The latest Tales From The Woods show at the Borderline in London last night - the 11th in the series of rock and roll heritage shows organised by Keith Woods - was yet another triumph, with a good sized crowd enjoying five hours of virtually non stop music. This time the star was not a rocker but a bona fide soul great in the form of P P Arnold
. She was the final act in a show featuring no less than five performers from the fifties and sixties, all of them good in their way and all of them backed excellently by the Tales From The Woods House Band.
Originally from Los Angeles, P P (Pat) Arnold
first found fame as a member of the Ikettes, backing up Ike and Tina Turner, before moving to the UK and enjoying a successful solo career. With great vocal support from Debra Lewis-Brown, she began her act with the Ikettes number Whatcha Gonna Do, moving on to an exciting version of River Deep Mountain High. Her voice remains completely intact and she looked glamorous in a black dress, red necklace and a feathered fascinator. She told the story of how Mick Jagger had taken her for a walk in Regents Park and made a proposition to her - a proposition which led to her recording for Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label. She recorded the first version of Cat Stevens' First Cut Is The Deepest, her third song on the night, and Am I Still Dreaming, as well as her biggest hit, Chip Taylor's Angel Of The Morning. Other numbers included Etta James' How Strong Is A Woman, Uptight and A Natural Woman, and P P came across strongly with a powerful and very soulful vocal style. Among the audience were members of the cast of All Or Nothing, a forthcoming West End musical about the Small Faces, which features a young P P Arnold.
First act of the night was 82 year old Wee Willie Harris
, someone who has appeared at several previous Tales From The Woods shows. Introduced by MC for the night Stuart Colman as 'the Emperor of Rock and Roll', Willie's voice is still pretty good and his set included a couple of songs that he recorded in his late fifties heyday - Rockin' At The Two Is and Love Bug Crawl - plus some rock and roll standards including Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Kansas City, Splish Splash (which he attributed to Jerry Lee Lewis, rather than Bobby Darin), I Hear You Knocking, Razzle Dazzle and Rag Mop, before finishing with Shake Rattle And Roll. There was nothing there to write home about, but Willie went down quite well. As ever he had a moan about his lack of appreciation by the media: apparently the Piers Morgan show turned him down as a potential subject.
Next on was Ray Phillips
, once of the Nashville Teens, who combined lively versions of rockers such as Nadine, Let It Rock, Forty Days and Bony Moronie with some quality blues numbers, including Red House ( featuring some Hendrix styled guitar from lead guitarist Iain Terry), Hoochie Coochie Man and I Put A Spell On You, which allowed keyboard player Claire Hamlin to shine. Of course the Nashville Teen's big hit Tobacco Road was featured, and performed well, and it was clear that Ray was enjoying himself immensely. A good set.
At the height of the sixties beat boom Dave Berry
made a name for himself not only with some catchy and well performed pop sings, but also with a stage act which involved hiding himself behind a glove or wrapping the microphone lead around himself. Today he is no different it seems. His voice remains pure and the songs and stage act are much as we remember them. This was his TFTW debut and it proved an effective one. Dressed in a black jacket covered with a selection of chains he kicked off with Just A Little Bit before moving on to one of his bigger hits, Chuck Berry's Memphis Tennessee. Some amusing ad libs showed that Dave is an accomplished stage act - he's still performing on 'silver sixties' tours after all - with a good repertoire, which included another big hit of the era Little Things, a cover of a Bobby Goldsboro song which gave Dave more recent fame as a toilet paper ad. Other numbers included Chuck's Promised Land, This Strange Effect, written for him by Ray Davies, the Yardbirds' Heart Full Of Soul, Nick Lowe's I Knew the Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll and, finally, The Crying Game, which was featured in the film of the same name. Dave was joined on stage by former member of his band the Cruisers Brian Wood on steel guitar. At the end of his set Dave stripped off his jacket to reveal a shirt with the black imprint of a pair of hands on the back. And the crowd gave him a well deserved big hand.
The fifth act on last night's show was Cliff Bennett
, making his third appearance on a Tales From The Woods show. Cliff's voice is rather ragged these days, with quite of lot of hoarseness, but it's well suited to the rock and soul numbers he performed, which included Turn On Your Lovelight, Knock On Wood, Barefooting, Slow Down, Good Golly Miss Molly, Watch Your Step, Why Me and Sam and Dave's I Take What I Want. He was joined on stage by former Rebel Rouser 'Too Tall' Tony Hall and he, together with the band's horn section, gave him some top notch backing in what was an energetic and enjoyable set.
Once again Keith Woods can be pleased both with the show and the turn out. There were visitors from all corners in the UK and even, in the case of Boston-based Noah Shaffer, the USA. His fame is spreading! Photos below show Stuart Colman and Keith Woods.