The Radio Cure
Where Music Makes Friends


July 31, 2013

Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love

Charles Bradley

August 28th marks the date when none other than Sir Charles Bradley hits the State Room here in SLC.  Backed by Daptone’s own Menahan Street Band, this is gonna be one of the premier shows of the year.  Back in 2011, director Poull Brien released the independent film documenting Charles’ rise to fame in titled:  Charles Bradley: Soul Of America.  See the trailer below.

Regarding the film, The Guardian writes:

When the crew first meet Bradley, he is a 62-year-old semi-literate handyman and part-time James Brown tribute act. He lives in the Brooklyn projects with a pet parrot and his apartment looks pretty grim, but it’s nothing compared to his neighbor’s, which has bullet holes in the door frame. While waiting for a musical break that never came, he endured homelessness, grinding poverty, a near-fatal illness and the murder of his brother. He is also the primary carer for his invalid mother, mired in the obligation and despair of that role: “I have no life.” And yet, by the end of the film, he has a record deal and a debut album on the shelves after Gabe Roth, head of Daptone, chanced upon Bradley’s James Brown tribute act and came away convinced that he’d stumbled across the real deal: a vocalist made of the same stuff as the man he man he was imitating.

Listening to Bradley sing, you can see why Roth came to that conclusion. It is perhaps a little romantic – not to mention voyeuristic – to suggest that the travails of Bradley’s life have somehow etched themselves on to his voice, but there’s no doubt that his singing is remarkably powerful. Its rawness touches a nerve in a way that cuts through any doubts you may have about the affectations of the Daptone organisation, which is, after all, a bunch of 21st-century white guys dedicated to the recreation of a sound made by black musicians 50 years ago. But affectation is the last thing that springs to mind when Bradley unleashes his secret weapon, a scream that’s simultaneously joyously cathartic and profoundly unsettling. In a world of soul singers attempting to convey emotion through flashy melismata, it’s a sound that feels utterly primal, that seems to begin life not in the lungs, but somewhere within a deeply pained psyche.


Charles’ latest album Victim Of Love picks up from where his debut left off.  Still powerful and raw.   Still passionate.  The Gurdian continues: It’s different from No Time for Dreaming, but only in so far as it has exchanged retro soul for retro soul of a slightly different vintage: it sounds like it was recorded in 1969, rather than 1966. Its brand of psychedelic soul is subtle, rather than the lysergic overload of Funkadelic or Sly and the Family Stone, but there are wah-wah pedals and fuzz bass, flutes on the instrumental Dusty Blue, even a synthesiser on the intro to Confusion, the latter a pastiche of the intro to Curtis Mayfield’s (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna GoStill, it’s all beautifully done, and no one buys an album from the Daptone stable in the hope of hearing the future of post-dubstep bass music.


This is a personal favorite of mine this year.  Check it out and I’ll see you at the show!


“Where Do We Go From Here”

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