Soul singer Sharon Jones (left in the photo above) is all the rage nowadays and I couldn’t be happier about it. Her new CD I Learned The Hard Way is getting heaps of praise; she and her backup band the Dap-Kings are selling out bigger and bigger venues; and if you saw Up in the Air, you heard her funk up “This Land is Your Land” over the opening credits.
All of this brings me back to the first time I heard Miss Jones, in 2003. I was listening to Downtown Soulville on WFMU.org which is DJ’ed by Mr. Fine Wine. He plays 60s and 70s soul and funk almost exclusively on vinyl. Yes, he occasionally spices things up with contemporary soul bands, those that play with the ol’ skool soul flavor, but I was unaware of that then. One night, among such obscure classics as “Baby, Your Hair Looks Bad” by Mr. Bo & His Blues Boys and “The Witch Doctor” by Over Night Low, he played this (feel free to listen and guess what it is):
When if finally registered what song it was, I had a frantic moment thinking Janet Jackson had actually been doing a cover in 1986!
The truth is that not only does Sharon Jones perfectly capture the spirit of soul music from 30 years ago, the Dap-Kings arrange and produce in the same way. Likewise, they use recording equipment and techniques from the era, too. All of which would make anyone believe they’ve gone back in time.
Not that that is their point, thank goodness. The point is to get down and get funky.
And I strongly recommend beggin’, borrowin’ and/or stealin’ the see them perform live. You’ll have a blast!
Here’s some links to bring you up to speed on the Hardest Working Woman in Show Business:
The video for the title track of her new CD. It’s so cinematic I expected there to be closing credits.
Here’s a download of Sharon’s version “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” This is the rare full-length version. (Right-click to download)
And just for nostalgia, here’s the original version of “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” by Janet, um, I mean Miss Jackson. (Right-click to download)