Picks and Pans Review: Another Place and Time

updated 05/29/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/1989 01:00AM

Donna Summer

The slight adolescent regression that was evident in Summer's previous album has turned into a precipitous backward slide—and this banal dance-pop album. In a career move smacking of desperation, Summer turned to the British troika of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman to produce the record. Stock Aitken Waterman (they use their names that way, as if they were a brokerage house—or funeral directors) has thrived with such performers as Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue. Astley and Minogue, however, are different properties. They are a lot younger, a lot less experienced, a lot more unformed and a lot less black than Summer.

More to the point, Summer naturally sings black. Think of the touches of blues and gospel tone she brought to such memorable tracks as "Lush Life" or "There Goes My Baby." Stock Aitken Waterman's homogenizing approach all but denatures Summer's voice, making it a mere adjunct to a relentlessly pounding drum machine and a bank of synthesizers.

The songs, all written by Summer's producers (with her help on a couple of tunes), are uniformly vapid.

The lyrics and melodies are treated as a sort of fabric to be stretched over the rhythmic backgrounds—and thinly stretched at that. On "Love's About to Change My Heart," for example, Summer sings, "Could a day be so long/ When I always felt secure and so strong/ And all the time as I went along/ Never thought I would desire/ So much to belong."

Aargh. Summer proved 15 years ago that she can finesse a mediocre dance track as well as anyone (and with better material). This album, only a reminder of past successes and new failures, was unnecessary. (Atlantic)

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