JOVM celebrates Sharon Jones’ 65th birthday.
Throughout the course of their wildly successful 20 year run together, which included the release of seven full-length albums — 2002’s Dap Dappin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, 2005’s Naturally, 2007’s 100 Days, 100 Nights, 2014’s Give the People What They Want, 2015’s It’s a Holiday Soul Party! and 2017’s posthumously released Soul of a Woman — the acclaimed soul act Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings built a reputation for being one of the world’s best bands live — and in the studio. (I had the pleasure of seeing them live three times, including a powerfully uplifting night at The Apollo. They were one of the best soul acts in the entire world.)
Although the acclaimed soul act have a lengthy and prolific catalog of originals, they have made forays into covers numerous times. Some of those covers were contracted or use in commercials, movies, TV shows and even samples, while others were recorded of their own volition and desire. Their earliest covers included a completely re-invented rendition of Janet Jackson‘s “What Have You Done for Me Lately, which convinced more than a few fans that Jones’ version was in fact the original after a counterfeit news article surfaced claiming that Jones was suing Jackson for copyright infringement.
Slated for a Friday release, the act’s soon-to-be released album Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Rendition Is In is a compilation of both previously released and previously unreleased covers, which showcases the act’s eclectic tastes and musicality. Sadly, the album is the second album of material posthumously released after Sharon Jones’ 2016 death from pancreatic cancer.
Three singles have been released off the album so far, but I wanted to specifically call your attention to two singles off the album: a sashaying cover of Dusty Springfield‘s “Little by Little,'” was originally recorded for a tribute album to the legendary British soul vocalist — and a strutting cover of Stevie Wonder‘s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” While both covers are fairly straightforward, they manage to be deceptively period specific while revealing the dynamism and ebullience of the act’s incredible frontwoman Sharon Jones and the band’s subtle yet deft touch.
If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts on the Cincinnati, OH-based, JOVM mainstay act The Afghan Whigs. Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along with Dave Rosser (guitar), Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Cully Symington (drums), the band can trace its origins to when its founding trio of Dulli, Curely and Steve Earle (drums) founded the band in 1986, after the breakup of Dulli’s previous band The Black Republicans. Interestingly, the band has the distinction of being one of the first bands that Sub Pop Records signed outside of the Pacific Northwest, as well as being one of the more highly-regarded and critically applauded bands of the early 90s, with 1993’s Gentlemen landing at number 17 on The Village Voice‘s Pazz and Jop critics list and 1996’s Black Love, which landed at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200 — all while going through several lineup changes.
After the band’s initial breakup in 2001, the members of the band went on with other creative pursuits — with Dulli famously collaborating with Mark Lanegan in The Gutter Twins, his other post-Afghan Whigs project, The Twilight Singers and with a lengthy list of contemporary artists and others. But after occasionally reuniting for one off shows and festival sets, the band released 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked both the band’s first proper release in over 16 years and the band’s return to their original label home, Sub Pop Records. While being one of my favorite albums that year — and one of the more forceful albums that year, the album’s material was primarily rooted around Dulli’s angst and bile-fueled lyrics, focusing on some of his long-held obsessions.
Slated for a May 5, 2017 release through Sub Pop, In Spades is the band’s second post-reunion album, and the album, which was produced by the band’s Greg Dulli reportedly finds the band emphasizing a decidedly pop/arena rock-friendly sensibility while retaining the dark, seductive and urgent feel that they’ve long been known for. “It’s a spooky record,” notes Dulli. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me, it’s about memory — in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.” Earlier this month, I wrote about the album’s first single “Demon In Profile,” a single that evokes life’s long-lingering ghosts — the electric touch of a lover’s skin against your own; your former lover’s smell and the sense of loss that seems to permeate everything, once they’re no longer in your life; how loss and longing are inescapable and make simply letting go difficult. And while clearly drawing from classic soul, thanks to an explosive horn line, the song possesses an anthemic hook and a sweaty, seductive nature.
In Spades’ latest single “Oriole” pairs Dulli’s occult riddled lyrics with a gorgeous and moody arrangement featuring acoustic guitar, xylophone and a gorgeous and soaring string section with a power chord-based, anthemic hook and chorus, and as a result, the song manages to sound as though it subtly nods at both 60s bubblegum pop while drawing from 90s alt rock, thanks to a quiet, loud, quiet song structure.
Directed by NYC-based director and artist Amy Hood, the recently released video is a straightforward visualization of the song’s occult references as it follows Hood, who stars as a 60s horror movie-like protagonist, who leaves her life behind for a life of a somewhat sapphic cult full of dark, psychosexual fantasies and desires and a bloody sacrifice — but told within a horrifying series of acid-tinged/hallucinogenic fueled flashback.
Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along with Dave Rosser (guitar), Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Cully Symington (drums), the Cincinnati, OH-based septet The Afghan Whigs can trace its origins to when its founding members — Dulli, Curley and Steve Earle (drums) founded the band in 1986 after the breakup of Dulli’s previous band The Black Republicans. Curley introduced Dulli to Rick McCollum (guitar), a frequent jam partner, who had developed a reputation across the Cincinnati scene for use of effects pedals. With their initial lineup finalized, Dulli has publicly described the band as intending to be a cross between The Band, The Temptations and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Although the band has gone through several lineups, including a lengthy breakup and a recent reunion, the Cincinnati-based band has the distinction of being among the first batch of bands that Sub Pop Records signed outside of the Pacific Northwest, as well as being one of the more highly-regarded and critically applauded bands of the early 90s, with 1993’s Gentlemen landing at number 17 on The Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop critics list and 1996’s Black Love, which landed at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200, while being critically praised for a sound that reportedly drew from 1970s Rolling Stones while setting themselves apart from the rock music being released that year.
After their breakup in 2001, the members of the band went on towards other creative pursuits — with Dulli frequently and famously collaborating with Mark Lanegan and others; but after reuniting for a series of festival tours, the band released 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked both the band’s first proper release in over 16 years and the band’s return to Sub Pop Records. And while arguably being one of that year’s most forceful albums rooted around Dulli’s angst and bile-filled lyrics, evoking the bitter, lingering and fucked up memories of a relationship gone terribly sour; but while also focusing on Dulli’s long-held obsessions.
In Spades, the band’s forthcoming album is slated for a May 5, 2017 release through Sub Pop Records and the album, which was produced by the band’s Greg Dulli reportedly finds the band at their most soulful and urgent and while being darkly seductive, emphasizing a pop leaning sensibility. And much like their previously recorded work, the material manages to be veiled. “It’s a spooky record,” notes Dulli. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me, it’s about memory — in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.” And as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “Demon In Profile,” the song evokes life’s lingering ghosts — the electric touch of a lover’s skin, their smell and the sense of loss and confusion that permeates everything once a person is no longer in your life, and how at times its inescapable, that letting go seems impossible and unfeasible. While being one of the more soulful tunes the band has released, thanks in part to the horn section, its one of the sexiest yet anthemic songs they’ve released in some time.
The recently released video possesses a dream like logic as it follows several characters haunted by both their demons and their pasts in various ways — but spending the most amount of time on a fat, washed up, weary and arrogant pop star, getting ready to perform before a crowd of teenyboppers. But is it the present? Or is it a glorious past that of wild success, drugs and women that fuel this fantasy? And it ends suggesting that it’s main character is stuck within some uneasy, never-ending, dread-filled nightmare.
Over the past couple of years, the world renowned soul label, Daptone Records. the label home of the late (and great) Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, has released a series of albums documenting and preserving the spirituals, gospel and church-based music from the Mississippi River Delta region — in particular, the small rural town of Como, MS located in the northern Hill Country, about 50 miles south of Memphis, TN. Historically speaking, the small Northern Mississippi, rural town has long struggled with the legacy of slavery, segregation, discrimination, agricultural decline; however, Como has simultaneously been known as a creative hotbed of sorts, as Fred McDowell, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Napoleon Strickland, Othar Turner, Luther Perkins (best known as Johnny Cash’s guitarist), Joe Henderson and a lengthy list of others have claimed roots in Como, MS.
Now, earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about The Walker Family Singers’ “Jesus Gave Me Water,” off the familial unit’s debut effort, Panola County Spirit. Comprised of Raymond and Joella Walker, three of their four daughters, Alberta, Patricia and Delouse and their two sons Robert and Booby, the well-regarded gospel quintet not only have a long-held history of preaching and singing the gospel that goes back several generations, the patriarch of the family, Raymond at one point was so well-regarded as a vocalist, that he was once recruited by both Fred McDowell and the legendary Sam Cooke to back them on tour for what would have been a rather significant amount of money. And although seemingly apocryphal, as the story goes, Raymond Walker refused unless McDowell and Cooke gave up singing the blues and took up gospel. McDowell refused and the rest is history. . .
Daptone Records gospel music series continues with Move Upstairs, the forthcoming effort from the Como, MS-based gospel trio The Como Mamas, slated for a May 19, 2017 release. Comprised of Ester Mae Smith and siblings Angelia Taylor and Della Daniels, the trio have been singing together in church since they were children. Much like Como’s other renowned musicians and vocalists, Della and Angelia come from a distinguished line of musicians themselves — their grandfather would frequently play music on their porch with a group of musicians that included the aforementioned Fred McDowell. In fact, the sisters remember when the famed folklorist and writer Alan Lomax, best known for his Land Where The Blues Was Born, stopped by their home in 1959 to record some of these jam sessions. Now, interestingly enough with their appearance on The Voices of Panola County: Como Now! and their Get an Understanding, the trio quickly established themselves as an up-and-coming, powerhouse act in contemporary gospel. Interestingly enough, I actually caught the trio play their first show outside of their hometown at the legendary Apollo Theater as part of the Daptone Super Soul Revue back in 2015, an incredible showcase that featured many of the labels top names including Charles Bradley, the aforementioned Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Antibalas and others.
Naturally, taking advantage of the ladies time in New York, the folks at Daptone invited them to the House of Soul Studios to record with a backing band featuring some of the best musicians in their immense stable of musicians — including Jimmy Hill, Thomas Brenneck, Homer Steinweiss and Bosco Mann, who came together as The Glorifiers Band for the Move Upstairs session.
Album title track and first single “Move Upstairs” possesses a raw, dusty, classic blues and R&B-leaning sound — and by that think of Bo Diddley “and Muddy Waters’ Muddy Waters Folk Singer and others — that’s so incredibly period specific, that it sounds as though it were written and recorded sometime in 1947-1954 or so and was somehow surreptitiously discovered by an obsessive record collector. As as the actual song, a churning and propulsive arrangement consisting of guitar, drums and organ that’s comfortable and roomy enough for the Como Mamas using call and response vocals, to belt and shout with joy about how God’s love set them free from life’s drudgery and suffering. And it’s a song that shuffles and struts as it does so.
Of course, unsurprisingly, much like the Walker Family Singers’ “Jesus Gave Me Water,” the Como Mamas’ makes an obvious yet forceful suggestion — that the the Blues, Rock ‘N’ Roll, R&B and hip-hop can trace their origins in some fashion to the gospels, spirituals and folk music of the Mississippi Delta while actively preserving some of America’s musical traditions.
Interestingly, over the past week Sharon’s family, friends and fans gathered in Brooklyn and Augusta, GA to remember her and celebrate her life. And in an almost prescient sense of timing, the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer-styled Claymation video for “Please Come Home For Christmas” was posthumously released — although it was finished and planned for release before Jones’ death last month. Arguably because of Jones’ death, the ache, longing and loneliness and the narrator’s hope that her suffering and loneliness will soon to be over, the song just manages to possess a deeper and visceral heartbreak.
Adding to the song’s ache, the video follows a profoundly lonely old man, who is constantly reminded that doing the holiday season that out of some occurrence of fate or bad luck is alone — that is until he takes a chance and is warmly welcomed by the one person, he desperately missed the most. God, it’s kind of dusty in here.
Unsurprisingly, over the past couple of years, Brooklyn-based soul singer, Charles Bradley has not only become a JOVM mainstay, the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” has become a national and international sensation with the release of […]
Rather unsurprisingly, over the past couple of years, Brooklyn-based soul singer, Charles Bradley has not only become a JOVM mainstay, the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” has become a national and international sensation with the release of a documentary about his life, Charles Bradley: Soul of America and the release of his critically praised and commercially successful first two albums, No Time For Dreaming and Victim of Love. Bradley has also developed a reputation for an incredibly heartfelt and powerful live show that has lead him to playing Bonnaroo,Coachella, Glastonbury, Primavera Sound Festival, The Apollo Theater, The Beacon Theatre and countless other venues of adoring fans across the globe.
April 1 2016 will mark the release of Bradley’s third full-length album Changes named after his popular and achingly soulful cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Changes” with Daptone Records labelmates The Budos Band, which was initially released as a Record Store Day 45 a couple of years ago. And with the forthcoming release of Changes, it’ll mark the first time that Bradley’s rendition of the song will be available digitally, as it’ll also appear on the album. The album’s second single “Changes For The World” is Bradley’s desperately heartfelt and earnest plea to the listener that we need to stop hiding behind hate, divisiveness and religion and learn how to truly love one another with open hearts, minds and arms. I suspect that most of us would feel that he’s right — and that maybe it’s time to really start changing our world for the better.
Over the past couple of years, Brooklyn-based soul singer, Charles Bradley has not only become a JOVM mainstay, the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” has become a national and international sensation with the release of a […]