Percy Sledge – My Special Prayer/Singles and Rarities (Edsel 7113)

2CD, 41 tracks, highly recommended.

 

Edsel’s re-issue of Percy Sledge’s Atlantic albums comes to blazing climax with the release of his 1970 platter, My Special Prayer on the first disc.  Unlike Sledge’s other Atlantic LPs, this one was not released in this U.S.; this Dutch release compiled 1969/70 singles—his revival of Chuck Jackson’s “Any Day Now”, “True Love Travels on a Gravel Road”, and a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Kind Woman”—along with the title track, a bunch of B-Sides, and four tracks that not been issued anywhere else in the world at the time.  From this mixed bag there are some standouts: “Blow Out the Sun”, the aforementioned “True Love Travels on a Gravel Road”, an impassioned take on the Everly Brothers’ “Let it Be Me”, and “Push Mr. Pride Aside”.  The remainder of disc one, and all of disc two, is made up of tracks either issued as U.S. singles between 1969 and 1973, tracks issued in South Africa and Germany only (Sledge was still very popular in those territories, after his American career waned), and other tracks that didn’t make it out of the can until the 21st century.  This “lost” material ranges from the late 60’s highs of “Self Preservation”, “Standing on the Mountain”, and “Woman of the Night” to early 70’s cuts like “That’s the Way I Want to Live My Life”, “You Can Always Get it Where You Got it”, and “Some Old Loverman”; all of it of excellent quality for songs that were ignored or lost for many years.  As good as this stuff is, this is not the place for a novice listener to start–that would be the first collection in this series, When a Man Loves a Woman/Warm and Tender Soul (Edsel 5063)—but anyone who already has the other two volumes needs to have this one if only to complete a fascinating journey through classic southern soul.

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