As someone who has dabbled in the art of DJing, I really enjoyed this book. The writer elucidates the history of DJing and delves into its profound effects on the evolution of modern American dance music in such a way that the reader is transported back in time to legendary haunts like Frankie Knuckles’ warehouse and Afrika Bambaataa’s eclectic studio where the seeds of electronic and hip-hop DJing were sowed. The language is clear and descriptive to such an extent that the reader can almost feel the ferocious vibrations of a house bass line or the whoosh of a high pass filter. What is particularly striking about this book is its exploration of the effects of DJing on American culture. Brewster and Broughton successfully link the progression of the club scene to concurrent political and cultural events. Through this, the book transcends its genre and engages the reader on a more intellectual level, lending an even greater appreciation of music.
The book spans a whole range of material from House to Garage, from Northern Soul to Hip Hop, from Disco to Techno. It even discusses the current state of DJs as superstars, featuring words of wisdom from crossfading heavyweights like Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim, and Junior Vasquez. This final chapter is, perhaps, my favorite as it also reveals the heavy toll commercialism has taken on DJing as a profession and introduces the reader to the mystical world of the Global Underground, an Eden of sorts for disc jockey enthusiasts like myself. This is followed by lists of Top 50 Club Charts, an absolute goldmine of information which has resulted in an additional 2 gigabytes worth of music on my iPod and, consequently, an enormous iTunes bill.
Now, with respect to cons, this book (and probably this review) is not for you if you want no-frills-attached-Hemingway-esque writing. If you’re someone who turns on ESPN for the Top 10 Plays of the Week because you don’t like watching entire games, you won’t enjoy this book. At times, it seems to get bogged down by its own plethora of information; however, if you enjoy an engaging, witty, and intellectual history of music, you’ll love Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey.