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I Learned the Hard Way [Import]

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Music

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Biography

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, 2013 has become a year of unforeseen challenges and transformations. Three months before the original scheduled release of the group’s highly anticipated fifth studio record, Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones, the lead singer and matriarch of the worlds’ #1 live soul act, was diagnosed with cancer. What was projected to be a hectic and ... Read more in Amazon's Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Import
  • ASIN: B003CICUZU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,123,899 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

BBC Review

On last year's AIDS benefit album Dark Was the Night, siblings Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National gathered the brightest and best of North America's burgeoning indie/folk/alternative scene to fantastic results. Amid the predominantly acoustic, melancholy landscape it offered, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' remarkable Shuggie Otis cover suggested a group not so much in thrall to the funk and soul sounds of the 60s and 70s as completely at one with them. Coming off the back of 2007's superb 100 Days, 100 Nights and after nearly ten years in the game, I Learned the Hard Way cements their reputation not only as leading revivalist types, but one of the most exciting acts of the moment.

In many ways, it's not a whole lot different from their last outing, which itself was no great departure from previous works. Over the course of its 12 songs, however, it becomes apparent that Jones is in the form of her life: whether rueing perpetually wandering lovers or impoverishment, contemplating lost innocence or pledging devotion, her spirited delivery resonates with all the power and heartache these compositions demand. In Money she veers from a playful spoken-word introduction to full-blooded howls of desperation, while her performance on the closing Mama Don't Like My Man bleeds tenderness and raw, throaty strength.

But what pushes I Learned the Hard Way towards being something truly brilliant as opposed to just very, very good is how well it works as a cohesive, well-rounded whole. As good as they've been in the past, the group's albums have sometimes come off more like a selection of excellent cuts than something designed to be listened to start to finish. From the sunny strings on which the record opens to its sparse, unaffected finale, it makes for a diverse, engrossing piece in a manner they've never quite pulled off before.

First track The Game Gets Old, funk workout Better Things and the breezy Window Shopping make a case for being some of the best in the band's discography; as has been noted across the board, they stand tall amongst classics of the genre. Likewise, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings can hold their heads high and proud with icons of the scene, for here they match bold exuberance with sensitivity and affection that elevates them far beyond pastiche. --James Skinner

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul the right way 20 April 2010
Format:Audio CD
For over a decade now, Brooklyn songwriter, producer, musician, and label owner Gabriel Roth and a solid family of like-minded musicians have spearheaded the return of true funk and soul music as it was in it's heyday in the late sixties and early seventies. The label Roth set up with Neal Sugarman, Daptone Records, from the ashes of Desco Records, has become the most influential and highly regarded on the soul and funk scene today. Its family has outgrown the label's ability to get the work done, creating a scene of associated labels and acts that slowly feed the hunger of its expectant fans.

Ultimately what the group strive for is to produce soul music with genuine passion, authenticity and warmth and I'm glad to say "I Learned The Hard Way" is all of these things. Daptone's "House Of Soul" studio has become somewhat of a legendary place amongst those wishing to achieve a genuine sound (the already classic album photo shows the band in the building's back yard). Like Motown's Hitsville U.S.A., Stax's McLemore Avenue Studio, Willie Mitchell"s Royal Sound, or the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio before it, what is evident in the recordings in all of these places is a tangible atmosphere as important a player as the musicians. With its vintage equipment, floating recording room and living areas to relax and create in, the House Of Soul seems to have taken on a mantle worthy of legend and its character is evident in the sound of the recording.

There is plenty of detail here as each track is lushly layered with strings, backing vocals, hand-claps or chimes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Let's get it on 22 April 2010
By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
If only one word could be used to capture the aura of this album is would be "sassy". Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings came to attention of many through her utterly brilliant James Brown orientated cover of Prince's "Take me with u" which served to throw into sharp relief the fact that the rather turgid funk work outs of albums recorded by Mr Rodgers Nelson over the past decade were firing wide of the mark. The Independent has called The Dap Kings "the best retro-soul band in the world" and on the evidence of this vivid and outrageously contagious album who are we to disagree?

Similarly while the use of the word retro can indicate a plundering of the heritage of Muscle shoals, Stax and "the hardest working man in show business" James Brown, it is clear that Sharon Jones and co add enough spice of their own to concoct some new recipes within the confines of what can be a tightly drawn format. As it stands this is a classic soul album which mixes heartache with joy unabated and lays down a challenge to all other runners like Amy Winehouse (the band backed AW on Back to Black and Mark Ronson on "Version"), Joss Stone, Adele et al that authenticity is the key virtue and there is no substitute for the inner essence of biscuits and gravy funk 'n' soul done properly and sung by a black women in her 40s with a voice that could wake up residents at Heathrow Airport. Indeed in one sense you could stop the clock in 1969 and Sharon Jones would make sense both within a Motown setting but also in that same way that Sly and the Family Stone blew away most other bands at Woodstock by their sheer musicianship and emotive power.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Yet 30 April 2010
By Mulwharchar TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Previous reviewers have detailed the content and doubtless some people will always question the validity of the Daptone worldview, where it's forever 1969, so I'll simply note that this is Sharon Jones' best album yet; she's eased back on the funk workouts and concentrated more on her peerless soul balladeering, and tracks like 'If You Call' equal anything which came out on Hi, Stax, TK, Goldwax or other legendary labels during the golden age of Southern soul.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous music, fab voice. 28 Oct 2010
By Dorrett
Format:Audio CD
When i saw Sharon J and the Dabs on the Monique show i had to go out and buy their music. Abfab. Highly recommend 100 days and the hard way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soul queen not diva 10 May 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It is not necessary for me to analyse this album further than the previous reviewers - they have covered every aspect.
However I feel that the previous albums gave me more of a buzz when I first heard them. It could be that, previously, I was excited at hearing new material in the "soul" genre again.
Ms Jones is an accomplished singer in the mould of early soul queens. Raw at the edges, she oozes, screams, shouts the heart felt passion. I always think that the best albums are made when the artist(s) enjoy themselves. The band certainly sound that way and impart the feeling to the listener.
This is not "Motown" in any shape or form - that's not to denigrate "Motown" but this music is not as commercial - pop it is not! As for comparisons to Amy Whitehouse, Joss Stone et al they are purely superficial. Ms Jones is the real McCoy. She reminds me of a female James Carr.
All I need now is a new album from Ryan Shaw and my day will be complete.
If you want to hear 60s - not 70's or 80's - soul music then this is for you.
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