Charles Bradley & the Extraordinaires, Paul & the Tall Trees | Metro | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader
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Charles Bradley & the Extraordinaires, Paul & the Tall Trees 

When: Thu., May 9, 9 p.m. 2013
Price: $26, $21 in advance

After a knockout 2011 debut, No Time for Dreaming, and a couple years of steady touring, former James Brown impersonator Charles Bradley has just released Victim of Love (Dunham/Daptone)—and though you can probably guess what it sounds like if you’ve heard his first album, that doesn’t make it any less terrific. When No Time for Dreaming came out, the veteran singer had pretty much just emerged from a time capsule. In 1962, when he was 14, he caught the “Godfather of Soul” at the Apollo and became obsessed; years later he developed a tribute act where he called himself “Black Velvet.” But then Bradley began applying his raspy howl to a broader set of hard-soul modes, under the direction of guitarist Thomas Brenneck of the Menahan Street Band; his sound may not have been original, but it stood out like a neon sign in the modern-day musical climate. Bradley and his crack band are stronger and more confident than ever on the new record, though it doesn’t add much to the formula (except maybe for the title track, whose sparse arrangement of acoustic guitar and doo-wop vocal harmonies remind me of an early Intruders cut). Most of the songs sound like lost classics—mashing up Super Fly-era Curtis Mayfield psychedelia, Muscle Shoals grit, and Philadelphia International plushness—and Bradley’s gruff delivery prevents even the smoothest tracks from feeling too silky or soft. Plus he’s such a seasoned performer that his magnetism is nearly impossible to resist. —Peter Margasak Paul & the Tall Trees open.



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