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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Pop Making Sense
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2013-11-05

This article shared 3807 times since Tue Nov 5, 2013
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Although Donna Summer has ventured into other genres, she will be remembered for her contributions to dance music. Today's top DJs and producers remix Summer's classics for the dynamic compilation Love to Love You Donna.

Duke Dumont teleports us to the '90s on his outstanding take of "Dim All the Lights," as the line "gonna dance the night away" is looped to form a brand new creation. Chromeo and Oliver accentuate the funky vibe on their fantastic reworking of "Love Is in Control ( Finger on the Trigger )." The lesser-known "Working the Midnight Shift" comes across as a lost cousin of Bananarama's gem "Trick of the Night" with its flawless vocals. This and "Sunset People" make the collection fresh for diehard fans. Even the new versions of party staples "Bad Girls," "Last Dance" and "MacArthur Park" keep this set jamming.

Summer's longtime collaborator Giorgio Moroder issued his own retrospective, Best of Electronic Disco. This sums up the works he produced from '76 through '85, including "From Here to Eternity" and "I Wanna Rock You," as well as "The Chase" from Midnight Express and "Lady Lady" from Flashdance. Sadly, his material from the flick Electric Dreams and his genre-defining pairings with Summer are missing.

Also, James Arena salutes the divas in the book First Ladies of Disco: 32 Stars Discuss the Era and Their Singing Careers. Here, the stories, memories and of course, the connection to the gay community are relived by an array of singers. First-hand accounts come from the likes of Gloria Gaynor, Martha Wash and Evelyn "Champagne" King. This time capsule also has Chicago roots with its offerings from Linda Clifford and Evelyn Thomas. First Ladies of Disco is out now via McFarland in physical and e-book formats. There is also a companion album and a FaceBook page with updates, www.facebook.com/FirstLadiesOfDiscoBook.

Swedish DJ Avicii landed hits "Collide" with Leona Lewis and "Le7els" by sampling Etta James's "Something's Got a Hold of Me." His full-length debut, TRUE, will elevate his popularity. The promising album opens with the smash "Wake Me Up," where Aloe Blacc adds his soulful voice to a folk guitar over a club beat. The standouts "Dear Boy" and "Liar Liar" are destined to become wildly popular. "Shame on Me" possesses the fun electro funk that Chromeo has become known for. True is out now via PRMD/Island Records.

On the cover of her fifth studio album, India.Arie has a glance that implies she will enlighten her listener with insights once again. SongVersation contains such wisdom, as heard on the intimate numbers "Life I Know" and "Break the Shell." She ponders which religion is the correct path on "One" and shows the way, as she sings, "We can heal our broken hearts, if we give up the desire to be right." This powerful track offers resolution, as she professes, "A man with a husband or a woman with a wife, we can debate until the end of time who's wrong and who is right or we can see ourselves as one." The multi-Grammy-winner comes to The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, 777 Casino Dr., Hammond, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 16.

It is a renaissance of the great folk crossovers from the '90s with the announcement of Mazzy Star's first full-length album in 17 years. Seasons of Your Day showcases Hope Sandoval's beautiful, airy vocals. The group's trademark gorgeous, melancholy dimension runs throughout, most notably on "Does Someone Have Your Baby Now?" and "Sparrow." "Common Burn" has traces to the breakout hit "Fade into You." "Flying Low" is ready for licensing in a spaghetti western movie. Mazzy Star performs at The Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., on Wed., Nov. 13.

Unvarnished serves as a welcomed comeback for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts since 2006's Sinner. The blazing opening track "Any Weather ( 606 Version )" is co-written by Jett and Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl. He invited her to join his band at Madison Square Garden and The David Letterman Show for a spry version of her anthem "Bad Reputation." The iconic female rocker still knows how to deliver a catchy hook, as witnessed on "Make It Back" and "Hard to Grow Up." Sure, "TMI" and "Reality Mentality" are weighed down with some cliches, but they are still fun. Unvarnished closes with "Everybody Needs a Hero," a power ballad with some bite.

Jett will be the producer and in a supporting role for the upcoming film Undateable John alongside the dream cast of Shannen Doherty, Margaret Cho and Meredith Baxter.

Seeing Janelle Monae's recent concert made me appreciate her noteworthy sophomore outing, Electric Lady, even more. She continues to show influence from the movie Metropolis by addressing love between humans and androids. This is a clever parallel to same-sex and interracial relationships. During the interlude "Our Favorite Fugitive," this is spelled out as a caller to a radio show says, "robot love is queer." The duet with Eryaku Badu "Q.U.E.E.N." features drag lingo like "throwing shade" and "serving face." Monae delivers a monstrous love song with Miguel on "Primetime." The accompanying video portrays her as a frustrated cocktail waitress at a nightclub where female robots are the go-go dancers to a co-ed audience of spectators. Another finer moment on Electric Lady is the collaboration with Prince, "Givin Em What They Love." Electric Lady debuted in the top 10 in September.


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