Whatever's for Us
|Whatever's for Us|
|Studio album by Joan Armatrading|
|Joan Armatrading chronology|
Whatever's For Us was produced by Gus Dudgeon and recorded at Château d'Hérouville studios (then called Strawberry studios), in the Oise valley, near Paris, Trident Studios London and Marquee Studios London. It was released in 1972 on vinyl by Cube Records (HIFLY 12).
The engineers were Robin Geoffrey Cable, Ken Scott, Roy Baker and Phil Dunne. Art direction was by John Hays and cover design by Sumiko. The photograph of Joan Armatrading and Pam Nestor which appears on the rear of the cover was taken by Derek Davies.
The album's backing band is Davey Johnstone on guitar, Larry Steele on bass, Gerry Conway and Henry Spinetti on drums and Ray Cooper on percussion. Davey Johnstone, Gerry Conway and Ray Cooper were also working at the time with Cat Stevens and Elton John, both of whom also recorded at the Château d'Hérouville studios.
Other musicians associated with the album are Del Newman, who arranged the strings and horns, and Chris Hughes who played saxophone and arranged the brass. Del Newman also arranged strings on Roger Daltrey's 1973 album Daltrey.
"Visionary Mountains" was later covered by Manfred Mann's Earth Band on the album Nightingales & Bombers in 1975. The tracks "My Family" and "City Girl" later appeared on the compilation album "Joan Armatrading: Love & Affection" (A & M, 1996).
Cube originally intended to call the album 'Joan Armatrading', but Pam Nestor fought against this, as she had worked on over 100 songs for the album over a period of three years, playing piano and singing on many of them. In the event, none of the songs featuring Pam Nestor playing or singing were chosen for the album, possibly because Cube wanted to promote Joan Armatrading as a solo artist.
The album was issued as a CD in 1988 by Castle Communications, then reissued again in CD format in 2001, (the Metro re-master) with two bonus tracks: "Lonely Lady" and "Together In Words And Music", both written by Armatrading and Nestor; the former track was released as a single in 1973.
Joan Armatrading sings lead vocals and plays piano and acoustic guitar, while Pam Nestor co-wrote most of the songs.
Whatever's for Us has traces of the hippie ethos which existed at the time. Many of the songs are influenced by folk music. The front cover, designed and drawn by the artist Sumiko, shows an idyllic multiracial pastoral scene, complete with long hair, patterned skirts, flowers and psychedelia. It also features drawings of Pam Nestor and Joan Armatrading, with Armatrading holding a Father Christmas mascot that had been given to her by Nestor.
Whatever's for Us was the only album recorded by Joan Armatrading and Pam Nestor, and the first recorded example of Armatrading’s playing and singing, aside from demo tapes. Cube records released the album as a Joan Armatrading effort and gave little credit to Nestor, and this caused difficulties between the two writers. Armatrading set about releasing herself from her obligations to Cube and within a short time had signed to A&M Records instead. The Cube label did not last much longer and folded in the mid 1970s, becoming absorbed into Electric Records.
The album was critically well received, although not a commercial success. Penny Valentine, of Sounds magazine, commented: "Whatever's for Us" is a brilliant, crushing album – the kind of collection that you may have despaired of ever hearing from anyone in England." 
The song "It Could Have Been Better" is said to have been one of Elton John's favourite songs at that time. The song has also been praised by the broadcaster and writer Paul Gambaccini, who refers to it as "outstanding" and "beautiful". He also notes that at the time of the album's release: "critics were in awe of her (Armatrading's) compositional and vocalising skills".
All tracks composed by Joan Armatrading and Pam Nestor, except where indicated.
- "My Family" 3:08
- "City Girl" (Armatrading) 3:58
- "Spend a Little Time" (Armatrading) 2:23
- "Whatever's for Us, for Us" 2:11
- "Child Star" 2:31
- "Visionary Mountains" 1:49
- "It Could Have Been Better" 4:19
- "Head of the Table" 2:30
- "Mister Remember Me" 2:15
- "Gave It a Try" 2:08
- "Alice" 3:29
- "Conversation" (Armatrading) 2:15
- "Mean Old Man" 2:33
- "All the King’s Gardens" 2:58
- see Mayes, 1990, Chapter 3
- Mayes, 1990, pp 24–25 and 30
- Mayes, p. 25
- Mayes, p. 25
- Mayes, p 158
- Gambaccini, programme notes, Page 'T' (3rd page)
- Sleeve notes: Whatever’s For Us, 1972, Cube Records (HIFLY12)
- Gambaccini, Paul. Joan Armatrading: Starlight Tour 2012 – official programme
- Mayes, Sean (1990). Joan Armatrading – A Biography (unauthorised). Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-81058-8.