Clea Bradford – My Love’s a Monster

Example

A teeny tiny pic

of Clea Bradford

Example

A somewhat larger picture of her record

Listen – My Love’s a Monster MP3″

Good morning all (and I mean it this time).

I’ve arrived at the juicy, cream filled center of the week in a much better mood, attitude suitably adjusted.

Without going into too much detail, I work in a job that requires the patience of the Dalai Lama, something which I do not (and likely will never) have, and as a result I spend much of my time in an Edgar Kennedy/Moe Howard “slow burn”, rolling my eyes so much I’m apt to sprain them. Most days things quiet down to a dull rumble, or – more likely – I manage to zone out a lot of the static. Unfortunately, some days (like Monday) I am unable to do this, and that, in combination with an assortment of outside irritants makes it difficult to process even remotely complex thoughts.

So, now that we’ve go that out of the way, on to the music.

The record you’ll be hearing today was requested by one of our regular readers about a month ago. While the Funky16Corners blog isn’t a jukebox, I am not averse to taking (and honoring, when possible) requests for specific tunes. As long as I have a copy of said tune taking up space in my crates (and I remember where it is) I have no problem working it into the rotation. As I said on Monday, I’m usually selecting tunes to post sometimes a month in advance (husband and father type duties requiring that I condense my record-related work into short, intense periods of activity), so if someone makes a request, it may end up taking a little while to end up on yon blogspot, but it will get there.

The performer of today’s selection, Clea Bradford, is one I haven’t been able to find out much about. As far as I can tell she may have begun her career based out of St. Louis, Mo, where she often worked with the Quartette Tres Bien. She went on to record LPs for Prestige, Mainstream and Cadet through the 60’s, as well as 45s for the Tru-Sound and Hi-Q labels. The song I bring you today, ‘My Love’s a Monster’ was recorded for Cadet in 1968 and appeared on the LP ‘Her Point of View’.

The song is (much like Clea’s love) a monster. This is due in large part to the fact that it was co-written, arranged and produced by the legendary Richard Evans. During the 60’s and early 70’s, Evans – who started his career as a jazz bassist – produced and arranged a wide range of truly amazing records for the Cadet label. Like Charles Stepney (with whom he sometimes collaborated) Evans was one of the true “auteurs” of the Cadet sound, masterminding the Soulful Strings, and creating legendary recordings with the likes of Dorothy Ashby, Terry Callier, Marlena Shaw and Ramsey Lewis among others (for a deeper look at Richard Evans, follow this link to an article I wrote about him at the Funky16Corners web zine).

His recordings with Marlena Shaw – including crate digger classics like ‘Woman of the Ghetto’ and ‘California Soul’ – are an important reference point to ‘My Love’s a Monster’. Bradford – like Shaw – was essentially a jazz vocalist recording in a soul/funk frame of reference. Evans was a master of blurring the lines between jazz and funk, creating records that contained elements of both, often mixing big band brass with funky bass lines and breakbeats (not to mention unusual elements like kalimba and harp).

While the end result may be a little to polished for aficionados of the gritty funk 45, if you are a listener possessed of a certain taste and perspicacity, you are likely to find that once sampled, you are driven to seek out more of the same.

Opening with a brass flourish, followed by the rhythm section laying down a funky groove, ‘My Love’s a Monster’ is in all aspects a BIG record. Bradford’s vocal is strong and assured, and the brilliant production manages to keep her voice out front, even while the instrumental track is absolutely booming. I love Bradford’s near-scatting in the breakdowns leading into the chorus remind me of Solomon Burke’s similar performance in 1966’s “Keep Looking”.

While I can’t say with any certainty who’s playing on this 45, I’ll go ahead and assume that it’s the usual suspects, i.e. the Chess/Cadet house band, and as always, they do an amazing job. The lead guitar is outstanding – dig how it keeps popping up in the mix – and the drums are hard as hell.

As far as I can tell ‘My Love’s a Monster’ has not been comped, which is at least to me, incomprehensible. This is sister funk of the first order, a party starter, floor filler etc, and for a record like this to be overlooked is nothing short of criminal. One group of people who haven’t overlooked it is DJ-types, which might explain why it’s not a cheap 45, but not overly expensive either ($25 – $35 bucks seems to be the going rate). The LP (which I’ve heard may have a different mix of this tune) is also find-able in a similar price range. Hopefully someone out there with the wherewithal will put together a comp of Richard Evans productions, and include this track. In any event, as I just gave myself the idea, I’ll make sure to put together an episode of Funky16Corners radio highlighting that material. Look for it this Fall.

PS Johnny Sayles has a tune called ‘My Love’s a Monster’ (which I’ve never heard), but since it came out in 1965 (on the Chi-Town label) , and the Clea Bradford record was co-written by Bradford and Richard Evans, I’m guessing it’s a different song. If anyone knows different, please let me know.

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19 Responses to “Clea Bradford – My Love’s a Monster”

  1. WEGM Says:

    Wow! Amazing this isn’t on a dozen Northern Soul comps. As always, thanks.

  2. Dan Says:

    Great choice, and the flip side of “My Love’s a Monster” is my all-time fave vocal version of “Summertime,” too. Now to just get my hands on that whole damn LP…

  3. Art(uro) Says:

    Love the sexy sighs after each vocal line. BTW, I believe Craig Moerer’s got one of those $25 copies for sale…

  4. h.todd Says:

    I love any Stepney or Evans production on Cadet, even the Woody Herman albums! This one escaped my radar. Thanks, as always.

  5. adaminboston Says:

    Thanks so much for the post. I requested the song a couple of weeks ago after hearing it covered by a local band. It’s great. The Johnny Sayles song is different, but no less infectious.

  6. ellis Says:

    What an amazing singer!. Thanks.

  7. I’m Back! b/w Funky16Corners Blog Second Anniversary Incredible Stupendous Blogtacular (People It’s Bad) « Funky16Corners Says:

    [...] 1. King Coleman – The Boo Boo Song (King) 2. Lou Courtney – Rubber Neckin’ (Chick Check’n) (Verve) 3. Warm Excursion – Hang Up Pt1 (Pzazz) 4. Joe Haywood – (Play Me a) Cornbread Song (Kent) 5. Johnny Otis Show – The Watts Breakaway (Epic) 6. Chairmen of the Board – Since the Days of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales)  (Invictus) 7. Clea Bradford – My Love’s a Monster (Cadet) 8. JB’s – The Grunt (King) 9. Apostles – Six Pack (Kapp) 10. Laura Lee – Crumbs off the Table (Hot Wax) 11. Cyril Neville – Gossip (Josie) 12. Syl Johnson – Dresses Too Short (Twinight) 13. Preston Love – Cool Ade (Kent) 14. Sammy Gordon & The Hiphuggers – Upstairs on Boston Road (Archives) 15. Dramatics – Get Up and Get Down (Volt) 16. Interpretations – Jason Pew Mosso (Jubilee)* 17. Jeanne & the Darlings – Soul Girl (Volt) 18. Electrostats – 21st Century Kenya (Three Oaks) [...]

  8. slsmithsr Says:

    Heard this back in the “60 and was always looking for it. I originally thought it was by Marlena Shaw. This is butter pecan with extra nuts, whipped cream and cherries, with caramel sauce ….
    makes both versions of “And I’m Telling You…” seem like vanilla ice cream.

  9. Monster Cables Says:

    Too bad I missed the mp3! I love older music like this.

  10. Always searching for soul (Including "Ahhh, Cheesecake!") « Fufu Stew Says:

    [...] 19 Summertime-Clea Bradford (Cadet). The flip side of “My Love’s A Monster”, another one of Larry’s favourite tunes. Be sure to check out Flea Market Funk for some more “Summretime” goodness. 20 [...]

  11. slsmithsr Says:

    Page4 will give you another chance to hear it …#7

  12. ainhoa Says:

    I was always searching for some information about Clea Bradford and finally here it is!! Thank you so much!

    good live and good music!

  13. RARE FUNK …., archives, LINKS, PODCAST « RodolphepilaertROOTS Says:

    [...] (Epic) 6. Chairmen of the Board – Since the Days of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales) (Invictus) 7. Clea Bradford – My Love’s a Monster (Cadet) 8. JB’s – The Grunt (King) 9. Apostles – Six Pack (Kapp) 10. Laura Lee – Crumbs off the [...]

  14. Nuet Le Says:

    tonight the sky is darker since we lost our most beloved star, thousand tear drops can not bring you back to us. CLEA BRADFORD is in the arms of our loving God August19,2008. My heart will always ache for you, My Dearest Friend.

  15. funky16corners Says:

    I’m sorry to hear that.
    Do you have a link to an obituary?

  16. Nuet Le Says:

    I do not have info. on obituary for Clea Bradford yet, service for Celebrattion of her life will be at her church. Faith Community Baptist Church 13618 Layhill Road, Silver Spring MD 20906 at 12 noon August22,2008. Aka Clea Silverlight.

  17. Nuet Le Says:

    Clea Bradford (Aka Clea Silverlight) wake is at Snowden Funeral Home tonight August21,2008 from 6 till 8 PM. Address 246 North Washington Street, Rockville Maryland 20850.

  18. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks for the information Nuet Le.

  19. wrighty Says:

    I bought Clea Bradford 45 My loves a monster last year from a little record shop in Camden,London,thinking it was or could be a cover of Johnny Sayles.When i got it home and played it,I was thrilled.Ive played it out since and it goes down great with the dance floor.Ive recently purchased her lp Her Point Of View from the states.Eagerly waiting for delivery.Sorry to hear of her passing.All the best .Wrighty.

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