Various Artists

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life [2000]

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Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton's book Last Night a DJ Saved My Life is an insightful and exhaustive treatise on the role of the DJ in music culture. Equal parts song pluggers, tastemakers and pied pipers, DJs do far more than merely shape our listening habits: the most powerful and popular DJs control music's creation and consumption, often radically reinventing songs to fit their own artistic whims, and Brewster and Broughton argue that in the modern era, they're arguably more admired and influential than the traditional musicians whose records they spin. Like the book, this companion CD covers a lot of musical and historical ground, from Northern soul to reggae to disco to house, complete with thoughtful liner notes -- best of all, much of the material included here rarely turns up on compilations, which makes perfect sense given that the relative scarcity of a record is often a critical component of its prized placement within a DJ's vinyl arsenal. The highlight is the rare Tom Moulton remix of the Carstairs' "It Really Hurts Me Girl," one of the two or three greatest Northern soul classics of all time -- Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You," the rarest and most valuable Northern soul favorite, makes the cut as well. Other standouts include Tanya Winley's pioneering "Vicious Rap," Larry Levan's mix of Class Action's "Weekend" and DJ Premier's "Red Alert Chant."

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