Daptone Records

The Budos Band Play ‘Up From the South’

Listen to this track from retro soul-jazzsters and Afrobeat enthused instrumentalists from Staten Island, NY The Budos Band. It’s their smokin’ Afrobeat-style jam “Up From the South” featured as the opening track on their eponymous 2005 Daptone Records release The Budos Band.

There are certain combinations of sounds that evoke certain musical and cultural associations, like the sound of horns, mixed with a B-3 organ, and congas. In some ways, it’s  almost impossible to avoid mining the seam of  a certain era of instrumental music when this combination of sounds is employed.

The Budos Band take their cues from classic 60s soul-jazz, to 70s funk, and to Afrobeat, particularly on this track where you expect Fela Kuti to start singing any second.  Yet, despite the tried-and-true approach to making rhythmically interlocked music out of the elements that have come before, the music itself remains to be compelling, and viscerally so.  This stuff is made for movement, good people; all kinds of movement.  And with this track, does “Up From the South” refer to the progression of southern R&B to urban centers in northern cities, or does it mean something a bit more, shall we say, physical? I’m betting on the latter.

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Daptone Records – Classic Soul-Funk in a Digital Age

Daptone Records LogoIn reading an article about the rise and fall (and rise again!), of Stax records I came across another article about a (relatively) new label who loosely model themselves on the original Stax label – Daptone records.

The label started with the idea that musicians could make music they think is cool, record it, and put it out on their own. A radical idea indeed! The group of musicians have their hand in a number of projects, most notably Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, who some might consider to be a revivalist take on classic southern soul traditions. But, as it is pointed out in the article in the January issue of MOJO magazine, these guys have backed Amy Winehouse – both on record and live.

Amy Winehouse, despite her recent tabloid adventures, has a smash album on her hands with Back to Black (a recommended release as well, people, if you’ve not heard it). So, they’re not a stab at hitting the nostalgia market – millions of people are loving the sounds they’re making right now from middle-aged rockists like me, to teenage girls singing in the front rows in venues across the globe.

I find the very existence of this collective of musicians, producers, and studio/label owners very encouraging. It helps that their approach takes its lead from the basics – live music, real instruments, with artistic control taken pretty literally. In making the comparison to Stax, let’s hope they continue to exemplify the strengths of that label – great music, family environment, lots of hits, and a lasting legacy. And let’s hope too that they avoid the pitfalls!

Check out their roster of musicians, and the new record from Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, 100 Days, 100 Nights.

Watch and hear Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

To view the clip, hover over the image and click the ‘play’ icon. To enlarge the viewing window, click the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner.

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings 100 Days 100 Nights