Deep Southern Soul Ballads are not a marketing man's dream. It's hard to get upbeat about a downbeat subject.
Yet Kent Records has always done well in presenting this type of music to the world's soul public. Notably, Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures series has outsold the funkiest, stompingest, fingerclickingly joyous compilations we've come up with. You underestimate soul fans' taste at your peril.
Kent's association with this form of music was made at an early stage. Our third LP was the aptly titled Slow And Moody, Black And Bluesy featuring wailers from Johnny Copeland, Clay Hammond and Jimmy Holiday. In fact 11 of the 69 Various Artists vinyl compilations were in this style and we've increased that proportion through the CD era.
WHEN A MAN CRIES is very much in this serious Kent tradition and draws from the Scepter/Wand, Musicor/Dynamo labels that have been such a great source of material for us over the years. Very few of these tracks have ever appeared on CD and compiler John Ridley has come up with 12 gems new to Kent and myself, while furnishing us with facts and insights that enhance the musical experience.
Though the epitome of this type of music is a southern soul wailer, only the soul is a constant as variations on "southern" and "wailer" are permitted within acceptable limits.
So Lloyd Price's sad but tender version of Mr And Mrs Untrue gets in. The splendidly named Murge qualify with the New York-recorded How Long Must This Fool Pay, as emotional as any Muscle Shoals equivalent. Similarily Benny Conn's Satisfy My Hunger lacks a funereal pace but satisfies the Southern Soul quotient.
Some of the records are very rare, like Kenny Ballard's excellent Down To My Last Heartbreak, others like Marvin Preyer's grits'n'gravy-dripping You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Love Her are unreleased masterpieces liberated from the tape library.
Don't tell BBC's Watchdog but a few girls get to cry too-.-when they are the calibre of Jackie Moore, Judy Clay and Katie Love I'm sure you'll forgive this feminine intrusion into a man's man's man's world
by Ady Croadell