DAPTONE GOLD – Various Artists (Daptone Records)
As the liners dutifully note, the World HQ of soul has moved around a lot, stopping in Detroit, Memphis and New Orleans down the years. It’s almost a self evident truth that it now resides in Brooklyn, NYC, sharing its registered address with the Daptone label.
In Australia, the torch bearer for Daptone is Russell Hopkinson (You Am I drummer and ex-Radio Birdman member) who’s label ambassador. While soul music, in its various permutations, isn’t considered standard I-94 Bar fare, it’s worth (again) noting that the genre has been a touchstone for everyone from the MC5 to the Stones, the Who and the Pretty Things, and the banal/venal Vegas antics of, ahem, Human Nature and J. Barnes. Well, thanks for trying to the latter two, but if you’re brave enough to open your ears I’ll defy a Real Music fan to resist this album’s charms.
While most people will know Daptone best for cross-over act Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, there’s a lot more to her work on this label than makes it onto the soundtrack of an Australian TV commercial for chocolate – as this collection attests. Ms Jones rates six of the 23 tracks on a compilation of hits and rarities and her Dap-Kings rate a cut on their own merits. The deal with this record basically is that even if you own the entire Daptone back catalogue there’ll be something extra you need.
Sharon Jones simply does the big soul revue thing so well it isn’t funny. Previously available as a 7” single, “I’m Not Gonna Cry” shows that James Brown side, while “Stranded In Your Love” highlights the mellow aspect. “Tell Me” is reprised from her “100 Days, 100 Nights” LP and it still sounds fine. If you haven’t dived into the albums, this collection is a great introduction.
The Budos Band (“Up From The South”, “Ghostwalk”) career along like a ‘70s blaxploitation soundtrack with the sharpest instro jams this side of Harlem. There’s a groove so deep you could send a canary down in a cage to test the oxygen levels.
Speaking of cool, Naomi Shelton’s vocal stylings could have been at home on the Fortune label. The Menahan Street Band are an amalgam, in instrumental mode or backing soul shouter Charles Bradley, and could have slid onto the bill at Zaire ‘74.
Anything on Daptone always has that warm, high-grade production that manages to avoid too much polish and always sounds authentically analogue. So is the case with "Daptone Gold". There’s a reason this album comes in a gold fleck digicase with the simplest of front covers. What’s inside is golden, too. - The Barman
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