throwback to 60's/70's soul, a good thing
James Brown/Marvin Gaye influences throughout.
social commentary along with the love
a lot of horns
just misses for me
Grade - 1.6
released Jan 25th
from the album - The World (Is Going Up In Flames) - 2.0
from all music
Soul and R&B singer Charles Bradley definitely didn’t arrive as a recording artist by taking the easy route. Born in Gainesville, FL in 1948, but raised in Brooklyn, NY, Bradley spent a good part of his childhood living on the streets. A transformational moment came when his sister took him to see James Brown at the Apollo in 1962. Bradley was struck by Brown's energy and stage manner, and began practicing microphone tricks with a broom at home, dreaming of being a star on his own stage, and it was a dream he would never abandon in spite of all sorts of mishaps, misdirects, and general hard times. Bradley escaped Brooklyn by joining the federal program Job Corps, which took him to Bar Harbor, ME, where he learned to cook, a profession he was to fall back on time and time again. He also put together a band in Maine and began playing local gigs. The band didn’t last long, though, and when most of its members were drafted, and with the Vietnam War hanging in the air, Bradley moved to Wassaic, NY, where he worked as a cook at a hospital for the mentally ill. Nine years later, he left that position and hitchhiked west, ending up in Alaska for a time before moving to California, again taking a job as a chef, and for the next 20 years, he performed music on the side, playing whatever gigs he could find. When he was laid off from his position, though, he began to doubt the decision to live in so far from where he grew up, and he relocated back to Brooklyn, this time working at odd jobs instead of returning to being a chef. He never let go of his musical dreams, however, and he began performing his James Brown-inspired routines in such local clubs as Black Velvet, attracting a loyal following, and eventually capturing the attention of Gabriel Roth from Daptone Records, who immediately brought the fiery singer into label sessions, releasing a single, “Take It as It Comes,” that showed what Bradley had to offer as a vocalist. Roth also introduced Bradley to Thomas Brenneck, then a guitarist, songwriter, and home producer for Dirt Rifle & the Bullets. The pair had an affinity for each other musically, and together they released two singles on Daptone as Charles Bradley & the Bullets before the actual group by that name disbanded, with most of the members going in an Afro-beat direction with the Budos Band. Brenneck and Bradley continued to work together, though, and after Bradley told him about waking up in his home one morning to discover his nephew had shot and killed his brother, Brenneck suggested they tell the story in music as a catharsis and as a cautionary tale. The result, tracked with the Menahan Street Band, was a pair of impassioned singles, “The World (Is Going Up in Flames)” and “Heartaches and Pain,” which Brenneck released on his Daptone sub-imprint Dunham Records. These weren’t songs drawn from Bradley's Black Velvet act, but were instead highly personal and striking outings that put his own emerging voice as a singer and songwriter at the center of things. A full album for Dunham, No Time for Dreaming, appeared early in 2011.
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.
1 The World (Is Going Up in Flames) Bradley, Brenneck, Deller, Michels 3:22
2 The Telephone Song Brenneck, Guy, Michels, Steinweiss… 3:48
3 Golden Rule Bradley, Brenneck, Michels, Movshon… 3:29
4 I Believe in Your Love Bradley, Brenneck, Michels 3:54
5 Trouble in the Land Brenneck, Michels 1:02
6 Lovin' You Baby Bradley, Brenneck 5:27
7 No Time for Dreaming Quarterman 2:52
8 How Long Bradley, Brenneck, Guy, Michels… 3:54
9 In You (I Found a Love) Bradley, Brenneck, Michels 3:21
10 Why Is It so Hard? Bradley, Brenneck, Michels… 4:09
11 Since Our Last Goodbye Brenneck, Michels, Steinweiss 4:16
12 Heartaches and Pain Bradley, Brenneck 2:56