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A Fool in Love

All right, let’s go way back to Ike and Tina’s first single and first hit, “A Fool in Love.” They released this on Sue Records in 1960 and it went to #2 on the R&B charts, and #27 on the pop charts.

When I listen to this song, an image comes into my mind of young Tina Turner, in one of her sequined dresses, shoving aside some Connie Francis-type as she steps into the pop music consciousness. She’s just fearless and peerless on this track. What the heck did people think when they first heard it?

It’s obligatory to mention the legendary circumstances of the recording. Ike, Tina and the Kings of Rhythm were a popular act in St. Louis at that time and Ike volunteered to write song for Art Lassiter, another hot act in town. He wrote “A Fool in Love” and taught it to Art (with Tina looking on). Then Ike rented out a recording studio to cut the record and Art never showed up. The money was already spent, so at Tina’s suggestion they recorded it with her vocals. The idea was that they were laying down the backing track and they would add Lassiter’s vocals on later–Tina’s singing was just a guide for the band. Ike explains in his autobiography:

The reason she was hollering so loud, straining, on the record, is because the song is not in a woman’s key. It’s in a man’s key, for a man to sing. I was recording the key for Art Lassiter, and that’s why the song is so high.

It’s interesting to think of Tina purposely trying to sing like a man on this track, because her voice is so big and aggressive here. “HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY!!” Poor Tina never thought this would be her introduction to the average radio listener. Of course it’s the over-the-top delivery and vocal oddity that make this such a cool single, even now.

The music is pretty normal early-’60s R&B, with an especially catchy refrain for the background singers. The song’s lyrics are all about being head over heels for someone who jerks you around, in Ike’s straight-talking style:

Without the man / I don’t wanna live / You think I’m lyin’ / But I’m tellin’ it like it is / He’s got my nose open / And that’s no lie / And I’m gonna keep him satisfied!

This single probably would have done all right for Art Lassiter. Poor guy.

One Comment

  1. Art Lassiter wrote:

    Thanks for the history.

    Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 3:02 am | Permalink

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