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Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture [Hardcover]

Alice Echols
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Sep 2010
In the 1970s, as disco engulfed America, the question, "Do you wanna dance?" became divisive, even explosive. In this incisive history, Alice Echols reveals the ways in which disco, assumed to be shallow and disposable, permanently transformed popular music, propelling it into new sonic territory and influencing rap, techno and trance. This account probes the complex relationship between disco and the era's major movements: gay liberation, feminism and African American rights. But it never loses sight of the era's defining soundtrack, spotlighting the work of precursors James Brown and Isaac Hayes, its dazzling divas Donna Summer and the women of Labelle, and some of its lesser known but no less illustrious performers like Sylvester. No one will dis disco again after reading this fascinating account of the music we love to hate but can't stop dancing to.

Frequently Bought Together

Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture + Disco: The Music, the Times, the Era + The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (3 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393066754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393066753
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 2.9 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

In this expertly rendered, wide-ranging history of one of pop's most exciting social and musical movements, Alice Echols thoroughly recovers the moment in which disco was born and flowered--a moment of liberation for women, gay men, and not a few straight boys; of rich experimentation in the studio and behind the DJ decks; and of joyful dancing that broke down all kinds of boundaries. Echols, one of our best chroniclers of how pop creates social change (and is, in turn, inspired by it), gets its vibe because she lived it--and because she can step back from it now and see it whole. --Ann Powers

About the Author

Alice Echols is a professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University. A former disco DJ, she is the author of the acclaimed biography of Janis Joplin, Scars of Sweet Paradise.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By DF
Format:Hardcover
If you know the basics of who's who in disco and an outline of how the music evolved this book can give you the next level of information about what was really going on. If you are new to disco this book could be too much and too detailed.

Many times during reading it I've smiled or laughed upon realising how people, record labels and clubs were connected in non-obvious ways, and how this defined a particular sound or track. Just as important is the analysis of what was going on in society at the time, and how that relates to the music. The book has given me a vast list of tracks I want to find so I can more fully understand the points being made. Also a lot of articles are referenced which I'd like to find and read the originals.

Of course, if you just want to dance and enjoy the music then you need a CD, not a book. This book has a quite academic style - it could almost be someone's PhD thesis since it is so in-depth and well referenced. This is not a criticism, but as already mentioned this is probably a book for someone who already knows the basics and is looking for more understanding of what disco was/is all about.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dance While You Can, Little Man 9 April 2010
By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"Hot Stuff" is a new book about disco, the music and its impact on worldwide culture by Alice Echols, who is professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. She is a former disco deejay, and author of the acclaimed biography of Janis Joplin, "Hot Stuff" is a new book about disco, the music and its impact on worldwide culture by Alice Echols, who is professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. She is a former disco deejay, and author of the acclaimed biography of Janis Joplin, Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin. Disco, to be sure, still reminds many of John Travolta's famous white polyester suit in the monster hit little disco movie Saturday Night Fever [DVD] [1978], not to mention his strut down Bay Ridge's 86th street in that movie; and the drug-enhanced glamour of New York's Studio 54, even Brooklyn's noted dive, from the movie, 2001 Odyssey.

Then of course, there was the decade of the 1970's, when disco took hold, memorably and lastingly christened the narcissistic "Me" decade by esteemed American author Tom Wolfe. And, as is well-known, disco was hated by various white, macho rock critics: was it just coincidental that disco had something to do with the movements for women's, gay, and black rights? And was it just coincidental that the 70's, unfortunately, followed on the 60's that supposed decade of peace, love, drugs, sex and rock and roll that those same critics deeply loved, even as they deeply resented disco?
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read! 19 Mar 2010
By VC Ouranos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Echols new book on disco is an engaging, smart read. She brings to life both the political complexities of the time as well as the music and it's many scenes. A brilliant historian and superb storyteller (the book is filled with great anecdotes), Echols' book transcends the usual fare on disco by taking on an in-depth account of how disco both reflected and contributed to the ways that identities of African Americans, gays, and women shifted in these years. A must read for anyone interested in the cultural history of disco and the legacies of 70's social change movements.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff! 6 Jun 2010
By B. E. Conekin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Lively, readable, yet serious and scholarly, once again, Echols gives us a social and cultural history of America in the 1970s that we all need. This book is a pleasure from the first line to last, with the insets in between, adding a particularly nice touch, as they each focus on a specific song and illustrate its place in an important moment in disco's history. Thoroughly researched, yet a page-turner, Hot Stuff reveals things that some of us assumed, but could never really prove, especially in relation to disco's essential role in an emerging, out gay culture in the USA.
Enjoy! I did!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting observation. 15 Oct 2013
By paul k. robertson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most people tend to recoil at either hearing or reading the word "disco" but this book takes the subject and puts into a very interesting sociological context. It takes the time frame of disco from the mid seventies to its demise in the early eighties and threads disco through its importance in ethnicity, sexual orientation and social class consciousness. Good reading if you either loved disco or hated it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! 14 Sep 2012
By Jessica - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Alice Echols's book on disco's part in the 70s cultural revolution is fantastic. Although each section focuses on a different population (such as women, gay men, and rock fans), she never allows you to forget about the other groups as she goes along, weaving together a complex and intricate view of disco and 1970s culture.
3.0 out of 5 stars Took Me Back In Time 13 Mar 2012
By DMoney - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This book was a nice nostalgic journey back in time to my youth. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the Disco Era.
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