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Soul - Released April 2, 2013 | Daptone Records
A lot has happened in the life of soul singer Charles Bradley since his stellar debut, No Time for Dreaming, was issued in 2011. He has not only received attention, but the album sold well, and he's toured extensively. His compelling story is also the subject of a documentary film. The songs he co-wrote with Thomas Brenneck on that recording were steeped in his autobiography and reflected Southern soul music as it was recorded at Stax and Muscle Shoals in the middle of the '60s. Victim of Love is not so much a departure from that sound as a progression of it. These tunes, once more co-written by the pair, reflect the soul's evolution as it approached the end of the decade. The material is less dark in its vision -- perhaps reflecting the turn in Bradley's life circumstances -- but is no less poignant. His voice is no less gritty, his scream no less heart wrenching, his emotion no less forthcoming. Opener "Strictly Reserved for You" has an uptown, funky bassline and fuzztone guitar. The sweet backing vocals soften Bradley's wrenching toughness enough to make it vulnerable. "Let Love Stand a Chance" is brimming with a slow burning tenderness that beseeches the absent beloved to hear him out. One has to wonder who could refuse a request so searingly rendered. "Where Do We Go from Here" and "Confusion" are drenched in urgent, bristling, psychedelic funk, with wah-wah guitars, fuzzed-out bass, and organ. "Love Bug Blues," is a roiling soulful blues. "You Put the Flame on It," with its uplifting interaction between singer and backing chorus, and underscored by horns, weds world-weariness and optimism. "Hurricane" finds Bradley flanked by horns and B-3 on one side and his backing chorus on the other. He's testifying to the calamities and darkness in the human heart -- with some wild phase shifting on the instrumental backing. The set ends with "Through the Storm" -- it's spiritual soul that could easily be taken as an offering of gratitude to fans. The shimmering guitars, vibes, and slippery, funky snare, frame the horns which in turn accent Bradley's absolute conviction that he's come through the worst. Victim of Love showcases growth -- and a sound not heard before on Daptone -- while not straying from the gritty soul that established the singer; it is every bit as strong as its predecessor and more diverse. You just can't get enough of the real thing. ~ Thom Jurek
Soul - Released November 9, 2018 | Daptone Records
On September 23rd 2017 a great voice of Soul music passed away. Charles Bradley would have turned 70 years old on November 5th 2018. Daptone Records unveils this posthumous album that for one last time shines the spotlight on this artist whose discography only includes a handful of studio albums. Three in total, enough to earn Bradley a well-deserved spot in the great modern Soul family. Black Velvet retraces his career over ten unreleased tracks recorded during studio sessions for his three previous albums: No Time For Dreaming (2011), Victim of Love (2013) and Changes (2016). As well as the funky duo with his friend LaRose Jackson on Luv Jones and languid instrumentals of Black Velvet with the Menahan Street Band (on which there are unfortunately no vocals), Bradley also threw in some eclectic covers. Nirvana (Stay Away), Rodriguez (Slip Away) or even Neil Young (Heart of Gold), each title is filled with love. An intense and moving listening experience, compounded by the track I Feel A Change that seemed to foretell the singer’s transition into another world. © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz
Soul - Released April 1, 2016 | Daptone Records
Charles Bradley has already proved that he is not simply a clone of James Brown, but rather the worthy heir to The Godfather of Soul. With Changes, the Brooklyn soulman rediscovered by the folks at Daptone Records releases a third album on which his impressive voice can lend itself to any melody. Just listening to the eponymous track on the album, an intense cover of an original song by Black Sabbath! The man nicknamed the 'Screaming Eagle of Soul' excels in ballads here, but even more impressive are the more up-tempo songs like Ain't It A Sin - Bradley shows himself to be a master of his chosen art. A great vintage from a big character in soul music right now.
Soul - Released August 2, 2011 | Daptone Records
On first spin, most listeners won't be able to tell that gutsy soul singer Charles Bradley's Daptone debut wasn't recorded in the late '60s and dusted off for release in early 2011. Subsequent plays reveal subtleties in production and instrumentation that might tip off some, but for the rest, this is a remarkable reproduction of the sound of classic Southern soul. Its combination of Stax and Muscle Shoals grease and grit are captured in what can only be called "the Daptone sound." Horns, percussion, background vocals, vibraphone, and rhythm guitar form a cozy, often sizzling blanket that Bradley wraps himself in. His grainy, lived-in vocals are straight out of the James Brown/Wilson Pickett school; comfortable with both the gospel yearning of slower ballads but ready to make the leap to shouting, searing intensity without warning. The yin-yang between Bradley and his players would be impressive even if the material wasn't as top-shelf as these dozen songs are. All three working in tandem yield a perfect storm of an R&B album, one with clear antecedents to the genre's roots with new songs that are as powerful and moving as tunes from the music's classic era. The band even gets its own showcase on the instrumental, Latin-tinged "Since Our Last Goodbye," perhaps an unusual inclusion on a vocalist's album, but one that strengthens the connection between the backing group and its singer. Bradley has had a tough life, knocking around for years as a lounge act doing covers until the Daptone folks came calling with fresh material and their patented production. That history is evident in every note he sings; pleading, begging, and testifying with a style that few contemporary vocalists can muster without lapsing into parody. Lyrically the material is a mix of the socio-political ("The World Is Going Up in Flames," "Golden Rule"), heartbroken romance ("I Believe in Your Love," "Heartaches and Pain"), and the joys of true love ("Lovin' You Baby"). Some tunes are more personal, especially "No Time for Dreaming" where he's telling himself to get serious about his career, and in "Why Is It So Hard," as he delivers a capsule history of his life-long difficulties. Even if the concepts appear shopworn, the music and performances are vibrant and alive with arrangements that are innovative yet informed by their roots. Retro-soul aficionados who claim they don't make ‘em like they used to will obviously be thrilled with this, but even contemporary R&B fans can't help but be moved by the emotion and passion evident in every note of this riveting set. ~ Hal Horowitz
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