Reviews of Love Saves the Day

[Last updated: 14.06.2005]

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"Tim Lawrence's disco culture tome is one of the sharpest books on dance music to date, striking a balance between you-are-there club descriptions, socioeconomic analysis, and musical critique. The U.K. author conducted over 300 interviews with early DJs like Francis Grasso, label owners like Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records, and journalists (including the Voice's Vince Aletti), for insight into the world he was not a part of, but nevertheless makes vivid." Tricia Romano, Village Voice

"Books about dance music are afflicted by either impenetrable critical theory (Simon Reynolds's Generation Ecstasy), fanboy geekiness (Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton's Last Night a DJ Saved My Life), or a frustratingly superficial, elliptical narrative (Matthew Collin's Altered State). Love Saves the Day, a history of dance music's seventies heydey by British cultural critic Tim Lawrence, avoids all these pitfalls. It's packed with detail without turning dull; it offers a non-hagiographic treatment of dance-music icons like Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles, and Nicky Siano; and, perhaps best of all, Lawrence's riveting story-telling puts you deep in the proto-disco moment. For those of us who have felt that the very white, very hetero U.K. rave scene has been overexposed, Love Saves the Day's cast of gay and black D.J.'s is something to be celebrated… Love Saves the Day not only gets dance-music history right ⎯ it refocuses that history to include unjustly excluded from it." Ethan Brown, New York magazine

"Base on over 300 interviews with DJs, promoters, punters and players this is as close to a definitive account of Disco as we're likely to get, and as entertaining as a great night out." Richard Smith, Gay Times

"[A] densely detailed and heartfelt account of the era." Bruce Tantum, Time Out (New York)

"This brilliant new study of the birth of disco and the spawning of a million different subgenres 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." i-D

"Charting the slow, steady rise and sudden, cruel fall of discotheque culture throughout the '70s, Tim Lawrence's exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) 'Love Saves the Day' does for disco what Lloyd Bradley's 'Bass Culture' did for reggae ⎯ documents its glory days in such a dementedly detailed manner that anyone thinking of attempting something similar may as well just give us… The result is what will surely stand as the definitive history of dance music's early years." Joe Madden, Jockey Slut

"I detested disco during its heyday and I detest disco now. So it surprised me to find myself entertained by Tim Lawrence's disco-appreciating 'Love Saves the Day.' The book… is everything a good history should be ⎯ accurate and informative, well-organized and thorough. It is also everything a quality read should be ⎯ fresh, thoughtful and provocative… 'Love Saves the Day' is, as so many critics have noted, the definitive book on dance music in the 1970s." Lisa Neff, Chicago Free Press

"Love Saves The Day works as an eye-opening history of a movement that found a nation taking time out to dance." Andy Battaglia, Onion

"[Love Saves the Day is] a fascinating, at times gossipy (in the best way) account of the scene and its major players ⎯ Mancuso, Levan, et al ⎯ and reading firsthand accounts of the origins of DJ tricks like beatmatching is nothing less than thrilling. When he gets to descriptions of the dance floor itself, the immersive, atemporal space of it, it just makes me want to be there." Philip Sherburne (of The Wire) Abstract Dynamics

"Love Saves the Day is a fully comprehensive, well-composed analysis of dance culture during its most crucial and sublime time during the Seventies. Tim Lawrence has done his homework and his dynamic delivery also possesses a delightful, intimate style… Love Saves the Day is a revealing, captivating and enlightening read." Roberta Cutolo, Straight No Chaser

"British academic Tim Lawrence chronicles 1970s American dance culture in this informative tom, but the emphasis here isn't solely on cocaine-filled celeb hangouts such as Manhattan's Studio 54. Instead, Lawrence digs deep into the early New York scene to pinpoint David Mancuso's infamously hedonistic loft parties as the birth of club culture, before covering the huge commercial success of disco and the backlash its perceived blackness and gayness provoked. Packed with interviews with the key players, it's as agood an introduction as you'll find to an all-too-often overlooked period in musical history." Phil Mongredien, Q

"Equal parts oral history and sociological analysis, Love draws on interviews with hundreds of key figures to etch the broad arc of disco's ascendance and decline, rendering it in a breathless play-by-play. At times, it's difficult to keep the players straight, awash as the scene is in DJs, promoters, and scenesters, many of whom come and go as quickly as parties spring up and are shut down by police. Lawrence is a studious sociologist, but he doesn't neglect the salacious details — a nearly naked Nicky Siano handing out dosed strawberries in the street while vice cops close down the Gallery — that give the story its libidinal edge. The book is nothing less than revelatory, time-traveling to pivotal moments like the birth of beatmatching (and snark-baiting the bitchy, bitter jocks that fell off after failing to master the new technique) and describing the atemporal space of the dance floor itself. The book immerses to the point of excess — at times you want to set aside the quotes, throw on a boa, and set off in search of some sex, drugs, and "Soul Makossa." But the book's broader implications — especially the missteps of the record industry and the pressures put upon art, leisure, and self-expression in a time of socioeconomic unrest (a nice bit of "unpacking," as we used to say in grad school) — make Love Saves the Day as timely as it is tantalizing." Boldtype

"Despite its importance in popular music history, nostalgia, neglect and misinformation have distorted the disco story beyond recognition. Turn to Tim Lawrence's forthcoming book, Love Saves the Day, however, and the origins of disco supply an opening through which a reserved, complex and idealistic musician like Arthur [Russell] could enter." David Toop, The Wire

"Lawrence does a great job of illustrating the relationship between increasing nightclub fervor and resulting changes in pop culture and subculture… Lawrence goes beyond layman's terminology in his explanation of technical issues, and it's refreshing to read a narrative from someone so well educated and well informed - at no point does his authority come into question." Christopher John Treacy, Bay Windows

"Lawrence's astounding research and wide focus make this the music's definitive chronicle so far." Michaelangelo Matos, Seattle Weekly

"Londoner Tim Lawrence never took in a Bette Midler set at the Continental Baths or assisted Tom Moulton with his novel compilation of a 45-minute, nonstop-music mix tape, but you’d swear he did based on the sprawling and truly resonant documentation in Love Saves the Day. 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. Forging a timeline from David Mancuso’s surreptitious, freewheeling house parties at the Loft to the ballyhooed extravagance of Studio 54, the book flickers with a strobe-lit series of mesmerizing tangents: a history lesson on vogueing, how renowned DJ Francis Grasso broke ground at the Sanctuary in 1970 by mixing Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta Love" with Chicago’s "I’m a Man," etc." Frank Halperin, Philadelphia City Paper

"Blending oral history, rare photos, sordid gossip, nontechnical discussions of primitive DJ mixing techniques, playlists, and corporate sales data, this highly readable book recounts the genesis, dissemination, and oversaturation of disco. While the book's overly broad subtitle bypasses America's multifarious forms of dance--The Rise and Fall of Disco 1970-1979 would be more accurate--the encyclopedic Love Saves the Day nobly enshrines the efforts of those pioneers (now in the their 50s, if alive at all) who shaped club culture." Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger

"Tim Lawrence's Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979 (Duke University Press paperback), illuminates the delirious whirl of disco and its milieu. Meet the labels, musicians, vocalists, producers, remixers, party promoters, journalists and crowds. The author interviewed over three hundred people to document this era, including the scene’s most influential players such as David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Tony Humphries and Frankie Knuckles. Hot stuff!" Mary Morris, Music Monthly

"The story [Lawrence] comes up with makes 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." Bradley Winterton, Tapei Times

"For anyone interested in getting the in-depth lowdown on how the Disco decade unfolded, ‘Love Saves The Day’ is an absolute must. Meticulously researched by its author, Tim Lawrence, this is a veritable history lesson, which includes material from over three hundred interviews plus select discographies from a whole host of DJ’s. From its underground origins to its mainstream explosion, overkill and eventual backlash, Disco has never been more thoroughly (and lovingly) dissected." Greg Wilson, Grand Slam

"Tim Lawrence is a lecturer in like, acid house studies, at the University of East London, and here he's written a seminal study of the American dance culture of the 1970's from whence acid house came… This will be a standard text in years to come, and is an essential read for house, disco and music lovers in general."

"Essential reading for anyone interested in discovering the origins of DJing, clubbing and the music we dance to." EasyJet Inflight Magazine

"Tim Lawrence's original and deep research alone makes Love Saves the Day essential reading for anyone who wants to know the who, what and where of disco's earliest years and why a musical style came to symbolize an entire decade." John-Manuel Andriote, Lambada Book Report

"Lawrence tells the complete story in this fine, groundbreaking history filled with fresh information and thoughtful perspectives on the disco decade, the result of his hundreds of interviews and exhaustive research." Carol Binkowski, Library Journal

"To say I've been knocked out by this book would be an understatement. Firstly, this is a book that needed to be written; secondly, it's spot on in its depiction of the chosen subject matter; and thirdly, it's an essential missing link between all time classics on dance music culture."  Pete Haigh, Manifesto