When he was a teenager, Charles Bradley visited the Apollo Theater with his sister for a James Brown concert; his life was never the same. Bradley returned home a changed (young) man. The sheer power of Brown’s performance was enlightenment to Bradley, and at home he began imitating Brown, working on his dance moves and his soulful crooning, doing his best to emulate the Godfather of Soul.
That fateful concert in 1962 and a lifetime of challenge and heartbreak have manifested themselves in Bradley’s recent release, No Time For Dreaming. This collection of tunes is reminiscent of the height of the soul movement in the 1960s, with Bradley calling to mind the influential greats of the genre, names like Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, and even James Brown himself.
Befitting a man who came of age in the turbulent ‘60s, No Time For Dreaming seeps with a spirit of social activism. The disc opener, “The World (Is Going Up In Flames),” rolls with a deliberate groove and denounces the lack of responsibility for, and inattention give to, societal ills. The uptempo “Golden Rule” urges listeners to live thereby and with more love, while the title track is a call to action that sings of living life with a sense of urgency. Perhaps most powerful is the autobiographical “Why Is It So Hard,” which chronicles the ups and downs of Bradley’s youth and young adulthood, a story not unlike those faced by his young, black, male peers.
Not all of No Time For Dreaming is a rallying cry for change, though. Like the best of his soulful forefathers, Bradley offers up a healthy dose of hold you close, let’s get it on ballads. Tracks like “I Believe In Your Love” and “Lovin’ You Baby” practically beg listeners to find that special someone, pull them tight, and do whatever comes naturally.
With it’s horns, funky bass lines, and Bradley’s distinctive voice, No Time For Dreaming belongs in the collection of any appreciator of vintage 1960s soul music.
No Time for Dreaming is out now on Dunham Records.