Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Disco Years, Vol. 1: Turn the Beat Around (1974-1978) [Rhino, 1990]
With its beatwise hooks, generic soul, and cheap orchestral effects, disco was the great singles music of the '70s, finally ripe for rediscovery unimpeded by the territorial imperatives of individual labels. Compiler Ken Barnes tries to stick in some bad records, for history's sake. But though only "Shame, Shame, Shame" could qualify for volume two's "Ring My Bell"-"I Will Survive"-"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" run, Andrea True and Peter Brown are commercial crap like it oughta be, and once "The Hustle" makes its statement the hits just keep on coming on, untouched by electro blandout. Seven songs here went number one, and all four non-top 10 choices belong. Travails that touch the heart, relieved by the phony good cheer that makes life worth living. A