I’m sad to say that the word on the street is that R&B/soul/funk legend Ike Turner has passed on at the age of 76. Say what you will about Ike “the person” (see below for more on that) but his musical importance is undeniable, with and without Tina.
I don’t have the time to whip together a proper tribute, but I just happen to still have my very favorite Ike Turner instrumental up on the server.
So, here you go, reposted from January of this year, Ike Turner & the Kings of Rhythm.
Rest In Peace, Ike…
PS If you prefer your Ike with some Tina on the side, click into the Podcast Archive in the sidebar and scroll down to Funky16Corners Radio v.6, the ‘Bold Soul Sisters’ mix, which includes the funk 45 of the same name. You can also check out Funky16Corners Radio v.29 – Rubber Souled Pt2 for Ike & Tina’s cover of the Beatles’ ‘Get Back’.
PSS I decided to add the other two Ike-related posts I did back in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately I don’t have the soundfile on hand for the Ike/Tina/Ikettes number. If I can turn up the file I’ll add it later.
That’s right. I just drank that huge bottle
of Coke and I’m ready to rock.
“Listen – The New Breed Pt2 MP3″
And a hail-fellow well met to you and yours.
The weekend is at last approaching with unstoppable momentum, and whether or not you left all of your party in some rest room on New Years Eve, the track I bring you today is guaranteed to get some of it back for you (if just a little).
This has been the longest “short” week in recent memory. I’m still not digging my new job all that much, but I guess I am getting used to it (somewhat). I won’t bore you with the details, but it seems the problem is not what the new job is, but rather what it isn’t – that being my old job, in which I was as free as an organically raised asparagus, growing wild in my little corner of the world, my creative juices flowing like pancake syrup in a lumber camp, my ability to tap into the zeitgeist and then hang on like a lamprey practically boundless. Now I find myself moved from protective custody into the general population where my free-range sensibilities are more liability than asset, and I have to watch my step, which really sucks because for the first time in a long time, someone else is watching it too.
Life is unfair…but then so was Ike Turner (how’s that for a segue of the week nominee???)
That’s right friends, we return to the mighty recorded legacy of America’s most notorious, wife-beating a-hole, who just so happened (once upon a long time ago) to have also been one of the country’s great musical assets.
Back in the days of yore, when the sharkskin suited, be-conked Ike strode across the landscape of rhythm and blues like some kind of gargantuan, guitar mangling (and shoe throwing) colossus, he was laying down some serious musical heat.
There are those that will swear by his “and Tina” recordings (as will I), but there are others (a group of which I am oddly enough also a member) that will hep you to the fact that Mr. Turner made some outstanding platters without the benefit of his wife.
Today’s selection is one of those.
I remember the day I picked up this disc, in the days before I headed into battle with a GP3 in my holster, flying blind – or deaf – as it were. I was rifling through what was probably the 100th crate of the day at some record show or other when I happened upon this 45. My curiosity was piqued by the name Ike Turner, but the hit that sent the ball over the left field wall was the title, i.e. ‘The New Breed’.
There’re some powerful – loaded – words for you.
In a classic dip into the steam of consciousness (may I invoke the zeitgeist one more time) we have the Brand New Bag, out of which Papa (that being the late, great James Brown) pulled the first reference that I ever heard to the New Breed. Then years later, when I found myself surrounded by parkaed and bowling shoed Mod types, the Jam (those parkaed and bowling shoed Mod icons from the other side of the pond) namechecked the New Breed once again, in their own conscious soul-worship, “ain’t we bad covering Heatwave” thang, not to mention that there were other ‘New Breed’ tunes, by Jackie Wilson and Jimmy Holiday..sooooo, what does it all mean??? Hmmmmm??
I dunno. I suppose that the likely explanation (outside of the unlikely scenario in which all of the artists listed above were involved in animal husbandry) is that the ‘New Breed’ is a self-serving announcement/boast meant to suggest a changing of the guard in music, style, whatever. The fact that Ike and his Kings of Rhythm chose to make their New Breed statement an instrumental says to me that Ike didn’t need words to announce his arrival on the scene.
For that he had his gee-tar.
And what an axe that was children, because when I say that Ike was bending those strings with a vengeance (no doubt channeling his uncontrollable anger/machismo/testosterino combo into his playing), I am not yanking your chain. You need only listen to this record once to realize that the recording thereof resulted in a pile of twisted, and snapped guitar strings (hell…probably a couple of busted guitars as well). I chose to lay Part the deuce on you because in my humble opinion, the guitar wrassling is just a little bit more frantic on that side of the record, in which he takes the whammy bar and forever turns it into the whamm-ing bar.
No matter how you slice it, this is one tough 45 that 42 years hence is still redolent of sweat, cold beer and cigarette smoke and should be listened to while shaking the ass (preferably your own, but if you ‘ve got someone that’ll let you shake theirs, go for it amigo).
Anyway, that’s your Friday party starter (or continuer) for this week.
Have a great weekend.
(originally posted June 2006) Ike & Tina Turner & the Ikettes – There Was a Time / African Boos
Ike & Tina Turner
Hey, hey, hey….. It’s Wednesday morning, and I am feeling about as well as anyone whose two-year-old son decided to wake him up at 5:45AM, i.e. I am tired. My eyes feel like two tennis balls, and the urge to crawl under my desk and take a nap is almost impossible to resist. However, the need to remain gainfully employed, and the inner pilot light that ignites my ‘The blog must go on’ impulse is maintaining just enough of a connection between my ears, brain and fingers to get today’s entry typed out. The only remedy, of course, is to open up what beer-swilling, ham-fisted goons normally refer to as a “can of whoopass”, or what I like to call – coincidentally – a “can of whoopass”. This may betray the fact that sometime in my cloudy past I may have aspired to – and achieved – beer-swilling, ham-fisted goon-hood, but that is a risk I must take, because if there is a can of whoopass near enough to grab, it has a label that reads:
Ike and Tina Turner Revue, Handle with Caution!
That’s right chillun. By clicking on today’s MP3 link, you will be unleashing into your computer (and of course your ears) a blast of just over six minutes of absolutely, unrelentingly, spine-twisting, brain-softening, eye-popping soul power. It may have been recorded more than 35 years ago, but like a bottle of ripple, it has only gotten more powerful (maybe even dangerous). I have dropped some Ike and Tina action in this space before, and though I bow to their power without hesitation, it is only fair to say that when it comes to the Turners, I am often conflicted as to what category they and their music should inhabit.
They are certainly soulful, but are they “soul”?
While capable of undeniably funky moments, are they “funk”?
Does anyone but me care about these distinctions? Perhaps not, but I’m gonna keep writing anyway. Ike and Tina Turner, by sheer force of talent and personality, managed to embrace all aspects of black music during their prime, while simultaneously transcending labels. They were purely rhythm and blues, but their sound passed through (and marked) soul, funk and even rock’n’roll.
They managed to create explosive and popular music that while rooted in roadhouses and chittlin’ circuit theaters almost always ended up going in other directions. How much of this power resulted from their famously contentious and violent partnership, is not for me to say. Despite Ike’s obvious talent, he was reportedly a wife-beating asshole, tyrant and all around unpleasant individual, and I can’t imagine this inspiring Tina to do anything other than pack a bag, grab her kids and hit the road (which she eventually did). The only answer – for me, anyway – is that they were both very talented, and they managed to create dynamic music in spite of their problems.
That said, they also managed to put together a shit-hot act, a large part of which was their backing group the Ikettes. Though I can’t say with any certainty which Ikettes are performing on today’s selection, but I can says that over the years their ranks included Clydie King, Vanetta Fields, Jo Armstead, P.P. Arnold and Bonnie Bramlett, and that they managed to crank out some outstanding 45s under their own name (and later as the Mirettes).
Today’s selection(s) hails from a 1969 Minit LP, ‘In Person: Ike and Tina Turner and the Ikettes’. Though by this time the Ike & Tina Turner Revue was playing psychedelic ballrooms and festivals, they were still hitting the supper clubs, and as things open up, the appropriate vibe seems to be in place. The band is vamping on a vague approximation of King Curtis’s ‘Soul Serenade’ and KSOL DJ Herb Campbell – who sounds like he’s chairing the local Kiwanis– is greeted by polite applause as he comes out to introduce the band. He calls out the Ikettes, who take the stage and thank the audience. Then, it happens. Forgetting that they’re in a supper club and not looking out over a sea of muddy hippies, the band turns the volume up to 11, and proceeds to explode into a cover of James Brown’s ‘There Was a Time’. I can only imagine some of the tuxedoed swells in the audience gagging on their cocktail onions as the band tears into the song at about 150 miles per hour. ‘There Was a Time’ is one of my fave JB songs, and I’m here to tell you that the Ikettes more than do it justice. They take the song and turn it into an extended intro – warning? – as Tina is preparing to take the stage. The Ikettes finish up, and Campbell returns to the stage to bring Tina on. ‘The beautiful, talented, Queen of Soul, Miss Tina Turner!’ Tina walks on – I’m assuming, this is after all a record – and the band fires back up and take things at an even faster rate (if that’s possible). There’s an extended vamp, with Ike bending the strings, and the drummer (whoever he was) laying down a hard, fast groove, and you can imagine Tina and the Ikettes doing that frantic Pony-variation that they did so well. Tina drops in and starts things up.
One used to be the Shotgun
Two used to be the bad boogaloo
Three used to be the swingin’ Shingaling
Four used to be the Funky Four Corners
Down on Funky Street
Diggin’ the funky beat
Down on Funky Street Where the grooviest people meet!
OUCH! It like Arthur Conley is there on the stage, his face streaked with tears as Tina and the Ikettes are dancing all over his prone, shattered form. It’s that powerful. And then, after two (very) short verses, the whole affair comes to an abrupt end. The audience sits there, eyelids peeled back, lapels afire, wondering why they gave up a chance to see Robert Goulet to subject themselves to the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, for which they were obviously not prepared. It’s just like that sometimes.
* PS I’m not exactly sure which part of this medley “African Boos” is, unless that’s what Ike decided to call the part of the song where the band is vamping on ‘There Was a Time’, which in all hoesty just should have been called ‘There Was a Time’.
(Originally Posted 9/14/05) Ike & Tina Turner – Bold Soul Sister
Mr. & Mrs. Turner
Ike Turner was a wife beating tyrant in a Beatle wig. There you have it. Ike Turner’s career history (as it currently stands). There’s also a lot of music in there (somewhere), but none of it matters now. Unless….you actually own some of his records. I’m not here to defend Ike Turner’s behavior (I’m not sure even he’d feel comfortable trying to do that). No matter how great your music is, nobody scores points in the great beyond when said music is created using a cuban heeled boot as a weapon. That said, it doesn’t help that most people only know Ike as the bass voice going “ROOOOLLLLIN’, during the slow parts of ‘Proud Mary’. The truth is a little more complicated than that. Starting in the early 50’s, Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm not only recorded what many believe is the first rock’n’roll record (“Rocket 88”), but also spent time in the studio backing folks like Elmore James and Howlin’ Wolf. Then Ike met Tina (or Annie Mae as she was known in 1956). After a hitch as a backup singer, Tina moved to the front of the band and recorded the R&B smash ‘A Fool In Love’ in 1959, and the musically fertile – but otherwise torturous – period began. Between 1960 and 1966 Ike, Tina, the Ikettes and the Kings of Rhythm laid down a serious pile of quality wax for a variety of labels, including Ike & Tina cuts like ‘I Idolize You’ Ike & the KOR stuff like the mighty ‘New Breed’ and Ikettes numbers like ‘Don’t Feel Sorry For Me’. This catalogue, taken as a whole (assuming, properly that while quite possibly a complete psycho, Ike was also an auteur of sorts and was largely responsible for the sounds on those records) is one of the great transitional artifacts linking R&B, rock’n’roll and soul. Ike Turner – unbridled id, violent, coke-addled nutjob – was also a hell of a songwriter, guitarist and bandleader. Then, in 1966, Ike and Phil Spector ended up in the same studio and a monumental explosion was heard that flattened trees and blew out windows in the surrounding area. That explosion was ‘River Deep Mountain High’, the record that despite it’s high quality would fail to make much of a mark on the US charts (though it was a hit in the UK), and would send Spector into a reclusive, gun-toting tailspin from which he never completely recovered. It also marked the beginning of the end for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, in that Tina’s star began to eclipse the rest of the show. In the next few years they would record no less than three live albums, the last of which, ‘Ike & Tina Turner In Person’ included the Ikettes smoking version of James Brown’s ‘There Was a Time’. By 1969, the Ike & Tina machine was running full speed ahead. That year alone they would release 9 albums. One of those LPs was ‘The Hunter’. Composed largely of blues & R&B covers (Albert King, Jimmy Reed, Barbara George and others), ‘The Hunter’ was also home to the funkiest record Ike & Tina Turner ever made, that being ‘Bold Soul Sister’. It’s important to note that Ike & Tina didn’t record all that much out and out funk. They made some “funk-y” records, some rocking soul, and a shitload of chittlin’ circuit R&B and blues, but not much to whet the appetite of the funk 45 crowd. ‘Bold Soul Sister’ on the other hand, is a record so powerful, so savage that it takes the energy of any ten other funk records and distills them down into a single, brutal cut. Borrowing the riff from Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Sing A Simple Song’, ‘Bold Soul Sister’ opens with Ike’s rusty sounding guitar, some very “live” sounding drums and a scream from Tina. Tina then goes into her rap:
Thangs and stuff and stuff and thangs and…and stuff
I’m a Bold Soul Sister! BSS!
Then the Ikettes drop in with a:“Boooooollld Soul Sister!” Then Tina raps about a ‘sockitome biscuit’ (???) and a bunch of other crazy stuff, and the Ikettes are right there behind her
‘Doin’ whatcha wanna when ya wanna how ya wanna now, do your thing soul sister!’
And Ike and the band are funking it up the whole time in the background, sounding like Fat Alberts Junkyard Band coming down off a LSD, Jello Pudding and Cold Duck high. The overall feel , that of a revival meeting gone acid-fried can be attributed to some degree to the production of Bob Krasnow, who’s curriculum vitae was at the time was composed in it’s entirety of the first two Captain Beefheart LPs. It’s not too hard to draw a line from the sound of Beefheart’s ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ to Ike & Tina’s ‘Bold Soul Sister’. Same jagged energy, same blues roots, same reach for psychedelic salvation folding back in on itself like some kind of demented Moebius strip (as any Moebius strip that started with Captain Beefheart and ended with Ike & Tina Turner would have to be). It helps to take a look at the cover of the LP. Ike is there, looking mean in his mod suit, Tina looking equally mean with her Wilma Flintstone goes to Nutbush City Limits getup (fur sandals???) – the two of them surrounded by creepy mannequins. Huh?? Thangs and stuff and stuff and thangs indeed…. The following year Ike & Tina would have their biggest hit (Top 40 in most markets, Top 10 in a few) with their explosive cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’. After that it was all down hill. The next 35 years can be condensed into a single sentence – Tina finally fought back, escaped from Ike, became a huge solo star, wrote a book, ended up on Oprah, Ike Turner’s a dick etc, etc, etc.