Share KEEPING TIME - Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents (Q-Dee)
Somewhere in the homogenised, amorphous heartland of Middle America are people who understand that "soul" is not exclusively a word appended to "ass" to produce a descriptor for 99 percent of commercial radio programmers. The people who listen to this have that quality called soul. They care about music. Ergo, they are fans of Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents.

JD & The D's are an eight-piece band from Boston that doesn't sound anything like the Dropkick Murphys. These gals and guys faithfully render soul songs in a style sitting comfortably between the sheen of Motown, Brill building pop and the grittier output of the Stax label. It's classic girl group R & B, writ billboard sized. So supersize me. Jenny Dee has a killer voice and the band she's surrounded by match her, stride for confident stride.

If JD's vocals sound familiar then they probably are. In a recent and previous life, Jenny Dee was Jenny D'Angora of The Downbeat 5, the band formed by ex-DMZ guitarist JJ Rassler. Their live-in-the-studio "Smoke and Mirrors" came out on Steel Cage a few years ago and was as bracing a blast of garage-meets-girl-group raunch as you could hope to hear. JD & The D's take a smoother road but are no less successful in getting to a meaningful destination.

"Keeping Time" comprises10 original gems nestled around one crown jewel, a cover of "Shake Some Action", the Flamin' Groovies classic (also a mainstay for Australia's Hitmen.) If you can imagine this song with sax and trumpet, re-arranged by Berry Gordy and sung by the Four Tops, you're getting the picture. As a one-off single, it was enough to get JD & the D's prime billing on the same stage as The Breeders at the Azkena Festival in Spain. It's not a mere makeover but a master stroke that takes a great soing somewhere else, and I'm in debt to journo-turned-record-label-head-retailer Stuart Coupe for the tip. He's since played it on his FBi Sydney radio show.

"Shake Some Action" apart, the title track is also great. Hammond B3 bleeds through strident rhythms and striking harmony vocals. If I had a choice of what to hear on a mainstream radio station, I'd also settle for "Let Me Go" or the soul revue "Big Ol' Heart". Only occasionally do things get drippy (I'm thinking the strings-heavy "Love In Ruins") but, hey, this isn't "Rocket To Russia" so live with it.

If we're talking retro soul, the sound of the Daptone label is the benchmark. Not much doubt about it. "Keeping Time" sits comfortably nearby. Production is by Matt Beaudon (better known as rootsy bluesman Eli "Paperboy" Reed) and he's applied a radio-friendly gloss without polishing away all the character. It's even in mono. Fans of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings will "get it" on first listen.

Unashamedly looking over their shoulders, Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents are also undeniably very good. - The Barman

3/4

 

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