For the last decade, Daptone Records has served up new soul with a classic sound. Recorded entirely on analog equipment, in a studio inside the house the label owns in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, every Daptone release radiates a genuine warmth, and has its own distinct identity. It’s no surprise the label’s founders, Gabriel Roth and Neal Sugarman, take their inspiration from the great labels of the late ’60s. To listen to a Daptone record is to be transported back to a time when every aspect of an album was meticulously planned and lovingly overseen.
Because the Daptone roster boasts such an extraordinary wealth of talent, we asked Roth and Sugarman to walk us through the personalities behind some of their classic releases.
In honor of 10 illustrious years as the "Soulful Label That Could," Daptone Records is pleased to present The World Of Daptone Records. Twenty tracks of groovy goodness sure to make your next pizza party a FUNKY SMASH. Handpicked by the Daptone family, this isn't just a collection of hits, it's more like a guided tour through the hearts and souls of Daptone's dynamic stable of stars. Whether it be the hard funk of SJDK's "Got a Thing on My Mind," the sweet soul of Bob and Gene's "Gotta Find A Way," the gospel gold of Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, or the Afro-psych of the Budos Band's "Unbroken, Unshaven" that you crave, it's all here on one collection.
A genuinely soulful record by one of the most soulful men I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Charles sings every note like it's going to be his last, and anyone that has the pleasure of seeing him perform knows exactly what I mean. The expanded version includes bonus material that's strong enough to make even the most jaded fan want to buy this record again. We just could not keep a lid on it any longer. Once you see Charles Bradley live, you will know what great music is capable of doing for the heart and the soul.
For me, this is the most historically important Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings record. This record not only defined the Dap-Kings signature sound, but it also defined the sound of Daptone Records. Naturally was the record that took Daptone to the next level and the first full-length album recorded at the now infamous Daptone House of Soul Studios in Bushwick. You can hear the excitement and energy in that record. The inspiration the house had (and still has) on the band is so palpable.
You should recognize this album as simply a great record by a great band at the top of their game. I Learned the Hard Way will, without a doubt, go down as classic right up there with the legends of soul music. Otis, Aretha, James, Sharon: that's what folks will be saying in the future.
I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying the Budos Band have defined their own genre. The Budos are a musical journey that begins in the Afro-funk styles of '60s Nigeria and runs through the horn-drenched rhythms of Ethiopia with a quick layover in the psychedelic rock of '70s England. Then, it's off to the syncopated percussion of Latin America, then back home to the pizza-by-the-slice capital of the world: Staten Island. Love live the undisputed kings of Staten Island FUNK and SOUL!!!
What Have You Done, My Brother? is probably the most classic and authentic-sounding Daptone release. We have all been Naomi fans since the '90s, back when she recorded the modern funk masterpiece "41st St. Breakdown" for [Gabe's old label] DESCO. When we started Daptone, we knew that Naomi had to be one of our first artists, so we asked her to do some guest vocals on a record I was making at the time with my band, the Sugarman Three (Pure Cane Sugar). She sang wonderfully on that, but we knew deep down in her heart she wanted to sing gospel and that's what she sings best.
This was the first full-length on Dunham records, a Daptone imprint run by Tommy 'TNT' Brenneck. Immediately upon its release, it got attention from hip-hop heavyweights like Jay-Z [Jay sampled the title track for his own "Roc Boys" Ed.], 50 Cent and Kanye West. It's definitely one of the most-sampled records in recent history. I mean, it kind of makes sense. This record has all the best musicians in the Daptone stable coming together creatively, to make one of the most interesting instrumental records you're likely to hear.
Sealed in gold wrapping, this is a compilation of our favorite songs handpicked by the Daptone Family. It truly is the best representation of who Daptone is, and how everything sounds as recorded in the Daptone House of Soul Studios. Daptone Gold is our welcome mat for the world.
Although this is Sugarman Three's third LP, it was the first for Daptone. This record is a perfect example of the classic FUNK that was typical of Daptone's earlier releases. It's almost like a Daptone time capsule. On guest vocals, we have Charles Bradley, Naomi Shelton, and (everyone at Daptone's favorite singer) Lee Fields. I can't tell you what a pleasure it's been to watch Charles and Naomi grow as artists over the last 10 years, becoming full-fledged Daptone superstars. I know it's been a while, but expect to hear more from the Sugarman Three in 2012.
There are a lot of layers to El Rego's music. Obviously, there's the funky stuff tunes like "Feelin' You Got," "Hessa" and "Djobime." That's the first stuff I got into. Those tracks are gold for a DJ to get people dancing. That's the most accessible stuff. But then you get into the more Afrobeat stuff like "Dis-Moi-Oui." For me, the deepest stuff is beyond even that it's the Afro-Cuban stuff like "Do Do Baya" and "Kpon Fi La," which is one of the most beautiful tunes I've ever heard. The one that really blew me away was "Ke Amon Gbetchya." It's so haunting and raw. It's really a blues tune. Also, it's one of the finest recordings I've ever heard. It's amazing to me that one artist could make this many records with that many different rhythms, each one of them as great as the next. I'm very proud that we were able to help bring this music to more people. It's a good deed.