Daptone Records, 2013
By Phillip Smith; March 15, 2014
Give the People What They Want, by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings is my favorite album of the year so far. Produced by Dap-King bassist, Bosco Mann, the album is an outstanding collection of energy-infused rhythm and blues music with soulful vocals backed by a tight rhythm section. It’s very reminiscent of the music of James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Motown in its heyday. Music like this seemed to fade away in the late Seventies. As the times changed, the musical tastes and trends changed as well, leaving a huge gaping hole in the music industry. Thank goodness we have Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings to fill that void.
Two of my favorite tracks are written by Mann. The first being ”Retreat!”, is lush and vibrant, with a cool bass line and a catchy rhythm. Jones’ vocals here are amazing and full of conviction. Second, there is “Stranger to My Happiness”. I love the saxophone riffs laid down by Cochemea Gastelum and Neal Sugarman. They make the song what it is.
Another go-to song, “Now I see”, written by Dap-King drummer Homer Steinweiss, is really one of the most interesting songs I’ve heard in a while. Kicking off with a trumpet intro and a steady tempo, the song periodically switches gears, shifting the mood to a feeling of pending doom, as Jones sings about dealing with a longtime friend turned enemy. It’s fun the way these little snippets segue from a gloomy and foreboding gear into an up-tempo, ska-like beat.
Back to back songs, “Making Up and Breaking Up” and “Get Up, Get Out” seem to go hand in hand with each other, in theme as well as style. Both seemingly inspired by Sixties girl groups like Martha and the Vandellas and the Marvelletes, pay a wonderful homage to the sound with harmonizing vocals provided by the Dapettes, Starr Duncan, Saundra Williams, and Sheron Lafaye. These two songs sound so nice, and love their placement next to each other.
So, if the question still lingers as to whether Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Give the People What They Want or not, the answer is “Absolutely, mission accomplished!”. They are a sheer delight to hear.