P.P. Arnold :: The Turning Tide

The story behind soul singer P.P. Arnold’s “lost” 1971 album The Turning Tide is, much like the tale of P.P Arnold herself, woven through with twists, turns, serendipity and historic music figures. Born into a family of gospel singers in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, she was singing in the church by age 4. By age 19, she’d find herself in the thick of London’s swinging 60s music scene, in the company of artists like Jagger, Hendrix, The Small Faces and, on these recently-surfaced recordings, Barry Gibb, Eric Clapton and a nascent Derek and the Dominos.

A music career was never her intention. An unplanned teen pregnancy forced the young Patricia Arnold into a bad marriage. One day in 1964, a friend and two other girls were booked to audition as backing singers for Ike and Tina Turner’s Revue. When one of them dropped out, the friend begged Arnold to fill in at the last minute. At the audition, Tina told them they’d got the gig, leaving Arnold in a tricky spot. Arriving home late, only to face another confrontation with her abusive husband, Arnold decided to put her trust in divine intervention and take the opportunity to get out. Soon she was touring Europe as an Ikette and opening for The Rolling Stones.

Mick Jagger became a fan, suggesting she go solo. She could stay in London, he said, and he would get her a deal with Immediate Records, the label started by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. She agreed, and “The First Lady of Immediate” was born.

Among her early recordings was the original version of “The First Cut Is The Deepest” (penned by Cat Stevens, who would record his own version later that year) and “Angel of the Morning”. The latter, a hit for Merrilee Rush in the US, very much belonged to Arnold in the UK, where her’s remains the definitive version. She would become a mod icon via her affiliation with Immediate and her collaborations and tours with The Small Faces (they wrote and played on her single “(If You Think You’re) Groovy”, while she sang on several Small Faces tracks, including “Tin Soldier”, and she also dated frontman Steve Marriott for a time). Her main backing band, featuring Keith Emerson on keyboards, would go on to become The Nice. Later, and much to her surprise, she was embraced by the Northern Soul scene in the 70s when several of her early tracks--in particular 1967 single “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”--became staples at all-nighters across England.

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