The Turning Tide
You could buy the album on back-story alone. PP Arnold, one of the great singers of the 1960s – an Ikette, then a solo star, her version of The First Cut Is The Deepest still towers. There she was on Tin Soldier with the Small Faces, a friend and duet-partner of Rod Stewart and many others.
And despite a few sides and albums of her own, and her various guest-star spots the work disappeared. There was personal tragedy (the loss of a daughter in a car accident) and then she rebuilt her career on the stage (Starlight Express) throughout the 1980s and 90s, and built up a touring act once again.
But this album, The Turning Tide, was recorded in the 1960s – and here, now, 50 years on, it finally sees the light of day.
It’s hard not to hear it as a masterpiece. And though that back-story is instantly intriguing, pulls you in, it’s the music that holds you.
Again, big names and the promise of what could have been – Barry Gibb on his first break from the Bee Gees was out to make it as a producer and songwriter and he contributes a half-dozen songs to this. Great songs too. In particular Born. But there are covers too. The album opens with Traffic’s Medicated Goo, closes with the Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want and in the middle you’ll hear two killer renditions of songs made famous by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Arnold’s voice is just so good across Spinning Wheel, she soars like another of those great “forgotten” voices of the sixties and early 70s, Merry Clayton.
And for You’ve Made Me So Very Happy it’s torch-ballad styles; you might hear a bit of Bettye LaVette in the way she takes this on.
The band is essentially Derek & The Dominos, before they quite existed. When Gibb was pulled from the project Eric Clapton was brought in to produce some of the cuts. So taken with the band was he, he took them off to make the now classic Layla album…
So, yeah – constantly there’s the What If-factor and the back-story, the legal wrangles, the managers getting in the way, the record labels crumbling, the star’s confidence on the line. But through it all is this majestic voice, and this quite incredible set of songs.
You could listen to The Turning Tide without knowing all of that and come away happy, elated, sure you’d heard a lost masterpiece. But with that sort of behind-the-scenes yarn it only adds to the rich tapestry here.
(There’s another album to come and a memoir in the works too).
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