Listen: (Every?) Charles Bradley Single
All odds were against the world ever hearing the masterfully soulful Charles Bradley. Leading up to the release of his debut full length earlier this year, Bradley struggled through setback after painful setback (His full bio at daptonerecords.com is highly recommended). No Time for Dreaming, the aforementioned debut, is easily one of the strongest collections of tracks in recent memory. Of course, Bradley has a few handfuls of other worthy songs that, until now, have not been compiled together. Behold:
“Mary’s Baby” feat. The Gospel Queens
Thanksgiving is but a few days away, which likely means one of your friends has long begun playing Christmas songs and doing everything they can to make sure everyone knows that they’re listening to Christmas songs earlier than anyone else. Whatever. Here’s a must-have for your hall-decking playlist–a nativity rocker with support from the Gospel Queens. While this one sounds like it could fit mostly inconspicuously amongst a bed of secular tracks, you can check out a more tinseled, jingle bell-ringing “Everyday is Christmas (When I’m Lovin’ You)” here via Daptones Records’ virtual holiday card.
“Heart of Gold” (Neil Young cover) feat. The Menahan Street Band
The 1972 single “Heart of Gold” was Neil Young’s biggest hit in the US, and has since been covered by an imaginably long list of artists, including The Screaming Eagle of Soul himself. When the 63 year-old Bradley sings “It keeps me searchin’ for a heart of gold / And I’m getting old”, the lines between performance and autobiography are beautifully blurred. And, The Menahan Street Band is tight as always, taking the original track from the countryside and dropping it on a funky street corner.
“Stay Away” (Nirvana cover)
The original, as found on the classic Nevermind, is furious. This cover of “Stay Away” is part of Newermind, the cover compilation SPIN put together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, and it’s a mean one. Cobain’s lines channeled through the less furious but equally serious Bradley still fit quite nicely. Echoing power chords and a creepy keyboard keep things sufficiently dark until the chorus, which here is more of a plea than a command.
“This Love Ain’t Big Enough for the Two of Us” with The Bullets
“Stop!” Here Bradley plays the archetypal beatdown, I’ve-had-enough-I’m-packing-my-bags figure. A flatout grooving bassline paces this one along, with Bradley carefully phrasing his lines around the busy instrumentation. If you’re looking for an extra audiovisual goodie here, in addition to the actual 45 spinning, you can also check out the presumable owner of this turntable’s bare feet…(on Youtube, not all higher-fidelity audio recordings are paired with consistently high quality footage).
“Take It As It Comes” feat. Sugarman & Co.
This was Bradley’s first single, and it’s so groovy as to induce involuntary squirming motions. Bradley himself is a bit more buried beneath the music in this track, but as being the song that convinced Daptone Records of Bradley’s prowess, it’d be valuable enough even if it’d never left the studio.
“Now That I’m Gone (Look How You’re Crying)” with the Bullets
“Where was you when I wanted you?” the man asks in the opening lines of this super smooth track. One can only imagine the kind of dance maneuvers Bradley would bust out during a live performance of this one. Listen closely to determine the spots he’d be most likely to hit the spin move.
“Cant Stop Thinking About You” with the Bullets
The riff on this one really sounds like it should be backing a buddy cop sitcom out of the 70s. “Can’t Stop” is the b-side on the 2004 “Now That I’m Gone” single. It’s interesting to see how here, with his voice effected with a big echo, Bradley sounds like an omniscient soul entity.
Did we miss any? If so, post them in the comments!