Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)” by Charles Bradley from the 2011 album No Time For Dreaming on Dunham Records / Daptone Records.
Like fellow Daptone signee Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley has traveled an unconventional road to success. Born in Florida but raised in Brooklyn, he spent most of his childhood on the streets. After seeing James Brown live at an early age, he decided he wanted to be a performer and struggled to keep bands together and find stages to perform on throughout the rest of life. After spending the majority of his life working as a chef everywhere from a mental hospital in Maine to Alaska to California, Bradley eventually he settled into working as a handyman back in Brooklyn, where he began to regularly put on James Brown-style performances in local clubs. Using the stage name Black Velvet, he was discovered by a Daptone representative and subsequently released a few singles with The Bullets, who later broke up to form The Budos Band. Bradley then teamed up with Thomas Brennick (a former member of The Bullets) to write and record the songs that would make up No Time For Dreaming, which is set to be released tomorrow, Tuesday, 1/25, on Daptone Records subsidiary Dunham Records. No Time For Dreaming sees Bradley veering away from merely trying to imitate James Brown and coming into his own as a performer. He soulfully taps into the emotional weight of his own struggles and tribulations, such as his brother being murdered by his nephew shortly after Bradley moved back to Brooklyn, the event that partly served as the inspiration for today’s featured song, “The World (Is Going Up In Flames).”
If you want to catch Charles Bradley live — and you should! — he has a few gigs in the Northeast before he heads off to Europe, including a show tomorrow at Brooklyn’s Southpaw. In April, he’ll be back in the U.S. and touring with The Budos Band. Find out more and get links to his social media pages on his website. For now, here’s the official video for today’s featured song: