Founded by Gabe Roth and Neil Sugarman in 2001, Daptone was conceived as an artist-run label, its first two album releases by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings (for whom Roth is the bassist and producer) and The Sugarman 3 (in which Sugarman plays sax). It has now released over 90 singles and 35 albums of funk, soul, gospel and Afrobeat that look to the classic sounds of the 60s and 70s for inspiration, creating the kind of label identity that Stax and Motown had in those decades.
The label even has its own analogue studio in a rented brownstone in Bushwick, Brooklyn, dubbed The House Of Soul. This follow-up to 2009’s Daptone Gold contains previously unreleased gems such as the funky, dancefloor-friendly instrumental Thunderclap by The Dap-Kings and the stomping gospel soul of You Got To Move by Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens.
They’re joined by back-catalogue highlights including Charles Bradley’s passionate ballad Strictly Reserved For You, Shelton’s testifying confessional Sinner and Sharon Jones’ strident, Motown-esque Retreat!. As the label’s biggest star, Jones has five tracks here, with the previously limited Record Store Day vinyl 45 Little Boys With Shiny Toys another standout. Featured on backing vocals on that track are recent signings Saun & Starr, whose honeyed harmonies shine on *Hot Shot *and Look Closer (Can’t You See The Signs?), both captivating slices of 70s-styled soul.
Gritty-voiced former James Brown impersonator Bradley duets with LaRose Jackson on the uncharacteristically upbeat rarity Luv Jones. Bradley’s backing group The Menahan Street Band, led by former Dap-Kings guitarist Thomas Brenneck, also record instrumental albums that sound like cult film soundtracks, represented here by the Ennio Morricone-esque The Traitor and the horns-dominated Keep Coming Back.
The nine-piece Budos Band, another instrumental combo featuring Brenneck, mix psychedelic rock guitar fuzz with Afro soul horns on Aphasia and Western movie soundtracks with funk on Unbroken, Unshaven. Elsewhere, there’s powerful gospel shouting from The Como Mamas, Afrobeat rhythms from Antibalas, and organ and sax boogaloo grooves from The Sugarman 3. This compilation celebrating the Daptone family really is all killer, no filler.