Released: May 1979
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 49
Certified Platinum: 5/3/79
Less than a year after Donna Summer had landed her first Number One album with Live and More, the queen of disco was back at Number One with Bad Girls, her third consecutive double-LP set.
Hot on the heels of her first chart-topping single "MacArthur Park" and the number four hit "Heaven Knows" from Live and More, Summer likely could have continued her hit streak if she stayed true to the disco grooves that made her a star. Yet on Bad Girls, Summer and producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte decided to shake things up a bit by inviting other writers to collaborate on the project and incorporating elements of rock 'n' roll in the disco mix.
Bad Girls was recorded at Rusk Sound Studios in Los Angeles, a fitting locale considering that "Bad Girls" and "Sunset People" were inspired by life in the City of Angels.
"Hot Stuff," the single released in advance of Bad Girls and the album's opening track, showed off Summer's new direction. The song was co-written by Bellotte, a longtime Summer collaborator, but there was also some new blood involved. Keith Forsey, who had played drums on Live and More, and Harold Faltermeyer, credited with arranging Bad Girls, also had a writing credit on the song. Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter laid down a guitar solo on the track. Summer says that the personnel involved in making the album would often splinter into different camps. "On that day, Keith Harold, and Pete got together and I could hear them banging away in the studio," she says.
The follow-up single, "Bad Girls," wasn't a new song. "When [Casablanca president] Neil Bogart heard the song, he said, 'This song is not for you. The audience will never accept this song from you.' He thought it was too rock 'n' roll and that I should give the song to Cher, but I refused to give the song up," Summer says.
Nearly two years later, an engineer working for Moroder stumbled across a demo of the tune, written by Summer and the trio of backing vocalists -- Summer's husband Bruce Sudano, Eddie Hokenson, and Joe "Bean" Esposito -- known as Brooklyn Dreams. Moroder said the song was a "stone hit." His prediction became reality when "Bad Girls" topped the Billboard Hot 100 on July 14, 1979, becoming Summer's second consecutive Number One single.
The song was inspired by a secretary at Casablanca Records who was accosted by police while walking down Sunset Boulevard. "This woman in no way looked like a streetwalker," Summer says. "Merely because of color or because she was in the wrong place, she was harassed by the police. It made me irate."
Bad Girls also allowed Summer to break away from the sexy disco queen image she had been stuck with since her first h it, "Love to Love You Baby." Says Summer, "I was becoming more sassy. The original image was like a feminine victim type with no independence. That character was not who I wanted to be forever. With Bad Girls, I was able to make other statements. I was able to be other women."
- Craig Rosen, The Billboard Book of Number One Albums, Billboard, 1996.
The hottest female vocalist around is also prolific. This is her third consecutive double pocket set and considering the amount of product, Summer has remained consistently strong. "Bad Girls" represents somewhat of a departure in that the first two sides at least are more rock-oriented. Summer's vocals not only are more powerful and sexy but multi-dimensional. The music's strength carries over to all four sides. Based on a "bad girl" concept, Summer comes across in a seductive vein in vocal delivery and even through the album's graphics. Writers include producers Moroder and Bellotte, Brooklyn Dreams, Summer, Bruce Roberts and others. The musicians behind her supply pulsating and energetic firepower with some guest players also helping. Best cuts: "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," "Lucky," "Can't Get to Sleep At Night," "Dim All The Lights," "Our Love."
- Billboard, 1979.
You tend to suspect anyone who releases three double-LPs in eighteen months of delusions of Chicago, but Donna is here to stay and this is her best album. The first two sides, for songs per, never let up -- the voice breaks and the guitars moan over a bass-drum thump in what amounts to empty-headed girl-group rock and roll brought cannily up-to-date. Moroder makes his Europercussion play on side four, which is nice too, but side three drags, suggesting that the rock and roll that surfaces here is perhaps only a stop along the way to a totally bleh total performance. Me, I still love my Marvellettes records. A-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Summer defined "feminine" for an age in love with femininity and made the disco experience an adventure, even for those who had trouble learning how to fantasize. Now, on her third two-record set in two years, she has altered her outlook on femininity and changed her mind about the adventure. The disco queen becomes a streetwalker ready to sell her voice to any guy (read: producer) for a dime ("Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff") or anyone at all blindly searching for a lover they'll never find ("Sunset People"). * * * *
- Michael Freedberg, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Bad Girls added rock to Summer's dance-oriented palette via the title track and the wonderful "Hot Stuff." * * * * *
- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
Main Page | Readers' Favorites | The Classic 500 | Other Seventies Discs | Search The RockSite/The Web