An underappreciated soul vocalist with a gritty, church-reared voice, P.P. Arnold has been at the fore and in the background of pop hits spanning several decades. She emerged in the '60s as a back-up singer for Ike & Tina Turner and soon found solo success in England with a string of singles, starting with the Top 20 hit "The First Cut Is the Deepest" (1967). After concurrent and subsequent background work with the likes of Small Faces and Nick Drake, and a stint as an actor, she experienced a revival in the mid-'80s and into the early half of the next decade, supporting hits by Peter Gabriel and the KLF, and fronting another Top 20 U.K. hit with the Beatmasters collaboration "Burn It Up" (1988). A couple years after previously unreleased solo material hit the market as The Turning Tide, Arnold returned with a new album, The New Adventures of P.P. Arnold (2019).
Additionally in the late '60s, Arnold started a second career as an actor, cast for the musical Catch My Soul. She acted into well into the '80s with appearances on television shows such as Fame and Knots Landing, and performed in another musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express. Although background session work had continued all the while — she recorded with Nick Drake, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills, among many others — her profile started to rise again in 1984, when she performed the title song for the film Electric Dreams. In 1985, she released "A Little Pain," produced by Dexter Wansel with involvement from members of Loose Ends, and was heard the following year on Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time." She closed out that decade with the number 14 U.K. hit "Burn It Up," produced by the Beatmasters, and then teamed with Pressure Point for multiple 12" releases. Extensive performing and recording work continued into the next couple decades, highlighted by the hook on the KLF's "3 A.M. Eternal," a global hit that topped the U.K. chart and in the U.S. reached number five.
Arnold's Immediate output was reissued in 2001 on The First Cut: The Immediate Anthology. The singer continued to tour and record throughout the decade, most prominently with Roger Waters. In 2017, a shelved LP completed in 1971 was released as The Turning Tide. The fabled set featured production and writing by Barry Gibb and Eric Clapton, as well as input from the Delaney & Bonnie Band and Rita Coolidge. Arnold continued to tour into 2019, over 50 years into her career. That year, she released her fourth official album, The New Adventures of P.P. Arnold. The LP was produced by Steve Cradock, who previously worked with Arnold as a member of Ocean Colour Scene and as part of Paul Weller's band. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Andy Kellman