Thursday, October 10, 2013

Initial 16: P.P. Arnold

Much like P.J. Proby, P.P. Arnold was an American who saw a limited amount of success in the UK, but not much in her own country. Unlike Proby, Arnold never had an American hit. Her climb to what success she did garner began when she was hired as replacement singer in Ike and Tina Turner’s Revue as a member of the Ikettes.

When the Turners went to England to support The Rolling Stones in 1966, Mick Jagger convinced the band’s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, to sign P.P. Arnold to his new Immediate Records label. Oldham took the advice and two albums were recorded before the label folded in the late 60s.

While she remained in England and had a moderately successful solo career, she was relatively unknown in the US. One of the songs that put her on the British charts was the original recording of “The First Cut is the Deepest.” Although Cat Stevens wrote the song, Arnold recorded it first in spring 1967. Immediate released the single twice with different catalog numbers and flip sides. The first was issued in June 1967 and the second in March 1969. The American release was the first of two singles Immediate issued under license to United Artist Records.

Although most Americans associate the song with Rod Stewart and Canadians remember Keith Hampshire’s 1973 recording, most Brits will identify it with P.P. Arnold. While absent from the CD mixes, the single was said to contain an early usage of tape flanging – an idea that was copied by label mates The Small Faces on “Itchycoo Park.” The single mix is definitely different with background vocals and reverb on the lead vocal.

If it is there, the flanging effect is not overly apparent as it is with “Itchycoo Park” and it appears that the two tape machines may have been more in sync rather than producing an in and out phasing due to speed differences. There is an obvious tape delay on the song and this may be part of what the engineers referred to as phasing. It is one of the few pop records, however, to feature a harp as a primary instrument.

The single charted at #18 in Britain, but never made the Hot 100 in the US. This may be more of a reflection of the stance of Immediate Records in the US than it would the performance of the artist.

Single Mix

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