Live From The House of Soul
Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band
Charles Bradley delivers dirty Memphis soul that makes your heart ache and your feet tap. This seven song set, recorded live in the courtyard at the self-styled “House of Soul” in Brooklyn, showcases his vocal range through up tempo numbers and ballads. The Menahan Street Band ably accompanies him on this sonic journey. Never too flashy, but always keeping the pace, the six-piece band lays down a groove that brings a smile to your face. Bradley introduces each song in a pre-recorded interstitial. “Love Bug” starts the set off with grungy mid-tempo swing. A plea to make the world better for those who follow us in “Where Do We Go From Here” is up next. Things slow down with “Victim of Love,” highlighting the harmonies of the backup singers. “Confusion” ramps it back up with a latter-day Stax sound, including some fancy footwork from Bradley himself. Social consciousness reigns in “The World (Is Going Up In Flames).” The heartfelt lament of a groom left at the altar tears at you in “Crying in The Chapel.” We close out on “Strictly Reserved For You,” another up-tempo groove.
In addition to the live performance, the disc contains four additional music videos, three of the songs performed in the set and one additional. It is an interesting contrast to see the slickly produced videos after having watched the raw live performances. The songs hold up either way as excellent examples of modern soul that has not lost touch with its roots.
It is odd, however, to see a live concert with no audience. This is akin to the live musicals that NBC has been producing on sound-stages. Something is missing without the feedback from the fans. I also question the format. As a longtime DVD collector, this disc will hold a place of pride on my overstuffed shelves. This is the type of disc I would stumble upon at FYE or Borders a few years ago. But these days, I wonder if Daptone Records might be better suited in setting this live recording up on one (or more) of the many streaming services out there. Whatever the vehicle, this short video succeeded in its goals. It piqued my interest in both Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band. After watching the video, I went directly to Amazon and have been enjoying several albums by both artists. I am also looking forward to Bradley’s new album, Changes.