1980 Donna Summer – The Wanderer

summer-donna-1980The Wanderer is the eighth studio 1980 album by Donna Summer. It was her first release on Geffen Records and became a Top 20 album in the United States, with the title track single reaching the #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Summer had made her name the previous decade as the most successful female artist of the disco genre, releasing a vast selection of hit singles and albums on Casablanca Records. During this period however, Summer had felt that the label had exploited her and made her portray a sexually orientated image (“The First Lady of Love”) with which she never felt comfortable.The label had also taken over other elements of Summer’s personal life, to the point where she felt she had no control over her life or career. Having come out of a period of depression and rediscovering her Christian faith, Summer had made the decision to break away from Casablanca and file a lawsuit against them. After the lawsuit was eventually settled, Summer became the first artist to be signed to the newly established Geffen Records.

At that time, disco was starting to experience a backlash. rock and new wave music had started to become more popular, and people were starting to feel that the original “edge” to the disco culture had now vanished and that it had become a “safe product”. Others felt that the disco scene had become too associated with drugs, while others resented its exclusivity (doormen would often expect people to look or be dressed a certain way before being allowed into a disco). By 1980, banners reading “disco sucks” were seen everywhere and disco records became flops. Fans wondered what direction Summer (who was seen as “the Queen of disco”) would now take. Her previous full-length album, Bad Girls, had combined elements of rock, soul and R&B with the disco sound, so it had become apparent that she had already evolved in some way. Some artists continued with the disco sound despite the backlash, including Lipps Inc. with the huge summer of 1980 hit Funkytown and Diana Ross with the Chic produced disco flavored “Upside Down” in the fall. Summer however, decided to leave the disco sound behind and The Wanderer turned out to be a very rock and new wave-influenced affair. The album was co-written and produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, who had produced the vast majority of Summer’s hits since their partnership with her began in 1974. The production for the Wanderer was rushed, Geffen wanted to get new product out because of Casablanca plans to release Walk Away another Greatest Hits Collection. “We would have like to do more tweaking, and have more time for production. But we just had to let it go,” said Harold Faltermeyer about the recording of the album.

Tracks such as “Cold Love” and “Nightlife” consisted of a very strong rock sound, the former gaining Summer a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Other songs such as “Looking Up” and “Breakdown” embraced a dance/rock sound. Summer’s new rediscovered Christian faith was documented in the gospel song “I Believe In Jesus”, for which she also received a nomination for Best Inspirational Performance. As a child Summer had sung in gospel choirs, so this song was a chance for her to go back to her roots.

The album peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Album Chart – selling 600,000 US copies – and the title track hit number 3 on the US singles chart. However, two follow-up singles – “Cold Love” and “Who Do You Think You’re Foolin'” – were not successful and barely reached the Top 40. The album and its singles attained limited success on the UK charts. None of the singles cracked the UK Top 40.

Tracks

The Wanderer (Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer) 3:50
2  Looking Up (Pete Belotte, Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer) 4:00
3  Break Down (Pete Belotte, Harold Faltermeyer) 4:08
4  Grand Illusion (Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer) 3:55
5  Running For Cover (Donna Summer) 4:02
Cold Love (Pete Belotte, Harold Faltermeyer, Keith Forsey) 3:41
7  Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’ (Pete Belotte, Sylvester Levay, Jerry Rix) 4:19
8  Nightlife (Pete Belotte, Giorgio Moroder) 6:44
9  Stop Me (Pete Belotte, Keith Forsey) 3:45
10  I Believe in Jesus (Donna Summer) 3:37

Musicians

Bass John Pierce
Bass Leland Sklar
Bass Les Hurdle
Drums Keith Forsey
Guitar Jeff Baxter
Guitar Steve Lukather
Guitar Tim May
Keyboards Harold Faltermeyer
Keyboards Sylvester Levay
Sax Gary Herbig
Background Vocals Bill Champlin
Background Vocals Carmen Grillo
Background Vocals Tom Kelly

Liner Notes

Producer – Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte
Arranged By – Harold Faltermeyer (Tracks 1 to 6, 8, 10), Sylvester Levay (Tracks 7, 9)
Contractor (Musical Contractor) – Trevor Veitch
Coordinator (Production Coordinator) – Laurie Kanner
Engineer – Brian Reeves, Harold Faltermeyer, Jürgen Koppers
Engineer (Assisted By) – Erik Zobler, Matt Farger
Mixed By – Giorgio Moroder, Harold Faltermeyer, Jürgen Koppers, Pete Bellotte

Concept By (Album Concept) – Donna Summer
Design – Christopher Whorf
Photography By – Harry Langdon
Typography (Lettering) – Martin Donald

Published By – GMPC
Published By – Sweet Summer Night Music
Published By – First Night Music
Recorded At – Westlake Audio
Mixed At – Westlake Audio
Mixed At – Rusk Sound Studios
Mastered At – Allen Zentz Mastering
Designed At – Art Hotel
Phonographic Copyright (p) – The David Geffen Company
Manufactured By – Warner Bros. Records Inc.
Copyright (c) – The David Geffen Company
Pressed By – Capitol Records Pressing Plant, Winchester

Recorded and Mixed at Westlake Audio, Los Angeles except “Running For Cover” mixed at Rusk Studios.
Mastered at Allen Zentz