Shortly after arriving in London, it wasn't long until the hip, young, beautiful singer Pat Arnold (who'd just quit the Ikettes) was approached by entrepreneur Loog Oldham to record for his fledgling Immediate label. Britain -- its musical artists in particular -- had been won over by the soulful black sounds of America. The up-tempo beat of Motown and Atlantic had increasingly been filling dancefloors, and even the Top 30; it was time for the one-time Tina Turner backup artist to stand up on her own. A wise move! Arnold's signing in late 1967 was perfect timing. The First Cut (originally released in 1998, now remastered and featuring two bonus tracks) pulls all of Arnold's Immediate material neatly together in one package -- strangely, other than "The First Cut Is the Deepest" (1967) and "Angel of the Morning" (1968), few of these recordings dented the British Top 30. However, in retrospect, the perfect combination of husky-voiced American soul, U.K. mod beat, Bacharach-flavored balladry, and Oldham's obsession with the bombastic production techniques of his hero Phil Spector is a pleasure to hear and a wonderful hybrid. This material has a unique sound and feeling, which draws it apart from the "want to be" club soul acts that graced the nation throughout the period. From the ice-cold version of "The First Cut Is the Deepest" to the incredible Small Faces collaboration "(If You Think You're) Groovy," these 28 cuts of mid- to late-'60s cross-pollination are a wonderful example of what happened when America and England met.
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