Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007)

Artist: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Album: 100 Days, 100 Nights

Released: October '07

Label: Daptone Records; Brooklyn, NY

Style: Soul, Funk

Buy From: Amazon

1. 100 Days, 100 Nights
2. Nobody's Baby
3. Tell Me
4. Be Easy
5. When the Other Foot Drops, Uncle
6. Let Them Knock
7. Something's Changed
8. Humble Me
9. Keep On Looking
10. Answer Me

Sharon Jones doesn't need the long line of credentials she carries in most reviews to speak for her. One need only drop the needle and let her voice take you back. I'm talkin' way back, to days when Aretha Franklin was commanding solitary-diva status in the world of soul. Today that diva is indubitably Sharon Jones. Raised singing in church in the heart of Funkytown, USA - read:Augusta, Georgia; home of James Brown - she got her start in music singing backups and worked her way into the studio at Desco Records to sing back up for Lee Fields. The producers at Desco were so impressed they cut her first studio recording, Switchblade, that day. She continued to do work for the label, making singles mostly and a brief tour of the UK where local DJs had popularized her singles. And just as it seemed she would make her major breakthrough, Desco records went under. Not, however, before Jones got the chance to meet the men that would rocket their careers into the forefront of modern soul and jazz.

Backed by long-time cohorts The Dap-Kings, it's clear to see why people are buzzing about these guys. At a glance you see a bunch of white guys in cheesy blues brothers costumes, but in the words of Bootsy Collins, "You can't fake the funk." All these guys have got style, and not just musically. Their suits are actually pretty nice, I especially like this photo from

Their third release on Brooklyn's diy-funk label, this is for certain the crowning gem in a long line of funky jams forming the heart of what some (wiki) are calling a "revivalist soul and funk movement," but what I just call "makin' em like they used to." I don't know how they do it (that's why they play, and I write), but they've managed to recreate the authentic sound of soul records released over 40 years ago, even down to the production quality. They even limit themselves to instruments and studio equipment available circa 1975 to create a sound that's vintage and polished.

As any good soul album should be, 100 Days, 100 Nights is about love, first and foremost, and then a lot of what comes with it. The album starts with the title track, a seemingly cryptic tale of love lost, set to gypsy beats. It's the break in the middle of the song that gives away the nature of the album to follow. The beat fails as the orchestra builds suspense, "Wait a minute, maybe I need to slow it down a little, take my time." She's addressing the issue that in just one half of her first song she's already given up the climax of the story, and thus we hear the tales of her 100 days, and 100 nights (imo) and in no particular order.

And that's just the song-writing. The music is absolutely fabulous! The Dap-Kings are so on point! with all the funky hooks you could shake a hip at, and they come fully equipped with the horns and strings. I can actually picture Sharon Jones on stage belting and crooning and taking me through the entire emotional spectrum as she tells each story in song. Her power is what holds the bands presence so solidly. There's a lot of people making some really funky music these days, but none of them have her at the microphone. It's a total package with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, which is why I suggest everyone pick up a copy of this album, all their previous albums, and keep an eye out for anything resembling any of that material. This is the kind of music that never goes out of style, and it could use a little proliferation.

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