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Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture 1970-1979 [Paperback]

Tim Lawrence
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 2 2004
Disco is the music that America tried to forget. By the end of the 1970s Saturday Night Fever rocketed through the marketing stratosphere, Studio 54 was dominating the front pages, and the charts were controlled by the likes of the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and the Village People. But then radio talk jock Steve Dahl publicly detonated a pile of 40,000 disco records during the interval of a Chicago White Sox double-header in July 1979, and by the end of the year some 20,000 discotheques had hastily closed. Opening with David Mancuso's seminal "Love Saves the Day" Valentine's party in February 1970, Tim Lawrence presses the rewind button and tells the definitive story of disco - from its murky subterranean roots in NoHo and Hell's Kitchen to its gaudy blossoming in midtown Manhattan to the out-of-town networks that emerged in the suburbs and alternative urban hotspots such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New Jersey. Tales of nocturnal journeys, radical music making, and polymorphous sexuality flow through the arteries of Love Saves the Day like liquid vinyl. They are interspersed with a detailed analysis of the era's most powerful DJs, the venues in which they played, and the records they loved to spin. Love Saves the Day includes material from over three hundred original interviews with the scene's most influential players, including John "Jellybean" Benitez, Michael Cappello, Ken Cayre, Alec Costandinos, Steve D'Acquisto, Michael Fesco, Rochelle Fleming, Francis Grasso, Alan Harris, Loleatta Holloway, Francois Kevorkian, Frankie Knuckles, David Mancuso, Vince Montana, Giorgio Moroder, Tom Moulton, Steve Ostrow, Marvin Schlachter, Nicky Siano, Judy Weinstein, Robert Williams and Earl Young. It also contains a series of specially compiled discographies and a unique collection of more than seventy rare photos.

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Review

"Thanks to an impressive amount of research Tim Lawrence ...creates an evocative portrait of the Big Apple DJ demimonde of the 1970s." Peter Shapiro, The Wire "Will surely stand as the definitive history of dance music's early years." Joe Madden, Jockey Slut "Packed with detail ... without turning dull... riveting storytelling." Ethan Brown "A densely detailed and heartfelt account of the era." Time Out New York "Lawrence's astounding research and wide focus make this [disco's] definitive chronicle so far." Minneapolis City Pages "Lawrence has accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of cuing up every famed and arcane component of disco's ethos and executing a narrative possessed by a seamless grace that's comparable to the work of the legendary DJs who are duly chronicled... [A] most significant examination of this watershed period within our pop-cult heritage." Philadelphia CityPaper "Fabulous reading, and this book looks destined to become a classic, opening up a whole lost world of night-time dance culture to generations for whom previously it was merely a rather imprecise legend." Taipei Times " ... as good an introduction as you will find to an all-too-often overlooked period in musical history."--Q, June 2004 "Essential reading for anyone interested in discovering teh origins of DJing, clubbing and the music we dance to."--Easyjet Magazine, April 2004 "This brilliant study of the birth of disco and the spawning of a million different subgenres of same is crucial reading for anyone who thinks they know their club culture. Because until you've read this you might as well know nothing, nada, zilch... This illuminating work features early sightings of some of today's established movers and shakers, often while still ambitiously adolescent, with every page featuring a surprise discovery, every dark corner a new beat."--i-D Magazine, June 2004 "Love Saves the Day is a fully comprehensive, well-composed analysis of dance culture during it's most crucial and subliminal time during the seventies. Tim Lawrence has done his homework and his dynamic delivery also possesses a delightful, intimate style. This book can be enjoyed on numerous levels... Love Saves the Day is a revealing, captivating and enlightening read."--Straight No Chaser, Autumn 2004

About the Author

Tim Lawrence leads the Music Culture: Theory and Production degree program at the University of East London. He has written liner notes for" David Mancuso Presents the Loft" and" Masters at Work: The Tenth Anniversary Collection." The author's website for the book is available at www.timlawrence.info --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Further Documentation of a Once-Reviled Subject March 3 2004
By disco75
Format:Paperback
Lawrence does a good job translating his former academic piece into a more general survey that would be of interest to a lay reader. He takes a mostly chronological journey through the events of the 70s that pertained to the disco subculture. (Disco is, even now in the book's title, being euphemistically called "dance music," which is something of a misnomer, given the ongoing presence in our society of vibrant polka, salsa, square dance, contra, two-step, honky-tonk, ballroom, and other dance cultures.) In writing this book Lawrence has done his homework: he assembled the extant written sources-- even the rare ones-- and located participants from the era to reminisce and provide new anecdotal material.
As a one-stop overview of disco life in the seventies, this book serves its purpose well. It is not as academic as Fikentscher's converted dissertation You Better Work, and therefore will be of interest to a wider audience. Lawrence writes mostly in plain language. He includes some of the interesting photos and images contained in the harder-to-find volumes like Night Dancin' by Miezitis, and he quotes from virtually all of the older and newer writings, both periodicals and books.
If a reader has already delved into the current books about disco, Lawrence's book will seem largely redundant. Its focus is primarily on the clubs and the DJs. The stories told in Mel Cheren's autobiography and in the two disco chapters of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life are here: the joyous beginnings of the clubs, the inspired DJs, the rivalries, the egos, the drug use, and the love-hate relationships between the DJs and record execs.
Lawrence adds something to this genre by recording dancers' and DJs' recounting of the actual *experience* of dancing, of losing oneself in the music.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Paperback
This is an exceptional historical analysis that introduces, in chronological order, the key events and personalities in the 1970s American disco dancing scene, including the major remixers, DJs, nightclubs, musicians, singers, record producers, and magazine journalists. The playlists provided throughout the book are very good snapshots of each period of 1970s R&B and disco, and many of the photos are well selected.
Lawrence first explores the roots of dance-oriented nightclubs, then known as discotheques, where attendees danced to recorded rather than live music. Discotheques had already existed in the U.S. by the mid-1960s but then declined for a number of years until revitalized in the early 1970s. Besides the concept of a "discotheque", Lawrence also mentions (page 26) that the mirror ball was a fixture of a typical disco and also in the Loft parties run by David Mancuso. The atmospheric aspects of a disco -- lighting, dancefloor, etc. -- were also important to dancers, though one big negative was the high volume of sound emanating from the speakers in many discos, such as Paradise Garage (pages 347-348). The most necessary element was a large supply of good danceable music. Disco DJs gained influence when they caused many records to become big sellers and formed record pools. Lawrence notes (page 307) that in some downtown discos the dancers danced freestyle whereas in suburban discos the tendency was towards regimented dance steps like the latin hustle and line-dancing.
The story of disco as a separate musical genre begins with the merging of funk and Philly soul elements with a constant four-on-the-floor beat, thanks to Earl Young's innovations in drumming (page 120).
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read July 30 2005
By Danny Krivit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Over the years I've read very many articles & books on the 70's disco & underground dance scene,

along with seeing quite a few documentaries & movies in the same vain.

I started DJing in NYC in 1971 & this is a subject that I lived & breathed.

"Love Saves The Day" is without a doubt the very first to tell the real story,

& accurately chronicle that entire decade year by year.

I found it easy to read, & without blurring the facts, very entertaining.

When it comes to "The Loft", "Paradise Garage" & the rest of this subject,

I consider this book a 'must read', & highly recommend it!

Danny Krivit
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible & comprehensive history of the 1970s disco world Jan. 13 2004
By Kevin Brook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an exceptional historical analysis that introduces, in chronological order, the key events and personalities in the 1970s American disco dancing scene, including the major remixers, DJs, nightclubs, musicians, singers, record producers, and magazine journalists. The playlists provided throughout the book are very good snapshots of each period of 1970s R&B and disco, and many of the photos are well selected.
Lawrence first explores the roots of dance-oriented nightclubs, then known as discotheques, where attendees danced to recorded rather than live music. Discotheques had already existed in the U.S. by the mid-1960s but then declined for a number of years until revitalized in the early 1970s. Besides the concept of a "discotheque", Lawrence also mentions (page 26) that the mirror ball was a fixture of a typical disco and also in the Loft parties run by David Mancuso. The atmospheric aspects of a disco -- lighting, dancefloor, etc. -- were also important to dancers, though one big negative was the high volume of sound emanating from the speakers in many discos, such as Paradise Garage (pages 347-348). The most necessary element was a large supply of good danceable music. Disco DJs gained influence when they caused many records to become big sellers and formed record pools. Lawrence notes (page 307) that in some downtown discos the dancers danced freestyle whereas in suburban discos the tendency was towards regimented dance steps like the latin hustle and line-dancing.
The story of disco as a separate musical genre begins with the merging of funk and Philly soul elements with a constant four-on-the-floor beat, thanks to Earl Young's innovations in drumming (page 120). The interest in this music among Americans escalated quickly, as witnessed by early pop chart hits like "T.S.O.P." and "The Love I Lost". The continued development of disco music led to improvements in sound quality and increased available song lengths and record formats (like the 12-inch single).
On pages 167 and 174-177 Lawrence chronicles the beginnings of Eurodisco, a sub-genre developed by European producers like Michael Kunze and Giorgio Moroder characterized by ultra-lush violins, "minimalist vocals", and a more monotonous stomping dance beat. Lawrence notes that Eurodisco produced many "anonymous" singers who garnered far less attention than their producers and had very few concerts, if any. He revisits Eurodisco's growth on page 257 when he quotes Tom Moulton's opinion that Eurodisco, in contrast to the kind of disco that came out of Philadelphia, "lacked soul" and was too mechanical, and to a certain extent this is true. However, one can point to the success and brilliance of several producer-created disco groups like Shalamar and Musique to counter the argument that all "artificial" groups were untalented.
While disco as a new sound in 1974 and 1975 was seen as the answer to increasing record sales, pages 222-224 contain era statements about how the excess of new disco releases, many of them poor in quality, were already saturating the music market by 1976, and how sales were suffering even then. On pages 321-322 Michael Gomes prophetically warned that unless disco continued to innovate and vary it would die. The same troubles were noted in the summer of 1979 when a recession hurt sales of all records, but especially disco, and simultaneously everyone seemed to be releasing some "disco version" of an old standard or some contrived bland song that most people couldn't get excited about, and many in the record industry and media again complained about an alleged lack of creativity. The record labels were clearly not selective enough (page 386). On pages 366-369 we learn that disco didn't stem the fall in sales but actually contributed to it. The consequences of the sales decline and rampant criticism were devastating; in the second half of 1979 new disco songs were not given as much of a chance on the radio and the style fell out of fashion among many. However, one positive result (noted on page 391) was that dance music once again became more R&B-oriented and creative. One could argue that the best days for disco creatively were in 1980-1982, even though mainstream popularity was steadily disappearing then. Disco was far from dead at the end of 1979, as disco radio hits like "Celebration" and "Never Knew Love Like This Before" were still yet to come, and roller-discos and new disco products still proliferated in 1980 and early 1981. However, this culture was in decline, and Lawrence gives interesting discussions of Billboard Magazine's exaggerated claim of February 23, 1980 that disco was "alive, healthy and thriving" (page 390). Ironically Radcliffe Joe's "This Business of Disco", an industry guide, was published by Billboard Books in 1980. By that time "dance music" was the new preferred term for the music (page 386) due to the stigma of "disco". The author also mentions how disco spawned and influenced new forms of music, including garage, house, techno, rap, and 1980s pop. By 1994, the original disco style was re-emerging as both a nostalgic recollection and a current genre in production.
Now is the perfect time to remember how dance music got started. With this book Tim Lawrence provides a thorough, readable treatise full of interesting anecdotes and quotes and ample bibliographic references. It covers everything from "The Hustle" and "Saturday Night Fever" to the sociological/cultural aspects of the story and will interest a broad range of readers.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth About Disco Jan. 22 2007
By Robert Rives - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thank you Tim Lawrence. This book is the antedote to all the haters out there who still believe that "Disco Sucks" after the post-Comiskey Park backlash. This book is such an amazing and wonderfully readable document that I would recommend anyone interested in 20th century American musical history, or the [...]/black urban experience of the 1970's, or relatively recent New York history read it. Of course if you're interested in disco music or dance music the book is absolutely essential.

This book goes much deeper than the usual Studio 54 cliches that people associate with the genre (although Studio 54 is included, of course) and discusses the origins of the sound and the largely unhearalded people who made this scene happen. David Mancuso is described as a pivotable person here, and the folks who were there will confirm it. The book begins in his legendary club, The Loft, and lovingly details his obsession with sound and the disco experience. Other innovators from the early 70's are also featured including Francis Grasso, Steve D'Acquisto, Bob Casey, and many more. The scene is chronicaled from humble beginnings through the glory years of the mid 70's and ends the decade with the backlash in full swing in mainstream culture but continuing to thrive in clubs like Paradise Garage and Better Days. Along the way you meet producers like Walter Gibbons and Tom Moulton who made some of the classic recordings of the era, and Lawrence takes the time to explain what is so remarkable about their work. You also get delightfully naughty stories about some of the key players in the scene including DJ's, artists, and of course, the patrons that illustrate some of the excesses of the time . Personally, I think that it's this superb combination of detailed research and bitchy gossip that makes the book so thoroughly readable and fun.

I loved reading this book; the only drawback for me was that I couldn't help pining for the days when New York club culture was this incredible before AIDS and Rudy Guilliani conspired to very nearly kill it off (fortunately they weren't entirely successful).

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Further Documentation of a Once-Reviled Subject March 3 2004
By disco75 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lawrence does a good job translating his former academic piece into a more general survey that would be of interest to a lay reader. He takes a mostly chronological journey through the events of the 70s that pertained to the disco subculture. (Disco is, even now in the book's title, being euphemistically called "dance music," which is something of a misnomer, given the ongoing presence in our society of vibrant polka, salsa, square dance, contra, two-step, honky-tonk, ballroom, and other dance cultures.) In writing this book Lawrence has done his homework: he assembled the extant written sources-- even the rare ones-- and located participants from the era to reminisce and provide new anecdotal material.
As a one-stop overview of disco life in the seventies, this book serves its purpose well. It is not as academic as Fikentscher's converted dissertation You Better Work, and therefore will be of interest to a wider audience. Lawrence writes mostly in plain language. He includes some of the interesting photos and images contained in the harder-to-find volumes like Night Dancin' by Miezitis, and he quotes from virtually all of the older and newer writings, both periodicals and books.
If a reader has already delved into the current books about disco, Lawrence's book will seem largely redundant. Its focus is primarily on the clubs and the DJs. The stories told in Mel Cheren's autobiography and in the two disco chapters of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life are here: the joyous beginnings of the clubs, the inspired DJs, the rivalries, the egos, the drug use, and the love-hate relationships between the DJs and record execs.
Lawrence adds something to this genre by recording dancers' and DJs' recounting of the actual *experience* of dancing, of losing oneself in the music. This allows the reader to see a vivid contrast between the hardcore, serious dancers and the trend-hopping, casual participants who flocked to the discos in the mid- and late-70s. This contrast has in the past been asserted but until now was not depicted very well.
The music of the era is mentioned (and listed in various tables) but generally not covered in depth. Although Lawrence can take an interesting wide-angle perspective on the 70s decade of disco-- and does so best in the introductory and epilogue material-- he seems in the middle chapters to get caught up in a gossipy mode that seemed more pertinent in Cheren's autobiography. The personal lives of the DJs take precedence over the dancers' involvement, and these have already been covered. The symbolic and cultural meanings of disco in the US are included, but discussion of these seems subjugated to stories about the DJs' and club owners' antics. However, Love Saves The Day is likely to supplant Albert Goldman's Disco as the main reference-- at least for now-- in musicologists' and researchers' work and in general readers' affection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating History of the Birth of Club Culture March 25 2012
By G. Jerome - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Disco, House, Techno, Rave, Drum & Bass, Garage, Dub Step... all began with one man's dream.

This is the story of David Mancuso and his dream, The Loft, a party beginning in the early 70's which was so successful in making people's lives magical for one night, that it's most devoted fans branched out to do the same on their own. This resulted ultimately in the disco culture of the 70s and subsequent dance cultures. These devotees were Larry Levan who opened New York City's most legendary downtown club The Paradise Garage, Nicky Siano's The Gallery, Frankie Knuckles Chicagoland Warehouse, and countless others including Studio 54. In this book you will discover that it was Frankie Knuckles, a Loft party devotee who innovated House music following the death of disco and brought dance culture back to life in the 80s with (ware)House music.

What I find very important in this history is the artist's intent. Mancuso, the father of all modern dance/club culture, intended for his Loft parties to be a spiritually liberating experience for his guests. Somewhere in the book, a Loft party attendee says something to the effect of "if you can dance next to someone, you can live next to them." The Loft, as Mancuso designed it, intended to bring people of different genders and races together to experience harmony and joy. Many of his followers continue with this intention, but not all. The elitist attitude, door policy, and celebrity obsession of Studio 54 and other similar clubs that emulated Mancuso's Loft represent an inversion of this intention. Hierarchy, and applying value to humanity according to status is antithetical to the Loft, the original club. Studio 54 came and went. The Loft lives on wherever people get together to dance and celebrate being alive.

As someone who has spent years dancing at clubs unaware of how it all came to be, I found this story fascinating and look forward to rereading it.
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