Customer Reviews: I Learned The Hard Way
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on April 6, 2010
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings appeared as backing musicians on much of Mark Ronson's "Version" and Amy Winehouse's "Back to black". Their sound is similar to both; retro Soul with lush strings, darting horns, and Jones's stirring vocals, a cross between Candi Staton and Betty Wright.

Listening to their fourth disc "I learned the hard way" is like a trip back to the sixties. The title track could have sprung from the vaults of Motown. "Better things to do" is a funky live-sounding jam, while the soulful ballad "Give it back" has a beautiful wall of harmonies.

The groovy "Money" finds her lamenting "money, where are you hiding" and "why won't you stay around?", sentiments some of us share now. :-)

"The reason" is a horn driven instrumental, the swinging "She ain't a child no more" has jangly guitars and rich harmonies, "I'll still be true" is an incredibly beautiful organ/horn-drenched ballad, while "If you call" is a melodramatic Blues ballad with chiming guitars, organ, and explosions of horns. "Mama don't like my man" is more stripped back showcasing the harmonies and powerhouse vocals.

This CD is a much needed breath of fresh air, and while I doubt it will trouble the charts much, I highly recommend it. For those who love real music.
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on April 6, 2010
I know its only April but this is hands-down the album of the year! I've been following Sharon & the Dap-Kings for years and its great to finally see them getting the attention they deserve! Coming off 100 Days, 100 Nights, I was wondering if they would be able to step-up their game and man did they deliver! This is how soul/r&b should sound - Sharon's voice is strong and pure and the production quality is unreal. What the Daptone crew can deliver out of that house in Brooklyn is amazing.

I'm always torn as to whether or not I want my favorite (secret) artists to make it mainstream, but I can honestly say I'm happy for Sharon and the gang as she deserves it! From performing on Michael Buble's new album to the Up In The Air Soundtrack its nice to see credible artists making it! Do not miss the chance to hear this record!
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on March 22, 2011
Old school sound, new school groove. Found out about Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings through an iTunes recommendation, and fell in love. I listen to this all the time, and whether I'm playing oldies or contemporary music, this fits right in.
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on March 28, 2016
Fell in love with her after seeing her live a few years ago. Amy Winehouse used the Dap Kings on her last album, and you can just hear them shining through. Prefer them with Sharon, she is a throwback talent and simply amazing...-0
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on January 27, 2015
This is very solid, above average music. Nothing more. It is not what the music reviews claim: the rebirth of old school R&B and/or Soul music. Being of that era and a huge fan ("collector of all kinds") of music, I can honestly say that if this had been released "back in the day" it would have flopped. Mind you, I have three cd's by this group, but neither myself nor anyone I know gets the "oh, stop what you are doing and listen to this" when this music is played. As the opening to this review says, it is very professional music and you should not be disappointed, unless you have expectations set by the reviews.
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on April 21, 2010
Sharon Jones and the impressively bigger sounding Dap-Kings are back, now with backup singers and a solid, soulful album that should make us burn anything else currently claiming to be pop music. This proves it: Sharon Jones is the true Queen of Soul and her funky Dap-Kings are, well, the Kings. just in time for summertime crusin' play, I LEARNED THE HARD WAY is a perfect album.

Like a breath of fresh 1968 air, here is THE GAME GETS OLD leading off the best soul album in decades. If Ms. Jones and band don't nail a Grammy, there ain't no justice. Any fan of real Philly soul will flip.

Personally, I bought the vinyl and they give you a site to download the digital version, but there is an ambient sound from a record that is sweetness, and timelessly magical. Sharon Jones and Dap-kings are recorded on real tape in the analog style that makes this all... authentic.

I'm not just listening, I'm blown away by this brand new 2010 release; you will be, too.
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on April 7, 2010
Sharon and the Dap-Kings are now on their fourth studio effort, I Learned The Hard Way, and they've done it again. Unlike other bands that mined an older sound, I haven't been able to bust these guys once on ripping off a specific song or riff. By this time, they are certifiably the real deal.

Kicking off beautifully with "The Game Gets Old", the Daps lay down a rousing, horn and string drenched 12 seconds of pure rhythm and blues bliss, a riff as good as "Keep On Looking" from 100 Days, 100 Nights. Both of these songs give the riff up sparingly, never outwearing a welcome. Sharon is now incontrovertably one of the great ladies of soul, and the band gives her the welcomes she deserves.

On "Money", we find out again how they flaunt the timeless/timely lyric with Sharon speaking about our undeniable need for money, the president, the economy, and all realities past, present, and future.

As on 100 Days, this release has fewer hard, up-tempo funk exercises that were delights on the first two albums. Little is compromised, though, as the harmonies have become more gorgeous than ever. The Daps even get an instrumental in the mix. Still, I'd love to hear something with the punch of "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" or "My Man Is A Mean Man". Sharon's still at the height of her powers, and if you see her live, she's a juggernaut who can tire you out just watching and dancing in the audience.

"I Learned The Hard Way" ends sweetly with "Mama Don't Like My Man", a charming Ruth Brown-styled number. These cats need to stick with Sharon, she seems like a much better time than other singers they've famously backed.

Classy, earthy, natural, I can't recommend this enough. It feeds the soul. Still, the first two outings are the better bets.
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on July 5, 2013
I happened to hear this in a record store some years ago and finally purchased this from amazon. When I first heard it in the record store i recall a sound of great sounding soul music, strong female vocals, with what sounded like the band for the late Amy Winehouse. After I got it and played it, I was even more blown away at how great it really sounded. There are so many artists that I hear in other places, like at a record store, someone's car, the department store, that don't necessarily carry the same feel when I get a copy of the CD personally and hear it at home. This one did. I loved it so much I want to get all her CDs. She has an amazing voice. I love the vintage vibe with the mixing. I love how things take you back to an era where the music enhances the singer.
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on February 1, 2012
I tell you some do have to learn the hard way. Sharon Jones it seems has paid her dues and given us a wonderful cd. The Dap Kigs her back up group was the same group who back up Amy Winehouse in the Back To Rehab video. You will not go wrong if you purchase this cd and add it to your collection.
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on May 13, 2010
As far as I'm concerned, the Dap Kings are the real deal, and, much like the era of the big bands, Sharon's work is completely dependent on the talent and skill of Bosco Man, the bassist, writer, engineer,and driving force who has captured the heart of the music. Sharon is a great, great performer -- and her interpretative chops are with the best of the ladies who ever sang 40 and 50 years ago -- but too many people forget that the music has to be there to be sung, and Bosco Man is the guy who creates it. Great, great album. A group which truly deserves all of the good things that have happened and will continue to happen.
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