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Hard Times

Poor Kent Records, they did not get much good material out of Ike and Tina when they signed them in the early ’60s. At this time Ike, the canny businessman that he was, was maximizing profits by recording all over the place, pumping out songs for several labels. They released two LPs on Kent, both in 1964–one was a live record and the second was The Soul of Ike & Tina. In case you noticed, that is the exact title of their first LP, released on Sue Records in 1961. That is a clue to what you’ll find here.

This is the LP that features the song “Something Came Over Me,” a sequel/rip-off of their earlier hit on Sue, “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.” It also features “Am I Fool in Love” a sequel/rip-off of their first hit on Sue, “A Fool in Love.” These songs sound exactly the same, just with some new lyrics. Ike was not too worried about what he was giving to Kent Records.

But don’t get me wrong, I like the 1964 The Soul of Ike & Tina record OK. It’s fun and kinda dance-y, perfectly fine for any fan of their early work.

The song I like best is “Hard Times,” which manages to rip off both “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” and “A Fool in Love,” but is still a good song on its own. Tina does the exact “HEY HEY HEY HEY HEEEEYS!” from “A Fool in Love” in this song, and meanwhile the Ikettes are singing “Maybe it’ll work out fine!” But who cares? Because this song has some great lyrics, and I like the piano part, too.

How can you resist a song that begins with Tina yelling the following?

Come here fella! Just because I don’t say nothin’ about the things you do, don’t you think I’m no fool. ‘Cause just one of my ideas would crack your head wide open!

I adore that last line. Awesome.

The overall storyline of the song has Tina kicking her man to the curb, but with a difference. She’s got this great careless attitude in this song, where she’s making out that she never liked him all that much anyway. . .

But I’ve always known that you was no good / I only took you just to show you I could / But hard times / Achin’ heart / Baby, that’s my name!

When she sings “hard times, achin’ heart, baby that’s my name” she sounds sarcastic, not sad. She is over it!

I’ve known for quite some time / That you were rotten and outta your mind / But I went along just to see would you change / It’s in your blood to be a rotten man.

Ms. Hard Times Achin’ Heart is pretty good at trash talking, huh?

As the convoluted marketing text on the LP sleeve exhorts me, I’m “more than somewhat delighted” with this song. Pity the guy at Kent who had to hype this record, but “Hard Times” is a keeper.

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