Saturday, November 28, 2009


I just finished Alice Echols' Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture, and since it's not due out until March, I won't say much about it beyond a note on the ending. After Echols deals extensively with the '70s for most of the book, she rolls through the next 20-plus years in 20 or so pages, then concludes by seeing traces of disco acceptance in such band names as the Disco Biscuits and Panic! at the Disco. In short, a book that moves at a smart pace becomes cursory in the home stretch. The only thing I find less convincing is the attempt to link the past and present to show continued relevance. Joe Bonomo tries this in Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found, where his last chapter tells us that Dave Alvin and Rev. Horton Heat love classic Jerry Lee. Since they're in their 40s and 50s (I assume), those aren't the best examples. More to the point, though, are such gestures necessary? Does disco need to be accepted and enjoying some sort of normalized place in the culture for the book to matter? Do famous people now have to care about Jerry Lee for Jerry Lee's recordings to be relevant?

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