First off, big up to Charles Bradley and the Menahan St. Band who played the Echo in Echo Park last night. I could be wrong but I don’t think either set of artists have played LA before (if MSB toured out here, I must have missed it) and Bradley – who’s in his mid-60s – gave a stirringly passionate show to the sold out crowd. (In case you missed it from the other week, Bradley was on Live on KEXP).

If there’s one thing Bradley can do, it’s emote. He’s at his most powerful when he sounds like he’s on the verge of a breakdown (it helps that his visage – filled with creases and grooves – looks like he’s perpetually downcast). To wit, this was (if I recall) the first song he sang last night and he just crushed it.

Charles Bradley: Heartaches and Pain
From No Time For Dreaming (Dunham/Daptone, 2011)

By coincidence, I’ve been meaning to write about two other songs that have, in their own way, a same kind of feel – not necessarily in terms of content or emotive direction, but just raw expression.

The first is Numero Group’s Record Store Day exclusive:

Reverb Ltd.: Please Love Me
From 7″ (Numero Group, 2011)

I know almost next nothing about this since TNG wanted to keep a lid on it (besides a teaser video). Columbus, Ohio’s Musicol label appears on the label so presumably, this is out of their vaults and I hope it makes some future album because it deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Talk about a gut punch – there’s such a fierce, near desperate quality to the vocals here.

And the vocals on here reminded me of this beautiful little track that Numero Group recently put on 7″ (though it was originally released on the Prix comp from 2007):

Penny and the Quarters: You and Me (snippet)
From 7″ and digital download (Numero Group, 2011) and The Prix Label (Numero Group, 2007)

I admit – I slept on that Prix comp (hey, it happens) and missed out on how frickin’ incredible this song is. So much so that it caught the attention of Ryan Gosling who helped get it licensed for the soundtrack of Blue Valentine. Now it’s finally on 7″ (it was a vault piece, never released prior) and is well-worth copping for those vinyl hounds.