He may not have been the most prominent soul singer of the 1960s and 70s but Percy Sledge had a distinctive country soul or southern soul style and a pleading voice with spiritual undertones. He made a lovely, flowing type of R&B with his stirring vocals and exceptionally melodious songs like the timeless When A Man Loves A Woman, Dark End Of The Street, Take Time To Know Her and Out Of Left Field.
This is authentic music from the heart, full of yearning and romanticism expressed in gripping imagery. The backing is similar to the sound of the great Stax artists, and his voice is often framed by lovely female vocals. These songs are all tuneful and moving compositions demonstrating the prowess of the Muscle Shoals musicians.
Highlights on this compilation include the aforementioned masterpieces plus Put A Little Lovin' On Me, Warm And Tender Love, True Love Travels On A Gravel Road, Push Mr Pride Aside and Cover Me. Worst of the omissions are My Special Prayer and Keep Your Arms Around Me.
This Platinum Collection is a good introduction to Sledge, but people who are really into deep soul are advised to investigate further as he was a prolific artist and there are many more, lesser known, but equally excellent tracks available elsewhere. Together with a couple of legendary artists on the Stax/Volt label, Sledge was the best exponent of this gripping type of country-soul, and his voice gave him the edge!
"The Platinum Collection" is essentially Rhino's 1992 compilation "It Tears Me Up: The Best Of..." minus one song ("That's The Way I Want To Live My Life"). The track running order has been rearranged, there's new cheaper artwork and it's now at a budget price.
This remastered reissue (from the original tapes) is part of a slew of releases to celebrate Atlantic's 60th Anniversary (see full list below) and for a paltry four pounds in stores (even less online), you get 22 slices of gutsy, classic 60's soul.
Sledge released 4 albums on Atlantic and many non-album 7" singles sides too - both A's & B's - seven of which appear on this set (they're listed below). But the trade off for the budget price is that the well-annotated 18-page booklet of the original is now an informationless slip of paper - so here's a detailed breakdown of what's on what...
"When A Man Loves A Woman", June 1966 US Stereo LP, Atlantic SD-8125
(CD Tracks 1, 12 and 13)
"Warm And Tender Soul", November 1966 US Stereo LP, Atlantic SD-8132
(CD Tracks 2, 3, 4, 14 and 21)
"The Percy Sledge Way", August 1967 US Stereo LP, Atlantic SD-8146
(CD Tracks 5 and 17)
"Take Time To Know Her", May 1968 US Stereo LP, Atlantic SD-8180
(CD Tracks 6, 9, 10, 11 and 16)
Non-Album Single Sides...
Track 7 is "True Love Travels On A Gravel Road", 1969 USA 7" single on Atlantic 2679 [B-side of "Faithful & True"]
Track 8 is "Stop The World Tonight", 1970 USA 7" single on Atlantic 2826 [A]
Track 15 is "Bless Your Sweet Little Soul", 1968 USA 7" single on Atlantic 2594 [B-side of "My Special Prayer"]
Track 18 is "Kind Woman", 1969 USA 7" single on Atlantic 2646 [B-side of "Woman Of The Night"]
Track 19 is "Push Mr. Pride Aside", 1971 USA 7" single on Atlantic 2719 [B-side of "Too Many Rivers To Cross"]
Track 20 is "It Can't Be Stopped", 1967 USA 7" single on Atlantic 2396 [A]
Track 22 is "Rainbow Road", 1971 USA 7" single on Atlantic 2848 [A]
Possessed of a great voice, but unable to pen a tune himself, when Sledge got his hands on good material he was the equal of many more famous and revered names - Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's gave him the wonderful "It Tears Me Up" while Don Covay co-wrote the cleverly worded 'run around' message song "I'm Hanging Up My Heart For You". Bobby Robinson's "Warm And Tender Love" is delivered with a slinky organ wrapped around Sledge's pleading vocals - and the speakers literally rattle with the bass and drums of the slow but stunning "Bless You Sweet Little Soul" - all great stuff.
"When A Man Loves A Woman" will forever be his signature song of course, but like the equally underrated Arthur Conley who was lumbered with "Sweet Soul Music" - it seems that 'one' strong song is all that Percy Sledge and Arthur Conley are remembered for - when there was so much more to enjoy. And this is a great place to start - and for absolute fiscal peanuts too.
PS: the other Atlantic artists in "The Platinum Collection" series are: LaVern Baker (see REVIEW), Archie Bell & The Drells (see REVIEW), Brook Benton (see REVIEW), Booker T & The M.G.'s, Ruth Brown, Solomon Burke, Clarence Carter (see REVIEW), The Clovers (see REVIEW), Arthur Conley (see REVIEW), Don Covay, The Detroit Spinners, Eddie Floyd, King Curtis, Barbara Lewis (see REVIEW), The Mar-Keys, The Persuasions, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, (Big) Joe Turner (see REVIEW) and Betty Wright
Percy Sledge, 71 later this month, was born in Alabama, and could only have come from the South when you hear his unique mixture of sweetly keening soul, often just a little behind the beat, saving himself perhaps, or merely prolonging the pained pleasure. Many of Percy`s songs are love ballads, less sexy than Al Green or Marvin Gaye, but no less gorgeous.
There`s a trademark crack, or hiccup, in the Sledge vocal, as if dragging out the melody breaks up the momentum too. I love to hear him sing a song like the intense It Tears Me Up or the exquisite, half-spoken warning Take Time To Know Her (two of the tastiest treats on this generous 22-track bargain) because that`s when his Deep South sensiblities come into play, and we hear the sound of southern soul at its sweetest and sweatiest.
Other highlights are the wonderful Out Of Left Field, his version of the great Ray Charles slower-than-slow weepie Drown In My Own Tears, which he sings with sombre dignity, the funkier, steamier I`m Hanging Up My Heart For You - a terrific performance of a fairly standard soul belter - and the brooding It`s All Wrong But It`s Alright, given a sensitive reading by PS.
Naturally, his two biggest hits (it`s a shame, though no surprise, that radio programmers in the UK seem only to know these two examples of Sledge`s output) are present and correct, though why do they need to be so predictably placed first and second in the running order? Never underestimate the over-cautious, populist urges of the average compiler.
Percy`s reading of Dan Penn & Chips Moman`s classic Dark End Of The Street can stand
beside the best - the best being James Carr, whose original will never be bettered,
though the version here comes pretty close.
There`s also a caressing cover of Love Me Tender that Elvis must surely have appreciated. And his vocal on True Love Travels On A Gravel Road is exemplary.
I`ve always had a soft spot for Percy Sledge. He never shouted, pouted or raised much hell, but was a diffident, sincere voice in mid-to-late 60s soul music and beyond, who was lucky enough to have had access to some of the best songs written back then, songs he sang with a sultry rawness, made the more effective by his reluctance to over-emote.
As warmly and tenderly soulful as you could wish.
on 12 January 2014
Platinum Collections are available from several of the sixties sweet soul singers (Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley and Don Covay to name but three). This one is arguably the best. "The Dark End of the Street" is a soul classic and nobody has, I believe, done it better than Mr Sledge in 1967. The same goes for "Take Time To Know Her" (1966). It is certainly not "an overnight thing". The soul ballad was obviously Mr Redding's territory but Percy matched him, with a different, lighter and smoother voice. When he took on "Try A Little Tenderness" (with a speedier tempo than that employed by the legendary Tramp from the Georgia woods) he closed in on triumph. "True Love Travels On a Gravel Road" - how true is that? "Kind Woman" and "Cover Me" are amazing when given the Sledge treatment. And when Percy decided to "drown in his own tears" in 1967 the late, great Otis was more than adequately honoured. The timeless hits "Warm and Tender Love" and "When A Man Loves A Woman" are here to. There are no bad tracks. This is a very good collection whatever the metal.
on 8 April 2013
Unlike other great country soul artists like Arthur Alexander and James Carr who remain virtually unknown to the general public Percy Sledge will be remembered by all for his huge hit both sides of the Atlantic, When a Man Loves a Woman.
Percy who is a cousin of Jimmy[Steal Away ]Hughes grew up like so many black southern artists listening to white country music and the nasal delivery in his voice is clearly indicative of hill-billy and honky tonk singers . A prolific recording artist he has always preferred ballads to up tempo material .
When a Man Loves a Woman which was recorded in 1966 at Norala Sound Studio in Sheffield Alabama,seemed at first listen on playback to be a bit of a dud with out of tune musicians and also Percy himself singing off key ,but by the time a vocal chorus and horns had been added Quin Ivy and Rick Hall knew they had something rather exceptional ,a phone call to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic who grabbed it straight away and with Atlantic's distribution network this oddball with it's soulful descending bass line caught the public attention and gave Atlantic it's first Gold record
Two more big one's were to follow ,Warm and Tender Love and It Tears me Up. These were superb country soul recordings and had Sandy Posey Hershel Wiggington and Jeannie Green on backing vocal ,Jeannie's husband Marlin had played the country style guitar on When A Man''.
These three big ones are included on this CD along with other stand out tracks such as Out of Left Field which a lot of Percy aficionado's think is the best he has ever cut .Percy makes out very well on James Carr's ,Dark End of the Street and but is not so convincing on Solomon Burke's I'm Hanging up my Heart for You and his take on Presley's Love me Tender is open to debate.
From a personal point of view I wish the compiler had maintained the overall slow ballad feel throughout and not included two up-tempo numbers ,Put a Little Lovin' on Me and Love me like you Mean It ,but they are placed consecutively and some listeners may welcome a lively break.
Percy Sledge can be considered to be among the top five country soul artists and with his unique tremulous voice this bargain CD is a fitting example of his work.
on 7 February 2014
One of the very best soul singers of all time. Not a great quality recording, but some brilliant soul sounds you are ever likely to hear. Cd of good quality, all services absolutely brilliant. Many THANKS!
on 11 June 2012
have been a fan,collector, of Percy since 1968(vinyl)through to cd.I thought I had everything he had done,9 of the 22 songs are original 1966 new songs(with great original brass section)not on anything I had,all this for less than £3.FANTASTIC, now to find original 1966 vinyl.
All other tracks would be perfect for those of you who only know him through When a man loves a woman.
on 20 May 2016
The CD sent is deficient - The sound quality is ok when played in a CD player but no Album or track information is displayed
When transferred to a Player the sound quality is non-existent and no Album or track information is displayed
Complete rip off
on 31 July 2014
Wonderful soul singer. The album is not perfect as it has many imperfections which give it the true feel of music as it happened when musicians sat around together and recorded. I found some jewels hidden away on this album, songs not necessarily his more popular ones. If you like 1960’s soul music this album is a must have. One of the best soul men that to date has lived.
on 10 March 2015
You can't mistake the voice of Percy Sledge a brilliant artist, something to listen to