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Charles Bradley: Dues Paid in Full

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From the city of the Gators, Gainesville, comes Charles Bradley, a Newer-Bands-That-Don’t-Sound-Bad singer who sounds like he’s belting out classics in 1971 or so—in a good way—and he could have been.  He’s sixty-four now, not a bad accomplishment to be included here in this category at that age, and has a magnificent sound. And he really is a newer-artist on the world stage, though he’s sung since he was a kid.

Something New

 We’ll leave his full biography for other sites to deal with, though it is certainly an interesting one, involving homelessness and life as a chef among other things. But the most interesting aspect of Charles Bradley is his music, brilliant, ageless, soul.  In fact, if you have worn out your Bill Withers, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye works, you may want to stack a couple (there are only two) of Bradley's albums on the turntable and sit back and enjoy something new.

Well the medium has changed for many of us but the sound is definitely early 1970s Motown, though this is neither derivative nor meant as tribute.  It’s new and part of our time, but the sound is clearly as good as anything that came before.

More Love Than Politics

“Hurricane“ is an obvious reference to the New Orleans incident, but it is used as a metaphor for broader aspects of life in the South and beyond.  This is no lightweight bit of retro.  Songs like “Where Do We Go From Here,”  “Love Bug Blues,” Crying in the Chapel,” “You Put the Flame on It,” and the title track are all brilliant, soulful, love songs, as good as any of those we associate with that sound from long ago. You put it all together and get a well balanced album that sounds out of its time.

Confusion Confession

I have to admit that my favourite song on the album may sound the most contemporary and, yet, it’s the full sound of real instruments and a real voice portrayed lovingly, sparingly engineered, that makes me appreciate this album. When I first heard “Confusion” I thought it was like a turret on a bungalow; it just didn’t fit.  Since then it has really grown on me, to the point where I wonder if Bradley may even be playing around with a notion of fusion, somehow involving soul and Lee Scratch Perry.  Whatever its intention, it’s one of eleven great tunes on Victim of Love


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