DONNA McGHEE: ‘Make It Last Forever’ (We Want Sounds)

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                         ‘Make It Last Forever’  was the only album by Donna McGhee, a gospel-reared Brooklyn-born singer, whose name appeared on the credits to recordings during the same era by the Fatback Band, Phreek, Bumblebee Unlimited and The Universal Robot Band. Helmed by mirrorball mavens, writers/producers, Greg Carmichael and Patrick Adams, ‘Make It Last Forever’ came out on the small Red Greg imprint (Anchor in the UK) and is considered an underground disco classic. Pristine original copies usually exchange hands for around £50, but now, though,  We Want Sounds have remastered the album for a CD/LP reissue, which means that collectors can pick up a copy for much less money than a first pressing.

The album consists of five, mostly extended, disco grooves, with McGhee not only singing but also supplying heavy erotic breathing a la Donna Summer circa ‘Love To Love You, Baby.’  The production is unashamedly Barry White-like, with opulent, Gene Page-inspired string arrangements cushioning McGhee’s soulful vocals.  

All the tracks are good ones. The opening title song,  where high strings complement staccato guitar riffs over a pulsing groove, comes across like one of Gloria Scott’s Barry White-produced Casablanca Records from the mid-’70s. Salsoul act, Inner Life, later covered the tune, but McGhee’s eight-minute version is better.  

White’s symphonic soul influence is less apparent on the infectious ‘Do As I Do,’  and ‘It Ain’t No Big Thing,’ a Leroy Burgess-arranged remake of a Patrick Adams-helmed Personal Touch single from ’76. Even more persistent than those two tunes is the super-soulful ‘Mr Blindman,’  while the concluding song, ‘I’m A Love Bug’ – a tune first cut by Bumblebee Unlimited – ups the tempo to a giddy mirrorball climax (complete with orgasmic moans).  

Though ‘Make It Last Forever’ has been out of print for over 40 years, its allure hasn’t dimmed with time, and today in 2019, its sensuous disco grooves have lasted well, still sounding as fresh and vital as they did in 1978.

(CW) 4/5