Disco is the thing today
Lots of reviews popping up on
TURN THE BEAT AROUND: The Secret History of Disco
by Peter Shapiro
(or critics give Shapiro the once-over; maybe the twice-over)
"Disco was very much a child of the 1970s, the decade whose mood of disillusion was most vividly expressed in the collapsing infrastructure of cities such as London, New York and San Francisco. According to Shapiro, disco might never have happened if New York in particular hadn’t descended into near chaos, with a $3 billion budget deficit that in 1975 the federal government refused to underwrite. As sensible folk fled Manhattan, taking their sensible businesses with them, downtown New York saw a dramatic increase in the availability of large, cheap spaces, often former churches or dilapidated hotels. These supplied the venues where, in one of Shapiro’s most extravagant flights, 'this glittering beast . . . eventually rose on sateen wings from the burrows of the Big Apple’s worm-eaten core'."
(--- Reviewed by ROBERT SANDALL, Sunday Times Online
"Music critic Peter Shapiro's Turn the Beat Around opens with a graphic depiction of New York in the '70s that could make even the most hardened city dweller cower behind the nearest gentrified storefront...
"Shapiro bypasses most of this for another kind of audiophilia -- rapturous passages describing the way songs feel, including a dazzling reading of "I Feel Love." That particular tidbit, which takes up almost an entire chapter, is worth the asking price alone."
(Disco inferno: From unifying safe haven to creepy dystopia
by GEETA DAYAL
"Shapiro's Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco (Faber & Faber, $26) bombards you with detailed social context until you nod assent to his thesis: The ripe, hedonistic generalizations we lump under the phrase 'disco' were birthed from a specific kind of urban decay at a specific moment in history, when the continued viability of New York City didn't seem inevitable -- or, for some Americans, even desirable. And he's just getting started, folks."
(That Real '70s Show
By KEITH HARRIS
"What if the popular wisdom about disco -- namely, that it sucks -- were rooted not in glitter-ball music but in an intolerant society that won't let minorities take center-stage? That's the sort of provocative notion at the core of "Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco," music journalist Peter Shapiro's effort to revise glam culture's place in American history...."
(By MARK BLANKENSHIP, Variety