Percy Sledge – 1966 – When a Man Loves a Woman
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The charismatic Alabama-bred soulman’s first album was naturally built around the peerless and classic “When a Man Loves a Woman”, the first Southern Soul track that became a No. 1 Pop hit.
The title-track is soul perfection; the lamenting, organ driven groove, the country-soul guitar, the choir and on top of it all the magical voice of Percy Sledge. Truly one of the most brilliant recordings ever committed to vinyl, sung by the only Southern Soul performer who, commercially, seriously rivaled Otis Redding at the time.
A1 When a Man Loves a Woman 2:55
A2 My Adorable One 2:42
A3 Put a Little Lovin’ on Me 2:43
A4 Love Me All the Way 2:30
A5 When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters) 2:32
A6 You’re Pouring Water on a Drowning Man 2:22
B1 Thief in the Night 2:27
B2 You Fooled Me 2:34
B3 Love Makes the World Go Round 2:40
B4 Success 3:00
B5 Love Me Like You Mean It 2:26
Review by Soulmakossa
So, what about the rest of the LP? One knows that “When a Man Loves a Woman” is a hard act to follow, and the rare heights achieved by that particular tune is not attained elsewhere, here. That’s not to say the remainder is subpar, ‘filler’ or by-the-numbers soul. Quite the contrary.
“My Adorable One“, another quintessential Sledge-belter, has a charm all its own. The delicate vocal amidst the raw grit of the Muscle Shoals backing band is amazing. Covered by numerous performers since, Sledge’s spin still is the definitive version.
Percy righteously gets down on the pumped-up, blazing beater “Put a Little Lovin’ on Me” and the hard socking thumper “You’re Pouring Water on a Drowning Man” (also recorded by James Carr) demonstrating the man was at much at ease with more up-tempo material.
Nonetheless, Sledge soars on those delicous country-soul dirges, producing a sound uniquely nurtured by the fertile ground of upper-Alabama; the waltzy “Love Me All the Way” and especially “When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)” are perfect vehicles for Sledge’s gruffy pipes, the latter immersed in Spooner Oldham’s incessant Hammond.
Soul songwriter Dan Penn (who also co-wrote “The Dark End of the Street” for James Carr and was a prolific session guitarist around the FAME studios in Muscle Shoals) delivers two tailor-made, low-down ballads with “You Fooled Me” – featuring great piano work and subdued horns – and the philosophical “Success” – where the brassy goodness is more upfront.
“Thief in the Night” is a nice, rumblin’ slab of stompin’ soul which finds the middleground between the slow and more fastpaced tunes here. Percy goes all the way, though, on the slightly bossa-nova romp “Love Me Like You Mean It“, probably the hardest tune on the LP.
For good measure, a great if slightly ‘poppy’ version of “Love Makes the World Go Round” rounds out Percy’s second brilliant full-lenght album.