No, not Charles Barkley or Milton Bradley, although I think those shows might have been more fun. [Disclaimer: Cracky was severely ill the night of this show, but is trying to be objective. He sucked it up and got his ass to Metro as a service to his loyal fans, but might have been slightly altered. At one point Metro security came by and asked if he was okay and offered the services of the medic on site. Thanks, Metro, classy move, but I haven’t been shot or anything. I’m just trying to breathe and not puke on your shoes.]
I had been looking forward to this show. I found the Screaming Eagle of Soul, Charles Bradley, some time last year and he’s been a regular on my playlists. I highly recommend his latest record, and he’s even got a great backstory, complete with all the trials and tribulations, working as a cook for years, and then being discovered in his 50’s and finding success on Daptone records. Not much unlike my own story, except I can’t cook, I haven’t faced near the challenges he has, and I’m a tad younger. Oh, yeah, and I don’t have any musical talent.
There are obvious comparisons to James Brown… in appearance, sound and mannerisms (Charles, not Cracky). And it makes sense when you find out that Bradley has even worked as a James Brown imitator. But that’s what I felt like I was watching, even though he’s performing his own material. There are some great youtube clips of him performing in a bike shop last year during SXSW. He seemed genuine and sounded spectacular. But it seemed like headlining the show in Chicago at a mid-size club changed the dynamic. It was more about the show than the soul and he seemed to slip into James Brown mode again, maybe because he was more comfortable in that role on a bigger stage or thought that’s what people wanted to see.
So say I want a coonskin cap for my birthday because I’m feeling all Davy Crockett and my head is cold, right? Because I’m so awesome, you make a trip to the coonskin cap store and the salesman tells you, “Hey, every store is out of coonskin caps this season, but everyone is really digging these new beaver hats that we have in stock!” And indeed, you check out the beaver hat and it’s pretty nice. It’s warm, looks mighty fine, and because you’re as immature as I am, you giggle every time he starts talking about the extraordinary qualities of beaver fur. So you buy the hat, and it would have been a fine gift. But then you get home, try to make a raccoon tail out of papier mache, and try to color parts of the hat with a black sharpie to match the markings of a raccoon. Now I have ridiculous looking faux-shit hat. Sure it will keep my head warm, but it’s neither an authentic coonskin cap nor a pretty bitchin’ substitute beaver hat. And you just ruined my birthday. Thanks a lot. Cracky’s disappointed.