A couple of months or so ago, this mailing list I subscribe to about Southern Soul challenged the members to come up with a top 25 Deep Soul cuts. It started out with a call for the one song that might define Deep Soul, and my first thought was (Little) Johnny Truitt's "Your Love Is Worth the Pain." A truly amazing performance that really just has to be heard to believe.
I should say that any discussion of Deep Soul begins with all the great work done by John Ridley, aka Sir Shambling, whose Deep Soul Heaven website is a mammoth and largely altruistic effort to share great rare 45s with the rest of the world. I personally owe hit a big thank you and haven't even gotten through even half the tunes on the site.
Without further ado, the radio show was the top 25, only in the order of what sounded natural.
Little Johnny Truitt; Your Love Is Worth the Pain; A-bet 9433
Kip Anderson; I Went Off and Cried; Excello 2303
Jimmy Braswell; I Can't Give You My Heart; King 6374
Doris Allen; A Shell of a Woman; Minaret 149
Arthur Conley; In the Same Old Way; Fame 1007
Carl Marshall; I Can't Live Without You; Double Hit 801
Thomas Bailey; Wish I Was Back; Federal 12567
Z. Z. Hill; (Home Just Ain't Home at) Suppertime; Atlantic 2659
James Carr; That's the Way Love Turned Out For Me; Goldwax 338
Ruby Johnson; Come to Me My Darling; Volt 140
Otis Redding; I Love You More Than Words Can Say; Volt 146
Otis Clay; Is It Over; Cotillion 44104
O. V. Wright; This Hurt Is Real; Backbeat 604
O. V. Wright; This Hurt Is Real; Backbeat 604
Bobby Boseman; Cheaters Never Win; Eve Jim 1941
Irma Thomas; Your Until Tomorrow; unissued (Down at Muscle Shoals; Chess)
Tony Ashley; We Must Have Love; Decca 32342
Candi Staton; Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man; I'm Just a Prisoner; Fame
Johnny Copeland; Let Me Cry; unissued? (At His Best)
Herman Hitson; You Are Too Much For the Human Heart (unsweetened version); Soul-Tay-Shus
Rudolph Taylor; Doorsteps to Sorrow; Roman 311
Touissant McCall; Nothing Takes the Place of You; Ronn 3
Joe Simon; Looking Back; Sound Stage 7 2622
Don Bryant; Is That Asking Too Much; Hi 2131
Laura Lee; Hang It Up; Chess 2062
Margie Hendrix; Do Right Baby; unissued (Southern Soul Sisters; SS7/Charley)
Department of Discography: I limited myself to one tune per artist, so it was difficult to chose just one song from the following artists. So if I were going to start anywhere with Deep Soul, I would choose these reissues:
O. V. Wright; The Soul of O. V. Wright; Fontana
James Carr; The Complete Goldwax Singles; Kent
Otis Clay; Hi Records; Hi
Irma Thomas; Down At Muscle Shoals; Chess/Charley
And of course, any Otis Redding compilation
Speaking of compilations, two of these songs (Jimmy Braswell and Thomas Bailey) come off a great Deep Soul compilation that tends towards the more obscure 45s: King's Serious Soul: Too Much Pain,
put together by John Ridley with the good folks at Kent. The tracks on the CD were not done (for the most part) in house at the label's home in Cincinnati, but rather leased from all over the great Southland. Furthermore, both the Johnny Truitt and Kip Anderson tunes are on the first volume of Excello soul cuts, entitled
The Heart of Southern Soul: From Nashville to Memphis and Muscle Shoals.
A few songs that I think of in the same breath that I left off the list since they are more precursors than fitting exactly into the genre:
Bobby "Blue" Bland; I'll Take Care of You; Two Steps from the Blues; Duke (that haunting organ!)
Sam Cooke; I Lost Everything; Night Beat; RCA
Percy Mayfield; Memory Pain; Tangerine 935
Earl King; Those Lonely, Lonely Nights; Ace
And there are omissions that I can't justify: Bettye LaVette ("Let Me Down Easy" or "Your Turn to Cry"), the late Earl Gaines ("Hymn #5"), Johnny Adams ("Sometimes a Man Will Shed a Few Tears Too"), Ella Washington (so many), Dan Penn (any version of "It Tears Me Up"), Willie Hightower ("You Used Me"), The Dells' "Stay in My Corner," and others. And the best thing about any list like this is that it's a moment in time. There's always more songs to discover (I just bought the Ollie Nightingale Memphis 45 with the very O. V. Wright-ish "Standing On Your Promise" that could've made the list).
I can't give enough credit though: if I was starting anywhere for obscure Deep Soul cuts, I would go to Sir Shambling's Deep Soul Heaven.
Sorry it's taken so long to update, but I've got some archived radio shows including tributes to the late greats Willie Mitchell and Bobby Charles, as well as a tribute to Eddie Hinton that coincided with the reissue of "Very Extremely Dangerous."