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The Disco Files 1973-1978: New York's Underground, Week by Week Paperback – Apr 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 484 pages
  • Publisher: (April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956189601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956189608
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 17.1 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jack on 6 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any lover of 70s disco needs this book.
Vince Aletti's Disco File columns for Record World chronicled the rise and commercial peak of disco in the US from 1973-8. A weekly list of new releases and some brief assessments, these simple lists reveal how disco evolved into a cultural behemoth ultimately threatening the macho hegemony of rock; it's really staggering when reading this to realise how revolutionary this music really was. Aletti himself debated the relationship between disco and the wider culture, but even he didn't see the vicious backlash coming, even as he wondered where it would all end.
The Disco Files is more of a chronicle and reference than a great narrative read, but even within those narrow parameters it's often fascinating. Although the scene and sound evolved quite rapidly, it was nowhere near as fast as today, and the charts moved far more slowly; this is probably one reason there's no index, as literally hundreds of artists are mentioned dozens of times.
The rise and fall of individual artists and styles within the period is also fascinating; my favourite is Aletti's chronicle of Dr Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. DBOSB made a huge splash with their first self-titled album and single Cherchez La Femme, rightly being recognised as uniquely important. The endlessly-delayed second album kept Aletti impatiently champing at the bit - until it was finally released. What followed was a lengthy, positive but ultimately very disappointed review by Aletti, with a promise of further reflections that never arrived. And then DBOSB were gone, another blind alley in the endless quest for the next new and perfect sound. It's striking how accurate Aletti was about the merits of individual releases - most of his predictions still hold up.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The Essential Disco reference book 29 Oct. 2009
By ibekeen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No revisionist history here!! These are the original weekly columns from Record World from 1974 to 1978. There are regional charts galore throughout the book so you can see where the songs were hits and how long they were popular. Unlike a lot of the billboard charts, the actual songs are listed instead of Grace Jones "Portfolio" (all cuts). The book is printed on heavy grade ultra white paper with tons of photographs of actual records both domestic and imports. There are also a lot of pictures too.

This is the ultimate reference book on Disco music, especially the early years from 1974-1976!!. There are weekly reviews of records and lots of disc jockey commentary. One (pre 12" single days) topic is the DJ's complaining about not receiving two copies of 45's that have a part 1 and part 2 on the other side. There are also pleas for universal formats of 12" singles so that the speed is listed and that they are always pressed at either 33 or 45. It is also amazing to read comments like, this week we have a new record by an unknown 16 year old named Stephanie Mills who has a powerful voice. You get to watch history unfold on a weekly basis when most people were not even taking notice.

The only major flaw is that this book is lacking is an index. Hopefully, someone will post one on the Internet or maybe a future revised edition will add this. The column was taken over by Brian Chin in 1979. It would be great for him to continue this with a sequel so that we can see the so called demise of disco.

An amazing 5 star book worth every penny. Thanks to all involved.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Essential Book on the Coming of Disco. 25 July 2009
By M. Zacarelli - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is Disco/Dance history from it's original cultural-rise. What better way to see how the great disco anthems unfolded then by actual Record World playlist, reviews and the savvy knowledge of then Disco Columnist Vince Aletti. The only thing that could have made it better is if it included every weekly Record World National Disco file chart. Otherwise there is every weekly playlist for the reporting Disco clubs of that era late 74-78. (Vince Aletti left RW the last week of 1978) Still a book of this kind can not be short-changed when it offers such an abundance of actual Disco Era info. Great job Mr. Aletti!!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Heaven Must Have Sent This 16 Feb. 2010
By Jeff Pearlman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most of this awesome book consists of reprints, complete with photos and national and regional charts, of Vince Aletti's weekly Record World disco columns from November 1974 through December 1978. There are also over thirty pages of various disco articles Mr. Aletti wrote for other publications such as Rolling Stone and the Village Voice, plus an interview at the end of the book. A treasure trove of information about gazillions of disco records both massive and obscure.

A recurring theme through the couple of hundred pages I've read so far is that 12" singles had higher sound quality ("hotter", "brighter" mixes) than the versions included on the corresponding albums. Here's an example: "[a promo 12" of] War's "Galaxy", actually shorter than the LP version at 7:28 but minus the change-of-pace movement that made [it] difficult to play in the clubs...smooths things out and adds a crackling drum break, making one of our favorite funk songs (those lyrics!) even more accessible." (From January 21, 1978.) There are countless other examples describing the differences between various versions (12", 7", LP, imports) that are indispensible for the collector.

The reader can watch disco develop week by week, record by record. I agree with another reviewer that a companion volume of reviews into the '80's would be welcome. Although Mr. Aletti ended his column after December 16, 1978, Billboard magazine kept a column going. There were a lot of great records after 1978...yes, David Naughton, I'm talking about you...and I'd love to read about them too.

Any dance music fan will be astounded by this book; I am!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
great book to read a few pages at a time 20 Nov. 2010
By Music Fan Jeff - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was certainly a disco fan throughout the time period covered by this book, but because I was a young teenager I only knew the disco songs that had successfully crossed over to pop radio at the time. As the years have passed, of course, I have familiarized myself with many other disco tunes that escaped my notice back in the 1970s, but nearly every week's column as reprinted in this book brings to my attention records I've never heard (and frequently never even knew they existed). Just last night I learned that Lesley Gore apparently released a disco record in 1976; now I'm dying to hear that.

What's really great about this book is that it's easy to pick up for just a few minutes and then put down, since nearly every "chapter" is simply a reprint of a column that appeared back in disco's heyday.

This is a brilliant book for any fan of disco music.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
great overview 21 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
if you wanted a book that covered disco in its prime and peak uncut well this is the ultimate book. from start to finish for this particular part of the 70's it presents the songs. i really enjoyed the details and break down. a must have for any fan of the 70's disco sound.
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