The Olympians: The Olympians
Ever since the 1996 release of Mike Jackson & The Soul Providers’ The Revenge of Mister Mopoji—a retrosoul soundtrack to a fictional kung fu film, produced by future Dap-Kings founder Gabe Roth for the then-fledgling Desco label—deep concept albums have been Daptone’s bread-and-butter. The Olympians certainly fits the profile; lushly decked out with grainy-sounding strings, horns, harp, vibes and easygoing, loopy grooves, it smacks of cheesy instrumental grindhouse soundtracks from the ‘70s, with the “concept” being the Greek mythology-inspired “Temple of Sound” that apparently came to producer Toby Pazner in a dream. It’s of a piece with early Daptone releases by The Daktaris and The Budos Band, and features a host of topflight musicians from the same orbit—saxophonist Neal Sugarman, guitarist Thomas Brenneck and drummer Evan Pazner among them—so if you know the records, then you know the ritual. Whether it’s in the funky lilt of “Apollo’s Mood” or the wah-soaked guitar-and-clavinet tandem of the Sly Stone-ish “Europa and the Bull,” the all-pro sound never lies, and that’s the key to this album’s enduring charm.