ALBUM REVIEW: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Give The People What They Want (Daptone Records)


That Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings 5th, and best, studio album has been released at all is great news for soul fans everywhere. The album release was postponed indefinitely last year after it was revealed Sharon was undergoing treatment for bile duct cancer. Thankfully, everything went well and the band are looking to announce a tour during 2014.

As far as the music’s concerned, this ten track album with a compact running time of around thirty-five minutes could have been recorded at any point during the past 45 years or so. The fact that “modern” studio techniques are eschewed in favour of analogue production values is in keeping with the feel of the album which, throughout, is a fine homage to late 60’s/ early 70’s Motown and Stax recordings. This is evident from the opening notes of the Supremes channelling “Retreat” (below), in which the feisty leader sends out a defiant battle cry to her prospective lover, right through to the gorgeous slow-burning closing track “Slow Down, Love”.

The video for the album’s storming second track “Stranger To My Happiness” (below) sees the defiant Ms Jones proudly embracing the baldness, resulting from her cancer treatment, and performing with just as much energy and verve as always. As much as anything, this performance serves as a real testament to her positivity and strength of character – a fact which is further enhanced when you see this amazing lady interviewed.

Elsewhere on the album there is the chugging “Now I See”; the summery slink of “Making Up & Breaking Up (And Making Up & Breaking Up Over Again);  Northern Soul dance floor favourite in waiting  “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” and the swampy Southern Soul of “Long Time, Wrong Time”.

All in all, whether you like your soul thang to be of the retro variety or just love superbly executed and performed R&B made by real musicians who obviously love what they do, I doubt you’ll hear many better albums all year.

Welcome to The Acoustic Egg Box!

I love books, art, films and well-made TV shows. I love great food and drink, sport, comedy, and, as an old mod, decent clobber. All of these things are important to me and, by removing just one of them, my life would be a far duller place. However, I’d give them all up for music. Music was my first love; an obsession for as long as I can remember. If it ever decided to pack its case and leave, I’d hunt it down with a psychopathic, swivel-eyed intensity and drag it back home at gunpoint, happy to do a lengthy stretch to stop it ever leaving again. So, unless you happen to share my passion, you might think that I’m in need of some therapy, but it appears I’m not alone in my madness, as Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the world’s greatest ever philosophers, once stated “Without music, life would be a mistake”, and if it’s good enough for Fred to say that, it’s good enough for me.

As well as great books, art, films, TV, food, drink, sport, comedy and clobber I also have two other passions; the 1960’s and soul music. The ’60’s was a period of massive cultural and political change. Among other things, we had JFK, Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, assassinations, Vietnam, the Moon Landings, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Woodstock, The Beatles, Motown, Stax, the Great Train Robbery, the first Bond movie, Mods, Rockers, the winter of ’63………and me! It is a decade that has, quite rightly, been granted iconic status, and the artistic output across all mediums during those 10 short years has never been equalled. Of course, many legendary and ground-breaking acts have emerged throughout succeeding decades, but the 1960’s will always remain unsurpassed in terms of the sheer quality and brilliance of talent on show, and the legacy of that period continues to be as influential now as it has ever been.

And so here we are, in a period when web-based social-media platforms allow virtually everyone on the planet, including the administration of the most powerful nation earth, the opportunity to share their likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, prejudices and intolerances and photos of their lunch. It also gives me the dubious opportunity of foisting upon you, The Acoustic Egg Box – a vehicle that will leave you in no doubt that my literary skills are borne of a severe intellectual inadequacy coupled with the overblown and mistaken idea that I am, of course, a comedy genius.

But, dear readers, my notable shortcomings aside, stick with me, as the main point of The Acoustic Egg Box is to share my discoveries and observations with you; gems and nuggets from the endlessly evolving realm of popular culture. Not just music, but other noteworthy and interesting titbits from the worlds of film and TV, art and literature. Yes, I admit, a fair smattering of items may be from or inspired by the greatest decade of them all, but don’t let that deter you from revisiting the site, as some of the very best new material continues to be inspired by those mavericks from 40, 50 and even 60 years ago.

As a classy bunch, you’ll almost certainly dismiss some posts as tedious dross, shooing them on their way with a swift kick deftly delivered by a stylish, expertly burnished, hand-made, wingtip brogue, however, I’m also hoping that other morsels might inspire you to search out the previously unheard, unseen or unread. For instance, you may unearth an undiscovered love for the Gregorian chanting of Benedictine Monks recorded in York Minster on a wet Wednesday evening or even stumble across the ideal song to be played at your funeral that isn’t Robbie Williams’ “Angels”. Whatever discovery you make, I hope you enjoy the journey with me.

And so it is, with the crash of an imaginary bottle of plonk against my ever expanding hull, I am almost launched and so, to kick off the party, and due to my unfettered love of classic soul music, here is the title track from the best album ever recorded.