“When a Man Loves a Woman” by Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton’s bad reputation isn’t exactly undeserved…between his frequently poor material as a Soft Rocker and his often disastrous attempts to reinterpret classic standards, there’s a reason few people take him seriously. But his actual voice is undeniably impressive, even if his decision to perform everything in an overwrought scream often spoils its effect, and he can actually be a wonderful performer when given material that is both, A). good, and B). suitable for his performing style. His early material as a Hair Metal singer is often treated as though it were the only good work he had ever done, but a few of his early Pop singles (“How Can We Be Lovers”, “Love Is a Wonderful Thing”, “Time, Love and Tenderness”) were valid, and this is one of the best of them. This was Bolton’s third hit covering a Classic Soul standard, but while “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” was just an incredibly wrongheaded choice for Bolton’s style and “Georgia On My Mind” was done in by an awful Soft Rock arrangement, this cover actually works because the original song calls for exactly the kind of Soul Scream that Bolton specializes in. He performs it in almost exactly the same way Percy Sledge did on the original, and it proves to be an ideal showcase for all the good things about his voice. It may be a controversial opinion to state that Michael Bolton’s cover of Percy Sledge actually deserved its Grammy win, but I think I can back this one up.

Verdict: I certainly wouldn’t stick up for all of Bolton’s attempts at classic standards, but this is one of the few times it actually worked.

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