BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

 |   |  1 min read

Charles Bradley: Golden Rule
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

The title here is certainly true: 63-year old Florida-born Bradley -- an exceptional soul singer who sounds like a distillation of James Brown, aching Otis Redding, the troubled Marvin Gaye, searching Al Green and the much overlooked Sonny Charles of the Checkmates -- has barely had a chance to dream in a hard-working life.

Bradley seems to have been a cook most of his life (from a mental hospital in New York to Alaska) while making music in Maine, New York and California. Initially inspired by seeing James Brown at the Apollo as a teenager, Bradley put together bands as and when he could and as "Black Velvet" he would do Brown-style routines.

It was at one of these shows a few years ago he came to the attention of Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records who brought him in for sessions.

Co-writing with Thomas Brenneck (who seems utterly atuned to Bradley's hard-scrabble life and experiences), Bradley pours his everything into this exceptional album which bemoans the state of the planet (The World is Going Up in Flames), the soullessness and lack of direction in America today (Golden Rule), redemption in the arms of love (I Believe in Your Love, In You I Found a Love), and the autobiographical Heartaches and Pain (about his brother being shot) and Why is Life So Hard ("to make it in America")?

When he addresses the socio-politicl landscape he is like a modern day Gaye broken by the woes of contemporary life (the brooding How Long), but when touched by love or the spirit (the title track) he can just get on up and do his thing in funky James Brown style.

Backed by the Menahan Street Band -- seasoned studio players who know this music intimately -- Bradley has lived out and delivered one of the finest old school soul/r'n'b albums in recent memory.

Hell, even the cover looks like it comes straight outta '72.

Terrific.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

FOR OTHER 'BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011' ALBUMS GO HERE

Share It

Your Comments

Daniel(Singapore) - Aug 2, 2011

Great album, very even quality for a debut (at 63 years of age - there is hope for us all !), and a really interesting life - so close to success so many times. Just shows what perseverance can do. Sniffing him out on the 'web, I think too much has been made of his James Brown style..he's not a JB impersonator, but there are some obvious parallels of styles. And as an Aussie, I find it interesting to see a photo of Wave Rock (Western Oz) on the cover, thanks for the review.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Patti Smith: Trampin'

Patti Smith: Trampin'

For over a decade now each new Patti Smith album has been hailed as "a return to form" - and this one is no exception. It has picked up five-star reviews in many magazines from senior... > Read more

Greg Johnson: Secret Weapon (JMA)

Greg Johnson: Secret Weapon (JMA)

That Greg Johnson seeded funding for this album by a pre-order subscription shows he has a loyal audience in this country – especially as he hasn't lived here for almost a decade and he's... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Francesca Mountfort (aka Nervous Doll Dancing)

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Francesca Mountfort (aka Nervous Doll Dancing)

As Nervous Doll Dancing, Francesca Mountfort is cutting a unique path for herself. Formerly of Wellington but now Melbourne-based, the cellist and composer graduated from Victoria University a... > Read more

BIEBER FEVER (2010): In defense of cheap pop

BIEBER FEVER (2010): In defense of cheap pop

Police. Security. Screams. A singer comes to town. Because I've spent the past week immersed in a collection of essays and rants entitled Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, I'm a bit... > Read more