Dateline: London, November 30, 2019

….Firstly, thanks to everyone who responded so positively to my first ‘official’ blog at! Makes me wonder if I should have done it earlier – and on the other hand, timing is everything. You can ask P.P. ARNOLD! I first met Pat (as she’s known to family, friends and colleagues) within the first year of her visit to Britain in 1966 as a member of The Ikettes (the vocal trio she had joined in 1964). At the invitation of Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones (with whom Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes were touring the U.K.), Pat stayed in London, signed to Immediate Records and enjoyed her first big hit record with the now-classic “The First Cut Is The Deepest.” She recorded two albums for Immediate – and then came the ups-and-downs of the music industry, personal challenges and some ‘almost-but-not-quite’ recording collaborations that didn’t materialize initially.


The phrase ‘soul survivor’ has often been bandied about to describe any artist in the general soul music field who continues to perform and record for longer than three decades – and in Pat’s case, it is truly legit. 2019 has been a banner year for her with the release of the critically-acclaimed album, “The New Adventures Of P.P. Arnold” and it’s so heartening to see Pat achieving recognition through her live performances and some key recent U.K. television appearances including on ‘The Jools Holland Show.’ On a personal level, I am thrilled that I got to give her a “SoulMusic Hall of Fame” award (from public vote via our poll at Facebook) at a London gig in October. Inclusion of her album in the critics’ choice list at the influential Mojo magazine is truly well deserved and proof positive that the combination of self-belief and talent can go a mighty long way… Check out this clip from ‘Jools Holland Show’ below and also one of the tunes from ‘The New Adventures’ album that I’ve included in my accompanying Spotify playlist for this blog…

…Referencing Mojo magazine is a reminder that renowned writer Charles Waring has contributed a wonderful essay (with new quotes from Leo Nocentelli, Cyril Neville and George Porter) to the upcoming SoulMusic Records 6-CD box set of complete recordings by THE METERS due in January. Working at record shops like Soul City (which I co-owned with Dave Godin and Robert Blackmore) and then Contempo in the early ‘70s, I heard the first new albums by the New Orleans’ outfit who could be heard backing many of the prominent artists produced by Allen Toussaint in the Crescent City including Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Betty Harris and others. Putting together this particular project (which includes stellar artwork from Roger Williams and great remastering by Nick Robbins, the core SoulMusic Records’ team) was a reminder of their very distinctive sound and when I had to come up with a title, “Gettin’ Funkier All The Time” (named after a track on the group’s 1972 LP “Cabbage Alley”) fit the bill. Very proud of this box set which includes a rare track making its CD debut, a disco mix of “Disco Is The Thing Today”…



…The passage of time has given me the opportunity to revisit some of the great soul music of my youth, so to speak. Working with the folks at Rhino Entertainment, the catalogue arm of the vast Warner Music group of labels has in recent months resulted in putting together some liner notes for a couple of very special releases that – I am so happy to say – keep the rich legacy of Atlantic recordings by the iconic ARETHA FRANKLIN very much alive in the form of limited edition box sets of vinyl singles from 1967 and 1968. The 1968 box set includes such gems as the achingly honest “Ain’t No Way,” the head-swayin’ perky “The House That Jack Built” (originally recorded by the ever-soulful Thelma Jones) and of course, “I Say A Little Prayer,” Aretha’s version of which started out as a ‘jam’ at a rehearsal with her and The Sweet Inspirations and once recorded has now become indelibly associated with ‘The Queen Of Soul’ (although, respect due, the original hit by Dionne Warwick, recorded less than a year earlier remains as much a classic)…

…Respect…yes, indeed for opportunities like working with multi-talented music man PRESTON GLASS, whose catalogue of songs and productions encompasses a virtual who’s who of contemporary artists including the afore-mentioned Aretha (think “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”), George Benson, Natalie Cole, Diana Ross, Earth Wind & Fire, The Stylistics, The Spinners and so many more greats. For some years now, Preston and I have been working together in various different ways and none more satisfying than the current association between SoulMusic Records and his Platinum Garage Recordings on digital releases, now through X5/Warner. The latest single is a truly wonderful slice of old school-flavoured soul music by INGRAM STREET, two very talented brothers (Howard Minquel Ingram and Woody Ingram) from Ohio whose “Beautiful Possibility” (co-written with The Temptations’ Ron Tyson) lives up to its name! Simply superb…check it out on my playlist..


…One more track you’ll find on this blog’s accompanying playlist is from the legendary music man LES McCANN: “Compared To What” was written back in ’68 and yet it’s lyrics are as timely now as ever. I met Les (who has been a mainstay in jazz for decades and was responsible for bringing Roberta Flack to the attention of Joel Dorn at Atlantic Records…and the rest is, as they say, history) in 1977 when we did a memorable interview in Central Park for Blues & Soul for his then-current album, “River High, River Low.” The conversation was – as folks say – ‘deep’ and left an indelible impression on me of Les as a thoughtful man who saw music as a way to bring about change, a sentiment that resonates now as much as ever. In recent times, Les has been dealing with some major health challenges and given all he’s contributed to music, there’s an opportunity to contribute to his well being through a ‘GoFundMe’ campaign. Check out the link to contribute to the fund for Les

…Now time for a look back…to my second “Take A Look Around” column in Blues & Soul, issue 122, November 1973, devoted mostly to the film “Cleopatra Jones,” starring Tamara Dobson, wherein (and I quote) “special agent Miss Jones’ main task seems to [be to] combat and fight the penetration of drugs into the young black community- and to do it by eliminating the source…” In an unusual casting choice, her ‘deadly enemy’ is ‘Mommy,’ played by veteran actress Shelley Winters! The soundtrack for the film came courtesy Spring Records’ artists JOE SIMON and MILLIE JACKSON and, I quote, “‘the most effective use of music comes with her ‘Hurts So Good’ – but you’ll have to see what’s happening whilst that is playing!” Hmmm…

…finally, my first “Dateline New York” column dated March 1975 (a month after I began my first sojourn in the Big Apple as the resident Blues & Soul writer) includes references to live shows at Radio City Music Hall – The Jackson Five headlining a bill with Blue Magic and The Hues Corporation and later that week (yes, no kidding the same week!), The Ohio Players, Graham Central Station and Parliament-Funkadelic all on a funk extravaganza! I also mentioned Labelle (with the question of how they would follow up their across-the-board hit “Lady Marmalade”); Dee Dee Warwick who had a new single (the soulful “Get Out Of My Life”), new Atlantic albums from Roberta Flack, Ben E. King, Margie Joseph and Sam Dees, with talk of a duet album between Margie and Blue Magic; and a preview of a show by Sister Sledge who were preparing for their first European shows with other Atlantic artists. The column ended with mention of the ‘American Music Awards’ which had been broadcast live on television and – yes this is true – “Sly Stone was one of the hosts and performed ‘live’ alongside The O’Jays and amongst those in attendance to present the various awards were Al Green (looking particular dapper), Billy Preston, Minnie Riperton and The Pointer Sisters.” To quote Mr. Wonder… “I wish those days could come back again..” As I ended the column back then, see ya!

With respect and appreciation….

David N
The British Ambassador Of Soul