remember my brother raving about this and about pop music made without instruments in general, which didn’t impress me much, as it seemed to be a technical achievement rather than a musical one.

  46. 46
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Well the tragedy is the tunnel vision which insists on there being only ONE ROAD towards the future instead of lots of roads which collide and intertwine at unexpected and sometimes improvised junctions, for sure, but anyone who doubts “I Feel Love” was at least A major future of pop probably hasn’t listened to much pop in the last thirty years.

  47. 47
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Also, “just a disco record” is heresy around these parts.

  48. 48
    SteveM on 1 Jul 2008 #

    re #45 so you don’t think Disco could ever be earthshaking? ‘just a disco record’ vs ‘just a punk record’…

  49. 49
    SteveM on 1 Jul 2008 #

    the technical achievements vs musical achievements thing will probably occur more and more as head on thru the 80s. i suspect it will only be invoked by people with some musical background tho, people who can and have played. any expert insight from a musicians pov here would be most welcome by me tho (even if it does mean putting up with occasional derision or indifference to the evolution of Dance Music and it’s definitive hallmarks).

  50. 50
    Drucius on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Re #48: I didn’t actually say that, never mind.

    Re #47: Yes, I’ve noticed that there’s a bit of an anti-rockist vibe in the air. Silly really.

  51. 51
    Tom on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Was “I Feel Love” an immediate direct influence on mainstream pop? (I know the story of Eno rushing in going ZOMG to Bowie about it) In the 1990s when techno got respectable I always felt Moroder and Summer were getting sidelined a bit amongst the general cap-doffing to Kraftwerk, but at the same time “I Feel Love” is so sui generis that any obvious quick rip offs of it would fall into the Angelo trap.

  52. 52
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    At the time Summer remarked that “I Feel Love” had become such a big hit because it had a “real high energy vibe to it” and it marks the beginning of Hi-NRG time (it’s where they got the name from), though its real influence would wait until the early eighties to filter through into the mainstream, gay crossover hits like “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” notwithstanding, and then on via House etc.

  53. 53
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    (while in Britain, the Man-Machine and Woman-Machine go on to cross aesthetic wires and facilitate the birth of New Pop)

  54. 54
    LondonLee on 1 Jul 2008 #

    I always suspected that story of Eno rushing into the ‘Heroes’ sessions with a copy of IFL declaring “I have seen the future!” (or whatever he said) to be one of those legends made up by Bowie, like his story of seeing the lovers kissing by the Berlin Wall which I think he later admitted he invented. I could be wrong but it all sounds too perfect.

    And I always wondered why Moroder didn’t make more records like this with Summer, the rest of their output together is fairly straight-forward (but bloody good) disco with a trad high-hat beat and not that throbbing electro.

  55. 55
    DJ Punctum on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Particularly since Heroes was recorded and mixed before “I Feel Love” was released.

  56. 56
    Drucius on 1 Jul 2008 #

    #54 “And I always wondered why Moroder didn’t make more records like this with Summer, the rest of their output together is fairly straight-forward (but bloody good) disco with a trad high-hat beat and not that throbbing electro.”

    I think that they moved to Casablanca from GTO after “I Feel Love”, so maybe they had more money?

    According to the Wikipedia it was a Devo movie that Eno rushed to Bowie, btw. Maybe he made a habit of it.

  57. 57
    Erithian on 1 Jul 2008 #

    This one is mechanical and repetitive, goes on and on, and the lyrics are banal and don’t go anywhere. In fact, like other tracks that break all the rules of what I usually like about a record (Blue Monday and Firestarter come to mind) it’s bloody terrific.

    One of the things that’s great about it is that it’s where pop music meets applied mathematics. Marcello refers to the four-note riff echoed half a beat later – this sequence of four notes spreads over four bars, producing a framework of 64 individual sounds in a sequence. 64 being two to the power 5, thus divisible by 32, 16, 8 and 4, this creates innumerable patterns to listen out for within the framework, and therein the variety lies – as Rosie suggests with her reference to Steve Reich.

    Overlaying this is the vocal, which as I mentioned above doesn’t go anywhere lyric-wise… but then it doesn’t have to. It’s a voice, and a beautiful one, as one more instrument, and the most important one, in the mix, adding texture as much as meaning – in much the same way as Björk would do a generation or so later. The overall effect is mesmerising, although my reaction would be not so much to dance to it as to let its power roll over anything in its path.

    Domestically, my memory of this is as the soundtrack to The Summer Of The Kite. Remember when stunt kites were all the rage, and you had two-handled controls and could make the kite soar and sweep and dive at will? I used to make my kite dance in the air with the chart show playing in the background, and I Feel Love was a great track for kite dancing – a long dive from its apogee as Donna goes “Oooooohhh..” then a climb from side to side back up into the sky as Giorgio’s pulses take over again. Won me a prize on Llandudno Beach, that routine did!

  58. 58
    Erithian on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Great snippet in Record Mirror the previous year, reporting that a reverend in the US had been outraged by “Love To Love You Baby” and pointed out that the record contained 22 orgasms. As RM pertinently asked, “Who’s counting, Rev?”

  59. 59
    Erithian on 1 Jul 2008 #

    sorry, that should be two to the power 6, shouldn’t it?

  60. 60
    rosie on 1 Jul 2008 #

    The number of orgasms – quite blatant ones – in Act II of Tristan und Isolde hasn’t had that barred from Radio 3, to my knowledge. Must be something to do with corrupting the proles.

  61. 61
    Matthew K on 1 Jul 2008 #

    Sorry – please don’t resign. But this record remains a giant and an unassailable 10 in my universe.

  62. 62
    Dan R on 2 Jul 2008 #

    re: #60

    That wouldn’t be at all implausible. Much cultural policy seemed to assume that what was okay for the educated middle class was viciously corrupting to the great unwashed. In the late 1950s the Royal Court Theatre’s application for a licence to perform Beckett’s play Endgame was turned down by the Lord Chamberlain in part because of the line ‘God the bastard! He doesn’t exist!’. The theatre was instead permitted to perform the same play in French. On the grounds, one assumes, either (a) that if you are educated enough to follow a play in another language your mind is fine enough to withstand such blows, or (b) that someone who is fluent in French is already so sunk in corruption as to make no difference.

  63. 63
    Erithian on 2 Jul 2008 #

    Harking back to some earlier comments: Tom at #9 about how we were straining at the leash to get onto punk – I guess that’s because we’d have had to wait until late ’78 for a number one that was even remotely punk, and the pre-GSTQ developments were relevant for discussion in ’76.

    Lena at #11 re Jay-Z – I had mixed feelings about Saturday night. Quite chuffed to see how happy he looked with the reception he got, and happy to see there’s an audience for such a diversity of styles of Glastonbury. But on the other hand, the actual stuff he played was a wee bit shite, wasn’t it? At one point basically playing the record of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” with a few random shouts over the top of it. OK, I’m not exactly the target audience, but I’m darn grateful for that. (lights blue paper and stands well back)

  64. 64
    DJ Punctum on 2 Jul 2008 #

    No it wasn’t you ignorant twat.

    That do?

  65. 65
    DJ Punctum on 2 Jul 2008 #

    i mean it’s just two drums and he shouts random nonsense over it tutti frutti wtf does that mean bring back vera lynn &c

  66. 66
    Erithian on 2 Jul 2008 #

    I’m more amused than offended by that, but it’s somewhat unparliamentary language.

    “Fight for the right to call Jay-Z shite” – that’s got a ring to it.

  67. 67
    Tom on 2 Jul 2008 #

    Speaking of Jay-Z, punk might have had to wait until ’78 for an official number one (and bunny law forbids me saying what) – but is there a genre more shafted within the Popular schema than hip-hop? It’s the equivalent of “Michelle” by the Overlanders in 1966 being the first ever rock’n’roll #1!

    (More on this eventually.)

  68. 68
    abaffledrepublic on 2 Jul 2008 #

    This is one of my favourite #1s even though I can’t remember it from its original release. I can only wonder how much it might have blown my mind if I’d been around at the time. In both sound and spirit it foreshadows House smashes like ‘Baby Wants to Ride’ ‘Break for Love’ and ‘French Kiss’.

    Even better (if that’s possible) is Patrick Cowley’s extended version released five years later, which goes on for quarter of an hour and still ends too soon.

    Proof positive, if it were needed, that disco broke at least as much new ground, and reached out to at least as many people, as punk rock did.

  69. 69
    DJ Punctum on 3 Jul 2008 #

    #67: if we’re discounting Eurodance, boyband, rave and novelty number ones which include rapping, then it is indeed a Pat Boone moment…

  70. 70
    Billy Smart on 3 Jul 2008 #

    I can remember one Guinness Book of British Hit Singles claiming that the Pet Shop Boys had the first rap number one!

  71. 71
    DJ Punctum on 3 Jul 2008 #

    They kept missing out Teri de Sario, though, so you can’t really trust them (not to mention missing out ALL Various Artists albums in the last Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles And Albums).

  72. 72
    Matthew H on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Re #70

    …when any fule kno it was JJ Barrie.

  73. 73
    rosie on 3 Jul 2008 #

    And this recent turn to the thread reminds me that it won’t be all that long now before I’m either completely left behind in all this, or about to embark on an awfully big adventure. I can’t say that either rap or hip-hop has ever done an awful lot for me, mind, although as with anything else there are exceptions.

  74. 74
    Tom on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Rosie it will be an incredibly long time until anyone’s liking for hip-hop becomes a major factor :(

  75. 75
    DJ Punctum on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Then again, there’s the next number one…

  76. 76
    SteveM on 3 Jul 2008 #

    I guess D***** H**** doesn’t count eh.

    Re the Patrick Cowley mix, not sure I’ve heard this but someone on ILM mentioned it as being one of the earliest examples of featuring extended 4 bar snare rolls or at least an equivalent of this as breakdown and/or build up. This was from a thread I started looking for the earliest examples of this technique (specifically extended snare rolls as in a snare per 16th note) and I wasn’t aware of anything like that pre ’92 Harthouse trance monsters like Hardfloor’s ‘Acperience’ and a couple of poppier hits from around the same time.

  77. 77
    rosie on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Tom, just as my attitude to “punk” depends very much on how you define “punk” (whatever it is coming up in late ’78, I think you’ll find my take is very different indeed from my take on GSTQ.) But then life is full of surprises, more than a few of which have come my way via Popular. One that came my way (from elsewhere) quite recently that caused my eyebrows to rise was that some early recordings by the Sex Pistols were produced by one Chris Spedding, a jobbing guitarist who had a mid-seventies mainstream hit of his own in the mid-70s. That in itself came as a surprise to me at the time since I knew Chris Spedding through his work with Nucleus (a kind of British Weather Report, m’lud), and before that with underground, art-rock. distinctly non-populist band the Battered Ornaments. That seems to me to be quite a journey but maybe a circular one because there’s not a lot of clear water between the Battered Ornaments and a lot of what was getting tagged “punk” by about 1978. As I’ve said many times, there’s nothing new under the sun.

    Anyway, I digress. Herbie Hancock is apparently a big influence on the hip-hop scene and I adore Herbie Hancock. I’m listening to his Watermelon Man even as I write. It doesn’t distress me that Herbie Hancock never (to my knowledge) ever had a pop hit, though.

  78. 78
    Tom on 3 Jul 2008 #

    He did though! “Rockit”, in the early 80s, a classic bit of skinny-tie electro.

  79. 79
    DJ Punctum on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Also “I Thought It Was You,” a top 20 hit in 1978 (Charles Fox commented on it on that week’s edition of Jazz Today) and “You Bet Your Love” which likewise went top 20 in early 1979.

    Chris Spedding, the missing link between Mike Westbrook, Eno, the Wombles, Mickie Most, Carla Bley and the Pistols. What a man.

  80. 80
    SteveM on 3 Jul 2008 #

    I heard a bit of Summer’s new album yesterday via iTunes. Hmm. It’s over 20 years since she last released a single I really liked and that was ‘Dinner With Gershwin’. The SAW stuff doesn’t do much for me although ‘This Time I Know It’s For Real’ might be one of their better productions from that time.

  81. 81
    Billy Smart on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Chris Spedding’s punk credentials were immortalised through his solo single ‘Pogo Dancing’

    “Pogo dancin’!
    It’s the latest sound!
    Why move side to side
    When you can move up and down?”

    You can’t argue with that.

  82. 82
    Drucius on 3 Jul 2008 #

    “Chris Spedding, the missing link between Mike Westbrook, Eno, the Wombles, Mickie Most, Carla Bley and the Pistols. What a man.”

    And lest we forget, The Vibrators.

  83. 83
    DJ Punctum on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Indeed.

    The only thing I’ve heard from the new Donna Summer album is a ballad called something like “Be Myself Again” which Ken Bruce helpfully played on his show last Wednesday while I was packing up and moving house. I thought it was amazing but have no idea what the rest of the record is like.

    “This Time I Know It’s For Real” can make me cry, for reasons which are nobody’s business here.

  84. 84
    Pete on 3 Jul 2008 #

    I think this Time I Know Its For Real is a terrific record which probably doesn’t stretch Donna half as much as she stretches the SAW production. Definitely one of the highpoints of the SAW back catalogue.

  85. 85
    Erithian on 3 Jul 2008 #

    Which reminds me – with “Hot Stuff”, she’s the second consecutive Number 1 act to feature in “The Full Monty” soundtrack. Remember that news footage of Prince Charles meeting the cast and trying THAT dance from the dole queue scene?

  86. 86
    DJ Punctum on 3 Jul 2008 #

    I see that “Rock ‘N’ Roll Part 2” is still on the Full Monty soundtrack album so clearly that’s how he’s been making a living.

  87. 87
    Lena on 3 Jul 2008 #

    To me, Jay-Z showing up with a band and playing around with AC/DC and U2 was just his nod to the audience as well as to the black roots of rock itself. (My favorite Jay-Z ‘album’ as such is The Slack Album, which is a song-by-song mash-up of The Black Album and Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted. I wonder if he’s heard it?)

    Jay-Z was in the audience for Federer’s match yesterday, did the BBC take note?

  88. 88
    My hmphs on 4 Jul 2008 #

    You nailed it – It does sound futuristic, and when it was released oh so many years ago, I thought, “Wow. This ain’t disco.”

    I’ve always thought Madonna’s “Ray of Light” paid homage to this song.

  89. 89
    DJ Punctum on 4 Jul 2008 #

    Not to “Sepheryn” by Curtiss-Maldoon, then.

  90. 90
    Mark G on 4 Jul 2008 #

    I’ve always thought Madonna’s “Ray of Light” paid Money to that song.

  91. 91
    DJ Punctum on 4 Jul 2008 #

    Oh yes, full composer credits and all that, but I think the track comes out of Madonna long before it comes out of “I Feel Love” if you see what I mean.

  92. 92
    SteveM on 4 Jul 2008 #

    a little more reminiscent of ‘I Feel Love’ and just after ‘Ray Of Light’ was the synth bassline on Underworld’s ‘King Of Snake’

  93. 93
    xyzzzz__ on 5 Jul 2008 #

    “Jay-Z was in the audience for Federer’s match yesterday, did the BBC take note?”

    Indeed he was!

  94. 94
    mike on 8 Jul 2008 #

    Yeah but yeah but yeah but… the way I remember it, “I Feel Love” was originally conceived as the final song on Donna’s loosely conceptual I Remember Yesterday album. Since other tracks pastiched different periods – the title track covering big band swing, “Love’s Unkind” covering 1960s Spector girl groups etc – it was deemed necessary to conclude the album with a song that sounded as if it had been made in THA FOOOOTURE. And so, in a sense, “I Feel Love” was a novelty song that ended up accidentally inventing THA FOOOOTURE.

    (Not that Moroder was slow to run with his new ideas, of course; his own “From Here To Eternity” and “The Chase” are of course quite wonderful natural follow-ons from “I Feel Love”.)

    Meanwhile, somewhere in San Francisco, an unknown musician called Patrick Cowley was most definitely listening. His 1982 remix of “I Feel Love” actually comes quite close to topping the original, and I had a lot of fun reviving it on my dancefloors over the 1988 Summer Of Acid, mixing the long instrumental breaks with Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech (on the B-side of the MLK Project’s “I Have A Dream” as the acapella mix!), while turning the smoke and the strobes up to max…

  95. 95
    DJ Punctum on 8 Jul 2008 #

    Yeah but yeah but post #3…

  96. 96
    mike on 8 Jul 2008 #

    Well, ahum, I thought it was worth underlining the arguable “novelty song” aspect. The placing at the end of the album is in one sense Radical Future Shock – but in another sense, it’s also kinda showbiz hokey: “Well kids, I hope you’ve enjoyed our little look back at the past – but now, let us transport you into THA FOOOTURE!”

  97. 97
    Erithian on 8 Jul 2008 #

    And of course another song that signified THA FOOOOTURE back in 1961, “Johnny Remember Me”, was a perfect mash-up partner for “I Feel Love” in one of Bronski Beat’s many fine outings. I dare say you might have played that once or twice?

  98. 98
    Erithian on 8 Jul 2008 #

    Whoops, nothing meant by the word “outings”!!

  99. 99
    DJ Punctum on 8 Jul 2008 #

    I still think it works in a SMiLE/”Good Vibrations” sense.

    “Love To Love You Baby + I Feel Love + Johnny Remember Me,” a top three hit for Bronski Beat and Marc Almond in 1985 recorded as a direct response to alleged comments made by D Summer apropos urgent and key 1985 issue.

  100. 100
    mike on 8 Jul 2008 #

    And who could forget Messiah’s 1992 “rave” version, featuring that Precious Wilson out of Eruption?

    Or indeed the 1995 Rollo & Sister Bliss remix, which helped the track back into the Top 10? (I remember them making quite a decent job of it, but then my 1995 dancefloor memories are, cough, not always to be trusted.)

  101. 101
    DJ Punctum on 8 Jul 2008 #

    Who could forget indeed?

  102. 102
    intothefireuk on 11 Jul 2008 #

    The metallic clank of analogue sequencers, mechanised 4/4 drum beats, phased, synchopated hi-hats, swirling synths and effects – familiar enough now but in 1977 ? It wasn’t entirely without precedence though – Tangerine Dream, Can, Kraftwerk et al had been playing with sequencers & synths for years; as had the majority of prog rock bands. The difference here was employing it as a danceable solution (to teenage revolution ? – sorry). Well that and of course Donna’s sultry soulful vocals turning the automated pulse human. Previously heard being amalgamated into a warm discofied, funked up backdrop but now brought into sharp focus by the machines. Beauty & the Beast. It’s not really disco or funk it’s cold, calculating & warm & soothing and I know it’s a significant record but I just can’t love it as much as I’d like to. No, I actually prefer her/Moroders re-invention of Manilow’s ‘Could It Be Magic’ (album version not the castrated single version) from the previous year (which Take Fat would eventually bastardise) which I find a far more sensuous and enveloping record but that did nothing in the chart so what the hell do I know.

    Re: Chris Spedding – still touring with Roxy Music & Bryan Ferry (it all fits !) – he also featured on Ferry’s 1976 version of ‘Let’s Stick Together’.

  103. 103
    mike on 17 Jul 2008 #

    According to the listeners of BBC Radio 2, this is the second greatest dance record of all time (just ahead of “Sex Machine” and, OMGWTF, “Strings Of Life”).

  104. 104
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    To be fair, Donna’s “Could It Be Magic?” did manage to reach #40 in June 1976, but even Barry’s original didn’t chart in Britain until early 1979 (and Barry won’t be bothering us – at least not directly – on Popular either; much loved in the UK but saleswise predominantly an albums artist).

    As for Radio 2 listeners – isn’t democracy a tad overrated (as great a record as the winner is, is it really a “dance” record?)? I don’t approve of the idea of a preordained shortlist but presumably that was a safeguard to ensure that something like “The Birdie Song” or “Agadoo” didn’t come top.

  105. 105
    Mark G on 17 Jul 2008 #

    10. Key To My Happiness
    – The Charades (1966)

    uh, what?

  106. 106
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    Northern Soul guv.

  107. 107
    rosie on 17 Jul 2008 #

    Marcello @ 104: It all depends what you mean by “dance”. The notion of “dance” as a distinct genre of popular music comes after my pop time. For many of us wrinklies (who are alleged to form a large part of the Radio 2 audience but me being a cussed so-and-so I confine myself to radios 3 and 4 these days), the primary purpose of *all* popular music was dancing. We may raise eyebrows now that Rock Around The Clock was labelled a foxtrot, but then in 1955 a foxtrot is what would have been done to it in most dance halls where it was played.

    Of course, it depends on what kind of dance you plan to do, how good a track is for dancing to. The top track in that list is a fabulous track for the leroc[*] dancing that was my chosen style before arthritic knees made it difficult. Tracks like I’m Not In Love or If You Leave Me Now are hopeless for leroc but great for smooching and that is also dancing. You can do a terrificly sexy salsa to Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares For Me. My absolute favourite track for lerocing to is was always Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.

    You can tell what a numpty I was when went into Virgin in Bristol in the early 90s looking for music to practice leroc to, and naively went to the section labelled ‘Dance’!

    [*] Leroc is French jiving, that is 50s jiving modified for the less frenetic pop music of the sixties when partner dancing remained dominant while the anglo-saxon world moved away from it. Less flamboyant footwork, more sensuous arm and body movement. I for one regret the passing of partner dancing. It’s almost as if the world became afraid of intimacy.

  108. 108
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    None of this goes any way towards answering my query as to why that record in particular should be considered specifically as a “dance” record.

  109. 109
    rosie on 17 Jul 2008 #

    Duh! Because, as I said very clearly, it’s a cracking track to dance to. Which part of that don’t you understand, Marcello?

  110. 110
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    So are other records. But their embyronic generation is not in dance-intentional terms. It is not a dance record in the sense of “One More Time” or “Must Be Madison.”

  111. 111
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    More pressing: “Where Love Lives” by Alison Limerick wtf?

  112. 112
    Tom on 17 Jul 2008 #

    #108-110: No more discussion of that particular record please!

  113. 113
    mike on 17 Jul 2008 #

    No issues at all with the deserved inclusion of “Where Love Lives” – an absolute classic, and one of those tracks that would always, always drag me onto the floor.

  114. 114
    rosie on 17 Jul 2008 #

    Without discussing any particular record, I continue to maintain that all pop music is, ipso fact, inteded at least in part for dancing to. Regardless either of whether it specifically alludes to a particular dance or of whether it falls into the genre known as “Dance” (much of which, it seems to me, is difficult to dance meaningfully to as it is devoid of any kind of emotion.)

  115. 115
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    Have you ever tried to dance to any “Dance” music Peggy?

  116. 116
    Tom on 17 Jul 2008 #

    Yes you’re on dangerous ground here Rosie – everyone who’s been to Poptimism will have seen Marcello glued to the dancefloor all night, glowstick aloft, teeth grinding, raving his bollocks off while the likes of Kat and Lex are forced into humiliating retreats.

  117. 117
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    I’ve no idea what the man’s on about; I’ve not been to Poptimism since February and categorically deny any glowstick (ab)use.

  118. 118
    Mark G on 17 Jul 2008 #

    #106 yeah, but this got number 10 on a radio2 poll? How did that happen? I mean, I know a bit of NS but I don’t know this one. Should listen more, I guess…..

  119. 119
    DJ Punctum on 17 Jul 2008 #

    Maybe the panel of experts all brought different compilation CDs and they just picked the tenth track on each. It’s a good one, though, if very “token NS entry” in a non-poll like this.

  120. 120
    SteveM on 17 Jul 2008 #

    what is meant by ‘dance meaningfully’?! i just dance meanly

    emotional connections to “Dance” Music come all too easily for some of us

  121. 121
    AndyPandy on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Bit late in the day but I’ve just seen the BBC’s ridiculous “Top Ten dance tracks” linked to on this thread.
    Just the kind of pigs ear that you’d imagine the BBC would make of such a task. They might “get” rock but you just know when it comes to “dance” they might as well forget it…

    Alison Limerick!? as someone said “WTF?!” – is it a coincidence that this figured high in the appalling ‘Mixmag”s top dance tracks from the mid-90s which they had temerity to bar readers from voting on. As I think I might have said before I can only think that a couple of their editorial staff came up on their first pills whilst this mediocre rubbish was being played one night as there’s no other reason for remembering it years later.

    And I agree with the bewilderment about the Northern Soul track (owing to some friends who were Scooter Boys/Mods I like to think I have a pretty broad knowledge of NS and I’ve never even knowingly heard this track…did they pick it because in their ill-informed way they thought NS was ALL about obscurity so they went and picked a track that was pretty obscure even on the NS scene?

    And why no hardcore/rave…?

    well at least we should have been thankul for small mercies- I’d half thought that knowing the kind of people who come up with these things it’d be full of ‘student techno’ eg Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Underworld, post-Firestarter Prodigy etc…

  122. 122
    thefatgit on 9 Oct 2009 #

    This is a stonewall 10 for me. A tune that can make you physically drop what you’re doing and listen and feel the groove and dance. Or at least jiggle about a bit and nod your head. In ’77 when this was #1 it was the start of the school hols. Quite a weird summer after the mad heatwave of ’76, with the Silver Jubilee fresh in everyone’s mind. The Sex Pistols and The Clash were not quite on my radar, although I was aware of them, but Donna Summer…WOW! This was like nothing I had heard before, a mesmerising single. Ahead of it’s time. Not really understanding why until much later. To me this felt like the start of something much more engaging than disco. A heart-pumping groove like rock but supersonically faster. Incredible. After that…nothing. No mad grooves, no thumping beats no spacey synths. Nobody picked up the baton and ran with it until 1987! Why?

  123. 123
    Spectre5299 on 2 Apr 2010 #

    Every commenter before me has given great insight into why this particular record is so groundbreaking and amazing, but I will still chime in for it. I Feel Love is my favorite pop single of all time. It’s all about the paradoxes of the song and production to me. The pulsating bassline and mechanized beats pointing towards the future of pop music, while it’s production clearly grounds it to the 70’s. The coldness of the music contrasting with Summer’s warm, sexy cooing of the lyrics. And I would hesitate to call them “lyrics”. More like fragments of an untapped wonder of senses. I Feel Love has always evoked images of a emotionless android awakening to sexual ecstasy, or the euphoric feeling of love. A thing of processed thoughts now for the first time feeling something new. Something that cannot be sent through a processor, but only felt through the body. The intertwining of sex and dance. A set in stone 10.

  124. 124
    abaffledrepublic on 5 Jun 2010 #

    More on the extended Cowley remix. It was around in 1977, but as an unofficial bootleg rather than an official release, so I imagine that disco DJs, if not radio stations, would have given it plenty of airplay. It wasn’t given a ‘proper’ release until five years later, by which time Summer’s career had moved in a different direction and the commercial disco boom had long since gone bust.

    Can anyone shed any light on why this wasn’t a 10?

  125. 125
    Matt M on 31 Dec 2010 #

    OK – Really nothing new to add except to stress the contrast between Moroder’s robotic rhythmic grid and Summer’s breathy vocals that are both ethereal and sensual at once. It’s not really a disco track. It’s a Krautrock-Soul hybrid that was easily mistaken for a disco track.

    I think it’s the greatest pop track ever bit each to their own.

  126. 126
    Paulito on 3 Dec 2011 #

    Rather disappointing to see that only 75% of voters on Popular ’77 have given this a 6 or over. Clearly, not everyone here is as discerning as I thought…

  127. 127
    punctum on 17 May 2012 #

    worst news possible:

    http://www.tmz.com/2012/05/17/donna-summer-dead-last-dance/

  128. 128
    will on 17 May 2012 #

    Awful news. The deaths of famous people don’t usually affect me but this is really saddening. I have so many personal memories associated with her music, all of them positive, and 63 just feels far too young.

  129. 129
    Lazarus on 17 May 2012 #

    I had no idea she was ill to be honest. And for that reason this news is somehow even more shocking than Whitney. Just very, very sad.

  130. 130
    thefatgit on 17 May 2012 #

    Very sad to lose such a beautiful voice. I’m shocked because IFL is high on my list of all-time faves.

  131. 131
    Alan on 17 May 2012 #

    Currently topping the ft reader scores chart with an AVERAGE of 9.4, with Beach boys 2nd at 9.05

    That’s a clear lead

  132. 132
    thefatgit on 17 May 2012 #

    This seems appropriate…

    http://youtu.be/lEV7TrhkZUk

  133. 133
    AndyPandy on 17 May 2012 #

    As someone else said the deaths of famous people don’t usually affect them but this one did because her music was there at important times in their life.I agree completely. I didn’t even know she was ill so this is totally out of the blue. I haven’t felt so shocked since Michael Jackson passed away.

  134. 134
    Rory on 17 May 2012 #

    The first thing I thought of on hearing the news was that 9.4 reader score. That’s some testament.

    I’m reading another long obituary thread at MetaFilter, where this comment in particular appealed. Another linked to Sound on Sound’s Classic Tracks dissection of IFL.

  135. 135
    swanstep on 17 May 2012 #

    Yikes. Damn, she was in great voice (and basically looking great too) on Jools Holland’s show only a couple of years ago, e.g., here. Definitely made one think that it was insane that nobody from the electronic dance world had collaborated with her recently (I mean – really – what *has* William Orbit been doing the last ten years when he could have been working with DS?). The First Lady of electronic dance music absolutely.

  136. 136
    swanstep on 21 May 2012 #

    Blondie doing I Feel Love (Live) in 1979.

  137. 137
    Cumbrian on 13 Jul 2012 #

    So it’s Britain’s Favourite #1 on ITV this weekend. Any bets on how high I Feel Love (the current FT #1) will feature?

    ETA: Actually scratch that, having been to the website, I see it’s not even in the top 10 for voting. Indeed they didn’t even have a number from 1977 on the long list to start with. Numerous bunnies on the list, so I won’t bother copying and pasting.

  138. 138
    punctum on 13 Jul 2012 #

    What a boring fucking voting list. Nothing from the fifties, one from the sixties, three from the seventies, one from the eighties, three from the nineties, one from the noughties and one from this decade. You wouldn’t need Derren Brown to predict what they are or indeed which one will win.

  139. 139
    Mark G on 13 Jul 2012 #

    Well, to be scrup-fair, that’s presumably what got voted after the 12 pop experts (who?) chose the 60 to vote from.

    OK, maybe “Baby Jump” would not in all conscience make a ‘memorable’ list because of history having proved otherwise.

    But.

    Boring list, not voting, not watching.

  140. 140
    punctum on 13 Jul 2012 #

    My guess as to the twelve pop “experts”:

    Una Healy of the Saturdays
    Myleene Klass
    Phillip Schofield
    Alan Halsall (Tyrone Out Of Corrie)
    Justin Lee Collins
    Sir Trevor McDonald
    Sarah Davies, ex-bassist with Hepburn
    Trinny Out Of Trinny And Susannah
    Darren Hayes DARREN HAYES OUT OF SAVAGE GARDEN EVERYONE
    Ex-Busted guitarist Ki McPhail
    Darius Danesh
    Angie Bray MP

  141. 141
    Mark G on 13 Jul 2012 #

    I’d have expected better of Sir Trevor.

  142. 142

    i heard he liked seapunk

  143. 143
    Mark G on 13 Jul 2012 #

    Was there a seapunk number one?

    Sealand doesn’t count.

  144. 144
    swanstep on 22 Sep 2012 #

    Blue Man Group doing a rocked out, drummed up version of IFL (in a ridiculously large stadium).

  145. 145
    Brendan on 22 Sep 2012 #

    I can’t believe that by far the 2 most innovative and brilliant number 1 records ever (this and ‘Good Vibrations’) were only given 9 when the mediocre likes of ‘These Boots…’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ get 10 (I’d have given them both a 7 if I was feeling generous).

  146. 146
    Alan not logged in on 22 Sep 2012 #

    Brendan – http://freakytrigger.co.uk/populist/3/ shows yr in tune w Popular readers on Donna, BBoys and Nancy, but way off on your ABBA

  147. 147
    Brendan on 22 Sep 2012 #

    I like SOS, Take a Chance on Me and The Winner Takes It All very much. But, like 1 or 2 others pointed out, Dancing Queen just doesn’t move me as it does so many others.

  148. 148
    swanstep on 10 Jan 2014 #

    2013 was a strong year for Giorgio Moroder generally, but IFL in particular was used in (’70s disco scenes in) two superior 2013 films: Behind the Candelabra and American Hustle.

  149. 149
    swanstep on 16 Apr 2014 #

    The Sound Opinions podcast has Giorgio Moroder for the hour this week. Download available here: http://www.soundopinions.org/show/437

  150. 150
    www.lingotto-parts.com on 4 Jul 2014 #

    What’s up, its understandable paragraph along with this YouTube video; I can抰 think that one can not understand this trouble-free article having with movie sample.

  151. 151
    hectorthebat on 22 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 15
    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1970s (2001) 4
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    Pitchfork (USA) – The Pitchfork 500 (2008)
    PopMatters (USA) – The 100 Best Songs Since Johnny Rotten Roared (2003) 38
    Rolling Stone (USA) – 40 Songs That Changed the World (2007)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 411
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 418
    TIME (USA) – The All-Time 100 Songs (2011)
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1970s (2008)
    Gary Mulholland (UK) – This Is Uncool: The 500 Best Singles Since Punk Rock (2002)
    HarperCollins GEM (UK) – Single of the Year 1949-99 (1999)
    Mixmag (UK) – The 100 Best Dance Singles of All Time (1996) 12
    Mojo (UK) – The 100 Records That Changed the World (2007) 96
    Muzik (UK) – The 50 Most Influental Records of All Time (2003)
    Paul Roland (UK) – CD Guide to Pop & Rock, 100 Essential Singles (2001)
    Q (UK) – 100 Songs That Changed the World (2003) 36
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 268
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – The 50 Most Exciting Tunes Ever (2002) 44
    Q (UK) – The Ultimate Music Collection (2005)
    Q (UK) – Top 20 Singles from 1970-1979 (2004) 3
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Uncut (UK) – 100 Rock and Movie Icons (2005) 68
    Uncut (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles from the Post-Punk Era (2001) 11
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 1
    Spex (Germany) – The Best Singles of the Century (1999)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009
    Les Inrockuptibles (France) – 1000 Indispensable Songs (2006)
    Volume (France) – 200 Records that Changed the World, 2008 (38 songs)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  152. 152
    Larry on 15 Nov 2014 #

    I remember this as the disco record it was OK for punks to like. And can it (with its syndrums) be said to be the first record of the 80s?

  153. 153
    karlos fandango on 4 Jun 2015 #

    I was trying to work out if this came out as a 12″ at the time – I think it might have been DJ-only in the US and not released here at all. Which seems nuts. Eventually came out here in ’82. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

  154. 154
    Phil on 4 Jun 2015 #

    I think what you’ve got to remember is that 12″ was a very new format at the time – the first one I remember actually handling was the Ramones’ “Sheena is a punk rocker”, also in 1977. (On which, incidentally, the grooves were spaced exactly as they would have been for an LP, giving half an inch of music and four inches of run-out groove!) The non-DJ, non-novelty market for 12″s was minute.

    According to Discogs this single did get a 12″ release in the US – with an 8:15 remix of the song rather than the 5:53 original – but it was a single-sided 33 rpm 12″ (with two tracks on it – got to have a B side!). No 12″ in the UK until 1982, and then I think it was that awful ‘remix’ with loads of stuff added.

    I’d give it a 10, btw, but 9 isn’t totally ridiculous.

  155. 155

    As you probably know, 12″ singles already existed (a) in Jamaica, as part of its “pre-release platter” culture; (b) likewise in the US, as promo copies for DJs. “Love to Love You Baby” was released in 1975, first as the whole side of an LP then as an official 12″ (it’s 17 minutes long). So this was a 1975 “event-release” within disco that began shifting interest in 12″s from specialist arcana via novelty stunt to (potential) mass sales. By 1977, I think it was becoming more a of a bedded-in (semi-novelty) format, alongside coloured vinyl — I remember my friend Chris Freeman being cross he couldn’t find X-Ray Spex’s “Oh Bondage! Up Yours” as a non-12″ in Shrewsbury in Sept 77 (Virgin were being canny dicks about it, knowing we young punks just HAD to have it and would buy it). My friend Phil Kelly caved first, so it was his copy we ended up pogoing ineptly to.

    So it seems likely that “I Feel Love” was also available on 12″ (again it was first heard as an LP track, again Casablanca was the label). Wikipedia says 7″ and 12″ tho i wouldn’t rest my foot too hard on that affirmation

  156. 156
    Mark M on 4 Jun 2015 #

    In Will Hermes’ Love Goes To Buildings On Fire, he claims that DJ Tom Moulton had been working on a remix in late ’74, and the engineer had run out of 7″ acetates, so they pressed the DJ copies on 12″ vinyl instead – and thought, ‘wow, that’s way better.’ Thus, enter the 12″ single.

    But I’m totally willing to believe it has happening in Jamaica first.

  157. 157

    In fact I think the dub plates supplied to reggae (and pre-reggae) DJs in Jamaica tended to be 10″s, at least in the 50s and 60s? The idea is much the same — a micro-market for a quite specific use with its own requirements (good sound and durability) — but the realisation slightly different.

  158. 158
    Mark M on 4 Jun 2015 #

    Re155/6 etc: I’ve now read the Wikipedia entry, which gives a different account of the Moulton story, and says it was a 10″ acetate, which is apparently what they used in Jamaica, as Lord S points out. The Wikipedia entry, though very detailed, reads like a collection of competing origin stories, with nobody actually knowing where it all started, which may well be the case.

    Hermes’ book is most rigorously footnoted, but his birth of the 12″ story has no reference, and I can’t find Moulton listed as one of his interviewees either.

  159. 159
    Mark M on 4 Jun 2015 #

    Ah ha, here’s an interview (by Michaelangelo Matos) with Moulton telling the story. Which doesn’t mean that nobody had done it first, of course.

  160. 160
    Phil on 4 Jun 2015 #

    #155 – I’d forgotten “Oh Bondage!” being on 12″ (I got it on 7″ but with a generic paper sleeve chiz chiz). I do think the format was associated with novelty at that stage; I remember a lot of coloured vinyl 12″s of perfectly credible releases. I very nearly bought Television’s “Prove It” (12″ green vinyl), despite having the album, but then read two separate articles from which I concluded that In The Future all singles would be 12″ and all vinyl would be green, thus (in my mind) destroying the novelty value of this release… which doesn’t even follow, now I think about it; maybe I was just looking for an excuse.

    As for “I feel love”, Discogs lists 20 different releases of this single in 1977; five of them were 12″ and two of those were promos, the other three being released in the US, Canada and Sweden. It feels like UK clubbers ought to have been able to hear it in its full 8:15 glory, but I don’t think they did – not on a UK copy, anyway. (And 5:53 was still pretty long for a chart single!)

  161. 161
    Mark G on 4 Jun 2015 #

    The first charting 12″ was The Who’s “Substitute” a three tracker which sounded lousy on seven inch (the b side did) but great on twelve.

  162. 162
    Phil on 4 Jun 2015 #

    Now that was a novelty issue – it came out in October 1976, on the back of The Story of the Who (a compilation with some odd holes in it, apparently due to being selected from the recordings the band actually owned at the time). The many voices of Google say variously that it was the first 12″ single in Britain and the first widely-marketed 12″.

  163. 163
    Mark G on 4 Jun 2015 #

    I remember a bunch of 12″ singles in Quicksilver, Reading, about two months previously: Salsoul, Lou Rawls maybe, Strawberry Letter 23 I’m fairly sure (red vinyl, I have a copy now).

    There was an rso records 10″ various artists thing, but because it had one unreleased Eric Clapton track as side one track one, they marketed it as “the worlds largest single” which was wrong even before 12″ singles were invented.

  164. 164
    wichitalineman on 5 Jun 2015 #

    Tom Moulton was interviewed by Bill Brewster for DJ History some years back, and I also read the 12″ origin story (not 10″ according to Tom) in Peter Shapiro’s Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.

    I think Sweden was the only European country to issue I Feel Love as a 12″ in 1977, at least according to Discogs. Would the single-sided US 12″ not have been a promo for DJs? I can’t imagine it being a commercial release.

    First UK 12″ I’ve come across is David Essex’s dystopian epic City Lights, released in March ’76, beating the Who by six months. Never seen this mentioned anywhere though, so might be others lurking undocumented.

  165. 165
    Phil on 5 Jun 2015 #

    According to Discogs City Lights had a full 12″ release in Japan – is that an untold chapter of the Birth of the Twelve? – and a promo release on 12″ in the UK, backing the release of Stardust. The 7″ was what was (officially) in the shops.

    It looks as if the official First Ever 12″ was “Ten Percent” by Double Exposure, also 1976 (on Salsoul, so that might be what Mark G remembered). Although from another angle Donna Summer had kicked the whole thing off the previous year with the 16:50 “LTLYB”, which did well in the clubs despite being not so much a 12″ single as half an LP.

    Just discovered that Donna Summer’s first single was “Wassermann” by Donna Gaines und Ensemble – i.e. “Aquarius” from Hair, in German. In 1971 she did a version of “Sally go round the roses”, a 1963 girl-band song which had also been covered by Pentangle. The pub quiz questions practically write themselves.

  166. 166
    lonepilgrim on 5 Jun 2015 #

    I have a 12″ single of “Haitian Divorce’ by Steely Dan from 1976 (which features two otherwise unavailable tracks on the b-side) and I don’t think that was the first 12” single i owned

  167. 167
    Mark G on 5 Jun 2015 #

    #165 Yes, it was Ten Percent, Double Exposure. I got a copy of the seven inch from Radio London during my short-lived radio not-career. It wasn’t that long a song, so how they managed to stretch it out to eight minutes I can’t imagine. Or, I couldn’t at the time, I’m sure I could now.

    (Funnily enough, “Oh Bondage Up Yours” was in the same bundle with which I managed to convert the sixth form to..)

    I know we discussed the City Lights 12″ before, I couldn’t remember at all – I did remember it being a long single with groove cramming reducing the volume. (The live version of “Roadrunner” on the b-side of “Morning of our lives” was longer, but it was from his busky days so it didn’t matter as much. ) Anyway, if it was Japanese only, that would explain why.

    Re the haitian divorce one, there were a lot of “Greatest hits” 4 or 3 trackers issued in the wake of the “Substitute” hit, not many got into the charts but a lot of them were consistent sellers.

  168. 168
    Phil on 5 Jun 2015 #

    Discogs puts the four-track Steely Dan 12″ in 1977.

    I’ve got a vague memory of “Roadrunner (Thrice)” playing at 33, but can’t confirm it, irritatingly. I gave my then girlfriend that single at the time, and since we’ve been together ever since I would have expected to find it on the shelf with mine. Did she chuck it out at some point? Did I?

  169. 169
    wichitalineman on 5 Jun 2015 #

    Earliest UK Donna Summer, I think, is Sally Go Round The Roses which came out here on MCA. As Donna Gaines, of course. It’s great, in a sparse funky way. I picked it up a few years ago and was wondering why her voice seemed so familiar.

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