check out the stream and review of “the screaming eagle of soul” mr. charles bradley’s new record “victim of love” #soundcheck

April 1, 2013

You hear a lot of artists say things like “If I don’t make it by the time I’m 25/27/30 I’m going to hang it up.” It ends up being a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy standing on two faulty premises: 1. that artists have either “made it” or are starving, and 2. that creativity has an expiration date. The cult of 27 is strong in a lot of minds. (as I get closer to 30, I admit I feel kind of ridiculous for every minute of my life wasted comparing the timeline of my successes to Hendrix’s or Cobain’s…) So it’s actually quite beautiful to see someone like Charles Bradley aka “The Screaming Eagle of Soul” who was well into his 50s when his music career began.

After a life working odd jobs, often as a chef, and hitchhiking across the country, Charles Bradley moved back to Brooklyn to care for and finally get to know his mother in 96. With a striking resemblance to the Godfather of Soul James Brown, Bradley began performing as Black Velvet doing James Brown covers before being discovered by Daptone co-founder Gabriel Roth. After a string of singles, Bradley finally put out his debut record No Time For Dreaming at 63 in 2011.

The follow-up Victim of Love comes out this week, and it’s simply put fantastic. From lead single “Strictly Reserved for You” to the masterful “Love Bug Blues” Bradley’s hoarse croon carries a lifetime of hurt and hope in equal measure. His backing band is as tight as any on Daptone’s roster, but it’s Bradley’s weathered voice that makes this record something special. The heartbreaking ballad “Crying in the Chapel” is just straight up some of the best soul out there.

Victim of Love avoids my usual issue with Daptone releases “Hey! This is great! It reminds me I haven’t listened to Sam Cooke in a while. I should turn this off and listen to Sam Cooke” by being the real deal. This isn’t retro. It’s not trading on nostalgia (despite the kind of generic 60’s looking album art). It’s just Charles Bradley doing what he’s always done the way he’s always done. It’s just a pity it’s taken the world so long to realize how great it is.

Head over to Rolling Stone for the full album stream.

– Words by Nathan Leigh