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Vintage Soul Rejoinder by Derek


 Or, You'd Think We Would Guard Our Soul More Jealously

In direct response to a more or less civil discussion about Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, in which many things were weighed and revealed among friends.

So here's a mix, put together with several things in mind. First of all, it's mainly to rebut the Sharon Jones crowd. Janelle Monae looks to different influences for the most part, and honestly she's not as pertinent to my concerns (sorry for gumming up a Janelle Monae post with my Sharon Jones anxieties, tho Outkast and their ilk have a long history of milking white folk Big Chill nostalgia for crossover success). Anyways: I stayed away from the Classics. That wouldn't be fair. A mix featuring the very best song from each of the artists represented here would be tasteless overkill. The biggest hit on the mix is probably the Aretha track, which was actually a B-side. (The version of "You're No Good" is the original by Dee Dee Warwick and did not chart.)

Also, I've purposely avoided simply overwhelming you with vocals, with the exception of the opening and closing tracks, which serve the purposes of 1) asserting Aretha Franklin's place in this discussion without leaning on one of her big tracks and 2) closing on a really strong, ahm, note from a singer who was never the star that her talent warranted. Most of the other vocals are certainly powerful (or at least interesting), but as often as not I've focused on  songs, instrumentation, and production. I've stayed away from Motown and other Pop/Soul, as that isn't the sound Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings aim to recreate, generally. I also stopped short of Philly, as that takes us closer to funk than I'm generally comfortable with. I tried to draw from the late sixties and early seventies, since that's the sound you get from SJ&DK.

Nota bene: Although I personally believe that there are hundreds of vintage soul tracks that are better than anything SJ&DK have ever done, turning this discussion into one about quality misses the point, which concerned the politics of nostalgia and the problem of ahistorical music. SJ&DK are just fine. They obvs do good product. Only it's more marketing than music. "Vintage" packaging. A sound (a soul) built to be sold. I'm fine with artifice. I don't need truth in art, just honesty. This cynical marketing of "authenticity" frankly bores me. It's a Baudrillardian soul music, torn free of socio-political context. I just can't imagine that someone like Nelson George could possibly approve.

ALSO: Sharon Jones was 12 years old in 1970, which was around the time the kind of music she makes peaked. Aretha Franklin was 28 and had likely been fucking for over a decade.

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