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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul the right way
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...
Published on 20 April 2010 by P. Gates

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2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype
Not bad but nothing new really.Couple of good tunes. Needed some more funk and spark for me to enjoy more. Perhaps they are good live.
Published on 14 Jun 2010 by Is! It! In?


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul the right way, 20 April 2010
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This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (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. Characteristic horn arrangements sit on solid bass, neatly plucked guitar, syncopated drums and the orchestration touches lift the music behind Sharon Jones' commanding vocals, now sitting comfortably in her distinctive style, with her "hmmms" between words, her "ooh yeahs" and her sheer range, ability and power. Displaying its edges perhaps most in the track "Money" there is some wild roughness to Jones' singing that many of today's producers would mistakenly smooth out. Other stand-outs, "Better Things", "The Reason" and "She Ain't A Child No More" show the benefits of execution from a band that know when to show restraint and control, rather than to push their skill under your nose, each member seeming to understand they are a piece of the puzzle.

Much like the great soul records many of us used to thumb through as children in our parents' record collections, this is the real deal, classic sound of great soul music the way it should be done. Whilst many wish to attach a "retro" label, this to me is very much the sound of "now" - if only more people could take note and strive to produce records of this standard. I Learned The Hard Way will be very much at home sitting in the prized collection of any music lover.
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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
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Red on Black - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (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.

Highlights include "Money" a tale of inner city hardship so funky it hurts with Sharon Jones exclaiming "Money where are you hiding" and the band so together that they could be related. The title track "I Learned The Hard Way" is a masterly 3 minutes 47 seconds of effortless Aretha style soul which will be stunning live in concert with its stirring backing vocals. "She Ain't A Child No More" has a classic bass intro that Donald "Duck" Dunn from Booker T and the MGs would have been proud of, while "The Game gets hold" is a brilliant southern soul revivalism with echoes of Candi Staton. "Give it back" has a beautiful wall of Spectorish harmonies and the last track "Mama Don't Like My Man", is a classic retro Ruth Brown-styled number that you must download. As it stands I have yet to find a weak track.

The word "timeless" is over used but in this case is the appropriate label to employ. The Dap Kings have found their queen and Sharon Jones has a backing set of musicians to rival any great soul outfit past or present. These musicians have indeed "Learned the hard Way" and they are masters and magicians.
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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 (Hereford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (Audio CD)
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
This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (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
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John R. Woolmore (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Ten out of ten, 27 Jun 2014
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What can I say just brill brill brill go buy this your selfs if u like to get up and shake ur thang this shoul do it !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dap Tastic, 15 May 2014
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This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (Audio CD)
Sharon and the gang sure know how to get the groove on and the heart pumping.
You'd be fooled to thinkin this was 40 yrs old,its a Modern Classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Soul sound, 28 Nov 2012
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This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (Audio CD)
I have been buying classic soul records since the late 1960s and to be honest this singer and group take me back to a time when excellent lyrics, strong vocal delivery and tight instrumentation were typical of the club scene. Shut your eyes, turn the volume up high and enjoy! Brilliant sound. Recommended to anyone who loves Atlantic, Stax and Tamla!
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2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype, 14 Jun 2010
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This review is from: I Learned the Hard Way (Audio CD)
Not bad but nothing new really.Couple of good tunes. Needed some more funk and spark for me to enjoy more. Perhaps they are good live.
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I Learned the Hard Way
I Learned the Hard Way by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (Audio CD - 2010)
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