Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings’ ‘Give The People What They Want’ – What You Need To Know
What’s the background?
Originally scheduled for release last August, the fifth studio album from Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings was temporarily shelved after the singer’s cancer diagnosis last year, but after a successful operation and treatment, we’re happy to say Sharon is back and it’s all systems go, with the new album, Give The People What They Want, released in the UK on January 13th.
For those who don’t know, since the late 90s Jones and her band The Dap Kings have been churning out the kind of soul and funk records that wouldn’t have been out of place on the rosters of labels like Stax and Chess Records in the 60s and 70s. Unashamedly unconcerned with current musical trends, there’s a remarkable authenticity to The Dap Kings’ output that could leave all but the most hardcore aficionados with the impression they were listening to a record from several decades ago. Since their debut in 2002 they’ve been producing the kind of records Lamont Dozier would have been proud of, with Jones earning herself the nickname ‘The Queen of Funk’. In addition, The Dap Kings, led by Gabriel Roth (a.k.a. Bosco Mann), have also provided session musician services, notably on Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, as well as performing as a touring backing band for Mark Ronson’s Version.
As ever, the new record is released on the band’s own Daptone Records imprint and self-produced and engineered by Mann at their Daptone Studios in Brooklyn, New York. There are no real outside collaborators to speak of, but the album doesn’t really need them, relying instead on the supremely talented musicians in the band and Jones’ show-stopping vocals.
What are the standout tracks?
It’s actually pretty difficult to choose standouts from Give The People What They Want, such is the overall strength of an album that may well be their best to date. If pushed, we’d probably have to say the opener ‘Retreat!’ is one of the highlights, kicking off the album with a Motown-esque swing vibe, full of big brass and a production style reminiscent of Phil Spector’s famous ‘wall of sound’. Other standouts include ‘Stranger To My Happiness’, a lively stomper dripping with Northern Soul influence, ‘You’ll Be Lonely’ and the more mellow, down-tempo number ‘Making Up and Breaking Up…’, which sounds so much like an old Stax label release you can almost smell the dust…
Who will enjoy it?
If you’re a fan of the aforementioned labels like Chess, Stax and Motown, or like your Northern Soul records, this really is essential listening. Similarly, if you’ve been digging Craig Charles’ excellent funk & soul show on the BBC’s 6music, or the recent work of Mayer Hawthorne, you really should give this record a spin.