The primary time I noticed Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, almost 20 years in the past at the legendary Frank’s Cocktail Lounge in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, I turned to my companion and mentioned, “I get it — they’re a traditional R&B cowl band that performs originals.” Whereas not utterly inaccurate, my sizzling take was significantly short-sighted. In the years that adopted, till Jones’ demise from most cancers in 2016, she and the band grew to become one in all the most formidable ensembles in the recreation, establishing a thriving studio and label, backing Amy Winehouse on her traditional “Again to Black” album, opening for Prince on his 2011 enviornment tour, and most significantly releasing a sequence of albums that discovered them working classic R&B into new but acquainted shapes.
Nonetheless, that preliminary impression has come full circle with this posthumous covers compilation — cleverly if longwindedly titled “Simply Dropped in to See What Situation My Rendition Was In” — which collects a wildly various baker’s dozen of songs, round half of them beforehand unreleased, recorded at numerous levels and for various causes all throughout their profession. The invoice of fare ranges from Prince’s “Take Me With U” to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” from Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Finished for Me These days” and Shuggie Otis’ “Inspiration Data” to ‘60s classics like Fontella Bass’ “Rescue Me” and the track that impressed this album’s title (“Simply Dropped In to See What Situation My Situation Was In,” initially carried out by Kenny Rogers and the First Version and given a second life by “The Massive Lebowski”).
The explanations behind a few of these covers presents a revealing image of the enterprise of being a working band, notably one which obtained a critical reputational enhance from their potent work on Winehouse’s Grammy-winning album. In keeping with the notes accompanying assessment copies of “Simply Dropped In,” some have been initially recorded for commercials, films, and TV exhibits. Others, reminiscent of their covers of Unhealthy Medication’s instrumental “Trespasser” or Stevie Marvel’s traditional “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” — which opens the set and brings residence not simply how lengthy it’s been since Jones’ passing, however since the track was Barack Obama’s marketing campaign theme — have been re-creations, requested by music supervisors seeking to keep away from the expense of licensing the authentic variations. Equally, their tackle Gladys Knight’s “Giving Up” was requested however not utilized by a producer who needed to pattern it for a beat on a Dr. Dre album. “Rescue Me” and Musique’s “In the Bush” have been outtakes from “The Wolf of Wall Road” soundtrack, for which the band recorded a number of unused sides; others have been lower for tribute albums, and a few simply because they needed to.
To say that Sharon and the group make every track their very own is sort of an oxymoron as a result of a few of them, notably the ‘60s soul sides, are merely a part of the group’s DNA; others, notably the Janet Jackson and Prince covers, sound nearly nothing like the originals however nonetheless replicate the affect these artists had on the Dap Kings. Likewise, with out the lyrics, you’d by no means know they have been taking part in Guthrie’s bittersweet and sadly related paean to America, “This Land Is Your Land.”
And whereas it’s bittersweet to listen to the dearly missed Ms. Jones’ voice once more in all its glory, it’s a pleasure to listen to her and the band pouring a lot love into these songs.