POW POW POW AOOOOOOW!! The energy, the legs, the hair, the fire! Anna Mae Bullock (I wonder if anyone still calls her that to her face hmmm…) better known as Tina Turner. A stage name given to her by her EX husband to keep her on a leash…well more along the lines of she wont be able to run away with the name. You see how that turned out right? But Im not here to talk about the abuse and things of that nature. What’s Love Got To Do With It greatly informed us of Ike’s brutality. What I want to talk about is THE MUSIC!!! Ike and Tina has some hidden gems that will probably never get to see the light of day. Although the plethora of albums they released during their tenure together….
The Soul of Ike and Tina Turner
Dance With Ike and Tina Turner’s Kings of Rhythm
Dont Play Me Cheap
It’s Gonna Work Out Fine
River Deep Mountain High
Ike and Tina Turner and the Raelettes
Get It Together
Her Man, His Woman
Let ME Touch Your Mind
Nutbush City Limits
Sweet Rhode Island Red
The Gospel According to Ike and Tine
The Great Album
All these albums and folks may only know Nutbush or River Deep or Proud Mary. Yes those are great hits (with countless variations and compositions) but the stuff that rarely got played is where all the raw energy is! Honorable mention to all the live and compilations albums they put together as well (Ike was trying to keep those record execs off his back!). Mostly all of their “hits” together were covers and Tina carried that with her throughout her looooooooooong career (shout out to Bucks Fizz!). Where should we start? Hmm well I guess we can go to the very first recording of Ike and Tina A Fool In Love.
Although the biopic Whats Love Got To Do With It would allow you to believe that Rock Me Baby was their first single, it was actually A Fool In Love. A song that was originally made for a male singer, Art Lassiter. Tina…I mean Anna was only 20 at the time and did the song in one take, with the Artettes (soon to be named Ikettes) backing her up. After the success of A Fool In Love Little Ann was now dubbed Tina Turner while Ike changed the name of the Artettes to The Ikettes. Its all about branding…remember that! The smash hit was on their very first album along with the modest single I Idolize You . It was a cute effort, it definitely showed off Tina’s raspy vocal range. You’ll see the trend of Tina “hollering and yelling” on tracks during these years. That dam Ike…..that dam Ike. The duo didnt have another hit until It’s Gonna Work Out Fine back in ’61.
Most folks know this song from the biopic. It played during the “Wedding” scene in Mexico. y’all remember right?
I have to mention one of my favorite songs that was overlooked during these years Shake (not to be confused with Shake A Tail Feather). Just watching the live performance let you know that Tina was a force. That voice and the movements (for the time) were amazing. No one else sounded or moved liked that and she captivated the audience with her energy.
Let’s jump to ’66, those other years are just filler, y’aint missing nothing there trust me.
River Deep, Mountain High. One of the biggest and dramatic hits of their careers (mostly Tina’s career since SHE was the one who recorded it first but…) has soooooooooo maaaaaaannnnnyyyyy veeerrrssssssiiioooonnss its ridiculous. Of course we all know the original composition sure!
But then Ike dragged Tina into the studio to sing it “His” way. So y’all know what that means, more hooting and more hollering. Now, its a nice take on the song dont get me wrong. It’s definitely more funky and more in the “Ike Turner” style of music. If you pick up any compilation of theirs you’ll definitely hear a different version, a different tweak here and there.
But the main Phil Spector edit reigns supreme. After the success of River Deep came their cover of the Martha and the Vandellas song A Love Like Yours (Dont Come Knocking Everyday).
Another hit and also a fan favorite during their live performances, the duo completely stripped down the song and made it their own. This started the “cover craze” because from now on the only real notable songs from their catalogue were covers. Give or take a few, when Tina started writing and started getting involved more with the music production and process. Next up!!! Shake A Tail Feather!!!
Again, Ike and his twenty million versions of one song being spread out across multiple albums. We all know the re-recorded version from the biopic and the accompanying album, theres even a version that only has The Ikettes on it. I believe it was more so and Ikettes song rather than a Tina song. Most videos and recordings you will hear The Ikettes instead of Tina. I guess everybody gets one! But the Ikettes had their own thing going on, they always had their own segment in the concerts. At one time Tina’s sister managed The Ikettes but…….thats a story for another time. The accompanying song to Shake A Tail Feather is Cussin’, Cryin’ and Carryin’ On . A notable B Side, a decent song to bop to when you’re driving down a highway or things of that nature. Nothing real special…..but its addictive.
Anyway whats next? Ah yes two ballads, well two slow songs from the duo. They stick out to me simply because of the lyrical content and the knowledge that we have now. The first Im Gonna Do All I Can (To Do Right By My Man) was very traditional R&B for the group. Just a slow groove nothing too spectacular but like I said, the lyrical content speaks volumes. “Imma do all I can to do right by my man, be the kind of woman that he wants me to be…”
Yeah we hear you Tina…DO ALL YOU CAN!
The next song, an old Otis Redding cut and cover, Ive Been Loving You Too Long.
This song was most definitely a staple in their live performances. Most notably because Ike forced the sexual tension and sexual play during the live renditions with he back and forth dialogue with Tina. Although she was very veeerrrrrryyyyy uncomfortable dong so, you cant say no to Ike. This cover and also I Smell Trouble allowed Ike to return to his bluesy roots.
Now during this time Ike and Tina had been having underlying rock and roll vibes to their songs. This is when Tina would really come alive! Also with the time frame the musical scene was changing! Everything was funkier and had more edge. You could tell watching Tina that she was about to explode into something more than just The Revue.
A clear example of the new wave of sound and Tina’s dabbling is from Bold Soul Sister! B.S.S. Its her thang she gonna do what she wanna do!!
I feel as though this song solidified her comparison to James Brown .Anyone can hear James soulfully howling over this track right along with Tina. Could you imagine? James Brown and Tina Turner on the same stage back in those days?? Would have most definitely been a defining moment in Black Music and Black History. This next tune is one of my favorite covers. Has to be my top 5 favorite covers of all time. Now when Ike and Tina covered a song….they make you forget about the original. Next up on this vintage playlist is Come Together!
Originally performed by the legendary Beatles, Ike and Tina put a spin on this tune that made your soul groove. During this time The Revue started touring with the Rolling Stones and started mingling with famous rock bands of the time. You can definitely tell because the album Come Together has covers of Honky Tonk Woman, of course Come Together and I Want To Take You Higher.
All great reimaginings and rearrangements. Low-key Tina was finding her voice and busting out…it was only a matter of time until she put on that white pantsuit.
NOW, to the album that has the most recognizable songs. You may not really know about the title track Workin’ Together but its worth mentioning. Tina’s vocals on this track well…..it wasn’t that much screeching I’ll say that. Its a mellow tune that should be added to anyones playlist. Along with Ooh Poo Pah Doo and also Funkier Than A Musquita’s Tweeter (which was later covered by Nina Simone) The album was solid. But the major hit every knows is of course the Creedance Clearwater Revival song….Proud Mary!
Now again, with the progression of Ike and Tina Turner sound and the changes was all due to Tina. She had her ear out to the radios to see what was hot and what was selling. Simply because as energetic and as eclectic and in your face as the group was……they weren’t really selling major records. In their long run together they only seen the top of the charts a handful of times…a baby’s handful. It was with Proud Mary and the satisfying and gratifying live performances of the song that shot them into true fame. You cant get the true energy of that song unless you listen too the live version and actually see Tina and the Ikettes work the stage. Shoutout to Ike always being int he background tapping his foot leading the band with his mushroom Tootle hairdo.
Their next hit wouldn’t be until a few years later with Anna Mae’s tribute to her hometown Nutbush Tennessee simply titled Nutbush City Limits !
This would be the couples last hit together, we all know what happened next. White pantsuit, a freeway and some change and a mobile card. Although they had a looooong run together and very few hits their catalogue has yet to be cracked open and sampled from todays artists. Theres been a few covers here and there and a few “tributes” but Im waiting for the day to listen to one of these Artists O’ The Day and say to myself “HEY, thats a Revue sample!!”. During this little trek down memory lane I hope you paid attention to Tina’s voice. With her years with Ike they would perform almost everyday. Always on the road, always screaming over Ike’s loud band, always belting in an uncomfortable key. Ike would make her perform through any and everything. Broken jaws and all, but her voice was so unique and powerful and raspy, you would never know it was normal wear and tear. Well up until she broke free and showed what her voice REALLY sounds like. But we cant stop there! Oh no we daren’t! Part two will explore Tina’s solo efforts and her blossoming into the Queen of Rock and Roll!! Look out for Part 2!