Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

12. Donna SummerI Remember Yesterday

‘I Feel Love’ is directly related to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ in several unexpected ways – the songs are both chants – they operate over a drone, and the vocal has a melodic form straight out of Catholic mass – that descending melody form has also appeared in some other songs down recent years, perhaps most notably in Graham Goldman’s ‘For Your Love’ by The Yardbirds.

The other ingredient was Kraftwerk. When Donna Summer came out with ‘I Feel Love’, I thought Kraftwerk had made an inspired move into pop by getting a wonderful black woman singer. As it was, Moroder had lucked into finding a good programmer and a good modular Moog. Add Donna Summers’ immaculate vocals – a chant with only three words in the entire lyric – and the music world changed overnight.

Another era was off the blocks and away. Punk fell off the perch. As Jim Kerr said, the moment he heard that Donna Summer record, punk dissolved and something much more agile hit the platform.

But all that anger and revolutionary spirit didn’t go away – it simply became repurposed – transmuted into a defiant icy cool, much more energy-efficient than all that shouting – and this was the voltage that charged all the ensuing eras of electronic music, from Cabaret Voltaire to The Human League and Numan, Chris and Cosey to Joy Division, Leftfield to Portishead and Massive Attack, then Radiohead and now The Horrors to Xeno and Oaklander and Matthew Dear and The Soft Moon. It made a kind of cool way of being spiky. You could be spiky and intelligent.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens:
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