If the legions of perfectly cornrowed neo-soul acts plundering classic R&B have you wondering what happened to real soul music, look no further than the ferocious debut CD from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Dap-Dippin' With …. Delivering the kind of hard-hitting grooves usually found on obscure 45s, the veteran singer and her young backup band (featuring members of lauded Afrobeat revivalists Antibalas) offer the sweaty urgency of Soulsville circa 1967. Jones comes by her authenticity naturally: Raised on gospel in James Brown's hometown of Augusta, Ga., she started fronting local funk bands during the '70s when she was a teenager, taking her gritty style from Ike-era Tina Turner and Godfather of Soul protégés Marva Whitney and Lyn Collins.
After contributing to numerous dance tracks under the alias Miss Lafaye, Jones recorded several singles for Brooklyn's Desco Records in the late '90s. When Desco went kaput, label honcho Gabriel Roth asked her to launch his new imprint, Daptone. The resulting “Got a Thing on My Mind” and the crew's inspired retrofitting of Janet Jackson's 1986 hit “What Have You Done for Me Lately” jump out of the speakers with infectious energy. Dap-Kings bassist/bandleader Bosco Mann perfectly captures the analog warmth of classic funk recordings with his back-to-basics production, giving the furious chicken-scratch guitar licks, propulsive bass lines, and tight horn arrangements a resounding wallop. There's no denying the James Brown influence on Dap-Dippin' (down to an introduction by a hyped-up MC and the occasional use of a canned live audience), but the group's A-list original material echoes the Meters, Dyke & the Blazers, and Curtis Mayfield without resorting to outright appropriation. Jones and company pay brilliant tribute to '60s soul revues while still blazing their own funky trail.