Written by Chip Taylor, who said he was inspired by the Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday, this was first recorded by New Yorker Evie Sands and released in 1967. It would probably have done well but unfortunately her label, Cameo Parkway, was on the way to bankruptcy and although it was favourably received and the original run of 10,000 singles sold out, no more were pressed.
The same year it was recorded by the UK’s Billie Davis. The less said about this the better.
It became a hit in 1968 for American Merrilee Rush. Although credited to Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts, the group she fronted, the recording featured the house musicians of the American Sound studio in Memphis, who also performed on Elvis Presley’s Memphis recordings. It got to No 7 in the US but stalled at No 55 in the UK.
At this point P P Arnold, a backing singer on the dreadful 1967 Billie Davis version, released it and got to No 29 in Britain.
I think this was the best version of that period, but the highest charting version came in 1981 with Juice Newton, who reached No 4 in America and 43 in Britain. I am not very keen.
The Pretenders did it on their 1994 album Night in My Veins. I think I might have omitted the symphony orchestra.
However the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde did a miles better job of it in 1995 with an acoustic performance on a Friends episode titled The One with the Baby on the Bus. I would say this is the best of the lot, but 1995 is a long way out of my comfort zone.
One Reply to “P P Arnold: Angel of the Morning”
So glad you didn’t include the Shaggy version!
I liked all of those clips, though as you say the orchestra was unnecessary on the Pretenders one. I do like the Juice Newton cover, her singing is so powerful on the choruses. It is let down by the plodding rock backing.
PP Arnold’s has to be my favourite, I’d call it the definitive version and PP is rock royalty, she appears on one of the greatest singles of all time – this one:
I’ve seen PP crop up a few times as backing singer to various nondescript ’80s groups on the BBC’s re-runs of “Top Of The Pops”. Her minor 1960s hit “If You Think You’re Groovy” is worth a listen.