- The Sugarman Three
- What The World Needs Now
The world could always use a little more soul. In the decade since Neal Sugarman last released an album as a bandleader, 2002’s Pure Cane Sugar, he’s kept himself immersed in the world of soul music, as co-owner of Daptone Records and as a member of their namesake band, the Dap-Kings. What The World Needs Now sees him return to the front of the bandstand, with his longtime trio The Sugarman Three, and a handful of Daptone family players thrown in to the mix. The record demonstrates the band’s maturation in its relaxed and comfortable vibe. Where earlier records seemed more determined to make a definitive statement of soul and/or funk, this newest release showcases a sound more akin to instrumental tracks from old-school label house bands such as Motown’s Funk Brothers or the Muscle Shoals rhythm section. Which is to say that this album plays like a bunch of good friends hanging out and having a good time, conveniently with instruments in their hands and tape rolling in the control room.
There’s a certain feeling of love that permeates the album, in a classic 60’s movie sort of way, not the least bit in the choice of such covers as the title track by Burt Bacharach, J.J. Jackson’s “But It’s Alright,” or even the more subtle familial love demonstrated by the take on the early Budos Band track “Got To Get Back To My Baby.” Even the new original compositions sound like they could easily be forgotten rare-groove gems resurrected by Sugarman’s informed and capable band. All of this isn’t to suggest in any way that the music sounds dates, rather “classic” might be a more appropriate term, and not one unfamiliar to the modern-day master curators of American soul at Daptone.