on 21 February 2001
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!
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.
Are an aspiring DJ yourself? Or are you maybe a complete audiophile? Who knows, maybe you're like me where you're both! If so then you "need" (don't just consider) to buy this book.
This is the Bible of all DJ stories out there. At over 2 inches thick, you'll be forced late at night to eventually put down this entertaining read that covers just about every aspect that has shed a light in the world of 'DJing' not just as you know it today, but in all the ways you never even dreamed of it existing.
It's all here. From reading about Jimmy Savilles first gig's that led him to partially melting a grand piano, to an old vinyl-junkie learning the benefits of a felt slip-mat all by accident because he misplaced the rubber mat that would have normally been on the platter, you'll be sniggering away on every chapter to the weird and wonderful ways in which ordinary people changed the way we not only played music, but the way we created music around the notion of dancing.
Perhaps the most enlightening thing about this book is that because it covers all the stories, events, tales, and facts between the early 1900's to 2004, you judge for yourself just how placid and selfish the business has become. When reading about the lovely feel-good era that was the early 1980's, where Frankie Knuckles played smooth new 'house' tracks that influenced a whole generation of people to party wildly, the latter two decades suggest that anyone high-up in the club/marketing business is merely after a taste of £££. This just wasn't an issue back in the discothèque days.
I myself have taken Popular Music Studies as a University course, and although I was DJ'ing before I started Uni, this book opened my eyes to the truth, and I wish it had been on the course!! I'd also like to think it's just spurred me on even more to love the music for what it is, yet the book leaves you on an open note... Is technology a benefit for DJ's in the current fast moving age? While Sasha (Alex Coe) quotes in the book it does, the writer continues in a neutral but fun vein to leave you to conclude how the genre will live on in the future. Do laptops make you a skilful DJ? Does pressing a few buttons account for computer/technology skill or musical/hands on skill? It's for you to decide.
I can't rate this book highly enough. The fact that it would appeal to me even if I never realised I could DJ, or never took an interest in clubs and going bonkers at 3am is all the more credit to the writer for writing in an entertaining manner that displays an extraordinary effort for gaining so much research on such a huge, yet in reality, quite un-questioned topic and subject that few people have touched. Luckily, if you've stopped on this internet page, you need not go anywhere else. The bible is here at an incredible price!
on 27 February 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.
on 30 August 2006
Although this book has been re-written to celebrate the centenary of the DJ, the story really begins with the rise of the Northern Soul clubs of Wigan and Blackpool and the early 1970s. What follows is a comprehensive account of dance music of the last 35 years and it is at its best when charting the explosive rise and fall of disco, the origins of hip-hop and the social revolution that followed in the wake of house music.
Brewster & Broughton clearly know what they are writing about: the development of the techniques of mixing, back beats etc are well explained although I remain unenlightened as to the finer points of what is garage as opposed to house, trance etc (if that matters?). They make a convincing case as to the creativity of the DJ and are withering in their dismissal of clubs like Manumission and its "rather tawdry sex show".
This is a book both for the dedicated clubber in search of some context and also the general reader. It also a record of personal tragedy as so many of the DJ greats have succumbed to AIDS, drug overdoses and suicide. A number of unexpected heroes emerge: Richard Burton's first wife Sybil, Malcolm McLaren, Kraftwerk; and the late greats are honoured, principally DJ Francis, Larry Levan and Ron Hardy. RIP.
on 12 December 1999
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.
on 8 February 2000
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.
on 29 May 2007
I have lost count of the number of times I have read this book, re-read it, checked out the record lists in the back, bought copies for people, used it to prop up a wobbly table. It is a seminal trip through 100 years of the DJ pushing the musical boundaries from soul, reggae, hip hop, disco, house and all forms of dance music to soundtracking the nights we've all loved. The arcane details of lost dj's seminal club figures and nights from Italy, New York, Manchester to the island of Ibizia are poured over in detail but with great wit. Not a lightweight coffee table book nor some earnest socio-cultural phd thesis but a highly informative and entertaining read. I sense a great deal of love, passion and enthusiam have been poured into this book and you can't help but be carried along. I bought the first edition and the latest one and the additional chapters on Balearic and Garage are fascinating.
on 6 July 2005
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.
on 10 September 2001
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 modern dance music. It has been a real education for me, and I can honestly say that I have a much deeper understanding and respect for DJ's and the music that many of my students love!
I will draw inspiration from it when teaching aspects of what my examination board calls " club dance remix" and hopefully not sound like a complete plonker to my students.