Soul Sister #52

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: Got To Be the Way It Is and Make It Good to Me
From: Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings [Daptone, 2002]

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: Stranded In Your Love and My Man Is a Mean Man
From: Naturally [Daptone, 2005]

Sharon Jones: When the Other Foot Drops Uncle and Humble Me
From: 100 Days, 100 Nights [Daptone, 2007]

For those of you who are perplexed about the title of this post, the "#52" refers to the age of the talented lead vocalist Sharon Jones from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are a ten-piece soul-funk band from Brooklyn who released a small pressing of their first album Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on Daptone Records in 2002. The band consists of Sharon Jones on vocals, Daptone label-head Gabriel Roth on bass, Neil Sugarman (formerly of the Sugarman Three) on sax, along with core members of The Mighty Imperials and the Soul Providers.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have recorded three full length records on Daptone Records. Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings has a gritty funk sound that recalls early James Brown songs like "Give It Up Turn It Loose" and "Mother Popcorn". Tight drum breaks and fat, greasy grooves ignite tunes like "Got to Be the Way It Is" and "Pick It Up, Lay It In the Cut". Elsewhere, on "Make It Good to Me", Sharon's expressive vocal stylings blend nicely with the deep baritone melodies of the Dap Kings, making it a soul ballad worth writing home about.

The songs on Naturally stray from the funky grooves and tight drums on Dap Dippin, in favor of a crisper sound with cleaner production. However, not one ounce of soul is lost in the process. While I usually don't like ballads, I have to admit that the duet"Stranded In Your Love" does everything right. The playful banter between Lee Fields and Sharon, funky piano solos and subtle string accompaniment make this track a cut above the rest of the ballads. Other tracks such as "My Man is a Mean Man" and "Your Thing Is a Drag" feature reverb-heavy production and punchy horn arrangments that channel the power and energy of classic James Brown. Overall, the songs on Naturally create a cohesive album chock-full of soul and funk tunes that are varied enough to keep your interest.

While 100 Days, 100 Nights has a decidedly more straight ahead soul sound to it than it's predecessors, there is no denying that it is a contemporary soul classic with a vintage sound. Most listeners will be hard pressed to guess what year this record was released, as every detail from the cover artwork to the analog production is done in a tastefully retro fashion. 100 Days, 100 Nights is an album filled with slow burn ballads and soulful grooves reminiscent of classic soul like Aretha Franklin and Howard Tate. With the sultry sound of the title cut, Sharon Jones and company set the precedent for the entire album. On "When the Other Foot Drops, Uncle" Sharon pours on the soul like a veteran as she playfully calls out her lover with this line, "And your crafty little pencil is running out of lead". Next, Sharon belts it out like Aretha on "Humble Me" as the band's well placed horn charts and piano playing perfectly complements the slow groove of the song. To close out the record is "Answer Me", a slinky mid-tempo groover with an upbeat gospel breakdown that will shake the pews in your church. Sharon desparately pleads with the big man upstairs" Answer me sweet Jesus, Don't you hear me calling you, I need you Lord", as the band ably backs her up with a top notch-groove. I posted a few songs from 100 Days, 100 Nights on Eclectic Grooves in December of 2007. Here is the link for those of you that are interested in hearing those songs.

Several years ago, friends of mine were recommending that I check out Sharon Jones in a live setting. I marked it on my calendar on several occasions, but to no avail. Each time some factor of life stepped in and prevented me from going- lack of money, concert sold-out, out-of town, too tired. One of the best stories was the year that they turned out to be the special guest at Wieden and Kenndy's Christmas party at the Doug Fir, unbeknownst to my girlfriend and I. We were both kicking ourselves about that for awhile.

So, I have made a special point of getting my tickets in advance for their July 25th performance at the Oregon Zoo. Any of you who appreciate the sound of retro soul with a funky live band that doesn't quit, should check out this show. It will definitely be the most fun-filled, exhilerating concert event of the summer.


two words: YOU'RE LUCKY!!!

I had bought tix to see SJ back in 2005 at a local nightclub. Ticket sales weren't great so they canceled the show. Boy was I pissed.

The band are coming to DC next month but it is in a corporate setting (Virgin Fest) so I will not attend. I'd much rather see the band at a night club or a small venue where everyone there will appreciate their talents.

BTW, I have just about all of her old Desco and Daptone singles which are almost impossible to find these days. If you'd like to check some out, I can upload them for you. Just drop me an email.

Peace and blessings.
Kevin said…
Wow, I can't believe that they canceled a show of hers because of low ticket sales. Every time I attempted to get tickets for her, the shows were sold out. Anyway, thanks for commenting. I don't think people are feeling the Sharon Jones, because the comments have been very light.

I left a message for you on Fufu Stew as well regarding the old Desco and Daptone singles. I don't have your e-mail address, but would definitely be interested in hearing these songs. Hope you are doing well!

Cheers, Kevin
Awesome post, as a Sharon Jones fan myself (Heck I even bought the Children's Books/Cds she did because I love her pipes) I'm happy to see that her and the band are rising in popularity more and more. I actually get to see her at Virgin Mobile Fest this weekend!!
Doris said…
I am very jealous of you - going out and having all that fun at her show!!!
I am a new Sharon Jones fan (how can you not be a fan once you've heard her) and it seems to me that she is comparable to good wine - getting better and better as time goes by
v belts said…
my favorite album is Naturally and my favorite single is "I Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Is In"

Great post!

Mira V. Belts
Sam & Jenn said…
Hi Kevin,

I have a new Soul artist, Lael Summer ( that I would love to send you! If you are interested, please let me know and I will get you all press materials right away. My email is admin at workingbrilliantly dot com.

Thank you!

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