& the Dap-Kings:
100 Days, 100 Nights
- Buy the CD
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
Records like this one aren’t supposed to find their way into the mainstream anymore – hell, they aren’t even supposed to be made – but years of sweat-soaked woodshedding have finally started to pay off for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and if you lazy motherfuckers play your cards right, this nation could find itself basking in the glorious light of a full-on soul revival. Put another way: Buy this album. Buy it now.
Anyone who’s listened to a soul album released since 1975 and sadly wondered to themselves where all the grit went has either already hepped themselves to Jones and her Kings, or will be knocked flat with the discovery here – 100 Days, 100 Nights sounds like it was coated in flour and cayenne pepper, fried in a filthy skillet, and buried in a time capsule in a Memphis parking lot sometime during the summer of 1968.
The band channels the Stax sound with such seeming ease that it’s tempting to dismiss them as mere revivalists – practitioners of shtick, supper-club refugees – but this point of view is needlessly cynical, and the minor critical debate brewing over whether the band is making ‘authentic’ soul misses the point completely. The album doesn’t stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the genre’s classics – in fact, it isn’t even Jones and the Dap-Kings’ best record – and much of the joy that comes from hearing it does stem from the woeful state of traditional soul in the modern marketplace, but so what? Even at less than 100%, the band delivers a thunderous, much-needed slap in the face to neo-soul weaklings like Eric Benet or Lenny goddamn Kravitz.
Bassist Bosco Mann and drummer Homer Steinweiss wrote much of the album, which is fitting – songs that demand bodily movement as forcefully as these could only have come from a rhythm section – but the three-piece horn section (Neal Sugarman, tenor sax; Ian Hendrickson-Smith, baritone; Dave Guy, trumpet) drops enough change in the pocket to ensure maximum good footitude throughout the set. And then there’s Jones – she may not be on a vocal par with Aretha or Tina, but as soul belters go, she can rock a microphone with the best of them, and it’s her hip-weighted sass that keeps 100 Days, 100 Nights so delightfully grounded. From rave-ups to ballads, Jones presides over the material with authority.
When it’s all said and done, 100 Days, 100 Nights stands a decent chance of going down as the best soul record of the year. If it somehow avoids that distinction, we’ll have been blessed with an embarrassment of heartbreaking, booty-shaking riches – but either way, you owe it to yourself to add the album to your collection. We need more of this.