Breakfast with: P P Arnold

Sep 2019 Breakfast with: P P Arnold

THE MID-SIXTIES was a boom time for Soul Music in the UK.

By Jim Stewart

Tamla Motown and Stax were becoming the dominant sounds, opening the door for R&B artists galore to be picked up by promoters and brought over to the UK for package and club tours.

Many found the audiences more appreciative, knowledgeable without the degree of racial restrictions they experienced back in the States and decided to make England their home.

One of the most popular of these ‘music migrants’ was a young Ikette P P ARNOLD, who was part of The Ike & Tina Turner Revue that came to Britain in 1966 for a package tour with The Rolling Stones, following the success of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’.

While on the tour, she became close friends with Mick Jagger which led to P P (Pat) remaining in the UK to pursue a solo career on Immediate Records owned by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham.

For a while, it was as if the label could do no wrong: one hit single and album followed after another. Pat was backed by The Blue Jays initially and then The Nice, featuring Keith Emerson, and charted with ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ and ‘Angel Of The Morning’, among others, with two highly acclaimed albums ‘The First Lady Of Immediate’ and ‘Kafunta’.

But, by 1969, problems the label had been experiencing came to a head, collapsing – and for the first time P P saw the UK music scene also had a darker side.

Fast forward a full 50 years and she is back with her follow-up to those Immediate albums ‘THE NEW ADVENTURES OF P P ARNOLD’ which is a real gem making me want to find out why the delay, and what has she been doing during that time. An album of archived recordings ‘The Turning Tide’ collated from 70s sessions with Barry Gibb, and later, Eric Clapton, was issued a couple of years ago, but ‘New Adventures’ is the first complete work since those days.

I caught up with P P at her home in Spain and we began talking about the new album.

I’ve listened to ‘New Adventures’ a few times now and already I can’t get enough of it, so I want to know everything about it: why the long gap – and although I know some of what Pat has been doing in that period I wanted to know more.

“I’ve been busy, lots of different things, I have survived through working hard. Every decade I’ve had hits, maybe not in my name but I’m on the hits. I was working with Steve Cradock and Ocean Colour Scene in the ‘90s, then Steve approached me a few years back saying he wanted to record an album with me, nothing happened at the time but eventually we started to get it together resulting in ‘The New Adventures’ which I am really excited about, and proud of.”

There is a particularly wide mix of music within the album, I am really knocked out by the opener ‘Baby Blue’ and ‘The Magic Hour’.

“I think we were trying for a West Coast/Spectorsque good time vibe, pop and soul. Judging by the reaction we’ve had, I think we succeeded. We have soul, gospel – in fact every style of music I’ve sung, but deep down inside I am a gospel singer.”

You’ve also got more than a nod to your sixties Mod credentials by including two Paul Weller originals.

“I’ve always loved Paul, he is a truly lovely guy, very talented, a great songwriter, a real all-rounder. We’ve been friends for a long time now, and his songs are special to me.”

The track that surprised me the most was Bob Dylan’s ‘The Last Thoughts Of Woody Guthrie’ given the rap treatment.

“Once again, that was Steve’s idea. Once I started singing, we did the whole nine minutes in one take.”

I understand you have a tour lined up; will you be singing ‘Woody Guthrie’ as part of your set?

“No, I couldn’t possibly remember all of those words. The tour starts on October 2nd in Middlesbrough, and then we have 11 dates including Brighton, Cambridge, Islington Assembly Hall in London, Twisted Wheel, Manchester, closing in Liverpool on the 18th. If it goes well, we’re hoping to add more dates in November and December.

“Steve will be with me, we can’t afford to take strings and everything on the road, but Steve’s got it all worked out so we sound as close to the record as we can.”

Steve Cradock and P P Arnold

How did you meet Ike And Tina Turner?

“Tina saw me singing, liked me and offered me a way out of the abusive relationship I was in. I left my kids with my parents, and never looked back, and Tina took really good care of me.”

It was 1966 when you first came over here with Ike & Tina Turner.

“That’s right, for the Rolling Stones tour, time of the World Cup, the whole Mod thing, straight after ‘River Deep Mountain High’. Everybody loved us on that show. I became friends with Mick Jagger and he suggested I could make it as a solo artist. Their manager Andrew Loog Oldham had just started his new record label, Immediate Records, so when the tour finished and after the extra dates, I took his advice – decided to stay behind in the UK.”

I had the opportunity to see Ike & Tina at Streatham Locarno, they announced Stevie Wonder one week, with Ike & Tina the week after, tickets went on sale same day, couldn’t afford both, no credit cards then, so I opted for Stevie, thinking I would be able to get tickets for Ike & Tina the next week, but they had sold out.

My brother opted to go the opposite way, and never let me forget it, especially as tickets for Stevie were still available.

“After we finished the Stones tour, we stayed behind for a number of dance hall dates. I remember the Streatham show well, and then we did The Ram Jam Club in Brixton the following day and that was my last gig with Ike and Tina.”

What have you been doing for the past 50 years?

“I’ve been doing lots of different things, some recordings, West End theatre, session and backing vocals. I lost my daughter in the seventies, and then I came back in the eighties and worked with lots of people. I did The Kane Gang ‘Respect Yourself’, some Peter Gabriel stuff, then I had an accident myself in ’86, came back again in ’88 with The Beatmasters ‘Burn It Up’ track, which was a big hit: a lot of dance stuff, then I started working with The KLF.”

What work did you do with The KLF?

“I did everything, I am The Moo-Moo Choir, he-he-he, that’s me with Katie Kissoon, double-tracked and that: we were the Moo-Moo Choir, that’s us on ‘3am Eternal’ and everything, but they didn’t treat me right, they ripped me off, and didn’t pay me, so I don’t want to talk about them. That was then and I’d rather concentrate on now and my ‘New Adventures’.”

Next time, Pat goes into greater detail about those lost decades, the highs, lows, good and bad times, and her determination to overcome the heartaches. Don’t miss part two of Pat’s exclusive story in the October issue of The Beat.

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