Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Although it's debuted in the Top Twenty and she performed its latest single "Stamp Your Feet" on "American Idol" a couple of weeks ago, Donna Summer's Crayons hasn't gotten quite the attention it deserves -- she hasn't released a new album since Amy Grant and Bryan Adams were scoring Top Ten singles. It's not great, but then again Summer's classic LP's weren't either, which is to say, they're better than hits-plus-filler, but not by much. In my review, I insist that Crayons' moments of weirdness -- mostly genre hopping and funny accents -- are of a piece with Summer's recorded work, and, coming from a woman pushing sixty, unexpected and inspiring. Summer's best songs set their own terms for judgment; she was never the Pete Bellotte-Giorgio Moroder puppet some of her fans' backhanded praise suggested. She wrote and recorded great songs after 1980's The Wanderer just as she wrote and recorded awful ones before it (speaking of which, if anyone's got a copy of the eponymous Quincy Jones-produced 1982 record I'll be much obliged). All I'm saying is, program"I'm a Fire" after Hercules & Love Affair's "Blind" and the B-52's "Eyes Wide Open" and you'll think it's 1979 again.

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