Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In) (Daptone) - review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, November 23rd, 2020  

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In)

Daptone

Oct 22, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Undoubtedly 2020 has taken a painful toll, but a few years back Daptone Records lost their flagship artist, Sharon Jones, and soul screamer Charles Bradley inside of a year. Both to cancer. Jones and Bradley found popularity later in life and they performed with the gusto of having careers worth of ground to cover in less time than most are allotted. Jones’ no-nonsense brand of R&B with stellar backing by The Dap-Kings, is best found on mid-period classics 100 Days, 100 Nights and the following I Learned The Hard Way. Both she and Bradley also had posthumous releases that were more than worthy of their catalogs, with Jones’ Soul Of A Woman recorded during what would be the final stages of her life or death battle. 

If you have seen the documentary Miss Sharon Jones!, you know that what powered the diminutive dynamo more than anything was her maternal instinct to carry The Dap-Kings and the Daptone label on her back. It was this drive that allowed me to witness Jones bring down a club on the backside of chemotherapy—illness and wig be damned. And though Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In), as the title implies, consists of a collection of previously recorded covers it also serves to sustain Jones’ legacy and support her musical family.  Given the disparate sources of material, having them collected for a party worthy soundtrack is more than a fine idea. The fairly straightforward cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours” was taken from a commercial for a bank (apparently in the days before mobile deposit capture), while “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” which was originally recorded by The First Edition (with Kenny Rogers on vocals) comes from the blink-or-you-missed it soundtrack for Soul Men. 

Of course the best parts of any covers album are those moments where the artist takes an iconic song and makes it their own. Here we have Jones and company upend Prince’s synth and drum machine laden “Take Me With U” and turn it into a James Brown influenced funk workout.  Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” though previously released by the group, has Jones and her horn section putting forth both a sultry sounding and politically charged version (as the original was truly intended). And the cover of Shuggie Otis’ “Inspiration Information,” as well as Gladys Knight’s “Giving Up,” shows Jones at her most sweetly soulful. 

Just Dropped In certainly doesn’t supplant the best of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ original material, but it serves as a reminder of her ability to both reinterpret when called upon and channel her gift in the most life-affirming way possible. Speculating that there may not be much left of Jones’ material left in the Daptone vaults, having an easy to administer reminder of her talent will hopefully find new audiences and point them towards her most powerful work. (www.sharonjonesandthedapkings.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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