Waiting for my vinyl copy of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, Give the People What They Want, reminded me of watching the last minute tick off the clock before the final bell range in fourth grade. I pre-ordered the stereo, plain old black vinyl copy but Daptone, Sharon’s label, offered a blue vinyl version and a mono version that probably would have gotten my money if I had noticed it when I ordered.
None of this mattered in the least however when I slipped the LP over the spindle. The strum of guitar, bass and then the ring of a bell echoed through my speakers before Sharon’s voice filled the room. ‘Retreat’ is a fare thee well to someone best left far behind.
‘We Get Along’ is more than it seems, it is the story of our perseverance as people in a world that is far less kind to some than it is to others. In a more direct missive,’ People Don’t Get What They Deserve’ states the facts flat out, the American dream is more like a myth for many, no equal work for equal pay, no economic boost for being a hardworking, honest person.
Sharon is mesmerizing through this entire album, her inner strength powering outward in every song. Sharon is a master of soul timbre and nuance. She and her band transport back and forth through time effortlessly and you just want more and more.
The Dap-Kings are as tight as I have ever heard them and the mix throughout the album keeps them just behind Sharon in the soundstage, which is wider and deeper than many recordings. The 10 songs on this album are gone long before you are ready, like ice cream in summer you just want more. Even the cover of this album is top notch, one of the best in memory even.
Sharon Jones is an unstoppable force with a spirit that refuses to surrender and we are all the better for it. I was lucky enough to watch Sharon and her band on Ellen playing ‘Stranger to My Happiness’ and I was thrilled to see her standing there, bald as a baby and full of the spirit that moves her.
Give the People What They Want is another amazing soul album that only exists because of find folks at Daptone. If you are just dipping your toes into the soul revival this is your gateway drug album, prepare to be moved.