12 July 2007

Albert Goldman. Disco, 1978

" That everybody sees himself as a star today is both a cliché and a profound truth. Thousands of young men and women have the looks, the clothes, the hairstyling, the drugs, the personal magnetism, the self‑confidence, and the history of conquest that proclaims the star. The one thing they lack—talent—is precisely what is most lacking in those other, nearly identical, young people whom the world has acclaimed as stars. Never in the history of show biz has the gap between the amateur and the professional been so small. Nor ever in the history of the world has there been such a rage for exhibitionism..." [Goldman 1978]

Albert Goldman. DISCO. Hawthorn Books, Inc., New York 1978

Current Selling Prices
$100-$240 /£50-£120

The above quote in Albert Goldman's deathless prose is somewhat prescient, reality TV hadn't been invented then...but down the disco everyone was a star. I hesitate to trot out the word 'seminal' but this is the Disco book, especially as it came out at the time. No doubt Abrams will produce a 5 kilo book on the subject or Taschen a 20 kilo book signed by John Travolta with a raised silver platform boot on the cover by Jeff Koons - but they will not surpass Goldman's masterpiece.

The book, the size of a small art book and not substantial (174 pages) is illustratred throughout in b/w and has a subsection featuring select colour photos. It came out in paperback and hardback with a jacket. The jacketed hardback is, as always, preferred and is more expensive and rarer. Very much the kind of book that would be turfed out at a boot sale or sold for 50 cents at a library sale - although being a bit of a Ebay special it is not really a sleeper anymore + alot of the books at library sales are now checked out on the web beforehand. It's not fair.

Jack Kroll in a review in 'Newsweek' gives the flavour of the book:
'...Albert Goldman's account of the Disco scene has the drive, color, and pounding beat of the music itself. Only Goldman could have brought such a unique package of talents to the task of exploring the greatest outbreak of Dionysiac madness since the Jitterbug, Lindy-hopping nights of the Swing era. Goldman seizes the scene from the multiple perspective of a musicologist, a sociologist, a psychiatrist, an anthropologist -- and a perfectionist. he is the swinging man's Levi-Strauss, tracing the Disco explosion back to its primeval roots and forward to the tribal rites of the sophisticated savage who is contemporary man and woman.'
The reference to Levi - Strauss is, presumably, to the 99 year old anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and not the jeans..

VALUE? Reasonable copies usually start at $150. A not fine signed copy sits at ABE at a stroppy $500 and in an Ebay shop a copy in a 'fair' d/w is a BIN at $150. Fair is a word which, even when used by an amateur, usually means 'poor.' A chancer on Amazon wants $575 for an unsigned copy ('Factory-sealed in plastic; Unopened; Rare find! Preserved unopened by a collector since it was issued; Text in Excellent shape; Great pictures! Great info!') Prada clad NY photo dealers want $500 for the book, but a judicious shopper should be able to pick up a sharp copy for $200.

One Disco enthusiasts site advises that the book is worth every cent of $150 and adds that it '...is perhaps the most sought after book from the actual Disco era about the Disco era. No revisionist BS here as it was written back in the day when Disco ruled the world.' The book was produced by Spritzgun Productions and that is disco model Vivianne Castanos on the cover.[ W/Q ***]

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