Sharon Jones and Her Dap-Kings Are Back
by Mat Weir
Sharon Jones, Sharon Jones, Sharon Jones! Is there anything she and the delicious Dap-Kings can’t do? After decades of trying to break into the musical mainstream, Miss Jones finally hit independent success with the Dap-Kings first album, 2002’s Dap-Dippin with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. A few years later the queen of modern soul and her merrymen would release 2007’s, I Learned the Hard Way–an album that finally saw the critics catching up with the times and “discovering” the Dap-Kings–and gained an amazing amount of commercial success as the back-up band to Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album/tour.
In 2013, Jones had announced the release of her 5th, full-length studio recording, Give the People What They Want creating a huge buzz in the audiophile world. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike quickly, leaving Jones diagnosed with bile duct cancer and postponing any upcoming releases and tour. Fans weren’t sure what would happen with the superstar, her band, or even the future of their label, Daptone Records. Even Jones was uncertain of the future.
“I didn’t even think that I was going to be around for people to see me perform,” she recently told Esquire.” I thought that people were just going to buy [the album] and remember me. That’s how I thought I was going to die.”
However, after several treatments, Miss Jones was back in her home church, practicing her vocals and sticking with the 2013 release of her latest, which dropped last January. And dear sweet Lordy, it was well worth the wait.
As an avid Jones and the Dap-Kings fan, a collector with all of their stuff on vinyl and someone who’s seen them live numerous times, Give the People What They Want is easily my favorite release by the group, hands down. From the opener, “Retreat!” –a rump-shaking warning tune to any man cocky enough to think he can tame Ms. Jones– to the closing song, “Slow Down, Love”–a forlorn ballad about two lovers with not enough time, Give the People… is a SOUL album to its core.
Soul follows the great tradition of gospel music and slave ballads by creating harmony from tragedy. Life sucks, so you have to be stronger than the rest and dance the blues away, which is exactly what Give the People… brings to the table. Songs like “Stranger To My Happiness” and “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” flow through the marrow of the genre as much as any track by Mayfield, Gaye, Brown, or Franklin. Plus, the first pressing on vinyl has a limited run of Mono LPs complete with a bonus 7″. Now THAT’S what the people REALLY want. Dig It!