Ike Turner's place in history is firmly marked from his contributions to both blues and early rock 'n' roll. Leading the Kings Of Rhythm, a band that included Jackie Brenston, Dennis Binder, Clayton Love, and others, Turner's forceful piano and distinct guitar show up on many classics from the 1950's. Aside from being a musician of note, Ike Turner has been a talent scout, producer, A&R man, and an all-around session wizard. His return to the blues community in 2001 with "Here And Now" leaves little doubt that he still has more to contribute.
Reviving "Tore Up," the shuffling opener, Ike's vocals and guitar are mixed out front and it's apparent he can still wrangle some blazing six-string behind a potent voice, while "Baby's Got It" is an instrumental tour-de-force for Turner's piano skills, and he's lost nothing in that department either. "You Can't Winnum' All" is funky and spiced with more fine keyboard work as Turner sends out a lyrical message hoping to leave the past well behind. "Ike's Theme," a Stratocaster-laced instrumental workout, is 95% Freddy King's "Hideaway," although I can't find writer credits anywhere in the liner notes. Childhood friend, and sometimes-King-Of-Rhythm, Ernest Lane, adds piano to a few tracks, standing out on the slow and deliberate "Catfish Blues." "Gave You What You Wanted" is almost the complete lyrical opposite of the second cut as Turner uses the 'bit off more than you could chew' complaint. "I Need A-Nuddin' " is a layered piece of studio genius with country, disco, and R&B styles all falling into place back of a steady blues groove. "Swanee River Boogie" lets Ike show more of his Pinetop influenced piano with the band chugging on a tight and in-the-pocket feel. More layering comes to the fore in "Feelin' Low Down" and the reworked "Rocket 88" is tough. Closing out with a slow blues instrumental, "Cold Day In Hell," leaves the listener with an appetite for more, and hopefully on the same path as "Here And Now."
If there's any dissatisfaction, it's the odd-sounding drum overdubs that creep into a number of the cuts here. Simply stated, they add little, and in fact, take away from the overall brilliance that Ike and friends managed on the 'live-in-the-studio' titles ("Ike's Theme," "Swanee River Boogie," and "Cold Day In Hell"). Turner steps out with plenty of Stratocaster-whammy-bar hijinx, and although he prefers piano to guitar playing, he sits at the 88's on four numbers and adds guitar to all eleven. Produced by Ike Turner, the Ikon Records imprint is a division of Bottled Majic Music, Inc., the label that brings us Rooster Blues, and with this 41 minute disc, they add another page to their growing catalog.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Craig Ruskey, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.