Darrow Fletcher

Pain Gets a Little Deeper: The Complete Early Years 1965-1971

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Pain Gets a Little Deeper: The Complete Early Years 1965-1971 Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The second of two Darrow Fletcher compilations released by Ace, 2013's The Pain Gets a Little Deeper covers the earliest recordings from the beloved Chicago cult soul singer, rounding up the sides he recorded for local indie Windy City imprints Groovy, Jacklyn, Congress, Uni, Revue, and Genna between 1965 and 1971. That long list of labels reveals how Fletcher never had a career-making hit but also was highly regarded, with label after label giving him a shot over those six years. Possessing a high, keening voice that spliced elements of Stevie Wonder, Jackie Wilson, and Curtis Mayfield, Fletcher was a compelling singer and he received several nice showcases for his talents, including the incessantly grooving "The Pain Gets a Little Deeper," a single cherished by Northern Soul aficionados. Fletcher cut several other infectious singles in a similar vein, often returning uptown swing of the Impressions but just as frequently mining the sound of Motown, particularly the richer, exuberant orchestrations that characterized the Motor City in the late '60s. This meant Fletcher was well-positioned to dabble in funk and smooth soul, which he does elsewhere on these 23 songs, each of them showing Fletcher's range and versatility. He never received the attention he deserved -- it's a matter of bad breaks -- but this collection is a testament to how his talent endures, plus it's just a lot of fun to hear.

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