By: Josh Potter
Despite the much-ballyhooed return of Stax Records in the past year, the return to analog funk and soul has been championed by Daptone Records. Built from the remains of Desco Records a few years back, Daptone has built itself a tiny indie empire from a two-family house in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In the manner of Stax, Motown and other classic taste-making labels of R&B's golden era, Daptone's "House of Soul" is as much a venue for the exchange of musical ideas amongst the label's tight-knit cadre of musicians as it is a world-class, hand-constructed analog recording studio. This two-disc collection is not only an excellent introduction to the sounds of Daptone Records but proof positive that true soul music has survived the pop-sodomy of contemporary R&B.
The nine tracks that make up the originals disc sweat scotch and cigarettes. Drawing from the talent pool of Antibalas, Budos Band and The Dap-Kings, Daptone's house band, horns swell, organs crackle and bright drums boogaloo all over this record. The Sugarman Three's "Take It As It Come" is a spot-on rendering of JB-style funk, while The Daktaris cobble together some classic Afrobeat on "Eltsuhg Ibal Lasiti." Daptone's crown jewel, however, is Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings. Polished with vintage hues of reverb and radio-friendly EQ, the strangest aspect of tunes like "How Long Do I Have to Wait For You?" is not their uncanny resemblance to hits from the '60s, but rather the baffling fact that they're not yet hits of our day.
Now, it's one thing for a label to go vintage, dust off an old genre and ride nostalgia into the sunset, but it's another thing to defy the technological boundaries that may have limited their forbears and take the whole thing to the next level. Just when it didn't seem as if the folks at Daptone could conceivably get any funkier, they opened up these nine tracks to re-interpretation. The result is one of the finest remix albums to come along in quite some time. The way Kenny Dope slices "Keep on Looking" by the Dap-Kings, you'd think he'd stumbled upon some rare James Brown outtake. DJ Spinna has an equally funky field day with "My Man Is A Mean Man," also by the Dap-Kings. Despite the way Mad Professor has effectively dubbed the shit out of the Daktaris' Afrobeat, it is Ticklah's (aka Antibalas keyboardist Victor Axelrod) rock steady reworking of the Dap-King's "How Long Do I Have to Wait For You?" that takes the day.
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