PP Arnold: 'I wasn't aware of the love that was there for me'
- Brian Donaldson
- 16 October 2019
Beloved of the Northern Soul and Britpop tribes, PP Arnold is touring with new songs and old classics. Ahead of a live date in Paisley, she talks about dealing with grief and lugging heavy instruments around Scotland
When you hear that a singer has just recorded their first solo album in 50 years, you might conjure up an image of someone twiddling their thumbs for an inordinately long time. Not so with PP Arnold, whose recent release, The New Adventures of PP Arnold, comes half a century on from timeless soul classics such as 'First Cut Is the Deepest', '(If You Think You're) Groovy' and 'Angel of the Morning'. Across the years, she's provided majestic backing vocals on albums and at live shows with the varied likes of The Small Faces, Peter Gabriel, KLF, Geno Washington, Tina Turner, Nick Drake, and Roger Waters.
Now, she's set to appear at Paisley's Spree, a festival which also features gigs from Gruff Rhys, Karine Polwart, Malcolm Middleton and Hayseed Dixie. This show will hopefully be another warm addition to Arnold's Scotland memory bank. 'I love Scottish audiences,' she insists. 'I've performed there many times, the first on the 1966 Rolling Stones tour, as an Ikette with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue at the Odeon Theatre. I've played there with The Nice and with my band TNT, and also with The Blue Jays in a venue that was upstairs, the stage was circular and moved around, and the Hammond Organ was a nightmare getting up the stairs. My most recent visit was with The Small Fakers in 2016 at The Classic Grand.'
The reasons behind Arnold's lack of solo recordings are long, complex, and largely wrapped up in legal red tape while also reeking of betrayal, but she has somehow retained a remarkably positive outlook down the years. 'It's difficult when you've been exploited and ripped off as much as I have while having to deal with tragedy and loss. Learning how to let go of negative situations, always moving forward and keeping the faith have all helped.' Among the loss she has experienced was her daughter Debbie dying in a car accident in the mid-70s. 'I'll Always Remember You (Debbie Song)' is the final track on The New Adventures: 'It was easy to write about Debbie, but it was very emotional recording the track.'
PP Arnold's successful return to the solo fold is partly down to Steve Cradock, the Ocean Colour Scene guitarist who produced The New Adventures and is part of her band for the new live show. 'I didn't know about Steve and Ocean Colour Scene beforehand, though I was aware of the Britpop scene. I wasn't really out there or knew any of the artists so wasn't aware of the love that was there for me from the artists themselves. I was pleased to have the opportunity to work with Primal Scream, Ocean Colour Scene and Oasis. It increased my popularity a lot and helped me in my struggle to be recognised as a solo artist once again.'
PP Arnold performs as part of The Spree at Spiegeltent, Paisley, Thu 17 Oct.