Southern soul singer-songwriter Paul Kelly is a real hero of mine, and I’m sure that many readers and Kent customers feel the same way. He has been poorly served by the CD market, so it’s a real pleasure to make amends with this collection of his early solo 45s, a more than worthy representation of the first six years of his lengthy recording career. His catalogue has long cried out for reissue – particularly these early years, which have never been fully chronicled – and I’m very proud that the honour of bringing all this great music together fell to me.
Paul recorded less frequently than many of his peers, but the upshot of that is that all of his solo recordings from 1965 to 1971 can fit onto one CD. The fact that most of his tracks were cut independently by one producer, the great Buddy Killen, and leased to a variety of imprints means that there were virtually no licensing difficulties to surmount – once we’d decided to do it, the project fell into place swiftly and easily. Our collection contains all of Paul’s singles for the Lloyd, Dial, Philips and Happy Tiger labels, exactly as they were issued – mostly mono, but in stereo when they were originally released that way.
Most Kelly fans will tell you that Paul is never better than when he’s singing something slow, and cite tracks such as ‘If This Old House Could Talk’, ‘The Day After Forever’, the under-rated ‘Sailin’’ and the simply magnificent ‘Nine Out Of Ten Times’ as proof. While it’s hard to contest that, Paul was equally at home with up-tempo material, and you need look no further than the club classics ‘Chills And Fever’ and ‘Sweet Sweet Lovin’’ to confirm that: Paul’s career song, ‘Stealing In the Name Of The Lord’, is a dancer of sorts, while the brilliant ‘509’ demonstrates that the faster side of his repertoire is, at its best, more than a match for his slower numbers.
With the exception of ‘Stealing’, none of these records were massive chart hits, although they deserved to be. They most likely failed to chart because they were competing with so many other great records, and there simply wasn’t room for every classic 45 to make a mark on the R&B charts back then. Happily for Paul, southern soul fans never put much stock in chart positions. Regardless of how many copies they sold on release, the best of the tracks on “Hot Runnin’ Soul” – and that’s almost all of them – will continued to be revered in soul circles for many years to come.
By Tony Rounce