Donna Summer may have only been the queen of disco, but she's remarkable in the pop realm too, as a singer who's managed to maintain a high-profile career for close to 25 years without settling completely into the MOR slop. Her early records with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte are both the building blocks of Eurodisco and the blueprint for much modern pop, and after her heyday ended, she followed the postdisco groove where it logically led: to hard-edged synth pop like "She Works Hard for the Money" and Stock/Aitken/Waterman productions like "This Time I Know It's for Real." She'll never need to jump on the electronica bandwagon a la Madonna, either: she invented that market niche with her 1977 pulsebeats-and-microchips masterpiece "I Feel Love," possibly the best pretechno techno record there is. In the 80s she was born again and began singing about Jesus, but in the 90s she's embraced her past, albeit cautiously. Her new Live & More: Encore! (Columbia) is a gross redundancy--a live remake (for VH1) of a live album that was unnecessary in 1978. But just the get-over-it look on Summer's face when she said, "No collection of my work would be complete without my dance classics," during the TV commercial she made to promote her double-disc Anthology, was worth the price of that set. So get over it: she's still got a damn good voice and an amazing catalog to lavish it on. Sunday, 7 PM, Pavilion, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 847-266-5100. Wednesday, 8:15 PM, Star Plaza Theatre, I-65 and U.S. 30, Merrillville, Indiana; 773-734-7266 or 312-559-1212. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mark Liddell.