Saturday, 24 January 2009

TWO PP ARNOLD INTERVIEWS


P.P ARNOLD: 
LONG AGO’s AND WORLDS APART 
...AND HERE TODAY

From First Cuts... to Latest Cuts, from the ‘First Lady of Immediate’
recording with Phil Spector, Jimi Hendrix and the Smallfaces,
to the First Lady of Techno scoring Top Ten hits with Altern-8 and
the Beatmasters, through Primal Scream and Ocean Colour Scene,
to today – Roger Waters’ 2006 ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ tour and
headlining the ‘This Is Soul’ tour in February 2009 with
Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band,
P.P. ARNOLD has always been there, wherever the beat is hottest…
check out her latest moves on www.pparnold.com


It began long ago’s and worlds apart...
Then it began again with ‘Long Ago’s And Worlds Apart’. First it was P.P. Arnold singing and recording alongside the Smallfaces. Then she was back, guesting with Primal Scream on their version of “Understanding”, a B-side originally done by the Smallfaces (from the days ‘when B-sides were A-sides’), but which has now been rejuvenated for a multi-artist tribute album to the four Mod Gods of permanent cool. It’s one of Bobby Gillespie’s more inspired readings too, hyper-charged by P.P.’s soaring complementary vocals, her perfect voice working just as powerfully pure against Gillespie’s impassioned “people believe just what I’m putting down” as it did when she was recording with Steve Marriott. And then, following a fortuitous link-up at a Smallfaces Benefit gig tied in with promotion for the album, she was recording with Maximum British R&B practitioners and Fred Perry shirt-wearers Ocean Colour Scene too…!
And it’s only appropriate that she should. After all, as she explains to me now, “I sang on the original Smallfaces hits “Tin Soldier” and “Itchycoo Park”. And we all used to tour together with Jimi Hendrix and the Move and the Kinks and all those people. Like, in those days it was like everything was done live, everybody was playing music, we were all on the road.” A situation almost recreated when she met up with the Moseley Shoals nouveau-Mods at that fateful Smallfaces Tribute gig (which doubled as a benefit for the late Ronnie Lane’s MS charity). As well as relentlessy interrogating her about her days with the ‘Faces, the 60’s-fixated (some would say over-fixated) OCS roped her in to add vocal touches to “Traveller’s Tune” for their ‘Marchin’ Already’ album. Suddenly, it seems, P.P. Arnold is not only a magificent vocalist in her own right, but a live ikon of at least two of Pop’s great lost Golden Eras.
Ladies and Gentlemen, P.P. Arnold is a survivor - and music is better for her being here.
So, from the unique perspective of total involvement in three decades of vastly changing musical style, just how valid do you see the similarities between the Sixties Club Scene and its much-hyped Ninties counterparts, BritPop, Rave and life beyond? “Oooo, well”, a deliciously deep breath. “It does relate in the sense that those kids now are actually trying to recreate a vibe that happened then. They’re into, like, dressing up in Sixties clothes and the psychedelic thing. They’re into that dressing up part of it. But I don’t think that it relates to what was happening in the Sixties, other than the connection that people keep trying to put on it - which is the drug scene, right? People took LSD in the Sixties, and all that. But as long as I’ve known and been involved in life and living - and I grew up in the ghetto!, there’s always a drug scene happening. And I just hope that the kids don’t get sucked into it on that level, y’know?, into taking acid and all that other stuff. That is not a good thing at all. People forget that the Sixties era was also a bit more serious, even though everybody seems to think it was all wild and free with everybody freaking out and everything. But there was a lot of serious revolutionary things going on too. It was a very revolutionary time. Now they’re into the clothes, and they’re into trying to recreate the atmosphere. But that’s the only way it relates…”

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Long ago’s and worlds apart...
P.P. ‘Pat’ Arnold has a career CV that’s like every vinyl trainspotter’s wildest fantasy. Dip into it at random at any point and there’s unbelievable riches. “I was born in the ghetto. A little ghetto called Watts on the outskirts of Hollywood” she begins, laughing in perfect pitch. “My whole family are Gospel Singers. I come from a family of Gospel Singers. My mother, father and grandmother, we were the full Gospel Baptist Church Choir! It just seems like my family always sang together, and we were always in harmomy. That’s the way god planned it, and it’s special.”
From there, it was to be the less harmonious vibes of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue which provided Pat with the bridge to Swinging Sixties London. She’d quit the typing pool to become one of Ike Turner’s Ikette in time to contribute to the legendary ‘River Deep Mountain High’ sessions. “Ike produced one side of that album, and Phil Spector produced the other side. And so, yeah - that’s the part of being with Ike & Tina that I was really involved in, we did stuff with Phil Spector with the big choirs. And then, of course, we did all the Ikettes stuff on all the funkier material that was on the other side.” These are events powerfully recreated in the movie ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’. The high-pressure atmosphere of Ike Turner’s regime fuelled by drugs-and-violence, then further compounded by Spector’s paranoid genius. But P.P. Arnold soon found herself in London doing session-work for Spector’s grooviest British disciple - Andrew Loog Oldham, the original Sunglasses-after-Dark hipster. A European Turner tour with the Rolling Stones had resulted in a word from Mick Jagger to his then-manager, and she was invited to become part of Oldham’s Immediate label roster. “Immediate was one of the first independent labels, and the whole scene was modelled on the Phil Spector California scene. But then there was the other side of it, which was the funky side. With people like Steve Marriott, the Faces, and myself. We were all into the Motown and Stax vibe, and we were trying to recreate that part of what was happening in the States, and doing it over here in England.”
She scored hits in her own right, with the definitive version of Cat Stevens’ song “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, followed by an achingly fine cover of “Angel Of The Morning”, while she was touring with a backing group called the Nice which at times included musicians like Keith Emerson (ELP) and Steve Howe (Yes). She also found time to work on sessions for label-mates Chris Farlowe and the Smallfaces. “Yeah, all that seems like it was another world now. We would go out on those Immediate tours, so all the artists were very much in tune and in touch with each other, and with all the people who were about at the time. We all used to tour together. We used to work up and down the M1. We used to go to Europe, I remember touring in Europe doing all the colour TV shows - when colour TV was first happening. There were all those Music Shows and Festivals and things. It was a special time. But unfortunately that all changed when Immediate suddenly went bankrupt, and everybody just disappeared with the money and we all got left behind. I guess it was a drag all that, ‘cos there was, like, really good things happening there.”
Then came stage work, with roles in Jack Good’s ‘Catch My Soul’, Lloyd-Weber’s ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’, and ‘Starlight Express’ for which she had to endure a two-week crash-course in roller-skating for the part! It was an uneasy period. “I’m not a very ‘theatrical’ person” she confides. “I learnt a lot from those experiences in the theatre. I learnt a lot from the discipline that has to go down with, say, ‘Catch My Soul’. But I get very bored very easily in the Theatre, especially if it’s a show that’s just sort of - set. They want you to do everything the same way... every... single... night. It’s not a harmonious vibration for me because my whole thing is, like, energy. Especially where music is concerned, I relate to what’s happening at the moment. I never sing a song exactly the same way. I’m a Gospel Singer, and that’s all about ad-libbing...”

--- 0 ---

You might not realise it, but you saw and heard a lot of P.P. Arnold between then and now. You heard her singing harmonies and call-and-response on Peter Gabriel’s ‘So’ album. She did work for the satiric ‘Comic Strip’ TV movie ‘Supergrass’ (“I did the theme song for that with Simon Booth and the guys from Working Week”). She was perfectly cast as a deliciously observed Jazz singer guesting in ‘Jill Gasgoine’s’ Night Club for ‘Boon’s Christmas Special’ alongside Michael Elphinck’s downbeat private investigator. And you probably heard her singing a Boy George composition on the ‘Electric Dreams’ movie soundtrack too, alongside Philip Oakey and Heaven 17. There’s more, including TV-ad voice-overs for ‘Finesse’ shampoo, ‘Vortex’ bleach, and Levi’s… but the route back into the Top Twenty in her own right came initially through Martin Heath’s Rhythm King Records - home of Bomb The Bass, the hypnotically inane Baby Ford, and S*Express (whose Mark Moore gets a liner-credit on the “Burn It Up” sleeve).
The Beatmasters, you’ll no doubt recall, roared in on House Music’s first wave with the frenetic “Rock Da House” recorded in liaison with ace rappers the Cookie Crew, making Rhythm King - with Sheffield’s ‘Fon’ organisation, leaders of the UK chart strike force for House product. “I’d met Richard Walmsley two years before. I was looking for someone to write with. And so was he. We hooked up and soon we were writing lots of different things. The Beatmasters were very much into House Music, so Richard thought it might be a good idea for us to do a House tune together. I said to him “as long as we can make it Funky, then I can kinda relate to it, and get into it”, because I didn’t know very much about House music at that time. I wasn’t really tuned into all that stuff that originally came out of Chicago and Detroit, all the roots of what House Music was about. I hadn’t really been tuned into that, so I was ‘educated’ by the Beatmasters!”
She arrived back on TV with a video hyper-charged with blazing sihouettes and a hit that sounds as new as tomorrow’s Ceefax even now. And I guess I was very much in love with what I saw. The single “Burn It Up”, recorded in league with the upwardly mobile Beatmasters, took her to no.14 in September 1988, and back onto ‘Top of the Pops’ after a twenty-year absence. “It was great to see that” she says, laughing infectiously. “I was a nervous wreck before “Burn It Up” went into the Top 40. You work so hard on a project that it’s great when it breaks through. Because otherwise people just think you don’t exist anymore.” There were more Beatmaster collaborations, including the lushly expansive sweep of “Make Me Feel” on their album, while her other avenues into Techno and Rave scored even higher chart placings than she’d achieved in the 1960’s. It opened the door for “Dreaming” - a ‘New Musical Express’ ‘Single Of The Week’ just nine months later, recorded with Pressure Point. And then she scored her biggest chart smash to date with “Evapor-8”, recorded with Mark Archer and Chris Peat’s Techno group Altern-8, which reached no.6 in April 1992.
From work with Hendrix or Nick Drake, and singles produced for her by Mick Jagger or Barry & Maurice BeeGee, to working with the Techno furnace of Altern-8, through to Primal Screamers Bobby Gillespie and ex-Stone Roses drummer Mani. From ‘River Deep Mountain High’ through “Evapor-8” into high-energy duetting with Simon Fowler’s Ocean Colour Scene, P.P. Arnold, the one-time ‘First Lady of Immediate’, can take a unique perspective from total involvement in three decades of vastly changing music style. Which her Smallfaces then-and now involvement with the ‘Long Ago’s And Worlds Apart’ tribute album brings neatly full circle.
And she still looks as good. “I put a lot of energy into working, y’know? and there’s lots of things that you haven’t heard yet. There’s lots of great things we’ve got. All the time I’ve been writing, and I’ve got lots of tunes. I’ve been living it and writing it. So I just thank god that finally a channel has opened which will hopefully make it possible for all those things to come through and be heard.”
P.P. Arnold. Her vocabulary high with non-vogue words like ‘vibe’ and ‘funky’, but no nostalgia victim. Her art is totally committed to now, even allowing for her perfectly understandable tendency to prefer spontaneity over digital perfection. And with a career spanning reference points from Psychedelia to Screamadelica, from Old Mod to New Mod, how does studio-work compare, then and now? “My brain still does not compute with what a Demo is” she asserts. “People waste a lot of time doing Demo’s, and they lose the real feeling of the tune by trying to perfect it in that way. But anyway, everything is what it is, that’s the way things are. The time right now is a very revolutionary time. But - it’s just another time, right? Now we’re just sorta further along in time and we’re dealing with the same things in different ways, aren’t we?”
There’s no way I’m capable of disagreeing.
From long ago’s and worlds aparts, to here today... first cuts are still the deepest.

Modified from a featured originally published in:
‘MUSIC COLLECTOR no.31’ (UK – September 1991)


FIRST CUTS... 
AND LATEST CUTS: 
THE P.P. ARNOLD STORY

P.P. ‘Pat’ ARNOLD was equally at home recording
with Phil Spector, Ike & Tina Turner, the Smallfaces
Jimi Hendrix... and Peter Gabriel. Then she was the 
Soul voice on Altern-8, Pressure Point, and the Beatmasters
high-charting 1990’s Dance Culture, Techno and House
hits. Now she’s recording with Primal Scream and
Ocean Colour Scene. ANDY DARLINGTON attempts
to unravel her complex history, with a little help from
the ‘First Lady of Immediate’ herself...


‘LONG AGO AND WORLDS APART…’
“It’s not simply a question of getting hot,
but a matter of how much heat you can take...!”
(introduction to “Burn It Up”) 

Do you know what love is? No, do you really know what love is? She was twenty. I was nineteen. She was so lip-smackingly beautiful I’d have gladly crawled on hands and knees over a mile of shattered Guinness bottles just to lick her ankle. But it was not destined to be... largely because she was on TV emoting “The First Cut Is The Deepest” on a black and white ‘Top Of The Pops’ with a fragile heartbreak so intense it had me breathless on the edge of my chair, way back around the timebend in 1967.
We’re both a little older now. She’s back, singing with the likes of Primal Scream and Ocean Colour Scene. That long black hair, the stuff of my adolescent fixation, braided into nouveau style. Her current renaissance begins with ‘Long Ago’s And Worlds Apart’, a tribute album to those four Mod Gods of Maximum R&B the Smallfaces. She guests with Primal Scream on their maxed-up reading of the old Smallfaces B-side “Understanding”, and she does it with that same conviction and sureness of touch that she applied to the dream arsenal of eighties Acid House rhythms or the Soul and Rock that came before it.
P.P. Arnold, it’s great to have you back. “Well, thank you very much.”
But of course, P.P.’s been through this comeback scene before. She may have worked with Ike & Tina Turner, hung out in Swinging London with Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Chris Farlowe, the Smallfaces, the BeeGees... her Sixties credentials are immaculate. But she was just as integral a part of the late-eighties House Music explosion, recording with the Beatmasters and Pressure Point, before hitting a chart high of no.6 as part of Techno group Altern-8. But right now I’m here with P.P. Arnold and at one point in a long detailed conversation that runs from Phil Spector to Techno, from the Smallfaces to Primal Scream, we wind up talking about her involvement with that first wave of British House, and the Top Ten smash the Beatmasters recorded with her, the incendiary Acid House furnace “Burn It Up”.
Was she aware of Acid House before her own involvement with the scene? Just how valid is her Techno credibility? “I was aware of it, because I have a son who’s a musician. He’s into everything as far as music is concerned. He was into that Teen-Scene then! So, you know what I mean? I was aware of it but I just hadn’t really heard all the different aspects of it. You hear some occasional things and you think ‘I don’t like that!’. But then you hear more of it, lots of different angles to it. So I could say I was ‘educated’ in House by the Beatmasters...!”
But prior to that, back around the timebend, she first came to England in 1966 as part of Ike Turner’s spin-off group the Ikettes? “That’s right. I certainly did ...”

‘RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH…’
“People of today, gotta work it all out
hey come on people, don’t let the fire burn out...”
(“Burn It Up”)

Pat Arnold has a history like a vinyl junkie’s richest and wildest fantasy. She was born in Los Angeles in 1946, “in the ghetto. A little ghetto called Watts on the outskirts of Hollywood” she begins, laughing beautifully. “My whole family are Gospel singers. I come from a family of Gospel singers. My mother, father and grandmother, we were the full Gospel Baptist Church Choir. The nucleus of that choir was my family, and then everybody else, cousins and aunts, you know? It was definitely a family thing for me. It just seems like my family always sang together, and we were always in harmony. That’s the way god planned it, and it’s special. I look forward to maybe at some point doing something with my family. With my brothers and sisters, ‘cos they’re all still singing. My sisters are still involved in the church. And it’s great when I’m home. We sing together and we do things together...”
From there, it was the less harmonious vibe of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue that brought Pat to England. She quit her typing job to become one of the Ikette, “that’s right. I joined them shortly before all that stuff happened with Phil Spector. So yeah, I did background bits on that ‘River Deep Mountain High’ album. That’s the part of being with Ike & Tina that I was really involved with. Ike produced one side of the album, and Phil Spector produced the other side. And so yeah, we did stuff with Phil Spector with the big choirs. And then, of course, we did all the Ikettes stuff on the funkier material that was on the other side.” An Ikettes compilation album (‘Fine Fine Fine’ on Kent) bears liner-notes vehemently attacking Ike Turner’s financial mistreatment of his group, bearing out Ms Turner’s own retrospective tirades about the man’s unpleasant personal habits.
Yet, from working in the super-charged atmosphere of Ike Turner’s regime, compounded by Spector’s legendary paranoid genius, by September 1966 Pat Arnold found herself in London’s Regent Sound Studios trying out on another Spector classic, the Ronettes “Is This What I Get For Loving You Baby”, under the production eye of Spector’s keenest disciple Andrew Loog Oldham. The link was provided by a British Turner tour supporting the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger introduced Pat to his then-manager (Oldham), and she was inexorably drawn into his roster for the fledgling independent label, Immediate. The Spector song, complete with Oldham’s maniacally gratuitous Trad Jazz break, didn’t work out for Pat, it was “the wrong key”, and she “just didn’t feel it”. So the song went instead to Marianne Faithful, with ‘P.P. Arnold’ (as she was by then billed) soon overtaking it on the chart with her own original version of Cat Stevens fine composition “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, produced by former Springfield Mike Hurst... Er, “that’s ‘Springfield’ as in Dusty Springfield, not Buffalo Springfield!” Right.
P.P. Arnold is “aided and abetted by a talented team of Top Pop people” comments ‘New Musical Express’ journalist Keith Altham, “and with that kind of team, big things must happen!”. While “it’s a bit on the sad side” observes ‘Record Mirror’, “but I fancy the chances of ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’”. She filmed a promo clip for “First Cut...”, miniskirted and heartbreakingly beautiful on the cold shingle of Brighton beach, as the single soared to no.18 in May 1967, her highest chart position - until “Evapor-8” by Altern-8 was destined to reach no.6 twenty years later! By which time the film-clip would be available as part of the video series ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Greatest Years (1967)’ (Video Collections).
In the meantime, more solo chart entries followed, including a soulful cover version of Merilee Rush’ American hit “Angel Of The Morning”. But it was recorded at a time when Pat was furiously working on sessions for label-mates Chris Farlowe and the Smallfaces. It was a prolific period, and just perhaps her session generosity distracted her from devoting more time to her own career development. “Immediate was one of the first independent labels. We all worked together on each other’s different projects and schemes. And while it was happening it was a really good Family-Vibe sort of situation”. It was Immediate co-owner Tony Calder who rechristened ‘Pat’ into ‘P.P.’. ‘Happy to be part of the industry of Human Happiness’ said the logo on the records, and for a while it lived up to the brag. “Well, that’s right. The whole Immediate scene was, as you say, modelled on the Phil Spector California scene. But then there was the other side of it, which was the Funky side, with people like Steve Marriott, the Faces, and myself. We were all into the Motown and Stax vibe, and we were all trying to recreate that part of what was happening in the States, and doing it over her in England.”
I remember seeing her on ‘Top of the Pops’ sharing lead vocals with Steve Marriott on the Smallfaces grim psychedelic fairytale “Tin Soldier”, P.P. hitting all the high notes Steve couldn’t quite manage. “Yeah, all that seems like it was another world now. I sang on the Smallfaces hits “Tin Soldier” and “Itchycoo Park”, and I had a single out called “(If You Think You’re) Groovy” which Steve (Marriott) wrote and produced for me. And we all used to tour. Like in those days it was like everything was live, everybody was playing music, we were all on the road, the Immediate ‘House’ situation. Nowadays, everybody seems to think that it was all wild and free with everybody freaking out and everything. And yes, people took LSD in the Sixties, and all that. But the Sixties era was also a bit more serious. There were a lot of serious revolutionary things going on. It was a very revolutionary time. We would go out on those Immediate tours, so all the artists were very much in tune and very much in touch with each other, and with all the people who were about at the time - like Jimi Hendrix and the Move and the Kinks and all those people. We all used to tour together. We used to work up and down the M1. We used to go to Europe. I remember touring in Europe, doing all the colour TV shows when colour TV was first happening, and there were all those music shows and Festivals and things. It was a special time. But unfortunately that all changed when Immediate suddenly went bankrupt, and everybody just disappeared with the money and we all got left behind. I guess it was a drag all that, ‘cos there was, like, really good things happening.”
P.P. Arnold’s live accompaniment through the Immediate phase was the Nice, featuring Keith Emerson (later the ‘E’ in ELP) on keyboards. “That’s right. Keith was in my band, the Nice. That was my backing group, and we were out there just like everybody else, just trying to put out some energy for the times.” Then she rode out the decade as part of the legendary Delaney & Bonnie tour, in other notable company (with white Soul star Bonnie Bramlett, also a graduate of the Ike Turner touring band). “Yes, I did that tour, it’s funny, I opened that show for Delaney & Bonnie, and Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Billy Preston - all those people! And I had a band at that time too, on that tour my guitar player was a guy named Steve Howe, who later became the Yes-man, with the trio of Tony Ashton, Gardner and Dyke (look them up in the ‘Guinness Book Of Hit Singles’ too!)...”
Two years of legal wrangles followed the disintegration of Immediate, but an association with the Robert Stigwood Organisation resulted in a new single, “Bury Me Down By The River”, written and produced for her by BeeGees Barry and Maurice Gibb. Then there were sessions at the Olympia Studios with musicians from the Delaney & Bonnie tour. Husband / manager Jim Morris speaking to ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine about Eric Clapton playing on P.P.’s version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, Steve Winwood’s “Medicated Goo”, and Van Morrison’s “Brand New Day”. But her next major career step was to be into stage work with roles in Lloyd-Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and the all-skate musical ‘Starlight Express’.
The first of them was Jack Good’s ‘Catch My Soul’, a spin-off from which was her October 1970 single “A Likely Piece Of Work” written and produced by former ‘Oh Boy’ mainman Good. It’s “an upbeat number with a storming beat and scorching backing” opines ‘New Musical Express’, conceding “maybe the material isn’t all that memorable, but P.P. attacks the lyrics with a fire and an urgency that transforms it into a personal triumph for her. It showcases her rampaging Soul delivery to ideal advantage.” But for Pat Arnold, working in the Theatre was an uneasy experience. “I’m not a very ‘theatrical’ person” she confides, and as the Seventies closed she returned to lucrative session work... and commercials too. You’ve heard her voice on TV-ads for ‘Finesse’ shampoo, ‘Vortex’ bleach, and the famous Nick Kamen Levi’s ad, while she worked with Nick Drake, and on Peter Gabriel’s ‘SO’ album (“I did “Sledgehammer”, “Big Time” and a couple of other sort of harmony things”), the ‘Theme From Supergras’ for the Comic Strip TV Movie with Simon Booth’s Working Week... ...and there was also an Eric Burdon album called ‘Survivor’. “Eric Burdon - yeh! I did work with Eric, it seems like a l-o-n-g time ago.” It was 1978. “That’s right. I worked with him in LA, and… I haven’t seen him since that time! I do hope he’s well and still doing it.”

‘BURN IT UP…’
“you got to do this thing with feeling,
you got to know just what I’m meaning’
got to believe just what I’m handing 
... understanding”
(“Understanding” B-side of “All Or Nothing” by the Smallfaces 
and now on ‘Long Ago’s And Worlds Apart’ by Primal Scream)

I remember Adele, PR for the Beatmasters’ Rhythm King records, and hence also part of the support squad, being gushingly effusive about P.P. Arnold, comparing her favourably with Joan Collins, an ‘amazing’ woman who the passage of time cannot touch. But even before “Burn It Up”, P.P. was achieving high 1980’s profile via her inclusion on the ‘Electric Dreams’ movie soundtrack alongside Heaven 17, Philip Oakey, and other Virgin Records artists. Record company politics intervened, but even in that context she’d lost none of her ability to attract star sidemen. Her contribution to the album was written by Culture Clubber’s Boy George & Phil Pickett, and it features a Peter Frampton guitar solo. “Yeeee-ah. I didn’t really chart with that. It didn’t chart, but it did get a lot of airplay and a bit of exposure.” When issued as a single ‘NME’ reviewed her track, commending P.P.’s vibrato vocal as being powerful enough to “flatten sheets of corrugated iron”. But “the Giorgio Moroder tune (sung by Oakey) was the one that Virgin sort of put out there. At the time I was actually signed to Ten Records, and I was just ‘loaned’ to Virgin by Ten Records, so I think it was politics, y’know? Giorgio Moroder and those guys were already closer to Virgin than I was so they got the shot.”
“When I was with Ten Records things didn’t really work out there for me.” A delightful giggle. “There were so many things that didn’t work out. Everything changes. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the business, or how much experience you have. But all the time you keep working, and you’re trying very hard to break through. You work so hard on a project that it’s great when it breaks through, because otherwise people just think you don’t exist anymore. So yes, it’s great when it breaks on through…!”
As she did, of course, massively with “Burn It Up”. Richard Walmsley, with Paul Carter and Manda Glanfield, were the Beatmasters. They charted heavily with “Rok Da House” recorded in liaison with the Cookie Crew. They produced the Yazz & The Plastic Population hit “Stand Up For Your Love Rights”. Then “I met Richard Walmsley - well, actually, ‘Dicky Beatmaster’ he’s called. I met him two years before “Burn It Up” happened, at a James Brown concert at the Hammersmith Odeon. I was introduced to him through a mutual friend of ours, a guy by the name of Jimmy Thomas, who used to work with me when I was in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. We’d worked in the Revue together. So then I met Richard. I was looking for someone to write with. And so was he. We hooked up, and we wrote lots of different things together...”
“I was a nervous wreck before we went into the Top 40” she recalls. But even before the release of “Burn It Up” there was a buzz of industry anticipation. “We actually recorded the track in March/April of that year (1988), and it was supposed to be released in the June” she explains. “So during the interim period Mark (Moore of ‘Rhythm King’ label-mates S*Express) became one of the first people to start getting it out on the air. He apparently got the disc and started playing it, and he wrote some really nice reviews about it too, and so, yeah, he was involved through the Beatmasters in different ways…”
But of course, P.P. Arnold has been through this comeback scene before. So it’s hardly surprising that now she’s happening again. She’s in the studio with Primal Screamers Bobby Gillespie and ex-Stone Roses drummer Mani. And she’s there singing alongside nouveau-Mod Simon Fowler on Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘Marchin Already’ album.
P.P. Arnold, it’s great to have you back, again. “Well, thank you very much”
Do you know what love is? No, do you really know what love is? I loved P.P. Arnold in 1967. I guess I still do. First cuts are the deepest...


P.P. ARNOLD: SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

January 1967 “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” c/w “Life Is But Nothing” (Immediate IM040)
4 May 1967 “First Cut Is The Deepest” c/w “Speak To Me” (immediate IM 047) reaches no.18 during 10-week chart run. A Cat Stevens song, produced by Mike Hurst.
2 Aug 1967 “The Time Has Come” c/w “If You See What I Mean” (Immediate IM 055) reaches no.47 during a 2-week chart run.
24 Jan 1968 “(If You Think You’re) Groovy)” c/w “Though It Hurts Me Badly” (Immediate IM 061) Steve Marriott composition and production. Reaches no.41, 4 weeks on chart.
10 Jul 1968 “Angel Of The Morning” c/w “Life Is But Nothing” (Immediate IM 067) reaches no.29, 11 weeks on chart
1968 “First Cut Is The Deepest” c/w “The Time Has Come” (Immediate IM 079)
1968 ‘THE FIRST LADY OF IMMEDIATE’ by P.P. ARNOLD (Immediate IMSP 011) LP
Oct 1969 “Bury Me Down By The River” (Polydor 56-350) Written and produced by Barry and Maurice Gibb
Jan 1970 ‘KAFUNTA’ by P.P. ARNOLD (Immediate IMSP 017) LP with various tracks produced by Mick Jagger and Steve Marriott. Features “God Only Knows” which is later used on the sampler ‘IMMEDIATE LETS YOU IN’ (Immediate IMLYN 1)
1970 “A Likely Piece of Work” (Polydor) Written and produced by Jack Good
Jan 1978 ‘P.P. ARNOLD: GREATEST HITS’ by P.P. ARNOLD (Immediate) LP featuring “First Cut Is The Deepest”, “Angel Of The Morning”, “Eleanor Rigby” etc
Feb 1978 ‘SURVIVOR’ LP by ERIC BURDON (Polydor) P.P. Backing vocals only
Sept 1978 ‘ELECTRIC DREAMS’ (Virgin / Ten) P.P. sings movie soundtrack song written by Boy George O’Dowd and Phil Pickett
Sept 1988 “Burn It Up” c/w “Acid Burns” (Rhythm King LEFT 27T) with BEATMASTERS recorded at ‘Workhouse’ with Colin Faver. Reaches no.14 on chart. Beatmasters were Richard Walmsley, Paul Carter, Manda Glanfield
1 July 1989 “Dreaming” by PRESSURE POINT (Viceroy) chosen by Malcolm McLaren an ‘NME’ ‘Single Of The Week’
17 Jun 1989 ‘ANYWAYAWANNA’ BEATMASTERS LP (Rhythm King LEFT LP 10) guest vocals by MC Merlin, Cookie Crew etc. P.P. vocals on “Burn It Up” and “Make Me Feel”
11 Apr 1992 “Evapor-8” by ALTERN-8 (Network NWK 38) reaches no.6 on chart
1997 ‘LONG AGO’S AND WORLDS APART’ (NYCE 1/CD) multi-artist album, P.P. guest vocals with PRIMAL SCREAM track “Understanding”
Sept 1997 ‘MARCHIN’ ALREADY’ by OCEAN COLOUR SCENE. LP with P.P. vocals on “Traveller’s Tune”, also a chart single

Modified from a feature originally published in:
‘HOT PRESS XMAS/ NEW YEAR ANNUAL 1998’ (Eire – December 1997)

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