Sunday, February 05, 2006

Gilles Peterson | Sharon Jones | Soul Sides

After rock, my next favorite genre of music is soul; particularly Northern Soul from the 60's and 70's. However, there aren't many new releases in this area. So, I haven't posted about soul over the last seven months. Due to a few new soul albums and a cool blog for soul tunes, that's changing right now.

The first recent soul album I came across was Gilles Peterson Digs America (Brownswood U.S.A.). Peterson is an English DJ who has become very influential among other European DJs. His influence comes from two things...his good taste and massive collection of obscure soul and jazz albums. In fact, the guy had to move his family into a new house because their first house was overrun by his collection.

In addition to DJing, Peterson releases compilation albums of his favorite tunes. Among these compilations, he has a few that focus on a specific geographic area such as Brazil and Africa. In 2005, he turned his sights on the US with Gilles Peterson Digs America (Brownswood U.S.A.). What the hell took him so long? It's not like we're Iceland or something. We're the home of jazz and soul for chrissakes!

But I'll forgive him for his tardiness since this album is so good. The disc includes sixteen tracks from artists you've never heard of before. However, after hearing them, you'll be asking yourself, why aren't these folks more famous? It doesn't make any sense; to be so good yet so unknown.

Bobby Cole's "A Perfect Day" is a jazzy piano-driven number that swings from the first note and never lets up. Darondo is an ex-pimp from Oakland that does a killer impression of Al Green on "Didn't I". Jon Lucien's "Search for the Inner Self" has more of than heavily produced soul sound we got in the 70's but it's hook is so smooth and sharp. To be fair, there are three or four duds on the album but that still leaves you with a dozen fresh soul tunes to add to your collection.

By the way, NPR had a nice segment on Peterson last year.

One last note, Peterson will be DJing during the second day of this year's Coachella festival.

Sharon Jones is a lady out of Brooklyn who, when she wasn't working as a corrections officer at Ryker's Island, was singing in her church choir. In 1996, someone from Desco Records discovered her and put out a few singles with her. In 2002, she moved over to Daptone Records and released her debut album, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Last year, she dropped her sophmore album, Naturally, on us.

If you like 70's soul with brass, strings, wawa pedal and a strong female singer, then Naturally is for you. The production is cleaner than on those early soul albums so you may miss the squeky floor boards, cracked voice screams and door slams but for the most part, Sharon Jones and her band, The Dap Kings, nail that fun soul sound.

You can watch her perform "How Long Do I Have to Wait For You?" on Conan O'Brien here.

If you haven't bailed on this post yet than you must be a big fan of soul music (with a high tolerance for crappy grammar). Therefore, you may enjoy the blog Soul Sides. There are a ton of mp3 blogs focusing on indie rock and pop but there are few that discuss great soul tunes. That's what makes Soul Sides such a fresh site. The writer seems to have a huge collection of old albums and isn't stingy with them. However, he doesn't keep the links up for more than a week or so. Therefore, it's worth checking the site regularly.

The guy who writes Soul Sides is even releasing a compilation album this spring based upon his favorite tunes (one of which will be Sharon Jones' "All Over Again"). If it's half as good as Gilles Peterson Digs America, it'll be a nice treat for the summer.

Darondo | Didn't I (courtesy of Feel Me Good Tunes)

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings | How Do I Let a Good Man Down? (courtesy of monkeySARS)


casey said...

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are one of the greatest bands on the planet. if there were any justice, they'd be more well known.

Flatlander said...

Sharon Jones should book a double-bill with Nathaniel Mayer and tour indie clubs to gain some exposure. It would be a killer show and based upon the reception Mayer seemed to get opening for The Black Keys, indie fans are receptive to that soul/R&B sound.

K. said...

Flat did you pick up Jamie Lidell and John Legend?? cause both those albums are some SOLID soul/R&B.

Flatlander said...


No, I haven't but I'll check both guys out. Thanks for the tip.

K. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
K. said...

Ok lets try this again. Here is two songs by Jaime.

Jamie has soul.

yankunian said...

Hey - well done. You sussed out two of my favorites -both don't get the attention they deserve stateside, but thank god they both have a devoted following in the UK ... peterson moreso, he's like a god over here, but Naturally has been a big hit, and I think SJ's tour last year (which I missed, dammit) won them a lot of converts.

Flatlander said...


You've been sitting on Gilles and Sharon all along and never tipped me off? I love emails about new music.

What else are you digging that I haven't written about? If you ever want to "guest blog" about some music you're enjoying, let me know. The space is yours.

yankunian said...

Sure, that sounds really cool. I'm really poor right now so I haven't been going to many gigs (though you'll be happy to hear that Jens Lekman is in town next week. I've been telling everyone over here about him since nobody seems to have heard of him.... he's playing at a tiny pub.) Anyway, I'll give you a shout when I hear something new that's especially good.