Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
There is something macabre about writing up reimagined discographies of older artists, and hanging on to them until they pass, even though it would make posting about them immediate and topical, and therefore seemingly more relevant to people. It's not my style.
I didn't want to wait to post this Tina Turner discography, though. She's an artist who I enjoyed immensely since I first heard "What's Love Got To Do With It" in some neighbor's car when I was in first or second grade. My parents only listened to oldies, so while I was familiar with Tina Turner from "Proud Mary" and "I Want To Take You Higher", I had no idea she was still putting out music. (My musical education at seven was shamefully shallow.)
But ever since hearing that track, I've been a fan. I had cousins who owned the Private Dancer tape, and my parents had no problem with me listening to modern music, it just wasn't their thing, so they bought me Break Every Rule, which I failed to properly appreciate. In fact, I mostly forgot about Tina unless she was on the radio until I joined the Columbia House and BMG scams of the 90s, and first got her Simply The Best, and then all of her solo CDs. I saw What's Love Got To Do With It during its first week in theaters, and I came out of the movie remembering that I had once made a cassete mix of my favorite Turner tracks, and decided I needed to update it.
This first album is nothing like those mixes. I really only knew a few songs from of her work with Ike when I was a kid. I knew Tina from the radio, and considered plunging into her eighties and nineties work, and sticking "Proud Mary" somewhere a sufficient knowledge of her music.
I was, obviously, an idiot.
I think I reinvested in listening to Tina in 2007ish. I was on the dumb side of a bad breakup, and had made a joke about listening exclusively to Tina Turner songs, and then thought "I mean, I should totally do that. Not to be sad or triumphant but because Tina Turner's music is amazing." So I delved into the sixties material, and discovered that one of my favorite 90s Tina Turner songs was just a rerecording of a 1970s hit.
Like previous Reimagined Discoveries, this is not a guide to The Historically Most Important And Highly Rated Songs Of Tina's Career, this is just a collection of songs I like that I've put together for an album feel.
1. We start off with drums, partially because it's a solid beat, partially because I don't want Ike to be the first thing we hear in a Tina Turner discography, important as he was to her early career. Soon the riff pops in, and then Tina's vocal for Honky Tonk Woman comes in fairly gently before we near the chorus. I'm not much of a Rolling Stones fan, so it shouldn't be too surprising that I prefer this cover to the original. She and Ike have released a ton of live versions of this song, but the studio cut from Come Together is my favorite version.
2. Sorry to open with two covers but Tina just owned any song she touched, and in the Ike & Tina days, the songs by Not Ike were mostly better than the songs by Ike. Stagger Lee And Billy was a song I was familiar with because my parents listened to the original Lloy Price, which is also a banger.
3. Early Tina Turner's style was often described as "nice and rough" for her effortless journey from a sweet, soulful beginning of a song to a scorching chorus. She made it easy for people to tag her with this style when she mentions it at the beginning of her iconic cover of Proud Mary, easily the most famous song from the Ike & Tina days. This is another song that's "nearly as" to "more" iconic than the original version (by Creedence Clearwater Revival).
4. I love Sly & The Family Stone. I should probably do a Reimagined Discography of them soon, too. I can't tell you what the first song I heard from them was, but I'm pretty sure I heard Tina's cover of River Deep Mountain High first. The Ikettes just absolutely nail the background vocals on this song. And Tina tinas her way into the stratosphere.
5. We stretch way ahead for the next track. Tina croons her face off to the piano torch song version of A Woman In A Man's World. This was from her first post-Ike album, and it's a gorgeous lament. I didn't want a chronological tale of love narrative to this album because Tina was so much more than her relationship with Ike, so I decided to include this as an intro to, as opposed to a climax to the next track.
6. A Fool In Love is one of the few early songs that starts with acapella Tina before the Ikettes and the band join in. It's from Ike & Tina's first album which is a horror of a realization when you examine their relationship. Like, this was the first time most people heard Tina. You kind of want to reach across time and say "Trust your gut, Anna Mae. He's not a good man. Don't wait almost twenty years to get out!" Musically, you can still feel the 50s all over this early 60s track. It was clearly in their arsenal for a while before their record deal.
7. Let's put the focus back on Tina with one of her own songs, Nutbush City Limits is the song I mentioned hearing the 90s version of before the 70s version. They're both wonderful. But the funk guitar intro on this before the vocals kick in just make you want to dance jaggedly. It's nowhere near as full voiced or catchy as her own reimagining but it's a perfect raw pop rock song. Also, great use of a Moog synthesizer by Ike to make this sound absolutely nothing like any other Tina Turner song.
8. If You Can Hully Gully is another song Tina co-wrote. A nostalgic song about a 1950s dance where no one was allowed to touch. Probably popular at church socials and other places people should run from.
9. Keeping the fun dancing alive, we move to The Night Time Is The Right Time. On par with Ray Charles's original scorcher, it's a song I could listen to on repeat as Tina screeches "Squeeze me!" and the Ikettes monotone "night and day" in the background. The breakdown guitar solo is also just good, solid, mid-century rock and roll.
10. And if the night time really is the right time then why not Let's Spend The Night Together? It's another Rolling Stones song where prefer the cover to the original. And it's all because of Tina. The arrangement is fine but it's not the star. The Stones' arrangement is better. But Tina's vocals leave Jagger in the dust. And that's not a knock on Jagger. His vocals on the original are fantastic. I just think Jagger sounds like he wants to spend the night together while Tina NEEDS to.
11. The Temptations' Ball Of Confusion is one of my favorite songs of all-time. The arrangement, the lyrics, the message. Perfection. This is one of the few times where I think the original far surpasses Turner's cover but that doesn't mean I don't also want to listen to her sing it. Her version just needs more background vocals than it has, preferably something slightly different than the style in the original.
12. We close out this album with a piano ballad. Another torch song. Sometimes When We Touch is just lush and gorgeous and all the other easy cliches to describe a song that's just emotionally heavy but beautiful to listen to. I always thought this version of the song belonged in the Little Shoppe Of Horrors musical.