There seem to have been more Donna Summer collections since the Queen Of Disco donned her crown in the '70s than there have been chats in the LGBT+ community about whether or not she did indeed turn against us for a while in a fit of religious fervour. Before her untimely death from cancer in 2012, Donna always denied she'd badmouthed her massive gay fanbase (including to me when I interviewed her around the release of her autobiography), so let's have her legacy be the fantastic music she left behind.
There's never been a better enshrinement of that legacy than this Ultimate Collection. It comes in a 19-track single disc version that includes all the biggies from Love To Love You Baby to This Time I Know It's For Real via MacArthur Park and Hot Stuff. Add the Streisand duet on No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) – the best-ever female/gay empowerment anthem – plus I Feel Love, On The Radio and Last Dance and you've got many of disco's finest moments all in one magnificently remastered place.
The 2-LP vinyl version comes with a couple of extra tracks, but it's the 3-disc deluxe CD package that really delivers the goods. It's the first Summer compilation to cover her entire career including a German version of Aquarius from a prodoction of Hair that a young Donna appeared in in Munich, a couple of songs from her Motown-y Lady Of The Night debut album, an absolutely awesome cover of Luther Vandross's Power Of Love and remixed tracks from her final outing Crayons (terrible title, great album).
The discs are themed To Dance, To Love and To Remember and the songs come at you in random order rather than chronologically – throwing up stuff that we die-hard fans have always loved (Dinner With Gershwin and Winter Melody anyone?) and dance tracks which, coming later in Summer's career, might not be as well remembered as the earlier hits.
It's interesting that Melody Of Love, Love Is The Healer, I'm A Fire and To Paris With Love all topped the US dance charts – proving that the disco queen was still a vibrant dance floor presence right up until the end.
The Ultimate Collection is out now.
Words: Simon Button