Reviews of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979


“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

"The definitive book on dance music in the 1970's." Lisa Neff, Chicago Free Press

“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

“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

“An extraordinary exercise in cultural history, this detailed and inspiring study lovingly excavates a crucial period in the evolution of Western music culture. Drawing mainly on half a decade’s worth of interviews and archive research, what distinguishes this work from many exercises in thick description and narrative musical history is the fact the story it aims to tell was really not widely known in any detail beforehand – and with many of its key protagonists either dead or approaching retirement age, it could easily have ended up never having been told at all – and the fact that this is a tale of truly epochal significance.” Jeremy Gilbert, Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

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

“[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, Abstract Dynamics

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

"Lawrence has documented the scene with a fan's affection and a scholars thoroughness... His interview subjects, veteran DJS and clubgoers all, best convey in their own word what it was like to be on the dancefloor at the Loft, the Gallery or the Paradise Garage when the crowd, drenched in sweat, screaming and whistling, arms in the air-gave itself up to rapture." Tom Beer, Newsday

“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 

“Tim Lawrence has done invaluable work in re-constituting the informal and fragmented histories of disco and of the rich musical talent involved in the production of what later became world-famous sounds. [...] As we know, so many figures in these informal economies later died of AIDS and until this work of reclamation was initiated by Lawrence their contribution to gay and black music cultures had been ignored, known only to a few fans, aficionados or to the dwindling band of usually impoverished survivors, such is the tragic history of black musical genius. The value of cultural studies scholarship has perhaps been long associated with this kind of passion to venture into hitherto uncharted territory, to give voice to those who are marginalized from official culture and who in this case were also pioneers of a now global, hugely commercial and wholly de-politicized dance culture.” Angela McRobbie, Cultural Studies

"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

“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 good an introduction as you’ll find to an all-too-often overlooked period in musical history.” Phil Mongredien, Q Magazine

"Will surely stand as the definitive history of dance music's early years." Joe Madden, Jockey Slut