REVIEW: Brad Brooks “God Save the City” Possesses Old Fashioned Soul Timbre


Whoever decided to open San Francisco Bay vocalist Brad Brooks’ (harmonica/stuff) new CD with the title cut “God Save the City” was wise. A flame thrower rocker, with saxes, big drums, colorful words, textbook guitars & a superb rock voice. It’s been done before but Brad has the necessary ballsy grip on his tune & it works. The LP drops Oct 23rd (Mouth Magic Music).

Brooks (harmonica/stuff) recorded this after a close-call with throat cancer. The 12-cut LP is a miraculous comeback for a fine singer-songwriter who fortunately didn’t lose his voice or enough to sound raspy like the late Levon Helm. Though the opener is a balls-out rocker soul is the focus of the LP recorded with minimal overdubs & few multi-tracking tweaks. Brad’s tone possesses a cool old-fashioned soul timbre. “Why Do You Hurt,” could’ve been covered by The Temptations or the Four Tops at the height of their 60s power. It radiates Motown Holland-Dozier-Holland skill & top 10 grooves.

“Strange Fruit Numb,” is performed in the funk tradition of Sly & the Family Stone (“There’s a Riot Goin’ On”). Brad’s voice is sufficiently lubricated for an anthem. Nothing offensive & is an interesting track.

Breaking no new ground, the music laid down is pleasant with falsetto & some syrup. “The Chance,” — could’ve been filler does have convincing lyrics. I hear potential with a better, stronger arrangement. Brooks skims the soulful stylistic degrees of one Angelo Bond (songs from Bondage come to mind). Bond had style & conveyed a Sam Cooke dynamic few soulful singers possess. Brad has it.

“Millionaires,” is piano-driven, well sung, restrained yet powerful. Rockier is “Lee Marvin’s Uzi,” with its nod to the Michael Stanley Band’s energy (“My Town,” “Working Again”). Stanley may not be familiar, but he’s a veteran of the Ohio region – performing & recording since 1974.

Brooks continues with inventive pop “Angel of Angles,” — a wealth of catchy hooks. “Do the Same for Me,” is in the same pop vein enriched by a David Bowie funk groove sweetened by piano, deep bass & crisp drums. Excellent vocals on “Heartbreak of Fools,” is where Brad sounds like Brad.

Musicians: Joey Dibono (bass), Erik Schramm (guitar/vocals), Adam Rossi (keys/vocals), Vicki Randle (vocals/percussion), Loralee Christensen (vocals), Pie Fiorentino (guitar/violin) & Andrew Griffin (drums/acoustic guitar/percussion).

My wish is for independent artists to eliminate political references. Not because of anything personal, but because it tends to alienate audiences – audiences with deep pockets for CDs, live shows & products. If it’s absolutely necessary to satisfy an innate feeling or belief – then toss the dice. The insert reads “Fear can change you, keep you from what’s true.” In actuality, the quote should read: “Lack of accurate information will change you, keep you from what’s true.” That’s something I’d be fearful of.

The 47-minute CD was produced by Adam Rossi & Brad Brooks. Available at

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