Charles Bradley: Black Velvet (Dunham/Daptone) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Charles Bradley

Black Velvet


Nov 14, 2018 Charles Bradley Bookmark and Share

As posthumous records go, there is nothing quite like Charles Bradley’s Black Velvet. The soul singer, who passed away in September 2017, had made a name for himself late in life: first, in his early years, with a career as a James Brown cover artist (where he performed as the eponymous “Black Velvet”); and later, with his discovery by Daptone Records and the release of his debut album, No Time for Dreaming, at the age of 62. In many ways, Bradley and his music embodies the “soul of America.” The singer came from next to nothing, grew up in poverty, got his big break after a “Black Velvet” gig, and died shortly after the release of his third album. Fans around the world took to his music, including the television industry (his songs are the opening themes for at least three current TV shows), because of the astounding atmosphere his music creates. His albums sound as if they were dug out of a time capsule.

And Black Velvet, Bradley’s final record, personifies the past, present, and future for the late singer’s legacy. Some of the album’s tracks appeared on Bradley’s debut, including the covers of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and Nirvana’s “Stay Away.” Others, like the electrified version of “Victim of Love,” originally came out with his second album. Others are previously unreleased, such as the titular track, “Black Velvet,” which, although instrumental, has a genuine voice of its own. The ominous “Slip Away” (a cover of Sixto Rodriguez’s 1981 single) paints an unabashed picture of Bradley’s unbreakable optimism. As if from the great beyond, Bradley sings “I won’t care if you’re right or you’re wrong/I won’t care cause you see I’ll be gone.”

It’s a groove from beginning to end, and much like Bradley’s musical career, Black Velvet doesn’t fail to appeal to listeners both young and old. His talent and spirit will be sorely missed. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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