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.
A big part of what has helped push along the success of the Budos Band and other Daptone acts, apart from dazzling musicianship, has been the success of Daptone Records as a label itself. At the center of this success is sheer belief that raw enthusiasm and incendiary talent for putting across modern soul music using the recipes laid down by the founders of the form is enough to ignite the same enthusiasm in live audiences today. And further, it’s more than enough to inspire them to seek it out in recorded form.
And perhaps this is where my expectations around music that one is meant to dance to kicks in. There is something about real, analogue instruments being played live by real musicians in the same room as their audience that cannot be replaced. This is not to denigrate studio production-styled pop music. And I don’t mean to disparage technology that allows for single-musician, multitracked performances in a live settting.
But, when it comes to soul music, you’ve got to (got to, got to, got to, Otis Redding style) have that sense of community built right into it, with the musicians sharing space even as they share a groove, with their audience. And you’ve got to, got to, got to put that across on your record, too. That is, after all, where soul music comes from; a community, a congregation, brothers and sisters. This dynamic, this ability, is the beating heart of The Budos Band, and the Daptone roster in general. In this, the music is tied to an era, and yet to no specific era at all, because it doesn’t really matter how old you are; you can feel it when it’s right in front of you.
Can I get a witness?
For more Budos goodness, be sure to check out the official Budos Band site, where you can find links to their MySpace page, Facebook page, and blog. They have a new record out, The Budos Band III, which is ready for your soul-thirsty ears to partake. Be sure to explore the links on the site to pick up your ration.