first_img*UPDATED 9/26/17*: Following the passing of Charles Bradley, we look back at his most recent masterpiece, Changes, which came out in June of 2016.For his third album, Changes, Charles Bradley continued on the vintage soul path of previous efforts, but with some exciting updates to his presentation. Moving away from a focus on his hard-luck past, and infusing uplifting, positive messages of love amid the haunting memories, Bradley and his Daptone Records brethren open up new doors in storytelling, melody and rhythms alike.Discovered while fronting a James Brown tribute band (as Black Velvet) nearly seven years ago, Bradley joined the Daptone fold and began recording and touring with the amazing Menahan Street Band. His third album really capitalizes on this long-time collaboration, as they have become excellent songwriting partners that do not solely focus on the mining glories from stories past, but instead are burrowing upward and onward with a vision for what’s happening, what’s coming next, what is new, and what is hip.The title track, a cover of the timeless Black Sabbath ballad, was offered as a Record Store Day single a few years back; next week it will spearhead the first album of new Charles Bradley material since 2013. The recording still sounds very analog, but there is a modern twist to the material too. Chronicles of despair from the singer remain his calling card, but one can behold a beam of light shining through the voice and emotions of “The Screaming Eagle of Soul.”Changes finds Bradley singing from within his longing, but is no longer nostalgic for days of yesteryear. He gives his phrases resonance and conviction; and allows his brand of soul music to transcend style and period, in exchange for re-imagining life’s twists and turns with newfound clarity. The murky “Ain’t Gonna Give it Up” shows just how far Menahan and Bradley have traveled to get where they are today. The spiritually moving “Ain’t it a Sin” is among the most compelling songs the Screaming Eagle has ever delivered.Bradley has developed into a singer with focus and authority, the song showcasing his voice and authenticity. Several tunes find Bradley telling tales of a difficult road, but also the hope toward what may come next, be it love, light, smiles, or even just satisfaction: “Good to Be Back Home” celebrates a return to the US, after a grueling, if invigorating tour. The singer shows more range, more drama, and a diverse palette of timings and accents to unveil spirituality, positivity, depravity and desperation from his lyrics and emphatic delivery.More often than not, Changes pumps blood fused with an energy culled from the here and now, arriving at a conceptually interesting middle ground. It is a choice medium for this singer, one who is clearly energized and determined to make good on the promise he made to himself some years earlier. Bradley’s voice, his story, and the Changes he made in his now promising life are apparent on this record, and onstage too. Charles Bradley seizes the day, and transcends the limits of the vintage soul genre, blazing a new path, yet remaining rich in thrilling tradition.Listen to Changes below:last_img read more

first_imgRetired judge cuts a CD to benefit charity Retired judge cuts a CD to benefit charity Associate Editor Richard Margolius, a Miami judge for 20 years, was known around the courthouse as a tough guy who’d yell at late or unprepared lawyers.Now that he’s retired and serves as a senior judge, Ric Margolius, the musician, is in touch with his softer, gentler side as he croons about lost love, restlessness, and longing for happy days filled with sunshine and red wine on his new original rock ’n roll CD, “Pain Train.”“Abject shock is the reaction,” laughs 59-year-old Judge Margolius. “That’s not you! Even my own family members! No, mother, I hired another guy to play me.”Judicial assistant Sylvia Lobato says she keeps the CD “Pain Train,” by Ric Margolius and Easy Rider in her office and plays it to lawyers and bailiffs who pass through the courthouse.Everyone’s reaction, she says, has been the same: “It is so bizarre. He always seemed so serious as a judge.”After retiring from the bench last year, Margolius renewed what he calls “an old love affair with rock ’n roll” and began cranking out original songs, learning to play the guitar, and singing his heart out.So far, Margolius has written 58 songs with titles that include, “I’m Drunk,” “Love Where You Are,” “For Us,” and “Young Once Again.”While having fun tapping into his creative side, all the money he makes off the CD—$1,020 so far, at $10 each—he is donating to a good cause: the Alzheimer’s Association, South Florida Chapter, in memory of his late father who was a victim of the disease. “My father would get such a kick. I just decided, even if my musical career goes nowhere, let something positive come of this,” Judge Margolius said of his songs for charity.“It’s not exactly hip hop, but it’s the intent behind it,” said Al Cofresi, director of development at the Alzheimer’s Association. “I was so overwhelmed by it. Absolutely! Come on, who else does that? He’s retired. He could have done anything else with his life. He could have gone on a fishing trip and not come back. He took the time to reach out to us.”Before he went to law school, Margolius was in the music business as managing partner of an agency that booked local rock bands for Cornell University frat parties. He wrote a weekly column about rock music for an alternative newspaper and appeared on a local rock station discussing American blues music.He surrounded himself with a lot of musical friends during those college years: Wells Kelly, the late drummer for “Meat Loaf,” Sherman Kelly, composer of the Top Ten ’70s hit, “Dancing in the Moon Light,” Peter Giansante, studio musician for the “Beach Boys,” and Larry Hoppen, lead singer and guitarist for the ’70s rock band “Orleans,” with the hits songs “Dance with Me,” “Still the One,” and “Love Takes Time.”On “Pain Train,” the judge enlisted Hoppen, one of his old college roommates in Ithaca, New York, to play as a “special guest artist.”And he sought out help from an assistant public defender he once helped hire years ago, Joe Imperato. The “rock-and-roll lawyer,” as Imperato dubs himself, has played music professionally since he was 16, an eclectic musician whose credits include radio commercial jingles, playing in South Florida bands, doing musical work for PBS and Fox TV, and writing a musical hit in Mexico called “Rosa Linda.”Imperato collaborated with Margolius by playing lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and agreeing to produce and engineer the judge’s CD in his home studio, a project that took nine months.“A lot of people have said they can’t believe he has that soft voice, so high and ethereal. It freaked people out. It’s a whole new side of him,” said Imperato.Imperato’s first reaction to hearing the judge’s music was: “I thought he had a lot of potential. There were many rough edges. But there was potential. And it was something I knew we could mold together into a nice product. I’m proud of it.”Other lawyers on the CD include drummer Hector Dopico, an assistant federal prosecutor, and immigration attorney Helena Tetzeli, who provides backup vocals.Judge Margolius says his latent musical bent got a wake-up call more than a year ago when he was walking by a music store and saw a gorgeous guitar in the window.“I couldn’t even tune it for three months. It just sat there. Looks real nice standing in the corner,” Judge Margolius recalls. “People would ask, ‘Can you play?’ No.”Finally, he taught himself to play, with a lot of help from Imperato.“I don’t know the name of chords. I don’t read. I don’t know nothing from nothing, as the song goes. But I’ve picked it up amazingly quick,” Margolius said. “I don’t consider myself a virtuoso. But I can fool people.”In his wildest dreams, he’ll be a guest one day on the Jay Leno Show, telling the world about his transition from tough criminal judge to mellow music man.In the meantime, he’s working on his second CD, because the songs just keep on coming, as the judge says, “out the kazoo.” For more information about the CD “Pain Train,” call Ric Margolius at 305-715-9622 or contact Al Cofresi, director of development, Alzheimer’s Association, South Florida Chapter, 1175 N.E. 125th St., Suite 600, North Miami, FL 33161, phone: 305-891-6228. November 15, 2002 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular Newslast_img read more