04 February 2006

Everybody's Gonna Say... We're Doing Fine

Over at the soul blog Number One Songs In Heaven there's a Dee Dee Warwick song called We're Doing Fine, a gem from 1965 written by Horace Ott, now reissued on CD. It was also recorded in Britain by Billy J. Kramer (single, 1966) and Chris Farlowe (The Art of Chris Farlowe, 1966).

It's hard not to notice that it's a fair bit like Everything's Gonna Be Alright by P.P. Arnold, a song I first heard briefly in the film A Room For Romeo Brass (1999). P.P. Arnold released it in 1967: it was her first single on the Immediate label, and it was on her album The First Lady Of Immediate.

Everything's Gonna Be Alright (the line that gets stuck in your head goes Everybody's gonna say that it's all right) was written by Immediate founder and producer Andrew Loog Oldham with Dave Skinner, who was one half of another Immediate act, Twice As Much.

The opening verses are more or less identical, melodically and rhythmically, and the lyrics have a lot in common: Everybody wants to know if everything's all right (Dee Dee Warwick) cf Everybody's gonna say that everything is all right (P.P. Arnold). After that, the choruses take off in different directions.

It's hard to say whether Oldham-Skinner were writing a sequel, or a dip o' the lid to We're Doing Fine, or whether it was a borrowing, unintentional or deliberate. (We're Doing Fine wasn't unknown at Immediate: Chris Farlowe's 1966 version was on the same label.)

Whatever the answer, I like both songs a lot: Dee Dee Warwick's is a classic, seamless US soul production of the era, while P.P. Arnold's is a bit poppier, with a big chorus-and-orchestra build-up in the first 30 seconds.

P.P. Arnold was a UK-based soul singer (you may find her filed, inevitably and retrospectively, under 'Northern Soul') who came to Britain with Ike and Tina Turner and stayed to record such hits for Immediate as First Cut Is The Deepest, Angel Of The Morning and [If You Think You're] Groovy, this last written by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane of The Small Faces, who also provided the backing. Down here, Groovy charted in Melbourne at #8.

Dee Dee Warwick is Dionne Warwick's sister: or should that be Dionne Warwick is Dee Dee Warwick's sister? Dionne herself reportedly said, "Dee Dee is the real singer in this family," but she missed out on big commercial success. Not fair, really, when you hear her sing.


Anonymous said...

Please see PP's website at PPArnold.com. Both singers are amazing. I was able to see PP live in England in June 2011. She sounds amazing. I wish more Americans knew of her work, as well as Dee Dee's. AJMarcinek@yahoo.com

Lyn Nuttall said...

I agree. Another PP Arnold work that I didn't know about when I wrote this post is her participation in the Small Faces' "Tin Soldier". There was a great clip at YouTube of her and SFs doing this on a TV show in the 60s; I had trouble finding it recently so not sure if it's still there.