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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life [Paperback]

Bill Brewster , Frank Broughton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Paperback £12.61  
Paperback, 4 Nov 1999 --  

Book Description

4 Nov 1999
This is the definitive history of the disc jockey, the most important figure in dance music. The power of the DJ has forged the modern record industry, and his taste-making skills brought us rock'n'roll and rhythm and blues, and many other genres.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; Revised edition edition (4 Nov 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747275734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747275732
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 790,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The self-styled "definitive" history of the humble art of spinning plates of vinyl, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life steps up to the turntables with worthy pretensions. The work of journalists Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, who, between them, have worked on The Face, i-D, Rolling Stone, and Musik, they certainly know their deep house from their speed garage. But while Last Night A DJ . . . is an impressively knowledgeable compilation of information, they never quite decide whether this is an intellectual resource, a complete history, or if they're playing these records just for kicks.

So in the preface fun is poked at "abstract nonsense about postmodern intertextuality", and the pair thunder into well-reasoned, impassioned debate about the DJ being a modern-day shaman--pulse-racing stuff, which makes it all the more uncomfortable when it segues into an unremittingly dull chronological history of the invention of the record deck. The pace quickens with an excellent chapter on Northern Soul, and in hot pursuit follow impressive histories of the reggae, hip-hop and disco genres. But then Acid House--perhaps Britain's most important musical evolution ever--is given short shrift and techno is dismissed over a mere ten pages as "house's swotty offspring". The term "definitive", it seems, has been faded out of the mix.

Last Night A DJ . . . is no Bible for the penitent vinyl worshipper, and its difficult chronology makes it an uncomfortable read. Still, if you think that Northern Soul records were made in Leeds and disco began with the Bee Gees, there's a wealth of knowledge here that'll put you right --Louis Pattison


'the best 'club culture' book ever to emerge' -- Express --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Back when man was stumbling around the dusty savannahs figuring out the best way to surprise a woolly mammoth, he found his experience divided sharply between night and day. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Being a bedroom DJ myself, not a very good one at that, it has always been an intangible interest of mine to get a little more educated on the history of not just the DJ himself but the origins of the music the DJ is playing. Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton have accumulated everything there is to know in such a superb way that even the most ardent of rock fans has to sit up and listen.
It is still a mystery how the history of such a pivotal figure in music has until now been uncharted. I can only thank the authors for giving us such an outstanding account of the great careers and innovative minds that every record we now listen to have stemmed from.
Buy the book, read the book, then go to a club, you will find yourself in a different frame of mind than you have done before. More alert to the DJ's hold and power over his crowd. You will hear mix's you have missed before, 'sets' will either come alive or die on its feet. Then read the book again.
Although i have nothing but praise for this masterpiece i think my girlfriend would disagree, since reading the book i have spent more money on records than ever before and any spare time on my decks. Sorry darling!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive essential read 13 Nov 2003
Out of all the many books that I have read charting the musical evolution surrounding disco through to todays dance scene, this is by far my favourite one. It's not just for people who are into dance music, but is a good book for anybody who likes music at all. It discusses musical and cultural change.
The book is thoroughly enjoyable to read, full of great humour and affection for the scenes being discussed, right from nothern soul through to acid house and more recently.
The book is weighted with disco and hip-hop histories and the only gripe is that the last few chapters breeze through the 90s dance scene (for this try 'adventures in wonderland: a decade of club cuture'). But you couldn't hope to find a more insightful summary of 70s and 80s music.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Untold Story... 27 Feb 2003
I started clubbing and DJing in 1986 and had a whole new world open up to me with the arrival of acid house soon after. Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling, Johnny Walker, etc provided the soundtrack to my clubbing baptism. This book documents how that scene was almost an end point in the evolution of the DJ. Everything we know the DJ for now has sprung from very humble beginnings, which this book has researched painstakingly thoroughly (trainspotters will love it - especially the club charts for all the great places, in the UK and US).
For example, you will not believe who the world's first club DJ was!! Read this book to discover one of the club scene's best kept secrets....
This is a fascinating book, full of amazing stories, interviews and snippets of history so colourfully described you almost feel like you're there - at the Loft, Paradise Garage, Wigan Casino, the Music Box, Hacienda, the list goes on.
The two things that stand out for me about this book are: the discovery that, for a culture that so innovatively recycles great forgotten sounds, all the people you thought were pioneers were just borrowing from someone before them. What they do so brilliantly is make it sound original. This book goes right back to the source for ALL the classics, whatever your dance music interests.
The second thing is: I now finally understand what Northern Soul is! Clubbers I got to know in the eighties who were into the Northern Soul scene in the seventies talked about stuff that made no sense to me. Now it's all clear - and it sounds like it was an incredible time to be dancing.
So if you've ever wondered about a great sample, buy this book and discover what made it so great in the first place.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DJ's Bible. 8 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Fantastic book. Such a comprehensive history or the DJ has never been seen before. It is an inspiration, every time I read a chapter I have to jump on my decks and dig out some of the tunes from that period. I thought I knew alot about dance music but I was so wrong. Enlighten yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST FOR ALL MUSIC LOVERS OF ALL AGES!! 6 July 2005
By A Customer
Music has been my passion since the late 1988 which is when I first started clubbing at the tender age of 17. Since then I have worked in bars & clubs, gone to some of the best club nights the UK had to offer, to see some of the best DJ's in the world during the 90's. I thought I knew alot about the 'DJ' but this book has told me things I didn't know. I couldn't put this down on holiday.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
At last, a book that encapsulates the very essence of the DJ's role and how it has evolved over the years. This is a fascinating account of rise of dance music from the first club night (big up to Jimmy Saville!) to modern day superclubs and their underground counterparts. Broughton and Brewster's writing makes you believe you are actually there at the beginning of Hip Hop in New York, dancing on the floor of the Music Box in Chicago and going crazy to Nicky Siano at The Gallery. If you've ever spent hours searching through second hand shops for obscure records, or ever danced in a club, this book is for you. Lots of interviews with the DJs who shaped dance music (Grandmaster Flash, Morales, Dave Dorrel, Norman Cook to name a few) and even definitive charts from clubs such as the Sound Factory, The Loft and Paradise Garage. Ideal Sunday afternoon reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible
Informative!. I though I knew it all, but this proved I didn't, well written, all it needed would be QR codes in it so you could scan and listen to the records that they talked... Read more
Published 10 months ago by J Milbank
5.0 out of 5 stars Catches your interest in understanding the significance of a DJ
...and completely fulfills the expectations of learning about the specific sub-culture, which was my personal intention. Read more
Published on 2 Dec 2011 by III II I II III
5.0 out of 5 stars Bobbie Anderson
A brilliant book that was recomended to me by Pitsea disc jockey Bobbie Anderson.
I bought it and now I want to be a MC. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2009 by Arthur Daley
5.0 out of 5 stars best book iv read
This is a good book for both DJ's and music lovers. It shows music from hard house to tribal trance, inbetween hip hop, rap and much more it shows you the elimants of the dj and... Read more
Published on 15 April 2002 by djscratchmc@aol.com
5.0 out of 5 stars invaluable for someone who is trying to learn about Dance
As a secondary school music teacher from a traditional musical background, I have found this book an invaluable resource in learning about the origins and variety of styles of... Read more
Published on 10 Sep 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Goodgoodgood....
I have been fascinated by the concept of the DJ for a long time, but I didn't really know his history until know. Read more
Published on 11 May 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars If your interested excellent
The history the book gives about the history of the Dj and Dance Music in general, is thorough and well written, capturing the mood of the times well. Read more
Published on 21 Jan 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars For the casual reader... a review (in brief)
Well, a good overview, the book fails in that it isn't really exciting if you don't like the music it refers to. If reggae gets your goat, then that chapter would seem hard work. Read more
Published on 19 Oct 2000 by Mr. J. M. Melbow
4.0 out of 5 stars a totally music-centred account of the dj
The authors have created a wonderful account of the rise of the dj. Unlike other titles on the subject they have managed to restrain from slipping into any academic style... Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2000 by matt@mgosden.freeserve.co.uk
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