Tuesday, August 16, 2016
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: Original Soundtrack - Miss Sharon Jones!
In 2013, a new Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings was sent out to media outlets a couple of months before its official release date, standard practice to entice some early excitement and reviews. But then word came that the album, Give The People What They Want, was to be delayed, and all concerts postponed. Jones had pancreatic cancer, but there was never any indication she would not return with the album as soon as possible.
That's exactly what happened, and by 2014, after chemotherapy and invasive surgery, Jones was back, the album earned a Grammy nomination, and a new Christmas album followed soon after. Then came news of documentary film by Oscar winner Barbara Kopple, covering Jones' amazing career and inspiring, gutsy battle with her illness. At the film's launch at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Jones announced that her cancer had returned, but she would continue chemo treatments, and vowed to keep fighting.
The latest news is that the movie has now been widely released, the soundtrack arrives Friday, and Jones is doing well according to her website, although she's had to cancel her August European tour, as it conflicts with a procedure related to her treatment that must be done. In the meantime, there's this bit of awesomeness to enjoy. The soundtrack disc is over an hour and could be called a best-of set, except that it's virtually impossible to narrow down Jones in such a way. Her recording career suffers from few bumps or low points, and you could arguably take an hour of her music from any of her releases and come up with a best-of just as strong.
What they did choose is a cross-section of cuts that range back to some earlier, harder funk (the non-Lp single Genuine Pt. 1), a couple of soundtrack-only cuts, the must-have favourite 100 Days, 100 Nights, and lots of cuts from her most popular albums from the past decade. The magic of Jones and the Dap-Tone folk is that in their hands, soul music never sounds old-fashioned. They refuse to treat it as anything other than a very current form, yet don't borrow hot production trends or court other recent forms. This is soul music, as powerful as ever.
There's one new track from the film, the appropriate I'm Still Here which closes the set. It's biographical, but not dwelling on her recent illnesses; instead, it's about her family's fight to survive when moving to New York in 1960. You get the picture that her current strength is nothing new.