Today Charles Bradley, or his estate, or his record label, I’m not quite sure, released his final record, “Black Velvet”. This record is a great send off to an under appreciated star of the soul music scene.
I’ve loved Bradley since I first heard his entire life story about 5 years ago. If you don’t know about him, check it out, it’s amazing. He didn’t get his first record deal until he was 62. From there on out, he released many records, all of them great. He also was touring constantly and putting on some great, great shows. Unfortunately I never got to see him live, but from what I’ve seen on the internet, and heard from people who saw him, they all said the same. He was a flash of lightening and we now have his music for the rest of our lives.
Charles Bradley died about a year ago from stomach cancer. When diagnosed, he hammered out as much music as he could, until he couldn’t anymore. Today we got to hear some of his last songs, and they’re wonderful.
From what I’ve read, the songs on “Black Velvet” were from recording sessions from his last record, and some covers he wanted to do. The covers are wonderful. He does “Heart Of Gold”, a Neil Young song, and he does it great justice. It’s beautiful. He also does Nirvana’s “Slip Away”, and it’s so different, but so awesome. He takes a Nirvana song and makes it a soul song. It is a truly remarkable feat.
The 8 other songs are just as good. There’s an electric version of “Victim of Love”, from one of his earlier records, and I love it. The 2 singles, “I Feel a Change” and “Stay Away” are classic Bradley. “I Feel a Change” is so heart felt and sung beautifully. “ Stay Away” is a funky, rock and roll esque soul song. It’s my favorite on the record so far. “Luv Jones” is a cool old school song where Bradley lets his band do some singing, then he comes in and crushes it, as usual. The title track is an instrumental, and it feels like the band made it as an an ode to him. It’s their gift to Bradley. The opening track, “Can’t Fight the Feeling” is a great way to kick it all off. It really gets you wanting to hear more and more. These are the standouts to me.
This is a record I’m going to be listening to a lot for the next couple weeks. I was saddened when I heard that Bradley passed, but at least now I have “Black Velvet” to listen to and remember him. I adore this album. I cannot recommend it enough.
Charles Bradley was a star and he will be greatly missed. Do yourselves a favor and listen to his music, and enjoy how great he was. “Black Velvet” is a triumph.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast.
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