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The Percy Sledge Way

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Album Review

While Percy Sledge didn't have an especially large number of hits, he possessed one of the most identifiable styles of any singer from the golden era of soul, sounding a pure note of deep Southern heartbreak every time he opened his mouth. On the 1967 album The Percy Sledge Way, he performed 11 songs made famous by other R&B stars, and while he doesn't steal any of them away from the singers who first made them hits, there's no arguing that he puts a unique stamp on every one of them. While "You Send Me" and "Tell It Like It Is" may have sounded respectively romantic and coolly defiant in the hands of Sam Cooke and Aaron Neville, here Sledge transforms them into the plaintive cries of a man who knows he's about to lose his lover, and the gloomy undertow of numbers like "Drown in My Own Tears," "Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)," and "The Dark End of the Street" becomes palpable when Sledge covers them. And while Sledge can't outsing the likes of Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, or James Carr, part of the magic of this album is he doesn't really try — he simply turns each number into a Percy Sledge song, finding a rich vein of hurt and longing in every lyric as producers Quin Ivy and Marlin Greene and the session band (anchored by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section) give him the simple but dramatically resonant accompaniment he needs. Hardly a typical album of covers, The Percy Sledge Way features a great singer gently reshaping a handful of classic songs, and the results are perfect for a late night, either alone or with someone you hope will stick around.


Born: 25 November 1941 in Leighton, AL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Percy Sledge will forever be associated with "When a Man Loves a Woman," a pleading, soulful ballad he sang with wrenching, convincing anguish and passion. Sledge sang all of his songs that way, delivering them in a powerful rush where he quickly changed from soulful belting to quavering, tearful pleas. It was a voice that made him one of the key figures of deep Southern soul. Sledge recorded at Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama, where he frequently sang songs written by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn....
Full bio
The Percy Sledge Way, Percy Sledge
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  • £8.99
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Soul
  • Released: 1967

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