"After the debacle of the prior years Quincy Jones produced "Donna Summer" album, she was close to ending her legal battle with the former Casablanca Record Label (then taken over by Polygram (USA) and Phonogram (rest of the world). A condition of the settlement was that Donna owed her former label one more original studio album, and thus, She Works Hard For The Money was born.
Released on Polygram's Mercury Label (strange since Polygram was still using the Casablanca brand at that time), the tag line for the albums marketing push was "made to order, with more of what you love summer for". This tag line was quite on the mark for as the prior's years Donna Summer album was anything BUT Donna's creation, she had a lot of input in the She Works Hard...album.
Produced by Michael Omartian (best known for his work with early 80's superstar Christopher Cross), most of the songs here were either written or co-written by Summer, and some are true gems.
She Workd Hard For The Money was the albums mega-hit, and although it was called by many a throwback to her 70's glory days, it was a very 80's track, and showed that she was not going away. Some of the tracks here are very message orientated, and as Rolling Stone reported, Donna is at her best when she keeps us guessing. As RS put it, He's A Rebel (her 3rd Grammy Winner) could be about Jesus, or James Dean. Stop, Look, and Listen (to your heart), and Women also fit this description.
Rounding out this collection are the ballads, Love Has a Mind Of It's Own (a song that became a huge AC radio hit), I Do Believe I Feel In Love (compare either of these to the Women In Me on the Donna Summer album), and the regae influence of Unconditional Love.
To me the standout track is People, People, this awesome song, that again could have many meanings is Donna at her best, and her vocals shine to new heights.
She Works Hard, indeed! "
Summer tries to escape her disco connection
Reginald D. Garrard | Camilla, GA USA | 07/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Still trying to distance herself from her disco days, Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money" has more in common with 1981's "I'm a Rainbow" than it does the singer's classic '70's albums, as well as the Quincy Jones-produced album from 1982. Like "Rainbow", "...Money" is more pop-oriented and achieves a margin of success.Summer is good on the title cut, "Woman", "Unconditional Love", "Tokyo", "People People", and the touching ballad "Love Has a Mind of its Own" (sharing lead vocals with Matthew Ward).Unfortunately, the record-buying public still had such strong memories of Summer in her heyday. Though successful, "She Works Hard for the Money" paled in sales comparison to the likes of "Bad Girls" or "Live and More".It's too bad that Madonna - who was going to take the world by storm in a couple - would be the one that patterned "reinvention". Summer did her best to do just the same."
Queen Deb | Raleigh, NC | 04/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Donna Summer has no equal. She has a very distinctive style and delivery. Her voice is so clear. Because so many vocalists fail to enunciate, the message is lost. "She Works Hard For the Money" is the theme song for all working women, particularly women in the service industry! Although it did not get a great deal of attention, I particularly liked "Tokyo". "Unconditional Love" with Musical Youth shows her versatility. This CD is truly eclectic! If you are a Donna Summer, you must buy this CD!"
You'd better treat her right!!!
Nse Ette | Lagos, Nigeria | 09/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`She works hard for the money' was Donna Summer's most successful album of the 80s and also, her most spiritual. An excellent album.
Produced by Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Rod Stewart), it featured 9 songs co penned or penned by Summer herself in a diverse array of styles; pop, dance, rock, ballads, and calypso laced. The album made it to #9 in the US and was certified gold.
Opening track and lead off single was the upbeat `She works hard for the money', inspired by a real life incident Donna witnessed; a lady (Onetta) fast asleep in the ladies at a restaurant (Chasens, I read somewhere) Donna was dining at, and who worked 2 jobs just to get by. It became an anthem of sorts for the working woman, and Onetta appeared on the back cover photo with Donna. Rising pulsing synths and a staccato of drums herald a driving dance/pop/rock song with a distinctive synthesizer hook, sax, guitars, and a break where all we hear are the synths and drums a-la `I feel love'. A modern look back at her past hits. This song blazed up to #3 in the US and got a Grammy nomination for best pop song. The excellent video was nominated for an American music award and lost out to Michael Jackson (drat!!).
The synth driven Stevie Wonder channeling `Stop, look & listen' is a brassy techno-ish horn laden song with lyrics about the state of the world; `Prophets of our times/written on streetcar walls/can't you see them cry/can't you hear them call'. Also featuring a very soulful backing chorus. This was a UK hit single.
`He's a rebel' is pure rock & roll, with fiery guitars, crashing drums, dramatic horns, and lyrics about a rebel who is faster than light and whose name is written up in The Lamb's book of life. Great bridge and I love the way she holds the note `Forever'. This song won Summer the first of two (to date) Grammys for best inspirational/gospel performance.
`Woman' is a funky danceable R&B song with some raging horns and wicked guitar by Ray Parker Jr, and lyrics about being a woman and letting your man be who he is and take control, according to God's master plan. Summer received a lot of flak for her seemingly anti-feminist lyrics, but suffice to say it must work well, she's been married for 25 years this year, something rare in Hollywood, not to mention the rest of us.
Next up is `Unconditional love', featuring UK reggae group Musical Youth. A catchy calypso tinged number with Caribbean steel drums, congas, and all kinds of percussion and lyrics about a place where people can run free, and a new type of love called Agapé. A #43 US hit and #16 in the UK.
`Love has a mind of its own' is a mesmeric soulful piano ballad, featuring a powerful vocal performance from Donna and Gospel singer Mathew Ward. Similar to James Ingram's `Just Once' (from Quincy Jones' `The Dude' album), #19 on the adult contemporary charts, and a hot 100 hit.
The next song is my absolute favourite song, and one of my favourite by Donna. The mysterious, surreal `Tokyo', which was the B side to `Stop, look & listen'. This synth driven R&B/pop number starts with a magical piano intro (repeated at the bridge) and features an excellent sax break, great percussion, and lyrics about meeting a spy in Tokyo who told her things about herself that she could tell nobody else, an Ian Fleming mystery! Musically, there is so much going on in this short, brilliant song. Makes me want to `live my life in Tokyo'!
The next song is similar in feel to the title track. `People people' is a driving dance/pop/rock song with lyrics more Christian than people knew. It was a call to people to get back to God, using as an analogy, a runaway child. With lyrics like `People people, wherever you are, Father wants to/to hear from you all' and `Dieux vouis appelle (God is calling you)'.
Closing out the CD is the only track penned entirely by Summer. `I do believe I fell in love' is a charming love song with very personal lyrics like `If I made mistakes please forgive me/Oh Charlie B don't you run away'. Donna's husband is Charles Bruce Sudano; Charlie B. The song starts off gentle with piano, sprinklings of sax, delicate percussion, and an initial gentle vocal delivery from Donna before firing up for the grand finale, where crashing simmons drums herald an uptempo disco beat, throbbing synths and a fiery vocal performance to the end. Awesome, and one of her best ballads ever! I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you come rain or shine!
The album sleeve photos are stunning, taken by long time Summer photographer, Harry Langdon. I remember when the album came out, I was literally transfixed by the beautiful smiling cover shot. The liner notes were lengthy, with quotes from the Bible incorporated.
She works hard for the money so you'd better treat her right! "
Donna's first (of many) comebacks.
Da Man | Pekin, IL | 07/31/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Donna Summer all of a sudden found herself back on the top of the charts in 1983. Thanks to participation on the Flashdance soundtrack and the title track off this album. She Works Hard For The Money is a womans anthem that appealed to everyone. The song went to #3 and sold a million copies.The album is a mixed bag on the other hand. In 1983, Donna's fundamental Christianity was at it's height. And with fellow born-again Michael Omartian (who worked with Cher and Rod Stewart), Donna was allowed to express herself in ways she didn't with Giorgio Moroder and Quincy Jones. Songs such as He's A Rebel and the almost-top 40 Unconditional Love took her spirituality to a new level. The song Woman is viewed as anti-feminism, but to me, it's just a song telling women to love their men, which is natural, not infringing of feminism. The album closes with a high point -- I Do Believe (I Fell In Love) (which was the b-side to SHE WORKS HARD) is one of her best ballads ever.Not a bad album, but not essential unless you are either a collector or just love the title track and don't want to spend a few more dollars on any of the Greatest Hits compilations."