YouTube Discoveries: P.P. Arnold and Bonnie Owens

Thanks to my pal Chalkie Davies–the legendary photographer of 1970s/’80s U.K. rock musicians–for posting a video of The Faces’ hit “Tin Soldier” last week as a memorial tribute to keyboardist Ian McLagan.

“It doesn’t get better than this,” rightly testified Chalkie, whose comments on Mac made my appreciation piece for read so well.

I’m posting the clip here, not just for Mac and the Small Faces—the band that became more famous in America as The Faces when Rod Stewart replaced Small Faces lead singer/guitarist Steve Marriott–but for P.P. Arnold, a former Ike & Tina Turner Ikette who was most successful in England in the 1960s, when she backed artists like the Small Faces and also had her own hits.

As incredibly charismatic as Marriott was, it’s hard to keep your eyes off Arnold in “Tin Soldier.” Restrained next to Marriott’s unbridled passion, Arnold is nevertheless mesmerizing: the way she gently smiles and dances off to the side and away from her mic, then comes in when it’s time to sing the chorus, reminds me of maybe the best backup singer I ever saw, Bonnie Owens.

Bonnie, who was married to Buck Owens and then Merle Haggard, stayed with Merle onstage after she divorced him and likewise stood behind him dancing and smiling—until it was time for her to sing harmony parts, “blurt harmonies,” as she called them when I told her how much I loved them.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a great example on YouTube that wasn’t part of a long concert tape. But here she is, late in the game, singing a classic Hagg hit next to him.

And here’s an example of Arnold’s solo work, on the original hit version of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest”: