WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN * PERCY SLEDGE * ATLANTIC 584001 * UK
They didn't come much bigger than this, during the summer of 1966 this song was played everywhere good music was played and even places where it wasn't! Percy Sledge was born in Alabama in 1941, and although he was in a group - The Esquires Combo - before going solo, they never recorded. When A Man Loves A Woman was his first record and there can be no doubt that he was in the right place at the right time to land such a incredibly good song with fresh and top quality arrangements, but it was the extraordinarily articulate voice of Percy Sledge that brought every element of this recording together and bound it in what is without doubt one of the landmark recordings of the decade. The song achieved all sorts of firsts in one go, apart from launching the career of Percy Sledge: it put the Muscle Shoals recording centre on the international musical map, it was the first Southern Soul song to top the Pop charts, and was also the catalyst for Jerry Wexler of Atlantic records to take the company's top act Wilson Picket (followed by many others) down to Muscle Shoals to record, it was also the first record released on the new label design for Polydor's British Atlantic imprint. The recording was a phenomenal success a multi million seller which has been issued on countless Soul compilations and covered by any number of recording artists, male and female in versions from Country to Pop and from Jazz to Reggae. Unfortunately it is so familiar that its beauty is easily overlooked but at the time its aural effect was quite stunning and it definitely seemed to herald a new beginning, though few new of these things at the time given the background of the recording, it was just that.
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