I discovered Charles Bradley thanks to Spin's 20th anniversary tribute to Nirvana's Nevermind. The compilation had a different act perform each of the songs. Bradley was chosen to cover "Stay Away" and he delivered a soulful funk rendition that made it the best track on the record. This made me want to check out the singer's debut album, released in 2011.
The album's title, No Time for Dreaming, ironically reflects Charles Bradley's state of mind before Daptone Records spotted him. His life had been full of hardships, and with old age creeping up, Bradley's dream of becoming a performer seemed destined to fail. But, at the tender age of 63, and thanks to Daptone, Bradley released his first album.
Bradley's life comes across in full force on No Time for Dreaming, you have the sensation of hopelessness that he felt since childhood. This adds to the quality of his vocals. Bradley is a talented singer, but in order to be a talented soul singer, one needs to show a vast array of emotions. Bradley hits the mic with venom, his screams are full of pain and sorrow. Yet, this is not a downer album. The music is highly upbeat in the tradition of soul and funk from the late 60s and early 70s.
There is no doubt in my mind that if this album was recorded 40 years ago, it would have been heralded a classic. It has a funk vibe that would have made James Brown drool, coupled with a soul that is reminiscent of legendary greats such as Al Green or Bobby Womack. There's political songs and sensual grooves, there's infectious bass-lines and head-bopping brass riffs, that wouldn't have been out of place in 90s hip-hop, all in all, there's quality.
If you are a soul fan, you won't find some groundbreaking new style with Bradley, what you will get is a retro sounding vibe that is worthy of being mentioned with the classics. No Time for Dreaming is 40 years late on the music scene, but as the saying goes, "better late than never", one thing for sure, Charles Bradley contributes to the music scene and shows that wholesome, pure talent still exists.
F. Declercq 06/08/12
1. The World (Is Going Up in Flames)
2. The Telephone Song
3. Golden Rule
4. I Believe in Your Love
5. Trouble in the Land
6. Lovin' You, Baby
7. No Time for Dreaming
8. How Long
9. In You (I Found Love)
10. Why Is it so Hard
11. Since Our Last Goodbye
12. Heartaches and Pain