“Hot Stuff” by The Rolling Stones (1976)/”Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer (1979)

Here are two songs that split the difference between rock and disco.

The Stones’ “Hot Stuff” is a showcase for some smoking guitar by Keith Richards. I must admit I haven’t paid much attention to Keef as a guitarist, but he is smoking here. There’s also some fantastic interplay between the rhythm section of Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). What we don’t have here is a melody or lyrics, per se, and it’s rare to hear Mick playing the background, but holy shit does this song cook. “Hot Stuff” is basically the Stones’ take on a James Brown track, and the song proved that they could be as funky as anyone else on the scene.

By 1979, Donna Summer was already the Queen of Disco. She’d gotten her big break singing songs from musical theater, so what other genres were there to conquer? Well, how about rock ‘n roll? Donna conjured up a tough-as-hell vocal, Giorgio Moroder put a little extra oomph into the four-on-the-floor backbeat, and Skunk Baxter from The Doobie Brothers lays down a blistering guitar solo. Meanwhile, Donna pours on the sex-kitten action (not unfamiliar to listeners based on “Love To Love You Baby” and “I Feel Love”, letting her pursuers (and there appear to be multiple pursuers) know in no uncertain terms that she is looking for someone that’s gonna lay it down proper. After all, she “almost rang the phone off the wall” in her search to “bring a wild man back home”. Hot stuff, indeed! Donna flipped herself into a power position, becoming the aggressive pursuer, and set a template for the likes of Pat Benatar (who arrived later that same year) with her tough gal attitude.

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