From Publishers Weekly
While disco remains one of the most maligned of all musical genres (according to Andriote, as much for its roots in African-American, Latino and gay dance clubs as for its hedonistic packaging), it is a music that refuses to die (instead it is renamed or deeply influences HiNRG, techno, rave, hip-hop, jungle or just plain dance). While it lives on (either in full albums like Cher's Believe or Madonna's Ray of Light or sampled in songs by the Notorious B.I.G. and Robbie Williams), its marginalization continues with Andriote's slight history. While not as exuberantly detailed as Alan Jones and Jussi Kantonen's delightfully exhaustive Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco (A Cappella, 1999), which focused on the artists and their songs, this volume instead focuses on the social history and culture of the movement that flourished between 1974 and 1979. Kitschy, glitzy and underground, disco thrived with its core minority fans and avoided popularization (the actual long-playing 12-inch music mixes were available to club D.J.s only). Middle America didn't embrace the phenomenon until the release of 1977's Saturday Night Fever, when John Travolta and the Bee Gees made it palatable for the masses and, incredibly, ushered in disco albums by Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and Mickey Mouse. Andriote's in fine form covering the "disco sucks" backlash, detailing how it resulted from both an oversaturation of inferior product and homophobia. The appendix of artists and key songs is hit and miss, sometimes up-to-date (Donna Summer), more often not (Loleatta Holloway). Even with excellent writing from Andriote (Victory Deferred), fans of the music will find little new here, especially if they've already bought Saturday Night Forever. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Andriote's rhapsodizing expresses one popular view of disco, the booty-shakin' craze that swept '70s America like a tidal wave of pomade. Another, more musically concerned perspective sees disco as what happened when the record companies dumbed down the music of George Clinton and James Brown. Andriote acknowledges disco's generation from '60s and '70s funk, but surly pop historians may carp that Andriote overstates the talents of the likes of Giorgio Moroder at the expense of less glitzy American progenitors and practitioners of the back beat. But then, the book is promoted as a "lighthearted yet in-depth look at one of the most outrageous eras in musical--and cultural--history," and as such, it's fan-friendly puffery that painlessly imparts a bit of pop music history. If an entertaining look at the music and careers of such stars as Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, the Andrea True Connection, and the Village People is what you're after, look no further. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved