Charles Bradley – A Tribute

Charles Bradley

On Saturday past, word reached us that the “Screaming Eagle Of Soul”, Mr Charles Bradley had passed away after losing his battle with cancer. To say we were sad is an understatement. Much like Sharon Jones before him, Charles fought the cancer as we all knew he would and got back on the road doing what he loved best – performing live to sell out audiences. Sadly like Sharon, the cancer was to return and ultimately take his life. He was 68.

Today, I’d like to remember Charles for his amazing music and his inspirational life story. When I first heard his voice some time ago, I was drawn by the emotion and power that was coming from him. I had to find out more about him and realised that he was a “new” discovery on the Daptone label. As you know, we here at Gazfunk are huge fans of Daptone and so over the next few years set out to buy each 45 that was released. The track I have chosen to feature today is one such release – “The World Is Going Up In Flames” released in 2007.

Charles Bradley - The World Is Going Up In Flames

I’ve been fortunate to see Charles perform live twice – once as part of the Daptone Super Soul Revue in Vienna and in Belfast on his UK & Ireland tour. I never got to meet the great man when he played in Belfast even though I was hanging out with the band backstage after the show as Charles retired to his hotel room early as he got a little spooked by a somewhat over zealous fan. Welcome to Belfast, Charles!!

Charles Bradley

I should say, if you haven’t yet watched the docu-film “The Soul Of America” I’d highly recommend it. The film shows one man’s challenges in everyday life and is a touching and inspirational tale of one of the greatest performers of modern times. R.I.P. Charles, we love you!!

Sharon Jones – A Tribute

ACL3407SharonJones.jpg

This week I had planned to bring you some more pictures from my U.S. Tour but events on Friday night/Saturday morning put paid to that with the news filtering through of the passing of Sharon Jones at the age of 60.

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this tribute as it’s something I hoped I wouldn’t have to do, especially not for a long time anyway given Sharon’s young age. Even though I knew that the cancer that Sharon was diagnosed with back in 2013 had returned, like many of you I hoped and believed this strong woman with her indomitable spirit would prevail for a second time. Sadly it wasn’t to be as she slipped away on Friday surrounded by her family and most of the Dap-Kings.

So today rather than feeling sad, I’d like to remember her for her amazing ability, not just as a performer but as a person who lit up any room she entered and always remained happy and positive no what matter the circumstances. She leaves an enduring legacy that won’t have failed to connect with any fan of funk or soul music and a catalogue of songs that ensures her place in the pantheon of the all time great soul artists.

sjdk

My first introduction to the world of Sharon Jones (and her Dap-Kings) came way back in 2002 with the uber funky “Pick It Up Lay It In The Cut”. This track had everything I was looking for at the time with a fantastic beat, groovy guitar and a horn section coming together to evoke the sound of The J.B.’s. I have to admit – at that time, I didn’t actually realise that what I was listening to came from a modern band – the sound was so true to the 70s funk style that I was starting to immerse myself in that I just assumed that it was from some obscure act from that time.

Shortly after that (maybe a year or so) I heard another of the band’s songs – their groovy take on Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” (a record that we have previously featured here on Gazfunk.) I remembered that this was the same artist who recorded “Pick It Up Lay It In The Cut” and so I set out to find out more about the band. To my surprise I found that they weren’t some obscure 70s funk outfit, but indeed a modern day band from Brooklyn who started out in 1996 as The Soul Providers (releasing a series of singles on the now defunkt Desco label) before joining forces with The Mighty Imperials to create the Dap-Kings, the house band on the new Daptone label.

I quickly bought both singles that I had heard and over the next decade or so bought most of the band’s single and album releases and spent a lot of time extoling the virtues of Sharon and the band as well as regularly dropping some of the 45s into my dj sets.

With the group being from New York and me living in Belfast, opportunities were few and far between for me to catch one of their legendary live shows until 2014 when they appeared at the Roundhouse in Camden. Finally a near decade long ambition had been fulfilled!! I was able to catch the band a couple of times after that and despite her illness, Sharon always performed like the true professional that she was.

sharon-jones-the-dap-kings-people-dont-get-what-they-deserve

So the record I’m going to feature for you today (it really could be any one of a dozen or more) was something that was only given away to a limited number of people who bought a special pack of the “Give The People What They Want” LP. The track is called “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” and perhaps is a fitting tribute to a supremely talented lady who never quite enjoyed the success she deserved. R.I.P. Sharon and deepest condolences to your family, friends and the Daptone family. X

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmLl21gZjfM

The Detroit Night Riders – Getting Funky

Detroit Night Riders - Getting Funky

With Christmas over, your favourite funk & soul blog has taken the opportunity to undergo something of a makeover. It’s important to keep things fresh and I hope you’ll appreciate the changes I’ve made to the blog (within the constraints of wordpress of course!!). I’ve kept the format broadly similar to what you’re used to so that it’s still easy to find your way around & check out all the various features. I hope y’all dig it.

I hope to be able to add new features to the blog and bring you more regular interviews as well as more guest contributors during 2015. In addition to this, I plan to have more dj slots during the year so you might be able to check out the Gazfunk groove in a live environment. But that’s all for later, so let’s just concentrate on the here & now.

The track I feature for you today is one of the newest additions to the Gazfunk collection. It’s become more and more rare as time goes by that I find funk & soul tunes that I dig which I haven’t heard before and I don’t mind admitting that this record is one such case. Sometimes I’m surprised at the cost of which some records sell for (and it’s normally surprise in a negative sense!) but this was one that proved to be a nice little bargain (for once!!).

So what do you get? Well this is a wah-wah driven instrumental monster that reminds me of the music in Sharon Jones’ “Stranger To My Happiness” and to use that well-worn phrase is “perfect for the dancefloor”. So get your dancing shoes on and have a great New Year whatever you are up to – I’ll see you on the other side! Gaz 

 

Gladys Knight & The Pips – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Gladys Knight & The Pips - I Heard It Through The Grapevne   So I’m back from my trip to London and I had a great time as usual. The main reason I was there of course was to see the mighty Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings at The Roundhouse. It was my first time seeing the group and they certainly didn’t disappoint! Sharon’s performance was fantastic and what made it even more impressive was the amount of energy she was able to give to the show despite her very recent illness.

The next day I somewhat unexpectedly became aware of a Motown exhibition in the nearby Proud Camden in Camden Stables. This was a pictorial showcase of Motown through the ages and their numerous visits to Britain beginning way back in 1965 right through to the early 80s. Many of the photos are previously unseen and are available to buy, however their price exceeds my budget so I was more of an interested spectator than buyer.

These two events have therefore provided the inspiration for this week’s selection. As everyone knows, Gladys Knight was one of the biggest stars on the Motown label and during her show, Sharon Jones paid homage to her with a rousing cover of her take on “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. Now I’m pretty sure everyone on Earth has heard Marvin’s version but what surprised me was how few people knew of Gladys Knight’s. What makes it even more surprising is the fact that Glady’s version was actually released a year or so before Marvin’s classic (and a year or so after Smokey Robinson’s rejected version) and is therefore the “original” release of the song, something that many are unaware of. It’s hard to compare it to Marvin as his is one of the great soul records, but Gladys certainly puts her own stamp on it and produces something a little more uptempo & “funky”. Enjoy!!