(Listen) Soul singer Charles Bradley gives a Black Sabbath ballad its proper treatment

imageThis song isn’t a new release, exactly, as it was reportedly offered as a Record Store Day single in 2013. But it’s the title track of soul crooner Charles Bradley’s third album, which is new in the sense that it was released in March.

At any rate, I heard this for the first time over the weekend on our local public radio station, and it completely blew me away. By virtue of its mid-60s Stax/Volt sound, all saturated in horns and hot-city summer pathos, it briefly had me thinking that it might be the original, and that Ozzy Osbourne and his Black Sabbath bandmates might’ve been doing a cover on their 1972 album Vol. 4. Not so.

I always found the original version an odd entry in Sabbath’s canon, and a weak link in an otherwise outstanding album. It was an overly earnest breakup song drenched in piano and Mellotron, and done no favors by Ozzy’s vocal limitations.

Here, Bradley, a 67-year-old former James Brown impersonator, utterly transforms the song into his own. There’s the backstory about him directing it toward his late mother, from whom he’d long been estranged until late in her life, but mostly there’s his incredible voice, forceful and rich even when he’s shouting, and the brassy backing band of Daptone hands.

Take a listen to both version, and see if you agree.

Charles Bradley, “Changes”

Black Sabbath, “Changes”

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