In the R&B world, the King label has a hugely well deserved reputation, but it's only been with the recent releases of King Funk" (CDBGPD 135) and "King Northern Soul" (CDKEND 185) that widespread appreciation of its contribution to soul music has occurred. Now "Too Much Pain" reveals the southern and deep side of King - and its affiliated concerns such as Federal and Hollywood. Arguably this was the strongest aspect of the company's musical output in the 60s."
This 24 track collection is full of gritty, emotive vocals straight from the church, and masterpieces of downtempo passion that have lain in the vaults for far too long. They are all from southern soul's Golden Decade to 1973, some in-house productions but many leased in, especially from Macon's Bobby Smith whose Boblo logo/publishing concern brought out so many superb and highly sought after records.
There are some southern soul heroes here, like Sam Baker with his hoarse, bluesy 'Why Does A Woman Treat A Man So Bad', the Florida born Jeb Stuart singing his heart out on 'I Don't Want To Leave You Darling' and the Patterson Twins' two superbly arranged Muscle Shoals recordings. However, many of the artists may well be unfamiliar even to die hard soul devotees - and their undocumented careers reflect both King's low profile in soul circles and their own lack of commercial success. But the quality of the vocals here is very high indeed.
Take the Sam Cooke-flavoured tones of Eddie James for example - two superb country soul cuts from Nashville. Or Marie Queenie Lyons, Nancy Butts and Gloria Walker, three wonderfully gifted gospel-based female singers of real ability. The Lyons track comes from her super-rare LP, and although she is acknowledged for her hard funk, this ballad really lets her stretch her lungs. Nancy Butts' melodic 'Only One Love' has long been a personal favourite, and Gloria Walker's 'When My Baby Cries' hits a very powerful emotional peak.
Deep soul fans in particular will be delighted with the inclusion of three all time classic cuts. Thomas Bailey's Pickett-like screams on 'Wish I Was Back' have made it one of the most in-demand 45s in the world, and no wonder! Eugene Evans' intense, almost tortured 'Too Much Pain' clearly shows the vocal influence that the colossus of King soul, James Brown, had on so many of his label mates. And Jimmy Braswell's awesome horn-rich, throat -tearing 'I Can't Give You My Heart' is in most deep fans Top 10 singles. Wonderful to hear these in crystal-clear sound.
None of the tracks here made it into the national charts, and some are now almost impossible to find on 45. Rarity on this scale doesn't always indicate quality, but King's involvement in southern soul was such that Ady Croasdell and I had an embarrassment of riches putting this CD together, and we intend to issue at least one more volume. Too Much Pain" isn't just for musical masochists - anybody who's enjoyed Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures, or "When A Man Cries" will find that it is right in that same bag. Real serious soul!
By John Ridley