"What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?/ This Land Is Your Land" by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Posted by Al Barger on August 22, 2004 08:05 PM

Whoo, doggy- stop the presses, we've got us a hot one! This might be the best new song I've heard all year.

An independent Brooklyn label called Daptone is giving away MP3s of one KICK ASS set of songs by someone I never heard of named Sharon Jones.

I've sure as hell heard of her now, though. "What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?" is just flat whippin' my ass. Broadly, it's a serious funk, fair James Brown style, but more jazzy. Perhaps it would compare to some Stax/Volt stuff. Whatever the geneology, there's some really outstanding guitar playing, and the horns stand out on their own. There's even some actual melody. Holy crap, it's like a REAL SONG or something.

Now, I'm still a little confused about the band. Ms Jones' previous credited album is with the "Dap Kings" and such is also the indication in the text the label sent the Tofu Hut MP3 blog with their request to feature this song. However, I note that the track tags on the mp3 file the label sent him credit the track to "Sharon Jones and Lee Fields." Whatever, cause somebody here is some kinda playin' SOBs.

Anyway, read John's notes at Tofu Hut, and absolutely stop whatever you're doing to get up on some of this.

The lyric actually goes somewhere, too. It's basically an anti-war song, proposing civil disobedience. She suggests that we just quit paying the taxes to support an evil war.

The lyrics do not specifically name Iraq, but it's a new recording, not yet commercially released. Not much doubt what would be meant. Not naming a specific war works right here; it won't need updating for the next war.

Indeed, looking at it as an anti-war song, "What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?" rates as the best one associated with Iraq. The only competition would be the infrequently heard but classic Terence Trent D'Arby aka Sananda Matreiya track "Daddy, Can I Have a War?"

By the way, check out this picture of Ms Jones. Mommy! Take this picture coupled with the sound of her voice and the expressiveness of her singing, and... Well, it'll make a man forget about any of these little silly teeny Britney Spears girls. This is, to put it in the most gentlemanly way, a full grown woman.

Oh, but we're only half of the way there. Daptone and the Tofu Hut are also giving out what will be the B-side of the upcoming 7" vinyl single release, a thorough re-thinking of "This Land Is Your Land."

The label describes it as "heavy soul." That seems fair enough. Again, the arrangements of this bear close listening. The horn section just kicks ass.

They've re-thunk this song to the point that, unlike Woody Guthrie, they've really pretty much written a new melody for these words. I don't know that it's necessarily superior to the original on that count, but I bet you won't mistake it for the Carter family.

Put the new tune and the skillful and soulful arrangement and performance together, and this will probably come to be regarded as one of the best recorded performances of this song ever.

Also, for bonus points, they include the verse about "private property" that is rarely performed. I consider it to be the most interesting part of the lyric, so this is double cool. Again, check out John's write-up at Tofu Hut and download the song.

This Daptone label sure has some kind of interesting marketing going on here. For starters, they're putting this out apparently in a week or two as a 7" vinyl single. I don't know about paying $6.20 for such a thing. How many people can even play vinyl now?

However, giving out these songs for free as mp3s might well convince some folks to buy an album on CD which will presumably be forthcoming. Hey, this is something actually worth spending money on.

Also, for promotion they have positively embraced not just blogs, but absolutely the sub-phenomenon of MP3 blogs, which routinely put up copyright mp3s in legally marginal ways. You'll not likely see the majors going to the likes of John at the Tofu Hut for promotion, though I bet he's actually selling some records for them.

But perhaps they should. Someone like John is JUST the person you would want all enthusiastic about your new record. He's one of them there what they call "opinion maker" types. On top of which, Daptone is distributing their promotion using other people's bandwidth. All the better for them.

Holla Back!

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