Retro Cool?


In both my review of Daniel Merriweather’s Love And War and Mica Paris’ Born Again I touched upon my feelings regarding the popularity of the retro-soul trend that seems to be sweeping music (in particular the UK scene) at the moment. To recap, I pointed out that the whilst this sound is popular with the record buying public (at the moment), and is a commercially viable choice for many artists (at the moment), it is a sad state of affairs when all artists can do is recycle/rehash the sounds of the 60’s and 70’s without either a) bringing something new to the table or b) at least making a real effort to create an authentic, soulful sound.

That being said, I am a fan of the retro sound when it’s done well . The aim of this post is to highlight a few artists/groups who, I feel, have managed to capture the essence of 60’s/70’s soul music .

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

First off, if you are unfamiliar with Sharon Jones and/or The Dap Kings stop reading this and get looking for one of their albums. The Dap Kings are an extremely talented group of soul musicians who provided backing on Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black. They are probably THE best soul/funk band out there at the moment, which when combined with the powerhouse vocals of Sharon Jones gives rise to some very authentic, very soulful music. They have released 3 albums in total : Dap Dippin (2002), Naturally (2005) and 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007). All are well worth purchasing.

Lee Fields (& The Expressions)

Lee Fields is an artist I came across on a track from Sharon Jones’ Naturally album entitled ‘Stranded In Your Love’. On that track the pair recreate the magic of the classic 60’s duets effortlessly. Lee has since released a solo album with The Expressions (a soul band similar to The Dap Kings) called My World (2009). Whether your a fan of the retro sound or not this is essential for anyone who appreciates good vocals and great musicianship.

Shawn Lee

Shawn Lee is a producer and multi-instrumentalist signed to the Ubiquity label (who are responsible for a great deal of the quality soul music available right now). Shawn has a number of albums under his belt, most of which contain purely instrumental tracks, however on 2009’s Soul In The Hole he has teamed up with several very talented vocalists to create a great album ifluenced by soul music from the 60’s right through to the 80’s. It’ is easy to imagine that this album is a compilation of  forgotten tracks from the past 3 decades, rediscovered and repackaged for release now.


The final group I would like to mention are funk band Orgone. Similar to The Dap Kings (in that they are a multi-piece live band), Orgone are relatively unknown by both the mainstream and the majority of the underground/indie soul scene. Their debut album, The Killion Floor, was released by Ubiquity in 2007 to rave reviews from those that managed to hear it. About half of the album is made up of instrumental tracks, all of which are strong and instantly make you tap your foot or nod your head, however it’s the tracks featuring vocalist Fanny Franklin (who also appears on Soul In The Hole) which really grab hold of you.