An underappreciated soul vocalist with a gritty, church-reared voice, P.P. Arnold has been at the fore and in the background of pop hits spanning several decades. She emerged in the '60s as a back-up singer for Ike & Tina Turner and soon found solo success in England with a string of singles, starting with the Top 20 hit "The First Cut Is the Deepest" (1967). After concurrent and subsequent background work with the likes of Small Faces and Nick Drake, and a stint as an actor, she experienced a revival in the mid-'80s and into the early half of the next decade, supporting hits by Peter Gabriel and the KLF, and fronting another Top 20 U.K. hit with the Beatmasters collaboration "Burn It Up" (1988). A couple years after previously unreleased solo material hit the market as The Turning Tide, Arnold returned with a new album, The New Adventures of P.P. Arnold (2019). Born Patricia Ann Cole, P.P. Arnold grew up in a family of gospel performers and began singing at the age of four. The Los Angeles native got her professional start supporting Bobby Day before being invited to join the Ikettes, backing Ike & Tina Turner. Arnold toured with the Turners, including a stint with the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger persuaded her to remain in London, and she later signed with the Immediate label, then run by the Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. In 1967, the same year she recorded with label mates Small Faces, she released her debut album, The First Lady of Immediate, produced by Loog Oldham, Jagger, and Mike Hurst. The LP included the number 18 U.K. hit "The First Cut Is the Deepest," written by Cat Stevens (whose own version followed months later). Another album, Kafunta, arrived the next year and, in addition to Arnold's own compositions, featured covers of tracks by the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees, and Rolling Stones. Most popular was Chip Taylor's "Angel of the Morning," which Arnold took to number 29 on the U.K. chart. Additionally in the late '60s, Arnold started a second career as an actor, cast for the musical Catch My Soul. She acted into well into the '80s with appearances on television shows such as Fame and Knots Landing, and performed in another musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express. Although background session work had continued all the while -- she recorded with Nick Drake, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills, among many others -- her profile started to rise again in 1984, when she performed the title song for the film Electric Dreams. In 1985, she released "A Little Pain," produced by Dexter Wansel with involvement from members of Loose Ends, and was heard the following year on Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time." She closed out that decade with the number 14 U.K. hit "Burn It Up," produced by the Beatmasters, and then teamed with Pressure Point for multiple 12" releases. Extensive performing and recording work continued into the next couple decades, highlighted by the hook on the KLF's "3 A.M. Eternal," a global hit that topped the U.K. chart and in the U.S. reached number five. Arnold's Immediate output was reissued in 2001 on The First Cut: The Immediate Anthology. The singer continued to tour and record throughout the decade, most prominently with Roger Waters. In 2017, a shelved LP completed in 1971 was released as The Turning Tide. The fabled set featured production and writing by Barry Gibb and Eric Clapton, as well as input from the Delaney & Bonnie Band and Rita Coolidge. Arnold continued to tour into 2019, over 50 years into her career. That year, she released her fourth official album, The New Adventures of P.P. Arnold. The LP was produced by Steve Cradock, who previously worked with Arnold as a member of Ocean Colour Scene and as part of Paul Weller's band. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Andy Kellman
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Soul - Released August 9, 2019 | earMUSIC
Following the release of the shelved 1971 recording The Turning Tide by two years, P.P. Arnold's fourth studio album itself is archival in a sense, despite its title. In the late '90s, after the beloved cult soul singer helped Ocean Colour Scene take "It's a Beautiful Thing" to number 12 on the U.K. pop chart, she and the band's Steve Cradock worked on solo recordings. Only an update of Michael Nesmith's "Different Drum," based on the Stone Poneys' hit version from 1967, was issued. The rest was left unfinished until the mid-2010s -- before The Turning Tide was finally freed -- when Cradock rediscovered the material and was enthused enough to contact Arnold about finishing what they started. New Adventures spiffs up and expands the project to double-LP length. It plays to Arnold's strength as a charismatic and captivating vocalist most comfortable with lavish fusions of soul and pop that evoke the late '60s and early '70s. In addition to his production, arrangements, and multi-instrumental support, Cradock brings a few songs, such as the kaleidoscopic opener "Baby Blue" and the belter "Still Trying." Fellow champion and collaborator Paul Weller chips in with a couple of his own, including "Shoot the Dove," originally a Heavy Soul-era B-side. It's surpassed here with Arnold's voice, still charming and sweet with some grain to it, a natural fit. Other high points include a retouched "Different Drum" and a winding Arnold/Cradock-written ballad, "I Finally Found My Way Back Home," that would perfectly end just about any other album. Rather than close with it, New Adventures takes a couple striking turns on side four with a bad-ass recitation of Bob Dylan's "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie" and a poignant tribute to Arnold's eldest daughter. The subject of "I'll Always Remember You... (Debbie's Song)" died in a car accident over four decades ago, but the years since the tragedy haven't lessened her mother's passion. ~ Andy Kellman
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