It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Charles Bradley on 23rd September after a battle with cancer.
Born on November 5, 1948 in Gainesville, FL, Charles then moved to Brooklyn, NY at the age of 8. He lived across the country throughout his life including Maine, Alaska and two decades in the Bay Area before returning to New York City, his home for the last 20 years. His life seemed to be punctuated with hardship and struggle yet he never gave up on his dream, and eventually at the age of 62 his dream found him in the form of Daptone Records who recognised the talent in the impassioned voice of this one time James Brown impersonator.
In interviews and articles Charles always came across as a warm human being who never took his hard won and long awaited recognition for granted and seemed to carry a world weary calm about him.
On record he could deliver tender ballads, throaty soul shouters and raw edged funk screamers with equal effect. His initial foray into recording was primarily as a singles artist with releases being issued on Daptone and its subsidiary, Dunham. His debut 7″ single in 2002 was a marker for what was to come, but it would be nine years before we heard Charles as an album artist with the release of the superb ‘No Time For Dreaming’. Charles would follow this two years later with his sophomore album ‘Victim Of Love’ but when his 2016 album Changes was released it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. The Daptone soul family and indeed his fans rallied around the singer but sadly Charles succumbed to the illness in late September 2017.
His story was immortalised in film on the excellent ‘Soul Of America‘ DVD and his soul will live on in the incredible music he made. R.I.P, Charles.
Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming
Charles Bradley has one of those great raw and gruff soulful voices (ala Bobby Byrd) bringing his decades of singing experiences into his debut album, released on Daptone. ‘The World (Is Going up In Flames)’ is an outstanding track with a semi-funky midtempo beat and punchy horns, pure magic. ‘Telephone Song’ is slightly slower but also powerful, and the more uptempo ‘Golden Rule’ has social lyrics. The beat ballads ‘I Believe In Your love’, ‘Lovin You Baby’ ‘How long’ and ‘Heartaches and Pain’ show the power of Charles voice. This Excellent albums brings back the rawness and excitement of late 60’s Soul and will appeal to those who dug the lee Fields album from last year.
Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love
Charles Bradley made a big impact with his first album and his more soulful follow up ‘Victim Of Love’ is a class act. He extracts every inch of Soul from his raw gritty voice and is backed by the wonderful Daptone Band and great production. ‘Love Bug Blues’ and the driving beat ‘Confusion’ have that full on production. ‘Hurricane’ is a funky mid tempo groove, ‘Strictly Reserved For You’ a good mid tempo groover with punchy horn riffs, ‘You Put The Flame on it’ a 60’s soul dancer and ‘Let Love Stand A Chance’ a great beat ballad. These’s also a great version of the ballad ‘Crying in The Chapel’. Very strong retro Soul album, and what a voice !
Charles Bradley – Changes
If there’s one guy that truly wears his heart on his sleeve, Charles Bradley is that man and his new album ‘Changes’ sees the tender hearted, gravel voiced legend plead, rasp and growl his way through a solid set of modern day vintage soul cuts. The wry ‘God Bless America’ gives way to the heartfelt, tough beat heavy funk of ‘Good To Be Home’ while the sundown soul of ‘Nobody But You’ is Bradley and his songwriting team at their best: earthy, expansive and full of bittersweet melancholy. ‘Ain’t Gonna Give You Up’ is another tough-end, heavy groove while ‘Changes’ is the album’s pivotal moment with its crashing brass complimenting Charles’ impassioned vocal. Remarkably it’s also a cover of a Black Sabbath record! The menacing ‘Ain’t It A Sin’ and ‘Change For The World’ are also highlights but in truth the while album totally blows it away. Brilliant!
Buy LP (instrumental)