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A Fool for You

This is one of my favorites from the 1965 live album. It’s a cover of a brilliant Ray Charles song from the ’50s, specifically it’s a cover of Ray’s live version of “A Fool for You.” (His studio version is quite a bit more polished, less sad and bluesy.)

Oh man, this is such a good song, I love both live versions. In typical Ike and Tina style, they keep upping the ante in what was already a sad, sad song.

“A Fool for You” starts out slow and bluesy, mostly just piano, drum, and voice, with some horns gradually ebbing in and out. Where Ray’s delivery is worn out and sad, Tina has a little more life to her. It’s one of those passionate, early Tina performances that tear me up. But she’s going to use that extra spirit to pile on the heartbroken hyperbole.

I really like the part of the song where the pace picks up a bit, and the lyrics stop and start between percussion or horn exclamations. The words describe waking up missing the lost love, and putting on a big cry. Note the differences in our two versions:

Ray sings,

I said you even cry so loud
You give the blues to your neighbor next door
Ever since you were 5 years old, now baby
I want you to know that I’ve been a little fool for you little girl

Tina sings,

[drum and trumpet!]
Yes you will, mmm
That you’ll have the preacher, I said you’ll have the preacher, drinkin’ wine next door
[drums and trumpet!]
Yeah, yeah
But I wanna tell you that EVERY SINCE, EVERY SINCE I WAS 2 YEARS OLD!
[drums and trumpet!]
Yes I was, now, mmhm
I keep on trying to proo-oove that I’m a little fool for ya baby
[drums and trumpet]
Yes, I am, mmm

Now that’s a fool for love!

This is a live recording, and you can hear some women respond when Tina sings, “I wanna know what makes me be a damn fool for you.” This reminded me of an interesting thing I read in Ike’s autobiography. He said that when he added Tina as the singer in his band, lots of women resented her (’cause Ike was such a heartthrob) and didn’t respond well to their performances due to jealousy. So he purposely gave her songs that would make her seem more sympathetic to female fans. I remember he mentioned their version of “All I Can Do Is Cry” as an example. I think the choice of “A Fool for You” was part of this strategy, too.

It’s All Over

This is one of my favorite songs on these live recordings, mostly because it showcases Tina’s voice really nicely. Besides being included on The Ike & Tina Turner Show – Live Volume 2 LP, “It’s All Over” was released as a single with “Finger Poppin'” in 1964.

Your guess is as good as mine as to who wrote this song. This live LP has a lot of reworked rock songs and blues standards. I’ve never heard “It’s All Over” before, but that’s not a good indication of whether or not it’s an Ike composition. In any case, it’s a fine soul number.

It starts out with the horns, a stuttering trumpet, and the Ikettes clapping a rhythm. A full-throated Tina starts letting the crowd know that she is through with her man. Her singing is full of little trills, something like that trumpet:

The loove I once had for hi-im has all grown co-o-old / Oh yes it has / And it TOOK A MINUTE of prayer [?] / But no-o-ow I’ve reached my go-o-oal / Oh yes I have / But IT TOOK A LOOONG ti-i-ime/ FOR ME TO MAKE UP MY mi-i-i-ind / but it’s A-A-ALL over now / It’s all over! / Yeah / I said it’s all over now / I wanna tell ya that / I don’t love him / Oh no, I don’t / And I SAY THAT I-I-I don’t need him / Any MO-O-O-ORE / OH NO I DON’T / Because HE’S too BOLD for ME / And that’s why I let him go-o-o / Oh yes I did.

Her voice sounds strong and fiery, though not heartbroken or even bitter. To me, it sounds like Tina likes this tune, and is enjoying performing it.

I notice that a few much-later compilation albums chose “It’s All Over” for their title. That’s about right. You could definitely use this song to represent the public idea of Ike and Tina, with post-I, Tina hindsight.

Tight Pants

Live! The Greatest, Wildest Show of All
The Ike & Tina Turner Show
Soul and Rock That Do Not Stop

Yes, thanks to the excellent stock at Offbeat Music, I finally own the 1965 Ike and Tina live albums. (Originally two separate releases, volumes I and II are combined on one CD, released in 2006 by Warner Bros.)

Now people, when you see a track called “Tight Pants” on an Ike and Tina album, you know you are in for a treat. This is a steady rockin’ number, featuring Ike’s always-solid blues guitar. This song is real fun to sing along to:

Put on your tight pants, baby / Put your toupee on your head, oh yeah / Put on your tight pants, baby / Put your toupee on your head, all right / You CAN BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR / Baby you know you’re gonna knock em dead.

In the first verse Tina exhorts her man to bring his .45 “in case some fool might want to fight.” But Tina, how in the world is he going to carry a gun in those tight pants? Is there a shoulder holster involved? Or maybe he keeps his gun in the car?

Sidenote 1: This CD reprints the original liner notes for Vol. I, written by a California DJ named Curtis (Gene) Price. On the spectrum of crazy DJ-penned liner notes, this is relatively sane. However, it makes me think how much I’d like to go back in time and be a DJ in the ’60s. I’d just sit around with my turntable and typewriter and crank out wacky liner notes. Maybe I’d hang out with Richard Meltzer and make up new, nutso rocknroll slang. Yeah, that’s it. . .

Sidenote 2: Robbie Montgomery, one of the original Ikettes, is featured as a singer on this live album.  Just last weekend I was in St. Louis and discovered that my aunt and uncle and cousins have fallen in love with the food at Sweetie Pie’s, Robbie’s soul food restaurant.  She opened a location on Manchester, in an old ice cream parlor.  I’ll have to try it next time I get out to St. Louis.  They rave about the catfish.

Club Manhattan

One thing that this project has taught me is that I much prefer the Ike and Tina music of the ’60s over their work in the ’70s. For the most part, their ’70s rocker stuff grates on my ears. Tina’s voice starts reminding me more and more of Ann Wilson on “Barracuda” (one of my least favorite songs). To think that Tina might be responsible for the screechy sound of early Heart. . .it’s sad to me. Ike is a professional, and he keeps things moving along with the times, but the music sounds uninspired.

I’ve been thinking that I should do a post on “Nutbush City Limits,” since that’s sort of a pivotal song for Tina, autobiographical, blah blah blah. But if I’m going to bite the bullet and profile one of the songs from the album Nutbush City Limits, I’d rather do “Club Manhattan.”

I think Ike and Tina meant for “Nutbush City Limits” and “Club Manhattan” to be bookends to the LP. They are both autobiographical songs, and besides that, they sound a lot alike, even down to that ear-piercing synthesizer.

The reason I prefer “Club Manhattan” is that it’s the only example I know of them glorifying their early days playing clubs in East St. Louis.

Over cross the east bridge / Down in East St. Louis / Six blocks down Broadway / There’s a swingin’ new club / It’s guaranteed good [???] / And women dressed in satin / Over at the Club Manhattan

This fictional club seems real interesting, the more she tells us about it:

It’s open seven nights a week/ And there’s people far as you can see / They play craps in back / And they fry fish up in the front / You just name the drink and they’ll fix it for ya / The man understands, sugar / And Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm / Over at the Club Manhattan

Wow, this place sounds great! I love fried fish! Of course, she also tells us how packed the place always is, so doesn’t it get a little gross with all the fried fish smell and bodies packed in? Aren’t the ladies afraid of getting grease on their satin dresses? Nothing shows grease like satin.

You can listen to it streaming here.

Anyway, the project is winding down now unless I get a new Ike & Tina Turner album that piques my interest.

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.

I Idolize You

This is the runner-up in my Ike and Tina Songs That Remind Me of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Sweepstakes.

“I Idolize You” was released in 1960–the third single that they put out. “Letter from Tina” was the B-side. It’s a real smooth rhythm and blues number. If they were playing this in the clubs in St. Louis, I can imagine the crowd doing some slow-and-close dancing to this one.

To me, Tina sounds like some slightly deranged (but no doubt attractive) stalker lurking behind the Spanish moss.

Oh what a thrill, yeah / You know I would get / If I could comfort you baby / And make you my pet /OH! /ALL I WANT BABY / Is SOME THOUGHTS of you / JUST A LITTLE BIT ATTENTION /You know it sees me through / ‘CAUSE YOU KNOW you’re my KIND / And I WANT you to be mine / WHOA! / I idolize you /Yes I idolize you

When I listen to this song, I don’t believe she’s meaning “idolize” like to adore this guy passionately, or even to worship him like a demigod. Instead, I feel like she’s using the word in a new way–that she means she’s going to make a voodoo-type idol of this man, to entrap him. Idol-ize him.

Even if your imagination isn’t that active, this song is fine. It’s wonderful early Ike and Tina: Ike’s conception of his lead singer as some kind of wild, sultry jungle woman is starting to show, and Tina sounds awesome.

I would like to scream to you baby / Just to let you know. . .

Puppy Love

Sometimes listed as “Chances Are.”

It’s my fondest dream that someone would find an Ike and Tina recording of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.” But in the meantime, “Puppy Love” is the next best thing.

Wait, “Puppy Love”?! I know the title sounds like some kind of Brenda Lee ditty, but instead it’s a slinky, otherworldly number. This is way more Screamin’ Jay than Paul Anka.

The song creeps steadily along with the bass. The drums, guitars, and piano lurk in the background. The Ikettes sing in a spooky, detached harmony. Young Tina’s sound is appropriately mysterious and ominous:

To yooooou it’s just a puppy loooove / You never caaaared how much you broke my heeeart / But ONE DAY you’ll STOP and saaaay / Why did I TREAT little Tina that waaaay / And chances are you’ll be needing little me agaaain

Puppy love has never been so eerie!

This is an extremely interesting Ike and Tina cut. . .unlike anything else I’ve heard from them. (Much more voodoo than “Mojo Queen.”) It was the B-side of the 1962 single, “Tra La La La La.” I don’t know if Ike wrote it or not. . .if you have the 45, look at it and let me know.

This Man’s Crazy

“This Man’s Crazy” is a frenetic number from Ike and Tina’s 1963 album It’s Gonna Work Out Fine. As I mentioned in a previous post, Ike said that he wrote songs with Little Richard’s voice in mind. This song could serve as exhibit A.

Listen: This Man’s Crazy

It’s a breakneck rock song, with a boogie-type piano part and a exuberant saxophone solo. Tina punctuates the song with little “wooo!” parts, just like Little Richard.

“This Man’s Crazy” is a fun song, and would be good to play the next time you have an out-of-control house party. Just think how fun it would be to dance on the couch while Tina sings:

He comes home every day raisin’ all kind of sand [?] / his drama’s so much til it’s gone out of hand / Everything he do, there’s no reason why / This man is crazy, I think he lost his mind! / Uh huh / Oh yeah / Uh huh / Woooo!

It’s under two minutes long, so you should be able to keep up your crazy dancing throughout without losing your breath.

Tina’s Dilemma

Ikettes: Tina!
Tina: Yes, ‘ettes?
Ikettes: Why do you love that guy?

“Tina’s Dilemma” was released as a single in 1963. It’s a crazy little number where the Ikettes and Tina squabble over her man and his cheating ways.

This is probably my favorite Ikettes part, as they persistently poke at Tina about her no-good man, asking questions like “Do you think that he loves you?” They are like a pack of annoying little sisters. Tina sounds exasperated as they keep on badgering her. I imagine this was an entertaining live number.

Ikettes: Tina!
Tina: Now what girls?
Ikettes: Would you believe your man plays around?
Tina: Sure! But what I don’t see don’t hurt me
Ikettes: But Tina?
Tina: (tired) Yeah?
Ikettes: He could mean you no good
Tina: Listen to this: The things he do that I don’t see / Believe me baby it don’t bother me / So leeeeave / Leave my business aloooone, yeah / Because he gives me his lovin’ each and every day / And right by his side is where I’m gonna stay
Ikettes: Tina!
Tina: Oh go on, leave me alone

Identifying the Ikettes is a chancy business, since the line-up changed so often. And of course they aren’t credited on the liner notes I have. I’m guessing that on this recording the Ikettes were probably Delores Johnson, Eloise Hester, Joshie Armstead.  (Or maybe Jessie Smith, Venetta Fields and Robbie Montgomery?)

Something Came Over Me

“It’s funny how things have changed since I fell in love with you. . .”

“Something Came Over Me” appeared on the 1964 album The Soul of Ike & Tina Turner and is a sequel to their 1961 single, “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.”

Like its predecessor, “Something Came Over Me” is a conversation song, with the female and male vocals going back and forth. You know it’s a sequel song because the opening guitar is almost identical to the one on “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” and the new lyrics reference specific phrases from the older song. The storyline in the first song was all about Tina being in love and her man being bemused. In this one, he’s still bemused, but she’s disillusioned. He’s changed!

Tina: Remember you told me once that I was your lover girl
Ike: You was. . .at that time
Tina: You built up my hopes until you got my mind in a whirl
Ike: Well, girls are kinda nutty anyway
Tina: Oh nooooo / My mama tried to get me to leave you alone
Ike: That figures
Tina: I almost acted a fool and left my home / But not now darling ’cause something came over you.

I have this on LP–an original from ’64, as far as I can tell. There aren’t any notes about the band on the back cover, but it’s very noticeable that the male voice on this song is not the same one from “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.” According to the Ike Turner discography I spend a lot of time perusing that’s because the vocals on the first song were recorded by Mickey Baker, from Mickey & Sylvia. I don’t know if this is Ike on “Something Came Over Me,” but I’ll just assume so since I have nothing else to go on.