Various Artists

Tim Brown's Deep Soul Inferno

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The title refers to a type of sparse, gritty slow-paced recording usually waxed below the Mason-Dixon Line that deals with love's pains with near suicidal emotions. The storytellers are victims and love fools who beg, plead, and pray for second, third, and fourth chances -- Jerry Springer-ish stuff. The 21 tracks recount one mournful tale after another and can get wearisome. But Tim Brown chose these selections well, including many gems and songs that are near impossible to find on their original 45-rpm format. A Tony Ashley track on any compilation makes it a special package, "I'll Go Crazy" is another example of the unheralded New Jerseyite (who also recorded as Sammy Campbell) brilliance. Lee Jones and the Sounds of Soul do "This Heart's Haunted" a hurtful song by the group, b.k.a. the Masqueraders. Fred Briggs, a.k.a. Coldwater Stone, is a deep soul purist and proves why on "Sound Off." Briggs' ex-wife, Kim Tolliver, is featured on the gut-gripping "I'll Try to Do Better," which unites deep soul, gospel, R&B, and a major inferiority complex -- "Give him up Kim, try to do better with somebody else."

L. J. Reynolds' (Dramatics) sister Jeannie Reynolds, accompanied by the Re-Leets, does "I Don't Mess Around." The Fabulous Fiestas' "One Hurt Deserves Another" has a similar feel to Garnett Mims' "Cry Baby"; and check out James Dee and a Piece of the Action's "My Pride." An unsung classic that features the Primettes on backing vocals. Not a mainstream CD -- you couldn't find a hit here with a microscope -- but if you want a taste of soul music's deeper side, this is as good as any.