Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings


Five years ago, a friend of mine directed me toward the damnedest cover of Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done for Me Lately": It dialed the mid-'80s Jam/Lewis sleekness back two decades until it sounded like it belonged on a King seven-inch with the words "A James Brown Production" emblazoned on the label. The singer traded Ms. Jackson's icy cool for a sweltering harangue that unwound itself until the springs went straight. That cover was courtesy of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, an old-school funk revival outfit fronted by a 40-something (now 50-something) former correctional officer born in—where else—Augusta, Georgia, and backed by a crew of airtight New Yorkers who played like they were hermetically sealed during the Johnson administration, before funk went on to incorporate things like Moogs and vocoders. While their 2002 debut Dap Dippin' With...Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings established what they could do, it was 2005's Naturally—with its sinuous cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," the comedic romance of the Lee Fields duet "Stranded in Your Love," and the slick, hip-shakingly conflicted "How Do You Let a Good Man Down?"—that put them on the bigger public radar. Next thing you know, you're hearing "Pick It Up, Lay It in the Cut" in Kraft commercials, and the Dap-Kings are doing side gigs blasting out horn charts for Mark Ronson and touring with Amy Winehouse. But with Amy in (yes) rehab and Sharon done filming a singing role in the upcoming Denzel Washington film The Great Debaters, the band's back together to tour behind their latest, 100 Days, 100 Nights—which, like their other records, sounds like one of the best albums of the year. (It's up to you as to whether that year's 2007 or 1968.)