Daptone has made soul music not only popular, but cool. Not retro, but alive and kicking.
Daptone Records has put its soulful stamp on contemporary music and helped make stars out of deserving talents such as Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. Without Daptone, we may not have had such heard such acts as Amy Winehouse (who used the label’s house band on her breakthrough album) and Adele. Daptone has made soul music not only popular, but cool; not retro, but alive and kicking.
Six years ago the Brooklyn label released a greatest hits and rarities collection called Daptone Gold to great acclaim. Now they are following up with Daptone Gold II, which includes a diverse collection of previously released gems by Jones, Bradley, the Budos Band, Antibalas, Saun and Star, and others as well as three non-LP tracks that were only released as 45-rpm singles "Luv Jones", a duet by Charles Bradley and LaRose Jackson, "Little Boys With Shiny Toys" by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and "Out of the Wilderness" by the Como Mamas. Previously unreleased songs include the instrumental "Thunderclap" by the Dap-Kings and "You Got to Move" performed by Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens. The Daptone Gold II double LP is packaged in a silver foil gatefold sleeve and comes with a poster, liner notes and iron-on, and the CD is in a deluxe embossed silver foil digipak.
To Daptone fans, there are no big surprises here, but there are plenty of treats for the casual listener hoping to become familiar with the label. All of the 21 tracks cut a deep groove. Each of the four sides contain one Jones and the Dap-Kings’ song, including “I Learned the Hard Way” from the album of the same name. To those unaware, this track could turn the most sedate listener into a raving maniac singing along in the same manner that old Stax artists like Wilson Pickett could make a non-dancer get up out of one’s chair and boogie. To call it infectious is an understatement.
The same is true of Bradley, whose three cuts here reveal he is the closest living relative to the Kings of Soul like Otis Redding and James Brown, currently on the planet. One can almost feel the man drop to his knees during “Heartache and Pain", and then get back up to proclaim he’s not beaten yet. Those who are familiar with Jones and Bradley know how wonderful they are, but many of the other artists may surprise listeners with the quality of their work.
Saun & Starr may be best known as the Dapettes for their back up work with the Dap Kings, but they have a new debut release and their two tracks here show why they are ready to take center stage. The two instrumental tracks each by the horn heavy Sugarman 3, the afro-soul of the Budos Band, and the funk of Menahan Street Band showcase the importance of the players in contemporary soul music. One-offs, such as the gospel of the Coma Mamas and the afro-jazz stylings of Antibalas suggests just how deep the Daptone label is.
Daptone Gold II celebrates Daptones rich catalog. It’s as essential to contemporary soul listeners as old Stax, Atlantic, and Motown collections were to their fans back in the day.