Friday, November 28, 2014

Soul Corner: "The First Cut is the Deepest"

It being Thanksgiving, we thought we'd resurrect the Soul Corner and present you a great one with a history I'll bet some of you didn't know.

If you assumed Sheryl Crow wrote or did the original version of "The First Cut is the Deepest" in 2003 you would be wrong. You'd also be wrong if you thought the 1977 Rod Stewart version was the original.

"The First Cut is the Deepest" was written in 1967 by a British songwriter you may have heard of, Cat Stevens, and released on his second record New Masters. But Stevens' version was overshadowed by the P.P. Arnold cover which came out in 1967 just before the release of New Masters. Even Stevens considered P.P. Arnold's tremendous recording the definitive version:

P.P. Arnold was an American, an Ikette who left the Ike and Tina Turner Revue to move to England to start her solo career. England was crazy then for American soul music, and her version of "First Cut" got the classic UK soul-pop treatment, much like the great Dusty Springfield singles of the same era. 

P.P. Arnold returned to live in the US for a time in the mid-1970's after marrying bassist Fuzzy Samuels (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). Following their divorce, she moved back to England. Arnold had a successful and varied career, including being backed by the Small Faces, appearing in major stage musicals, and recording with a wide variety of major artists, including Eric Clapton, Barry Gibb, Roger Waters, and Steel Pulse. 

Speaking of Steel Pulse, "The First Cut is the Deepest" has been recorded by various reggae artists including Marcia Griffiths and this fine version by Norma Fraser:

We'll leave you with the Cat Stevens recording:  

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