Sunday, July 24, 2016

P.P. Arnold - The First Cut

Pat Arnold grew up in Watts as part of a church-going, gospel-singing family. After a short, abusive marriage, she was lucky enough to join the Ike and Tina Turner Review as one of the Ikettes, touring the country and eventually opening for the Rolling Stones. Of course, the Stones loved the Ikettes and Pat and Mick apparently hit it off to the point that when Pat said she wanted to leave the Ikettes, Jagger got her signed as a solo artist on Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records. A couple of British hits followed but, even with Andrew encouraging her to write her own material and with her obvious talent, the momentum didn't continue.

This CD collection of her Immediate recordings, complete with a lovely, fold-out booklet that outlines her career and includes a selection of photos of this beauty, shows her to have a strong, soul voice that interprets other people's material well and ranges from crooning ballads to groovy dance numbers.

The title cut, "The First Cut Is the Deepest" was her biggest hit, but for me the upbeat soul of "Speak To Me", "If You See What I Mean", "Am I Still Dreaming?" and "Treat Me Like a Lady" is even more powerful. "The Time Has Come" gives her a chance to explore her range, "(If You Think You're) Groovy" sounds almost like her work with the Small Faces (other good friends of hers), "Though It Hurts Me Badly" and "Something Beautiful Happens" has fine production and kinda mixes all kinds of things - hints of the Stones, bits of Petula Clark, maybe a little Laura Nyro - and songs like "Born To Be Together" and "Would You Believe" have some of the big production values of Oldham's mentor, Phil Spector. She does a good job with covers such as "Angel of the Morning" (Much better than Juice Newton), "Elanor Rigby" and "Yesterday" (kinda influenced by Ray Charles, I'd say), "God Only Knows", "As Tears Go By" and "To Love Somebody", giving them her own soul twist.

Sweet stuff, all well-done. I would have liked a bit more of the upbeat, swingin' soul, but dig the low-key, poppier stuff, as well. Nice slice of 60's sounds.