This is a weird one, a label that specialises in a vintage sound with vintage kit (and often does some tasty vinyl issues and limited editions) does a digital-only album. But there’s a positive spin to Daptone Summer Jams.
That being the price. Dispensing with the packaging means the album works out a lot cheaper, with this 10-track album essentially being something of a sampler (or recent releases) for the label. Trying to prove the point that the label isn’t just Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and ‘some others’.
Sure Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are here, three times in fact, but so are some of the label’s other leading lights. Coming together to produce an album that’s got one eye on you sitting in your deckchair (or on a beach), taking in some rays, reading a good book and looking for some vintage-style soul and funk that’s not too hard on the ears.
On that count, it works most of the time, although album opener Chicago Falcon by the Budos Band perhaps has more kick to it than you might expect. Great tune though, think early 70s blaxploitation soundtrack with a contemporary edge. That’s followed by the first of three Sharon Jones tunes from the last album, with Better Things more fitting for the remit, mid-paced soul/funk with a laid back vocal. Also here from the same act are the title track to that last album (I Learned The Hard Way), a catchy slice of old school soul, along with The Reason, a funky little instrumental, with the brass pushing our Sharon out of the picture. Still a good tune mind, even if it feels like it ends a minute or so early.
The rest of the album, as you might expect, has its ups and downs. On the plus side, brass, organ and ‘gruff’ vocal come together well on Charles Bradley (featuring the Menahan Street Band)’s Golden Rule and the Menahan Street Band themselves will have you drifting off into your own little world with the Home Again! instrumental. The Budos Band return with Unbroken Unshaven (which to be honest, feels a bit more funk by numbers than their first effort) and Bradley himself comes back with Lovin’ You Baby, which could pass for an authentic mid-60s soul ballad. Nice work. Great vocal. Talking of authenticity, check out Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, with Lift My Burdens pretty much perfect for the album in both pace and style. This melting pot of soul, funk and gospel is 1969 all day long.
On the downside, not really wild about the Hessa by El Rego, which is a bit too ‘afrobeat’ for these ears. Each to their own though.
Not a bad hit rate though. If you fancy checking out Daptone on the cheap, this does the job well, throwing in the added bonus of some summer listening, now the sun is showing its face. Who knows…you might go and dig deeper on the strength of it.