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I Learned the Hard Way (Bonus Version)

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iTunes Review

It’s hard at times to believe that this album wasn’t mixed in 1967 by Stax Records producers. In “The Game Gets Old” Jones inflects with passion and verve over the timeless tones of a string section, brass horns and vintage guitars played with finesse. The title track makes for an organic hit as it inadvertently schools Amy Winehouse with the commanding authenticity of a bygone Aretha Franklin hit. The Dap-Kings bestow “Better Things” with a loose bounce and a tight strut seemingly learned from studying the rhythmic disciplines of early recordings by The J.B.’s and The Meters. The sinister swagger of “Money” plays like Etta James crooning for Curtis Mayfield’s band as Jones feverishly muses on the blessings and curses of the all-American dollar. But I Learned the Hard Way isn’t just for those vinyl hounds who hunt down obscure Marva Whitney records; the album has the power to connect with anyone who has ever looked for comfort, familiarity and substance in a song.

Customer Reviews


It really is a bummer that all the talentless bimbo$ like Ke$ha can have number one records, while someone so incredibly talented, unique, and freakin awesome as Sharon Jones can't have a hit record. She has a powerhouse voice, great songs, and the Dap Kings are amazing. I just don't get it. Why don't more people appreciate good music. like this. sigh

The best funk and soul this side of the 70's.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings aren't doing anything new. That said, they're doing it right. Perfectly tight little 60's arrangements collide with the burning, ice-cool funk that made soul fun in the 70's.
"I Learned the Hard Way," "Money," "I'll Still Be True," and "Mama Don't Like My Man" are all exceptional.

The new album is incredibly good. 4 stars only because it isn't a full-on masterpiece.

What Amy Hints At, Sharon Fulfills

I love the wave of neo-retro soul that has poured through the last few years, from artists such as Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, Duffy, and Adele. Sharon Jones has the vocal chops and the emotive power that shines as the real thing, rendering those other acts "suggestions" of what authentic soul sounds like. The comparison is especially strong because Sharon's Dap Kings backed Amy Winehouse on "Back in Black," and as much as I loved that album, Amy does not come out well in the comparison.

This album came to my attention when Entertainment Weekly said of it, "This isn't just old school... it IS school." I agree, and in an era when producers are willing to Auto-Tune any vocal until you hear more computer than artist, this is a welcome return to reality.

A few iTune reviewers have puzzled over perceived faults in the mix. Sharon Jones' own site says, "Produced by Bosco Mann and recorded in its entirety on an old Ampex eight-track tape machine by Gabriel Roth in Daptone Records’ House of Soul studios." So that sound you are not quite used to is the sound of humans making music without computers. Ah, bliss....


Formed: 2001 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

By the sound of them, you would have thought Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings started making funk-threaded soul music together in the 1960s. Few devotedly retro acts were as convincing. Few singers as skilled as Sharon Jones at stuffing notes with ache and meaning would be willing to invest in a sound so fully occupied by the likes of Bettye LaVette and Tina Turner in the Ike years, too. But what Jones brought to the funkified table had legs of its own -- eight of them, to be exact -- and they belonged...
Full Bio
I Learned the Hard Way (Bonus Version), Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music
  • Released: Apr 06, 2010

Customer Ratings