Thirty years ago: Why we are still going crazy for Donna Summer’s “This Time I Know It’s For Real”.
By February 1989, hitmakers Stock Aitken Waterman had pretty much done it all. Launched their biggest and most enduring artist Kylie, elevated Bananarama to a new high and seen a tea boy from the North of England become the biggest selling artist of his generation. But how about working with a genuine icon of the dance floor?
Whether there were any misgivings about working with the Queen of Disco or if even a star of such a high stature would want to work in a small recording studio south of the River Thames is anyone’s guess, but to capture the imagination and interest of Donna Summer could be seen a punching above their weight. Nevertheless, it happened and what emerged was one of the greatest SAW tunes of all time, one that even won over the most damning of critics.
“This Time I Know It’s For Real” is simply a masterpiece and a song that re-launched Donna not just in the UK, but globally and especially in the US where she scored her first top ten hit since “She Works Hard For The Money” in 1983. The song could of been recorded by anyone with such a familiar cocktail of euro-beat pop, keyboarding and drum programming, but no one could of raised the standing of the song with such strong, soaring vocals as Donna, particularly after the final two choruses. It made quite an impression on me as a young teenager at the time and listening to it thirty years on, it forms a major part of the soundtrack of my life.
It wasn’t just in The States the song found enormous success, in the UK, hardly surprisingly, it entered the top 40 at No.31 and four weeks later was holding fast at No.3, becoming one of the biggest sellers of the year, one in which SAW/PWL would amass a record SEVEN number one hits, occupying sixteen of the fifty two weeks that year at the top spot! “This Time I Know It’s For Real” hit the top ten across the globe, from Canada to Australia and all over Europe and beyond, selling over two million copies in the process.
It was the precursor to Donna’s long awaited studio album “Another Place And Time”, written and recorded with Stock Aitken Waterman and released the following month. Other singles would be lifted from this majesty of pop perfection, but “This Time” was the lead, the first and in many eyes, the greatest. The greatest from them and from her. Time has not worn or tarnished its appeal and today, thirty years on, it still sounds as fresh and as precise just as it did when we all trotted off the local record shop, handed over a few coins and savoured the delights of a proper 7″ vinyl single, unsheathed and rotating on the deck, crackles and all but very much the most joyous three minutes, thirty eight seconds yet spent.
Donna may be walking a tightrope way up high, but we salute her and one of her most outstanding anthems of an oustanding and distinguished career. You’d be amazed how much I love her so!
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