A handful of musicians always seem to be a few steps ahead of the culture they love. Take the Chemical Brothers: when they DJ'd in Ibiza a few years into their career, they once made the loved-up, Balearic clubbers start to cry by simply not playing house music. It's likely that if any of those clubbers got a chance to hear Live at the Social, Vol. 1 they'd probably be an absolute wreck. Because this mix effort (the band's actual debut mix album) is a varied, monstrous collection of dirty beats and undeniable good times. So open-minded dance fans will rejoice. Truly, the center point of the album nearly says it all. As the Chemical Brothers fade from the trumpeting blare of Red Snapper's hip-hop to what sounds like mythical sirens of some parallel digital age (in fact a blend into the band's Lionrock remix), there is little doubt that this is not a run-of-the-mill mix effort. The whole experience feels thunderous. It helps that the Chemical Brothers consistently break out of their genre stereotypes. Although they get the credit -- and blame -- for "inventing" what is known as big beat, this mix proves that the band were always about more than that. The rest of the track selection alone is far from superstar DJ predictability. Instead of favored big beat track after big beat track, the band can go from sampling Public Enemy to showcasing the robo-house of Davy DMX to scratching in the locomotive breakbeats of Tim "Love" Lee to even taking the anti-dance culture stance of slipping in British indie stalwarts the Charlatans. Everything feels eclectic as well as coherent. Sadly, it would take them a couple more years to produce a completely stunning mix album worthy of their mixing and live skills (1998's Brothers Gonna Work It Out), but this early mix effort still shines with its own diverse, intense power. Definitely not for the faint of ears. Not for the conservative dance contingent, either While those aching to hear the comforting 140 bpm of house might indeed start to find their chins start to wobble, those in love with any kind of intelligent, eclectic, explosive dance music will only feel like smiling.
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AllMusic Review by Dean Carlson