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April 2005

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Percy Sledge
Shining Through The Rain
  Varese Sarabande

Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge's great CD, Shining Through The Rain (Varese Sarabande), sort of eluded me for the past few months, perhaps because it has been ten years since his wonderful Blue Night CD and you weren't looking for anything new. His new company Varese Sarabande is more of an oldies/soundtrack company and certainly didn't promote this 2004 release, so it is even sweeter discovering this and realizing that he still has a lot of great music in him.

The accolades that came with his recent (2005) induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will hopefully get him out on the road and perhaps we won't have to wait another ten years for his next release. He sang his classic "When A Man Loves A Woman" at the awards, and the years have not deteriorated his very recognizable voice.

That brings us to this new release, and we must give kudos to the label for coming up with 13 great songs and production that shows the love behind this project. There are ties to the U.K. group, The Hollies, with their "Lonely Hobo Lullaby," penned by Allan Clarke and Terry Sylvester, and then three more penned by Clarke's replacement in the group, Mikael Rickfors, who had collaborated with Sledge on "Blue Night" ten years earlier.

"Shining Through The Rain" opens the CD and is a memorable tune that you will want to come back to in the future. "Misty Morning" is a slow ballad which features harmony vocals from Jakob Dylan (Bob's son).

Earl Carson's "Big Blue Diamonds" shows how well Sledge does with a great country song. The beautiful "A Lonely Violin," a Brothers Gibb tune is graced with other worldly violin playing by Lili Haydn.

A remake of the Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces' "Searching For My Baby" works great as sort of a change of pace. Steve Earle penned the excellent "My Old Friend The Blues," and Jackie Lomax's "Fall Inside Your Eyes" is another great choice of songs. All given the ultimate Sledge treatment.

The musicians present reads like a who's who of session players, with the likes of Clayton Ivey on piano and organ, Larry Byrom on guitar and guest appearances by Phil Upchurch, Barry Goldberg, Denny Freeman, Paul Jones and even some great harmonica by John "Juke Logan on "Lonely Hobo Lullaby." The horns are sensational, as is everything about this CD.

If you love Percy Sledge or just want to get reacquainted with his work, this CD is a must buy. They don't come along like this very often.

--- Alan Shutro


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