Friday, January 1, 2016

Fresh Air, Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse and the Dap Kings

When I’m in a slump when it comes to writing, I always revert to writing about music. I envy people like my friend Aarik who gets to write about music for his job as an arts reporter for the Columbia Tribune. Some music thoughts struck me today and I wanted to get them down. It is funny how much of my original thoughts were lost because I didn’t originally write them down. But here’s an attempt to give you a picture of my thinking about music.

Today, I was doing what I do when I’m taking down the Christmas decorations around the house: I was getting caught up on Fresh Air podcasts. I was listening to Terry’s interview with record producer Mark Ronson. They spent a bit of time talking about Amy Winehouse’s album, "Back to Black", which Mark produced a number of the tracks. I was reflecting on that album and how many of the tracks I really loved. It had a real 60s, R&B feel. And I’m a sucker for a retro R&B sound. (That probably stems from my mom playing Al Green and Motown records when I was a kid). What really makes the record stand out for me (besides Amy’s voice and lyrics) is the back up band, The Dap Kings. I enjoyed hearing Ronson give so much credit to them for shaping the sound. I love the Dap Kings’ sound. I have many tracks by them backing Sharon Jones. (I regret missing them when they were in Columbia a few years ago, but I learned she was also on the verge of a cancer diagnosis, and it wasn’t the best performance, understandably).

I will give anything the Dap Kings play on a listen and, more often than not, I will enjoy it. There are some cool tracks on the Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings holiday album. I’ll call it “holiday” because the best song on the album is a Hanukkah song.

A final thought on Ronson, he produced the song “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars. You can hear the R&B/Funk  influence. Some may even call it a rip off. I hear “Jungle Love” by the Time, “Groove Line” by Heatwave, and another song I can’t remember by The Gap Band. I loved all of those songs, so I will give Ronson a break, but in the days of “Blurred Lines” lawsuits, I don’t know if the original artists will give him the same benefit of doubt.