The Atlantic Recordings

Alabama native Percy Sledge scored his immortality with his first time on record: the country-soul anguish of "When a Man Loves a Woman," a 1966 Number One pop and R&B hit. He never had it so good on the charts again but kept cutting quality lamentation for Atlantic — the equally magnificent "It Tears Me Up," '68's slow-burning "Out of Left Field" — in a hearty wounded wail ideal for his surroundings: the melancholy brawn of the Muscle Shoals sound and the nitty-gritty he got from writers like Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and Donnie Fritts. Sledge had guts, too. His '69 cover of Buffalo Springfield's "Kind Woman" is blazing vocal church, set on a lonesome Saturday night.

Listen to "When a Man Loves a Woman":

Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos

From The Archives Issue 1123: February 3, 2011