All this reviewer can say is "What took so long?". It seems eons since the world has been tickled by the likes of Ike Turner. Let's hope this return signals an acceptance of the music. Because, for Ike, it has always been about the music. Before his monstrous hit, "Rocket 88" in 1951; he was leading his own band, The Kings Of Rhythm, a jump styled band fashioned upon Louis Jordan's music. He revamps the Kings and looks back to those roots for this outing.
Though credited to Jackie Brenston, the King's lead singer, "Rocket 88" led Turner to recording work with Chess, Modern, Federal, Cobra, and Ace Records. He also worked as a talent scout for California's Bihari Brothers and Sam Phillips at Sun in Memphis. He has discovered, recorded with, or played aside the likes of B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Rufus Thomas, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf and many others; not to mention Anna Mae Bullock (a.k.a. Tina Turner). He (along with wife, Tina) also waxed some bluesier material with the Stateside, Blue Thumb, and Liberty labels.
Turner charges off with his own rendition of "Tore Up" throwing his own vocal work into the mix; then jumps into some lively piano work and full horn tilt on "Baby's Got It". Oh yeah, wait until you hear the piano by Ike. Little Milton's guitar action backs Ike's keys on his "You Can't Winnum All", then Ike shows his guitar action on "Gave You What You Wanted". Take a step back to the rollickin' fifties with cuts like the "Swanee River Boogie" or his redux of "Rocket 88" with rockin' and rollin' Turner piano; or go for southern blue with cuts like his "Feelin' Low Down". Consistent, confident, and conclusive proof of Ike's musical mastery lies all about this platter.
Ike handles the keyboards with the help of Ernest Lane on four tracks. Ike also plays guitar on all tracks, and contributes the bass on three tunes. Guest guitarists include Little Milton for two, Joe Kelly on one, and Fuzzy also plays on a cut. James Lewis provides support guitar and Ken Cooper gets the bass work on eight tracks. Ike and Preston Wilcox take up the drums on seven cuts, Tony Coleman on three, and drums were overdubbed by Steve Potts on eight tunes. Dell Adkins added his upright bass on three tracks and the horn players included: Jim Spake, Lannie McMillan, Andrew Love, and James Mitchell on eight cuts. Additionally: the horns of Scott Thompson, Mac Johnson, Evan Pigford, Ernid Field, Louis Taylor and Dan Bell are heard on three arrangements.
Look for a hot weld of early rock and southern Memphis blues stylings. The strong dose of soul that emanates from within, also shudders under the shadow of historic Stax material. Looking back to secure the future, Ike has come up with a winner in the best big-band sense of the word. It has it all here; great guitar, piano work that is magnificent, and overall A's for orchestration.
IKON Records, a Division of Bottled Majic Music; 255 Mill Street; Greenwich, CT 06830:
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, 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.