Saturday, July 9, 2022

"This Time I Know It's for Real" by Donna Summer

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3873
Date:  04/22/1989
Debut:  88
Peak:  7
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  Music mogul David Geffen had plenty of successes, but he also made some unfortunate decisions as well. While rival Clive Davis was known to be very prickly, Geffen's reputation was that of an asshole. Regardless, he would typically get things done and stars made. Among his mistakes though are perhaps ones with Donna Summer. Following her 1979 #1 double-platinum LP Bad Girls, Summer wanted to leave her label Casablanca due to artistic direction and other issues. She did an signed on as the first artist on Geffen's own label. Her first album for Geffen would be 1980's #13 gold selling The Wanderer. Tensions between Geffen and Summer started to kick off when Summer began recording tracks with her long time producer Giorgio Moroder for a new album. Geffen heard some tracks and didn't like them. He shelved the project (years later released as I'm a Rainbow) and teamed Summer up with Quincy Jones for 1982's Donna Summer. It got to #20 and went gold, which also disappointed Geffen. Next, Summer chose to work with Michael Omartian for her next effort. But then after dealing with issues from her old label, Summer was stuck owning one more album to the parent company Polygram. It seems Geffen wasn't all that thrilled with the new tracks and handed them over to fulfill Summer's obligation. Those tracks became the album She Works Hard for the Money, which became a hit thanks to the #3 title track single. It was touted as Summer's "comeback" and Geffen sort of got aced out. Obviously his next step was to keep Omartian with Summer for her next album '84's Cats Without Claws, but the magic wasn't there and the LP stalled at #40. Summer would then be paired with Harold Faltermeyer for '87's All Systems Go, but the album tanked at #122. Needing some kind of boost, Summer then wanted to work with the Stock Aitken Waterman team (Rick Astley, Bananarama). They got hooked up and recorded the album Another Time Another Place. It was initially launched earlier in '89 in the UK and Europe on Summer's international label Warner Bros. This first single became a #3 hit in the UK and Top 10 in other countries. Yet despite that success, Geffen didn't like the album and refused to release it in the US. The decision would have Summer leaving Geffen and signing on with Atlantic Records who would quickly push out the single. It would end up becoming a gold-selling Pop Top 10 hit (#2 AC/#5 Dance). While the album would miss the gold mark and peak at #53, it seems Geffen missed out once again. Out of Summer's four Top 10's of the 80s, two of them were ones that Geffen gave away. This single was a major bright spot for Summer, but unfortunately it would end up being her last major Pop hit.

ReduxReview:  It is reportedly said that for the SAW team, the Summer album was one that they loved doing and was their favorite in their extensive catalog. I can see that in a couple of respects. First, they had Summer. SAW for the most part had been working with, shall we say, capable vocalists. Having an amazing singer like Summer do their tracks had to have been a great experience. Second was this song. I think it was easily SAW's best tune and it probably didn't hurt that Summer contributed and got a writing credit as well. It was a wonderfully written tune with an SAW production that wasn't over the top. There was a slight air of sophistication about the track that wasn't normally found in the standard SAW song mill. Of course Summer's vocals were perfection. The album was good, but none of the songs came close to this one. It would prove to be Summer's last Pop Top 10 and what a great one to go out on.


Trivia:  Following the success of Another Time Another Place and this hit, it was decided that Summer would do a second album with the Stock Aitken Waterman team. It seems that plans were made and SAW prepped some tracks including one they wrote for her titled "Happenin' All Over Again." Now, it is not necessarily clear as to what happened, but the sessions never got off the ground. Stories either have Summer being too busy to get back to London for the project or Summer just not showing up, which caused a riff between the two parties. Whatever happened, it left SAW with some material ready to go. SAW ended up meeting with US singer Lonnie Gordon. Gordon had been singing in Harlem nightclubs for several years before setting aside her career and moving with her husband and daughter to London. Around '88 she got the urge to sing again and began working with a couple dance/house acts which led to a solo contract with Supreme Records. She had wanted to work with the SAW team so after a minor club hit her label got her a meeting with them. It just so happened that it was around the same time that the Summer project fell through, which was a lucky break for Gordon. She recorded "Happenin' All Over Again" and it was got issued out as a single. The song would end up becoming a #4 hit in the UK in 1990. More tracks would be recorded and a debut album released. Gordon would not get noticed in the US at the time, but the following year she recorded the song "Gonna Catch You" for the Vanilla Ice flick Cool As Ice and it reached #1 on the US Dance chart while also reaching #78 Pop. A second album, 1993's Bad Mood, would three US Dance Top 10s including two #1s. One of those was a remix of "Happenin' All Over Again," which briefly touched the Pop chart at #98. Gordon would score one more Dance Top 10 in '96 before doing other work such as being the lead vocalist/narrator for the Las Vegas Cirque de Soleil show Zumanity.



  1. Could not agree more. While most people remember Summer's big hits during the disco years, this one is often forgotten. One of her best songs ever.