Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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P.P. Arnold: The New Adventures Of... (earMUSIC)

The Adventures Of... P.P. Arnold (earMUSIC)



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UK release date 09.08.2019

You could say soul legend P.P. Arnold has been there, seen it, done it…and had the music world at her feet, then had it taken away from her, through no fault of her own I might add. If there’s a more resilient artist out there I have yet to read their story. Looking at her career highs and lows Arnold has had more drama in her life than a dozen Christmas episodes of Eastenders put together. Armed not only with her indisputable talent, luckily, there were times when this artist was in the right place at the right time, quirks of fate lead her to meet and work with many chart movers and shakers, stars and superstars, over the years including Mick Jagger, Barry Gibb, Eric Clapton, Nick Drake, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Primal Scream, Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene to name but few. It’s her work with the latter mentioned artists which has now brought P.P. Arnold back into the limelight to deliver a career-defining album and an album which has the potential to be her best to date.

Unbelievably, this is an artist who has only released 2 albums, “The First Lady Of Immediate” (1967) and “Kafunta” (1968) in 51 years up to 2017’s “The Turning Tide” which featured unreleased material from the ’60s and ’70s. But, there is a huge footnote to Arnold’s record releasing achievements, as we remember that this is the artist who became an instant soul music icon when she released evergreen soul classics “The First Cut Is The Deepest” and “Angel Of The Morning”. So when Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock discovered unreleased recordings he had made with Arnold during a house move, recordings that were made together 20 years ago, he got in touch with Arnold to suggest they finish their earlier endeavours and release a new album, it’s name, “The New Adventures Of… P.P. Arnold”.

As an album, “The New Adventures of…” offers much, which ironically is also it’s Achilles heel. This album is too long! Not often I say that these days. And the Bob Dylan 10 minute poem “The Last Thoughts Of Woody Guthrie” is ill needed - Marmite for most listeners, I expect. But, as mentioned, there is an awful lot to like…

Craddock’s par shone for expansive orchestra driven melody is well represented here and it compliments Arnold’s heart rendering kilter perfectly. As does the lead/acoustic guitar shaped tracks produced by the Ocean Colour Scene man and his creative cohort and long term mentor, mod godfather Paul Weller, who penned/produced 2 tracks on the album. This impressive pair are joined on writing duties by the artist herself, bassist and member of Craddock's band, Jake Fletcher. Plus, someone who perhaps, bar herself, knows the artist and her style best of all, her son Kodzo - who has already experienced writing success with other contemporary charting artists.

Album highs, and there are many, include outstanding opener “Baby Blue”, whose chorus once heard, refuses to leave the repeat catchy lyrics function in your head - I was singing it to myself all day! There are times on this album when the production and artist mix in a Ronnie Spector “Walking In The Rain” stylee, which is not a bad thing by the way. This album, although released 50+ years apart from previous albums, could easily fit alongside those 60’s career igniters, such is the authentic nature of this album - Craddock, Arnold et al. should all be very proud of this fact and the end result of their endeavours, it’s a fitting testament to such a fine talent.

There are 3 covers on this album, including the Weller track, and as you would expect, they slot in perfectly. The storyline, a unharmonious couple who’s relationship beats to “A Different Drum” is delivered with 60’s type style, verve and perfectly punctuated brass - a song that was vetoed by the Monkees’ management back in the day, their loss I say. The other cover is U.K. folk rocker Sandy Denny’s torch song “I’m A Dreamer” which is given a welcome infusion of soul filled angst and orchestral mastery - a beautiful version which ebbs and flows with emotion.

Other worthy mentions include a trio of sumptuous standouts “Still Trying” - which reminds of lyrics “Little Darlin” sung in Marley’s iconic “Stir It Up” - “You Got Me” and “The Magic Hour” all showcase both orchestration and vocalist to perfection - they have a real Spector-esque type feel which allow Arnold to hit her stride as it opens out, then understates, then open out again while delivering on all levels - stupendous stuff!

My guess on which tracks Weller involvement started with “Daltry Street” but how wrong I was…baring all the hallmarks of the great man, this has acoustic melancholy set to max…simply, a stunner! As far as the tracks Weller was involved with… “When I was Part Of Your Picture” again slots into this album perfectly but “Shoot The Dove”, taken from Weller’s 1997 “Brushed” EP, changes gear on proceedings with exceptional ease, oozing class and cool key changes, it’s not hard for an artist of Arnold’s calibre to impress along side this masterpiece.

Rounding off proceedings “I will Always Remember You (Debbie’s song)” is a fitting tribute to Arnold’s daughter, who died tragically in a car accident in the ’70s. Recorded at Exeter Cathedral and complete with choir and pipe organ, it’s a song which opens with strong accompaniment which at times, threatens to overwhelm the delicate delivery from the vocalist but we are talking about P.P. Arnold here…as the keys change, Arnold’s determination to convey her loss grows and by the end, her exceptional ode is complete. It’s Arnold at her breathtaking best and a fitting tribute and end to an outstanding album. Well done P.P. Arnold! Now I can't wait for "The Continuing Adventures Of…”

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