Various Artists

King's Serious Soul: Too Much Pain

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There aren't a whole lot of King soul records that are well-known beyond the massive catalog James Brown assembled at the label. This 24-track compilation goes into King's vaults for numerous other soul records released by the company between 1964 and 1973. Actually much of this was not produced by King itself, but leased from other sources, such as Boblo in Macon, GA. In any case, most of it has a deep Southern soul feel. Not a single song made the charts, and not a single performer is widely known even by cult standards. It's ordinary soul music, which doesn't mean it's bad or ill-produced; it's just the kind of thing that will appeal exclusively to serious collectors. Sometimes the influence of Brown can be felt, but it's the balladeering Brown, not the funkified one, as heard on cuts like Eugene Evans' "Too Much Pain" and Thomas Bailey's "Wish I Was Back (In Your Arms Again)." Among the better tracks are Nancy Butts' (that's her real name) "Letter Full of Tears," an early-'70s recording of a Don Covay composition (popularized in the 1960s by Gladys Knight) that has an early-'60s retro feel. Jeb Stuart's "I Don't Want to Leave You Darling" and Jimmy Braswell's "I Can't Give You My Heart" have the smoldering ballad-with-bluesy-guitars-and-horn feel typical of some '60s Stax products.

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