Terrible news! Sharon Jones has passed away, finally losing her battle with cancer. It was not a good sign when Miss Jones and the Dap-Kings had to cancel a European tour over the summer. But I had hope. She never gave up, performing right through cancer treatments, bald from chemo but still as energetic on stage as ever. But all things must pass. Jones helped build Daptone Records, which recognized her talent and gave her the artistic freedom she needed. Daptone will no doubt continue, in part as Jones's legacy.
Back in the mid 1980s Robert Palmer had a new song. It was intended as a duet with Chaka Khan. But he and Khan were on different record labels, and couldn't record together without permission. Permission wasn't given. Ah, those recording companies, always looking out for the musician's interest. Palmer went ahead on his own. Andy Taylor of Duran Duran played guitar. "Addicted to Love" was a hit, almost as well known for its music video featuring mannequin-like models mechanically pretending to be Palmer's back up band. One can only dream of what might have been.
Skip ahead a few decades and The Hot Sardines remade the song in their distinctive jazz style. Miz Elizabeth leads the band through a very different take on the song. Cover versions like this are the best-- where the artist puts their own mark on the song so completely that you don't at first realize they're doing someone else's song. As a cover recording this ranks with Devo's legendary remake of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". The first time I played this version of "Addicted..." on the air someone called in and went into a monologue about how the song so closely matched up with a book they'd been reading about codependency. I don't think they knew it was a new version of an 80s hit.
M83's album Junk is great all the way through but this song stands out because it's the theme song for my early 1980s TV show, "Tom Swift, FM". In it I'm a radio DJ who also solves music related crimes (and I don't mean busting kids for downloading songs because this is the 1980s and what is that internet thing you're talking about anyway?) all while inexplicably driving a Ferrari. My catch phrase is "Swift real swift". Filmed before a live studio audience, except for the chase scenes. Theme by Mike Post M83.
This is the extended "full" version of the theme song that appears in the pilot episode. After that it gets edited down to 30 seconds for regular episodes.
Back in the nineties a recording company rep told Sharon Jones that she was "too fat, too black, too short and too old" to sign with them. She got the last laugh. In the 20 or so years since she's become the queen of 21st century soul. A "best of" for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings covering that period would be a boxed set of every recording they've made.
Miss Jones is the subject of a new documentary-- Miss Sharon Jones-- covering her story. It's a story that sounds like it could have been written for a movie. A former prison guard at Riker's Island in New York City who dreams of making it as a singer, and eventually does. For her first recording at Desco Records (a forerunner of DapTone) she came to the studio and recorded the song in uniform.
It's not all good news, though. Jones has battled with cancer for a few years now, seeming to beat it back only to have it return. Although reportedly doing well, she recently had to cancel a European tour for medical reasons.
The soundtrack for Miss Sharon Jones includes a new song, "I'm Still Here". It's Jones's autobiography, delivered in the most appropriate manner possible.
De La Soul is Dead back, with their first new album since 2004. With all the weird and negative news this year, I'm so glad to have something like this come along.
Of course they never completely went away. There have been some guest spots on other people's albums, for example on Gorillaz' "Plastic Beach" album. But now they're back doing their own thing, and they brought their friends.
It feels like a rebirth of the group. That might be wishful thinking, but I'm hopeful. A couple of years ago they gave away downloads of all of their previous albums for free. Then came their incredibly successful Kickstarter project to raise money to fund a new album. And now, finally, it's here. The whole thing feels like breaking with the past and moving on toward the future. I don't know what their plans are but I hope more is coming.
I love how they made this album. Years of recording with studio musicians to build their own library to sample, free of legal issues. Working without a record label but getting the recording process financed directly by their fans. The Kickstarter project is the internet age at its best-- instead of fans hoping that some studio executive might greenlight the album, they can just directly help it happen.
Quiero Creedence is a collection of Latin-American interpretations of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs. "Fortunate Son" was originally a Vietnam war protest song. It wasn't specific to the war though, being more generally about the detachment of those in what later came to be called the 1% from the lives of the less economically fortunate. As a result it's just about perfect for a modern mixed English/Spanish update. The economic divide is wider than ever. No soy hijo de un senador, indeed. Plus, Bang Data's take on the song kicks ass.
Bossacucanova recently came out with a "best of" collection, and I've been playing a lot of it on the air. I've started my last 2 or 3 Saturday shows this way, beginning with an all-Brazilian music show the week that the Rio Olympics started. They have a modern, electronic approach to bossa nova that reminds me of Thievery Corporation some of Nicola Conte's production work (for example with Rosalia De Souza). So I went with them as the opener again last week, because honestly you can't go wrong playing Bossacucanova.
Plus I really like saying "Bossacucanova" on the air.
The video below has graphics from Putumayo's "Brazilian Lounge" collection, not the group's new "best of" collection.