Thursday, April 4, 2013


When your nickname is The Screaming Eagle of Soul, you have a lot to live up to.  For anyone who saw Bradley's over-the-top shows at last year's Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, or his N.B. debut at Sappyfest in Sackville, you'll know he delivers.  And when I say over-the-top, I mean it in the best way, the old-school soul way.  He's a dynamic vocalist, channeling pure emotion into his avian swoops.  And he's also well-schooled in the funk, a James Brown disciple.  My only concern with seeing him first before hearing a record, was if he could tone it down, and find songs that don't seem too corny and dramatic.

Shouldn't have worried.  Bradley's too real, too sincere, and has been through too much personally to let that happen.  Finally getting a chance to record and escape a rough life in his 60's, these are songs that have to get out of him; joy, sorrow, love and loss, yes, all screaming to get out, to be heard.  Technically, he doesn't have the best range or tone, but its all in the honesty and the topics.  When he sings a cliche such as "I got the love", heard from so many over the years, as he does on opener Strictly Reserved For You, I'm buying it.  From a lesser human but technically superior singer, I'd think it filler lyric.  For Bradley, it's an entire statement.

As for the music, well, this is Daptone Records, which means brilliance in recapturing the glory days of 60's and 70's soul and funk.  There's a little bit of every kind of soul of the pre-disco days, from Memphis to Philly to Motown, never copying any of them, always blending what they borrow.  And the horns.  Take Bradley away (not that I want this) and you could just listen to the great charts. 

For his first six decades, Bradley was a victim of life.  Saved now for us all, it's a much better thing to be a Victim Of Love.  Scream on, great Eagle.

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