Sharon Jones / Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

The Dynamic Sound of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

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Only three albums into a recording career spanning six years between 2002-2007, Daptone records has complied a collection of the best songs by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, adding a previously unreleased track, and a recording from a 45 rpm single. You'd be hard pressed to think this is not a prime example of what Jones truly is, a pure rhythm & blues singer who can stand tall and proud next to Ruth Brown, Bettye LaVette, or even Aretha Franklin in her heyday. Jones possesses a clean, honest, solid sounding voice that never wavers, and belts out song after song without sounding idiosyncratic or selling out to more commercial considerations. The variety of retro-soul on this collection moves into Stax, Philly, and Motown territory while retaining Jones' own originality, while the small horn section in the backdrop plays immaculately simple and heartfelt charts. Jones' is also blessed with bassist Bosco Mann, a first-rate tunesmith who wrote nearly all of the songs. Everything here is strong and serious, but "Got a Thing on My Mind" is the most feverish; the hardest and fastest funk where Jones assimilates the fervor of Tina Turner. Memphis style rhythm & blues is assimilated on "Let Them Knock," "100 Days, 100 Nights" is as close to the Detroit City, Gladys Knight & the Pips style as can be, while the style of Wilson Pickett or Otis Redding is picked up on for the previously unissued "Settling In." Then there's the go-go psychedelic dance sound of "Pick It Up, Lay It in the Cut," while the band does a hard rock cover of "I Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In," originally done by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition back in 1968. Jones concedes no pulled punches, and tolerates zero jive or cheating, but has her moments of remorse during the steady rockin' "How Do I Let a Good Man Down?" deals with critique on the slowed, loping "Let Them Knock," and documents the travails between split lovers for "Something's Changed" with a string and horn-fired instrumental backdrop. At her best with a talking plea/story for "Stranded in Your Love," she chit-chats with her man/bandmate during a car theft and subsequent dumping on the mean streets of romance, tossed out in a fit of jealousy. She's also sexy in the come hither lingerie ballad "You're Gonna Get It" with help from tenor saxophonist Neal Sugarman. The electric guitar playing of Binky Griptite is noticeable throughout, whether using a staunch rhythm guitar, wah-wah pedal, or plucky guitar riffing. Not included on the CD are famous covers of tunes by Bob Dylan, Janet Jackson, Woody Guthrie, or other faves "Fish in the Dish," "The Dap Dip," and "Your Thing Is a Drag" -- a minor quibble. None of the tunes are marginal or filler, making for a definitive (so far) collection for fans or new devotees of a great singer in a time capsule of a bygone era.

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