Release Date: Jan 14, 2014
Record label: Daptone
Genre(s): Electronic, R&B, Soul, Funk, Deep Funk Revival
Give the People What They Want was supposed to come out six months ago. Leading lady Sharon Jones was ready. The band was tight. But then, Ms. Jones was diagnosed with bile duct— and later, pancreatic—cancer. Paste’s feature on the fearless frontwoman details that whole story in vivid form ….
Give The People What They Want is less than an album title and more of a mission statement. Since unleashing Dip Dappin’ With Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on an unsuspecting public in 2002, the band and their inimitable front woman have captivated audiences and critics alike both with their live show and over the course of five albums, various 7” releases and numerous guest appearances. Along the way they’ve provided many with a gateway to discover the golden era of soul and funk records that their music draws from and pays homage to.
What’s in a title, indeed: This refreshing collection of steady, soulful grooves was originally slated for an earlier release, before its potent force and frontwoman was diagnosed with stage I cancer. But it’s going to keep more than that to stop Jones from bringing her throwback funk to the people, especially on heads-up stomps like “You’ll Be Lonely. ” (“After I’m gone,” she reminds us, closer to mortality than before.
When the sound of Motown and Stax had a second coming in the early 2000s, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings were at the forefront of the rumpshaking resurgence. Their recreation of all things vintage being crafted with such acuity and authenticity, it almost demanded elevation to the status of "instant classic." Four albums into their career and whilst the quality of musicianship remains high, the soul zeitgeist has long since waned, leaving their output to drift into niche—and somewhat clichéd territories. .
Sharon Jones and her backing band do nothing new but they do it to such a phenomenal standard it’s impossible not to be taken by the charm, the beauty and the total soul of the short journey across these ten gorgeous songs. If people were often capable of revisiting past eras with such aplomb then we would not see it with such value and Sharon Jones would not have such an important role in popular music. It’s impossible to ignore that the original release of Give The People What They Want and its accompanying tour was delayed due to Jones’ treatment for cancer, and the way her voice hurtles out of the speakers makes you feel you should beware of trying to take her down.
Slowly rising to power over the course of sporadically released albums and years of touring, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings grew into one of the most rock-solid conglomerates of classic soul revivalism, making it look easy as they turned in increasingly exciting albums. With a fifth album of new studio material, Give the People What They Want, Jones and company are in top form, delivering a collection of classic Northern soul, deep funk groovers, and heartstring-tugging balladry. Tracks like "Now I See" and the burning album opener "Retreat!" slink along with a creeping shuffle reminiscent of the more cracked Supremes hits, while the greasy tremolo guitar and handclap-heavy beat of "Long Time, Wrong Time" call on a more swampy Southern soul influence.
It’s 2014, and I feel like I gotta fight. I gotta fight sickness and paranoia and laziness and low-level corruption from all corners, inside and out. I gotta fight defeatism and mediocrity, impossibility and the inevitable. And I’m glad to say I have this person and these songs — off their latest, Give The People What They Want — to help whip me into shape: “Now I See”: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings have gotten poppier with every record, but what’s never remotely slowed down is the innovation of their dumbfoundingly refined musicianship.
While Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings are populists who want to entertain and are quite impossible to dislike, their refreshingly contemporary take on an old genre has resulted in some of the best soul-revival albums of the past few years, especially 2010’s I Learned the Hard Way and 2011’s excellent b-sides compilation Soul Time! So in 2014, to name an album Give The People What They Want perhaps comes across as a bit pop-starry. But in the case of Jones and her tight band, it instead shows off her instrumental chops and makes a statement that, in her genre, right now she’s the best in the game. Indeed, Jones’ last official release ended with a cover of Shuggie Otis’ untouchable Inspiration Information (a cover that first saw the light of day on 2009’s Dessner Brothers Dark Was The Night compilation).
The more albums Sharon Jones releases with the Dap-Kings, the more formulaic their structure appears. This is the group's fifth and, like its predecessors, it draws up a list of vintage-soul styles and methodically ticks each box. Opener Retreat! is their strident, fire-cracking, Motown-heyday tune, Jones's voice scratchy with scorn. The relaxed taunt of You'll Be Lonely covers strutting, sassy, late-1960s funk, and Now I See is a dancefloor stomper so precision-tooled you see talcum powder billowing from its chorus.
It's possible to tick off the influences on a Sharon Jones album; the Motown beats of Stranger to My Happiness, the Stax horns on You'll Be Lonely and Now I See (perilously close to Try a Little Tenderness); a Joe Tex riff here, an Aretha wail there. No matter, the 50-something from Brooklyn is her own diva and sounds at once wounded, defiant and exuberant. Producer-bassist Bosco Mann runs a tight band with its own tricks (no Motown hit used a congalero), and which purrs along so joyously the influences fade to leave a core of unadulterated soul.
If you wanted to pick two stories that defined the kind of year Sharon Jones had in 2013, it's easy to single out the first: the pancreatic cancer that struck the singer in the initial run-up to her new album. It's an ailment that grounded one of the most vibrant stage presences in R&B, and it seemed like a cruel rebuttal to a career built on long-due good fortune and a spirit that took on and beat all comers. That she intends to tour again soon after her recent final chemo treatment is a good omen, and with luck the disease will be just a footnote to a long career.
‘Give The People What They Want’ is both album title and self-serving prophecy for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, who specialise in doing exactly that. Aside from a detour into doo wop and R&B as backing band on Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’, the 10-person band specialize in note-perfect ’60s/70s deep soul and funk, horns and shuffling Motown drums. Nothing has changed on their fifth studio album.
Originally slated for release last August, but pushed back in order to give Sharon Jones time to recover from cancer treatment, Give the People What They Want boasts themes of fearlessness and empowerment. This isn't Warren Zevon's The Wind, though, where cancer and recovery are the sole lenses through which each song is refracted. Instead, the album is an acerbic examination of power dynamics in both a romantic and, in the case of “People Don't Get What They Deserve,” sociopolitical sense.
The latest by retro-soul queen Sharon Jones opens on bass-drum thunder and orchestral chimes, like an Ennio Morricone fanfare for a lawman returned to settle scores. That's appropriate for Jones, who's been battling pancreatic cancer but sounds utterly unbowed. "Retreat!" is a funky warning to a cocky suitor, and "Making Up and Breaking Up" is all echo-chamber slow groove and girl-group backing vocals, sublime in period accuracy and in-the-moment passion.
“Go easy on Sharon Jones.” Those words were spoken to me by my good friend Jennifer recently while we were hanging out, after I mentioned that I had the new Sharon Jones disc to review. Now, Jen wants me to go easy on Sharon because Jen is a recent breast cancer survivor and, unless you’ve been living in a cave in 2013, everyone knows that the new queen of soul had a cancer scare of her own. Jones was diagnosed with a stage one tumor in her bile duct in the middle of 2013, and the resulting treatment meant that Jones had to postpone the August release of her latest disc, Give the People What They Want, along with the requisite touring, to the New Year.
Soul revival is flying high, and current unlikely poster boy Charles Bradley is enjoying lots of the spotlight right now. Actually, though, Bradley started out opening for 50-something Georgia native Sharon Jones, who like Bradley found success late-ish in life. On her fifth album, Jones continues her reign as the feel-good, funky diva du jour. Stranger To My Happiness comes alive with deep brass beats and female backup vocals straight outta 60s Motown.
I’ll never forget the night I saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings live. It was the summer of 2010 — the band had just released I Learned the Hard Way — and Jones had a nasty sinus infection. Before they started playing, she approached the mic and apologized to the audience: “I’m not myself tonight, but we’re gonna push on.” Most vocal performers would probably have canceled the show, but not Jones.
opinion byRAJ DAYAL Force-of-nature soul singer Sharon Jones and the Daptone Records backing band, the Dap-Kings, had to delay their new album, Give the People What They Want, for several months when Jones was diagnosed with cancer. After successful surgery and recovery, the album and tour is now moving ahead. To say that SJDK are soul revivalists is not accurate.
In the past year, Sharon Jones’ fairy-tale music career—the commanding soul dynamo of the retro-fabulous Dap-Kings was once a Rikers Island corrections officer and obscure session singer—hit a bump. The 57-year-old was diagnosed with bile duct cancer, which necessitated the removal of a tumor and chemotherapy. Naturally, Jones tackled her disease with the same kind of tenacity and pluck she displays fronting the Dap-Kings.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings — Give the People What They Want (Dap-Tone)One of the problems with contemporary renderings of vintage styles is that faithfulness to the aesthetic can often trump solid songwriting. Contemporary rockabilly, bluntly put, brings nothing to the table in terms of originality. Writing a really lasting song is sacrificed at the hands of a want to appear authentic.
Give The People What The Want already sounds like a timeless album. This isn’t that surprising, considering what Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings have given us before: 2010’s I Learned The Hard Way revived big band scuffle churned up with jazzy slinkiness, and with it came a new appreciation for the kinds of nouveau vintage sounds Jones and the Kings were near-effortlessly churning out. And while I Learned The Hard Way was layered, sometimes anguished and always complex, Give The People What That Want carries a confident subtlety and uncalculated breeziness that makes it easy to fully immerse yourself in it.
This fifth album from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings was supposed to arrive last August but was postponed when Jones learned that she had cancer. Her treatment is now behind her, and Jones and company sound at the top of their game. The formula is familiar: plenty of old-school funk and deep soul, along with forays in other vintage soul directions.
From an early-‘00s small-venue gig which left clubgoers, including me, flopping around exhausted in pools of sweat, to a rousingly celebratory show this past March at Austin’s expansive Moody Theatre during SXSW as part of the Daptone Soul Revue, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have constantly been on my personal jukebox. Translation: I cherish every note, just as much as I cherished the Tamla-Motown and Stax-Volt 45s of my AM radio-listening youth. So when the news hit last spring that the upcoming album from the Daptone Recs’ flagbearers was on hold pending fiery vocalist Jones’ cancer diagnosis, well… Treatment completed, and prognosis apparently positive, she and the band can now concentrate on gettin’ on with the gettin’ on via 10-song set of soulful sonic manna.
Bruce Springsteen “High Hopes” (Columbia) 2 Stars Bruce Springsteen may have titled his new CD “High Hopes” but fans should keep their expectations low. It’s not a genuinely new album, after all, but a collection of mutts and strays — pieces that had either previously been passed over for a disc, or required a strong rerecording to render them fresh. It comes as no surprise, then, that the music doesn’t hang together tightly.