“The World (Is Going Up in Flames)”
Daptone Records digs up stunning, long-in-the-tooth singers from under the noses of New Yorkers. Sharon Jones was an armored-car guard earning a little scratch singing backup. Naomi Shelton was praising Jesus every Friday night in a West Village jazz joint. The funky two have charmed with primordial soul sounds—and in good part because of their Hollywood endings. Now label honcho Gabriel Roth has just unmummified his greatest voice yet, Charles Bradley. The 62-year-old gigged in Brooklyn as “Black Velvet.” We would have branded his fervid howl Purple Burlap. Bradley sings not from the heart, but from the nerves. A simple word like nobody is a primal scream. For decades, people put cigarettes out on the guy’s heart and throat. But like all great downer soul tunes, “The World” magically warms. The oblivious bass happily struts down the bleak street. Horns chirp on the rooftoop; ladies ooh on the stoops. Things have a way of working out in the long run.