Life and Death review on the Journal of Popular Music Studies

A review of Life and Death was published on the Journal of Popular Music Studies (June 2017) by James Weissinger. You can read the full review here (pdf). An excerpt below!

Dubbed out electronic handclaps crackle in space, their echoing digital delay moodily fading as a rubbery synth bass pulses into the mix. This is the haunting, exuberant, impossible introduction to “Don’t Make Me Wait,” the NYC Peech Boys’ 1982 12” record, famously produced by Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan. Melding disco, gospel, and rock, the song is one of the many genre-breaking works closely profiled in Tim Lawrence’s exhaustive Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980–1983. Building on his previous study of 70s dance culture in Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979 and complementing his most recent book, Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992, Lawrence ambitiously maps the many overlapping early-80s scenes—No Wave, NewWave, post-disco, early hip hop, 80s R&B—all at once.
— James Weissinger, Journal of Popular Music Studies

Wire review + Tidal playlist

Still physical, still sharp as nails, Wire magazine has published a super-generous review of Life and Death on the NY Dance Floor that’s left me wondering if it can really be my work that’s being referred to. Niels Van Tomme writes:

“Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor is a remarkably intense piece of ‘community writing’. It breathes life into an iconic historical epoch and sociocultural scene without ever retreating into nostalgia or naive celebration. […] In fact, there’s something unexpectedly electrifying about reading Lawrence’s exceptionally well-researched historical studies [Love Saves the Day and Hold On to Your Dreams as well as L&D]. It is the sensation of remotely yet meaningfully becoming part of something hitherto only secretly known. One comes slowly yet unequivocally aware of how that specific era’s cultural and sociopolitical conditions, so thoroughly reconstructed in these works, resonate with the current sense of cultural and political impasse. […] Lawrence truly performs an act of captivating scholarship, without ever falling into the pitfalls of academic-speak. […] Lawrence is a master of relating these developments [Reaganomics, AIDS, the crack epidemic] to the sonic worlds other have shaped. Despite his narrative being shrouded in loss and anger, you walk away with the idea that ‘given the right conditions, a different city can exist’. This is both energising and politically apt, with that decade’s unscrupulous New York real estate mogul now dictating today’s unforgiving global political climate.”

On request I’ve written a short piece about the music of the 1980-83 era plus created a 46-track playlist for Tidal: