Tina Turner’s solo success in the mid Eighties with the multi million-selling ‘Private Dancer’ album and double Grammy-winning single ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ was billed as a comeback. In reality, the former Anna Mae Bullock was reaping the rewards for the decades of hard work she’d put in as half of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.
For most of the Sixties, she spent nine months of each and every year on the road with her bandleader husband. ‘The lights came down on her, there was no spotlight on me’ said the man whose stormy relationship with the star of the show has been covered in thousands of column inches, two autobiographies and the bio-pic I, Tina. And there’s no question her gamble in foregoing any financial settlement or royalties from past hits in exchange for her freedom paid off.
But if you tuned in to Tina when ‘What’s Love…’ hit the top, then prepare to be educated, not to mention entertained, as we turn back the clock to the days when she was turning it on nightly as half of the hardest-working double act in music. The material here reaches back to take in Ike and Tina’s first Stateside hits, ‘A Fool In Love’ (Number 27 pop/2 R&B in 1960) and ‘It’s Gonna Work Out Fine’ (Number 14 pop/2 R&B in 1961).
We then take a detour to take in all 12 tracks on ‘The Soul Of Ike And Tina Turner’, released by Sue Records in 1961, before sweeping up 1962 singles like ‘You Should Have Treated Me Right’, ‘Tra La La La La’ and ‘Poor Little Fool’, all of which made the Billboard Hot 100.
The duo continued pounding the boards during the decade, a highlight of the period being the link with Phil Spector that resulted in ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, Ike and Tina Turner’s first success in Britain where it hit Number 3 in 1966. Three years later a support slot on a Rolling Stones US tour in 1969 exposed them to a whole new (predominantly white) audience and led to their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’, released in 1971, winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
Guest slots on high-profile US TV shows hosted by the likes of Ed Sullivan and Andy Williams proved the key to the Las Vegas casino circuit, helping Ike fund his own recording studio in Inglewood, California, which he christened Bolic Sound.
In-between the highpoints of Spector and the Stones, Ike and Tina found themselves without a recording contract. Undeterred, Ike formed his own label, Pompeii, took the Revue into the studio and had the results issued via Atlantic. Albums like ‘So Fine’ (1968) and ‘Cussin’, Cryin’ And Carryin’ On’ (1969) yielded many of the tracks compiled here including ‘Betcha Can’t Kiss Me’, ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business’, ‘I’m Fed Up’ and ‘It Sho Ain’t Me’.
Ike then released two albums, ‘Outta Season’ and ‘The Hunter’, through Blue Thumb Records, and again we feature the highlights, including covers of Elmore James’ ‘Dust My Broom’, BB King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ and the Grammy-nominated ‘Bold Soul Sister’ which, some critics opined, owed something to Sly and the Family Stone’s recent B-side ‘Sing A Simple Song’. We combine these with classic Ike and Tina singles from later in the decade, including ‘We Need An Understanding’, ‘You Got What You Wanted’ and ‘Shake A Tail Feather’.
The legendary pairing of Ike and Tina Turner had built on Fifties gospel roots to embrace the Seventies as a funky dance act. Despite registering a mighty worldwide hit with ‘Nutbush City Limits’ in 1973, the Turners’ personal relationship went sour and came to a very public end three years later. It had been a rollercoaster 20 years since sisters Anna Mae and Alline Bullock had gne to see Ike’s Kings of Rhythm at a club in East St Louis, Missouri. When the drummer offered Alline the microphone and she declined, Anna, three years younger, had taken her chance with both hands.
Ike was in prison on drugs charges when he and Tina were jointly inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991; Tina didn’t attend by choice, so Phil Spector accepted the honour on the former duo’s behalf. He, of course, is now himself behind bars, and Ike Turner died in 2007.
Tina, who performed one last world tour in 2009, appears to have retired to Switzerland, so the music on this CD is therefore unlikely ever to be performed on stage again. But there’s no doubt that, while some of the tracks are half a century old, the fruit of the inspired Ike and Tina pairing retains its potency. Simply the best? No question!