Various Artists

If Loving You Is Wrong: 20 Cheatin' Heartbreakers

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This actually isn't the first soul compilation devoted to cheating songs; there were a couple on Ichiban/Soul Classics in the mid-'90s. The genre's fertile enough that there's no repetition between those and this 20-song disc, which spans 1967 to 1982, and generally (though not exclusively) mines the earthy, deep soul end of things. With some exceptions (Shirley Brown's "Woman to Woman," James Carr's "Dark End of the Street"), these aren't automatically familiar to general listeners. And while the artist roster includes some big soul names -- Johnnie Taylor, Irma Thomas, Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes -- it's filled out with more cultish and journeymen artists like Denise LaSalle, the Soul Children, Eddie Floyd, and Jackie Moore (and even collectors may have heard nothing by Phillip Mitchell, Sam Dees, or Rozetta Johnson). As music, it's mostly emotional ballads that might be suitable for slow dancing or making out if not for the somewhat salacious lyrical content. Because of such content, these songs have more wit than many a soul slowie, and they're generally above average, though the lugubrious tempos tend to draw down your disposition after a while. The concept of an up-tempo cheating song seems to have been rather foreign, and thus it's a relief when Carla Thomas hits a danceable groove on "Some Other Man (Is Beating Your Time)" or Mel & Tim's chirpy hit "Backfield in Motion" comes on. Some of the more surprising or interesting entries include Lloyd Price's 1971 single "Mr. and Mrs. Untrue," from a time when the '50s rocker had long been out of the sales spotlight; an obscure 1972 effort by Irma Thomas, "She'll Never Be Your Wife," penned by Jerry Williams (aka Swamp Dogg); Ann Peebles' steamy "Breaking Up Somebody's Home"; and Jackie Moore's 1969 single "Loser Again," which is a little more uptown in its production mood than much of what's here. The low spot is certainly Candi Staton's cover of "Suspicious Minds," not made any more palatable by the fact that it was a moderate hit in Britain.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:57
2 4:04
3 3:45
4 4:08
5 3:58
6 3:34
7 3:47
8 4:06
9 3:40
10 2:57
11 4:03
12 2:32
13 2:28
14 3:01
15 2:35
16 3:53
17 3:56
18 3:52
19 3:00
20 4:19
blue highlight denotes track pick