Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming

January 01, 1970

(Daptone/Dunham
Records)

 

www.daptonerecords.com ; www.dunhamrecords.com

 

Brooklyn-based
soul man Charles Bradley had to wait until he was in his 50s and walk a long,
hard road to get to his debut full length record No Time For Dreaming, but all of the cumulative life experience it took to get here make for one hell
of a compelling record. In a record top heavy with anxiety, pain, heart-ache
and loss (songs titles include “The World (Is Going Up in Flames),” “Why Is It
So Hard?,” “Trouble In The Land,” and “Heartaches and Pain”) Bradley lays out a
life story that is long on hurt but makes for great soul (baring) music. 

 

A
discovery of Daptone Records major domo Gabriel Roth, Bradley dropped a single
on Daptone and a number on Sugarman 3’s classic Pure Cane Sugar LP a few
years back. Bradley then hooked up with guitar player Thomas Brenneck of The
Budos Band, Dap Kings and Menahan Street Band. Brenneck, Roth and the Daptone
Records’ extended family of modern soul and R&B players are the perfect fit
for Bradley, who must be feeling blessed with a turn for the better right about
now. 

 

Brenneck
and Bradley worked out all the tracks on No Time For Dreaming with the Menahan
Street Band, and it’s a sweet pairing. The group provides dead-on, sympathetic
back-up for Bradley’s material, always finding the perfect groove and mood for
Bradley to emote with. Brenneck’s production is sexy, clean and full of small
flourishes. Indeed, from an audio perspective, this is one of Daptone’s most
satisfying releases, which is saying a lot considering that this is the label
that has released sensational records from Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Budos
Band, Sugarman 3, The Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Menahan Street Band and
more. 

 

Much
like Bettye LaVette (another soul talent finally getting her due) did on
“Before the Money Came,” Charles Bradley lays out a bit of his life story on
“Why Is It So Hard (To Get Ahead in America?”). There are also classic
love and loss soul numbers like “In You (I Found a Love),”  “The Telephone
Song” and “I Believe In Your Love,” and a couple of social commentary numbers, “The
World (Is Going Up in Flames)” and “Golden Rule.” It’s also not all down: “No
Time For Dreaming” joyfully funks it up and there are couple of neat
instrumentals, “Trouble In The Land” and “Since Our Last Goodbye.”

 

Bradley’s
voice is big, rough and deeply soulful. It’s not a pretty soul voice – no Otis
Redding, Smokey Robinson or Stevie Wonder here – but it perfectly fits and
embodies his original material. Combined with the music of Brenneck and
company, it makes for the first great R&B record of 2011 and hopefully
bodes well for Charles Bradley’s future. He’s earned it. 

 

 

DOWNLOAD: “The World (Is Going Up In Flames),” “The
Telephone Song,” “No Time For Dreaming,” “How Long,” “Golden Rule,” “Why Is It
So Hard?” CARL HANNI

 

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