At long last, a complete career-spanning compilation of Donna Summer’s musical legacy has arrived. Just in time to pay tribute to the diva of disco and more on the 8th anniversary of her untimely passing on May 17, 2012, Donna Summer: Encore is an exquisite and long overdue celebration comprised of 33 CDs, encompassing all of Summer’s albums. From her 1974 debut Lady of The Night, through her final proper offering, 2008’s Crayons, all 17 albums are here, plus an impressive inclusion of 109 additional bonus tracks.
Released internationally by Demon Music’s Crimson Productions, this definitive box set is limited to only 1,500 copies and is worth every penny. The sound quality of Encore is beyond superb and easily surpasses all previously released versions of the included 329 tracks. More specifically, tape hiss is absent, but the high end remains intact, while the low end is more present with an overall well-balanced mix missing in previously remastered editions. Now all of Donna Summer’s albums finally sound the way I’d always imagined they would on compact disc, but haven’t until now.
Yes, you read that correctly, all of the original albums have been newly remastered, along with the bountiful bonus tracks, which includes: 7-inch versions, 12-inch mixes and non-album rarities, some of which have not been previously available on compact disc. Encore also features some must-have goodies every hardcore Donna Summer fan will covet such as the “Love To Love You Baby (Come Dancing Version)”, “My Life (Junior Vasquez Private Collection Mix-Long Edit),” “She Works Hard For The Money (12″ Single Remix)” and the complete 7:34 extended version of “With Your Love,” which was previously edited on prior collections.
Sadly, Encore is missing a few things: the original version of “Carry On,” the single version of “On the Radio” and most surprisingly, the hit single version of the Grammy-winning monster hit “Last Dance” from Thank God It’s Friday, but despite those omissions, this gorgeous compendium is the most comprehensive Donna Summer collection to date. My only trivial complaint is the disappointing brownish colored inner sleeves of Live and More instead of its original album’s burgundy hues, but the oversights here are very minor and few.
The box set also includes a high quality 40-page 12” by 12” hardcover book containing a moving foreword by Giorgio Moroder, as well as, heartfelt tributes from: George Benson, Kim Carnes, Boy George, Bootsy Collins, Gloria Gaynor, Nile Rodgers and more. Additionally, the book includes individual album credits (which are greatly appreciated in today’s digital streaming world), plus a poignant footnote by Bruce Sudano.
Lastly, the book features Donna Summer: The Studio Albums, a sprawling 12-page, 25,000-word essay written by music journalist Christian John Wikane in November 2019, which is filled with fascinating insights from some of Summer’s collaborators, making it an essential read for all Donna fans. In fact, I learned things from reading it that I never knew, despite being a Summer fan for 40-plus years.
Since the release of Encore, I’ve read several comments stating this box set didn’t contain enough rarities to deem it essential. However, all of the albums have not only been newly remastered, but these versions are crisp and sparkle brighter than any previously released versions, including the highly expensive and scarce Japanese remasters from 2012. In fact, even the negligible, but annoying defect on Live and More, heard just before the beginning of “One of A Kind” in “Mac Arthur Park Suite” has been removed, making it sound fresh and renewed. Therefore, Encore is not only the best representation of Donna Summer’s legendary musical output, but it's also an unquestionably indispensable piece for any ardent fan’s Donna Summer collection.
Although she may no longer be with us, Donna Summer’s masterfully crafted musical canon has now been revitalized on Encore so that it may be rediscovered and revered throughout the years to come. Dance on evermore, Donna.
“… I will have the things that I desire and my passions flow like rivers through the sky. And after all the loves of my life, I'll be thinking of you and wondering why…”