‘Black Velvet’ celebrates late, great Charles Bradley
Black Velvet is the fourth and final album from the late, great soul singer Charles Bradley. Out today via Daptone imprint Dunham Records, the well-received 10-track album is a celebration of the life of the singer who would have turned 70 this past Monday, November 5, and was lovingly assembled by his friends and family. Fans were able to stream the album early via NPR Music First Listen, and can now stream and purchase the album here.
Black Velvet is no anthology, greatest hits or other shallow rehashing of the songs that already made him famous. Rather, this album is a profound exploration through the less-travelled corners of the soulful universe that Charles and his longtime producer, co-writer and friend Tommy “TNT” Brenneck created in the studio together over their decade-long partnership.
The album features new songs recorded during the sessions from each of his three albums, heard here for the very first time in all their scorching glory: “Can’t Fight the Feeling,” “Fly Little Girl” and the heart-wrenching single “I Feel a Change”. The album also features hard core rarities like his funk-bomb duet with LaRose Jackson, “Luv Jones,” the psychedelic groover, “(I Hope You Find) The Good Life” and the ever-illusive alternate full band electric version of “Victim of Love”; sought-after covers of Nirvana’s “Stay Away,” Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and Rodriguez’s “Slip Away”; and the title track “Black Velvet,” a stirring Menahan Street Band instrumental to which Charles was never able to cut a vocal.
The release of Black Velvet follows a string of critically lauded albums including his 2011 debut album No Time for Dreaming featuring his most successful single and a song that continues to resonate, “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”; his 2013 album Victim of Love that included more of his signature deeply autobiographical songs; and 2016’s Changes, whose title track and lead single was the deeply moving Black Sabbath cover.
Charles was truly a transcendent singer who led a remarkable life, overcoming unimaginable adversity to achieve great success and international acclaim very late in his life. What was really special about him and made him different from everybody else in the world was how he understood his pain as a cry for universal love and humanity. He felt that if he loved enough–if we all loved each other enough-we could take away the world’s pain and sadness. That is why he jumped off the stage and literally tried to hug everybody he could. It’s why he took such great care of a mother that had abandoned him. It’s why he sang and danced like a lunatic. It’s why he screamed like an eagle. And that’s why we love him.
On Sept. 23, 2017, Charles Edward Bradley passed away from cancer, surrounded by his family, friends and bandmates. Black Velvet is a celebration of his life, and is destined to join Charles’ first three albums alongside the cannon of essential soul records for the ages.
To help fans around the world celebrate the Screaming Eagle of Soul’s astounding life, Daptone also recently launched a microsite featuring murals painted by Chicago-based artist Joe Miller (thejoemiller.com), dedicated to Bradley located throughout the US. Murals will also be painted by local artists in select cities around the UK and the EU.
In addition to featuring the murals as they go up leading up to the album release, the site will feature fan photos that use the hashtag #CharlesBradleyForever on social media. Those fans will also be entered into a contest to win a Charles Bradley gift package, with the winner to be announced in late November once all of the murals are completed.