walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Hot Stuff_, Alice Echols (kindle)

Subtitled Disco and the Remaking of American Culture

I've been reading this on and off for a few weeks, and really enjoying the whole process. I went slow partly because of interruptions (February vacation week, a houseguest) and partly because I was spending a lot of time on YouTube watching videos of the songs mentioned along the way and occasionally buying albums over on iTunes. In the middle of it all, the Grammys happened with Daft Punk, and partway through I realized that Pharrell did the soundtracks (or large chunks of them) for the Despicable Me movies. The conclusion (disco has finally returned under its own name) was thus no surprise to me.

Echols takes mostly chronological approach, but will occasionally jump ahead to finish telling the story of a group or artist (notably with the members of Labelle). She provides her own opinion of music, what audience it found then and later, critical commentary on it then and later, and also the interaction of music and disco culture with mainstream culture and identity politics. She has a deft hand with difficult material: it would be extremely easy for a feminist author covering many of the men-only venues to be a whole lot less sympathetic (I know I would be).

It's an eye-opening read, for someone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was almost entirely ignorant of all of this, other than what filtered through anti-disco screeds in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines while growing up JW. It would probably be an eye-opening read for someone who grew up in a more normal environment as well.

Also, _tons_ of fun listening to a lot of fantastic music with a context to help make sense of it other than, wow, that is hook-y.
Tags: book review
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