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Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999) - Brewster and Broughton

Still the best book in its league when it comes to documenting dance music culture and DJ-ism across the many genres where it is to be found. [Nov 2005]

Cover of the UK edition of
Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999) - Brewster and Broughton [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


From Publishers Weekly
Beginning with the contention that the disc jockey is "dance music's most important figure," Brewster and Broughton persuasively argue that the contemporary DJ is the epitome of the postmodern artist and that disc jockeys have long influenced the evolution of American musical tastes. Brewster and Broughton's ardent history is one of barriers and sonic booms, spanning almost 100 years, including nods to pioneers Christopher Stone, Martin Block, Douglas "Jocko" Henderson, Bob "Wolfman Jack" Smith and Alan "Moondog" Freed. Along the lines of Kurt B. Reighley's recent Looking for the Perfect Beat: The Art and Culture of the DJ,, this is an obsessively unabridged and ever-unraveling (the authors will offer updates at www.djhistory.com) chronology of DJs and the music Northern soul, reggae, disco, hip-hop, garage, house and techno they have fostered, and, more accurately perhaps, the music that has fostered them. So as not to miss a note, the authors, both former editors at Mixmag USA and contributing writers to The Face, interviewed more than 100 DJs, dancers and scenesters and elicited some vibrant, pull-quote anecdotes, especially in the hip-hop chapters. What comes to light makes sense: readers learn that the DJ is a distinctly American invention (Reginald A. Fessenden in 1906), but they came into their own, and into wealth and fame, in Britain (case in point: Paul Oakenfold). Brewster and Broughton's subtext is refreshing: rather than draw curt lines between American and British contributions, they show how intimate the countries were in forging a communications phenomenon. (Aug.) --Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --via Amazon.com

Product Description:
From the first time a record was played over the airwaves in 1906, to a modern club economy that totals $3 billion annually in New York City alone, the DJ has been at the center of popular music. Starting as little more than a talking jukebox, the DJ is now a premier entertainer, producer, businessman, and musician in his own right. Superstar DJs, from Junior Vasquez to Sasha and Digweed, command worship and adoration from millions, flying around the globe to earn tens of thousands of dollars for one night's work. Increasingly, they are replacing live musicians as the central figures of the music industry. In Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, music journalists Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton have written the first comprehensive history of the mysterious and charismatic figure behind the turntables -- part obsessive record collector, part mad scientist, part intuitive psychologist of the party groove. From England's rabid Northern Soul scene to the birth of disco in New York, from the sound systems of Jamaica to the scratch wars of early hip-hop in the Bronx, from Chicago house to Detroit techno to London rave, DJs are responsible for most of the significant changes in music over the past forty years. Drawing on in-depth interviews with DJs, critics, musicians, record executives, and the revelers at some of the century's most legendary parties, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life is nothing less than the life story of dance music. --Book Description (2000) via Amazon.com --Last Night a DJ saved My Life (2000) - Bill Brewster, Frank Broughton [Amazon.com]

The definitive story of dance music

Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton wanted to write the definitive story of dance music from the perspective of the lord of the dance himself - the DJ - and, in doing so, have illuminated patches of musical history long hidden from sight. Alongside pitch-perfect histories of northern soul, disco, house and hip hop, they identify the first known DJ (back in 1906), reveal Frankie Knuckles' first 'job' - putting acid in the punch at the seventies NY hotbed The Gallery - and interview almost every major player DJ alive. Written with a music lover's zeal and a populist's scope, this is one for anyone who has ever found themselves lost on the dancefloor.''
Emma Warren

From the back cover:

Despite his pivotal role, to this day the established forums of music criticism remain almost completely ignorant of who the DJ is, what he does and why he has become so important. If this book aims to do anything, it is to show the rock historians that the DJ is an absolutely integral part of their story. As they find space on their shelves for another ten books about the Beatles, perhaps they can spare the time to read this one.

It is probably the fault of our Eurocentricism that dance music's importance has been downplayed for so long. Just as copyright laws protect the western ideals of melody and lyric but largely ignore the significance of rhythm and bassline, musical histories have avoided taking dance music seriously for fear of its lack of words, its physical rather than cerebral nature (hip hop, with its verbal emphasis, and techno, with its obsessive theorizing, are the rule-proving exceptions). And surprisingly, most writers who have explored dance music have written about it as if nobody went to a club to dance before about 1987.

Because of all this, the narrative you are about to read has long existed only as an oral history, passed down among the protagonists, discussed and mythologized by the participants, but rarely set in type, and never before with this kind of scope or rigor.

The desire to dance is innate; it has exerted a constant influence on music. Consequently, the disc jockey has never been far from the very center of modern popular music. From his origins as a wide-boy on-air salesman to his current resting place as king of globalized pop, the DJ has been the person who takes music further. --via Amazon.com

Cover of the UK edition of
Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999) - Brewster and Broughton [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Nuphonic presents: Last Night a DJ saved My Life (2000) - VA

Last Night a DJ saved My Life - VA [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
1. Largo - Handel
2. Red alert chant - DJ Premiere
3. I got to get away - Barker, Dave
4. True true - U-Roy
5. Funky donkey - Purdie, Bernard
6. Do I love you (yes I do) - Wilson, Frank
7. It really hurts me girl (Tom Moulton mix) - Carstairs
8. Vicious rap - Winley, Tanya
9. Get ready (looking for love) (back to the music box edit) - LaBelle, Patti
10. Love is the message - MFSB & Salsoul Orchestra
11. Glad to know you (Disconet re-edit) - Jankel, Chas
12. Weekend (Larry Levan weekend mix) - Class Action Best CD to find this track on, in very fine company
13. Snake charmer (Francois Kevorkian snake dub) - Jah Wobble & Holger Czukay/The Edge
14. Bird in a gilded cage - Jungle Wonz
15. Frequency 7 - Visage

How to DJ: The Art and Science of Playing Records (2003) - Bill Brewster, Frank Broughton

  1. How to DJ: The Art and Science of Playing Records (2003) - Bill Brewster, Frank Broughton [book, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    DJs have gone from being underpaid live jukeboxes to becoming premier entertainers, producers, businessmen, and musicians capable of commanding admiration from thousands and earning serious money. Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton's Last Night a DJ Saved My Life was the definitive history of the DJ. Now they gather their mastery of the artistic and technical aspects of being a DJ into a clear, accessible, and entertaining guide. How to DJ is the perfect guide -- from the most basic keys to establishing a music collection and a distinctive sound, to elementary record-spinning, to the complex skills of scratching, hot-mixing, and beat-juggling, as well as the inimitable art of creating an evening of sound that is perfectly timed, balanced, and unforgettable. Diagrams throughout illustrate phrases, beat timing, and song structure with no reliance on music theory, and resource lists recommend everything from which songs are best (and most fun) to learn with, to good sources for building a library of disks, CDs, and MP3s. For those who want to turn pro, the authors give sage advice on the vagaries of the club and music business. Short quotes, anecdotes, and photos of famous DJs such as Grandmaster Flash and Derrick Carter are featured.

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