Review: Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band-Live From The House Of Soul

DVD Reviews

Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band-Live From The House Of Soul

MVD Entertainment Group
Street: 02.12

Live from the House of Soul featuring Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band is the first part of a series of live concert videos. This one celebrates the tenacity of Bradley and the Menahan Street Band. The video was recorded in the urban backyard of the independent label Daptone Records. The director, Poull Brien, seeks to capture Bradley’s ability to invoke soulful desperation from every song. Bradley brilliantly performs several highlighted tracks after giving a brief introduction. The highlighted tracks are “Love Bug,” “Where Do We Go From Here,” “Victim Of Love,” “Confusion,” “The World (Is Going Up In Flames,” “Crying in the Chapel” and “Strictly Reserved For You.” Just watching this, though, should only be a taste that inspires interest in the live acts themselves.

If you have missed the spectacular performance of Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band, then your life is not nearly complete. Bradley has all the passion and vigor that the late Godfather of Soul, His Eminence James Brown, once had. In fact, the likeness between these two figures is strikingly impressive. If reincarnation were a thing, I’d swear that Bradley is the godfather reborn, or by some twist of fate, has surely inherited at least Brown’s spirit. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, considering Bradley spent years impersonating Brown. At the tender age of 62, Bradley was discovered and launched into a successful career as a soul artist.  So, if you must—and you must—bear witness to a performer who is soul-shattering and can’t manage to catch Bradley live, then this video is an all right substitute for the real thing.

Although one should never substitute the live and intimate performance, the Live From the House of Soul episodes makes for an entertaining infomercial. It does a charming job of highlighting the artist in question and then gives the viewer a solid reason to explore further. It’s like a music infomercial that you could find on oldies channels that try to sell you loads of CDs for the special low price of three payments of an arm and leg. The main difference here, however, is  that instead of selling you an assortment of junk that will ruin your finances and marital life, Live From the House of Soul only serves to inspire through the power of music. I will say that such videos have their place as a cute way to enjoy a performer’s ability with certain comfort. These kinds of videos also make for great collectors’ items, which in the long run will probably be worth very little. The main thing you can get out of this is its genuine celebration of talent. In this particular case that would be Bradley & Menahan Street Band. 

Overall, episode one of Live from the House of Soul is pretty good. It’s a fun watch that captures Bradley’s essence as a true and dynamic performer. I would say it’s good for viewing one or two times before it is clear that magic could be better engaged via a live performance or from Bradley’s records. Live From the House Of Soul lives up to its purpose, but there are more effective mediums to capture artists like Bradley. –Nick Kuzmack