Skip to content

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.

It Sho’ Ain’t Me

Now how about a downbeat song for a rainy day? “It Sho Ain’t Me” is the third track on the album So Fine, coming right after the irrepressible “Betcha Can’t Kiss Me (Just One Time)” and “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.”

The album notes credit this song to M. Rice. I’m going to assume that’s Mack Rice, a songwriter from Stax Records. He’s the talented man who wrote “Mustang Sally” and “Respect Yourself,” among others.

“It Sho Ain’t Me” is a real nice sad song. The band’s sound is understated; I especially like the organ part in the very beginning and the saxophone solos toward the end. The Ikettes’ singing is better (or maybe it’s the recording that’s better) than usual.

But it’s the song itself, coupled with Tina’s soulful delivery, that’s so memorable. Tina does some of her best singing on this track. Don’t get me wrong, I really love Tina’s ability to wail and shout, and appreciate the talent that went into those rougher-sounding numbers. But it’s nice to change it up and hear her really sing, especially on a song this good and melancholy. Here she’s much more Otis Redding than Little Richard.

I won’t cry / Although you’re leaving me / And I won’t sigh, baby / Although it’s hurting me so bad / Now, I don’t have to analyze your mind / To know that someone else is taking all your time / And I know it ain’t me / Sho ain’t me

This song is just beautiful to me.

Note: don’t ever try to Google “It Sho Ain’t Me,” because it will just bring up a bunch of badly spelled, all-caps MySpace messages along the lines of “call someone who cares, cuz it sho aint me!”

3 O’Clock in the Morning Blues

It’s about time I got to some stuff from Outta Season, an album of mostly blues covers they released in 1969. I’m currently reading Takin’ Back My Name: the Confessions of Ike Turner, a fascinating and entertaining autobiography. He mentions that he recorded both Outta Season and The Hunter in four hours. [Unrelated, but too interesting to omit: Ike says he wrote most of his songs with Little Richard’s voice in mind, and that he considered Tina a female Little Richard, vocals-wise.]

Have you ever seen Outta Season in a used record store? The cover images are of Ike and Tina in white face winking and eating watermelon. This subtle commentary was chosen because so many white bands were having hits covering old blue tunes in the late ’60s, so that it seemed outta season for a black group to do so.

They included the B.B. King tune “3 O’Clock in the Morning Blues” on the album’s first side.

B.B. was the first one to encourage Ike to record his music, and helped set up the “Rocket 88” session at Sun Records. Later on Ike played piano on B.B.’s recording of “3 O’Clock Blues” also at Sun, a song that was a big hit in 1951.

Jump ahead to 1969, with Ike playing both the piano and the guitar parts. Tina gives a good performance, selling us that old blues story about a lover gone missing. Ike opened his own recording story in LA the next year, a pleasure dome light years away from Sun Studio in almost every way.

I Can’t Stop Loving You

Ike and Tina used to perform this song in their live show, and included it on the 1965 live album, The Ike and Tina Turner Show, Vol. 1. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is a country song that was popularized by Ray Charles in the ’50s and subsequently covered by all sorts of people. Willie and I recently got to see Solomon Burke in concert, and he did a great version of this tune, with the whole audience singing along.

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” was a natural for the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. I can imagine the audience swaying along as the band played the simple teardrops-falling melody and the Ikettes sang the familiar lyrics. But of course, the Revue was more entertaining than all that, and Tina amped it up to an anguished pitch with her raw vocals. It’s a cathartic number.

Ikettes: Those happy hours
Tina: Right NOW, I WANNA TELL YOU about those happy hours
Ikettes: That we once knew
Tina: Mmhmm, YEAH YEAH! THAT we once knew
Ikettes: So long ago
Tina: YEAH YEAH! Well I REMEMBER, I remember that it was SO long ago
Ikettes: Still makes me blue
Tina: And it still ma-a-a-akes me blue
Ikettes: They say that time
Tina: I KNOOOOW. . .And I KNOW, I said I KNOW, I KNOW, that they say that TIME
Ikettes: Heals a broken heart
Ikettes: The time stood still
Tina: BUT TIME TIME TIME has stood still
Ikettes: Since we’ve been apart
Tina: Oooh. . .YEAH YEAH! Since we’ve been, since WE’VE been APA-ART!

This is a stunning performance, she almost makes me sweat. I have got to get my hands on these live albums. I’m just living on scraps of live recordings right now.

Ian on Ike

Very excellent discovery today:  Ian Svenonius, one of my favorite musician/writers, wrote a piece on Ike Turner.  Read it here.

Ain’t Nobody’s Business

Today is a lovely spring day, full of robins and sunshine. I’m feeling so happy that I’m going to treat you to “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.” Pretend it’s 1968 and you’ve just bought the So Fine album. The first song on side 1 is the infectious “Betcha Can’t Kiss Me (Just One Time),” and it’s followed by “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.”

Wow, what a fun song: a trombone, a fast beat and the Ikettes chiming in with some quality “Oooh ooh oohs.” Great. Let’s listen to the lyrics:

If me and my baby have a quarrel and fight / Then we make looove and everything be alright / It ain’t noooobody’s business / It ain’t noooobody’s business / It AIN’T nooooobody’s business / What me and my man do

Ok, fair enough.

If me and my man have to sleep in the streets / Eat soup and crackers seven days a week / It just ain’t noooobody’s business. . .

Hmm, that’s a little weird.

If he likes women and likes to blow his dough / And I get out in the streets and help him get some more / It ain’t NOOOObody’s business. . .

Wait, what did she just sing?!

If I get a job and give him my pay / The WHOLE world shall smile and have nothin’ to say / ‘Cause it AIN’T nobody’s business. . .


All right, back in 2008 now: this is just the kind of crazy song I love them for. Ike wrote it, it’s completely upbeat, and Tina sounds rather cheerful. In fact, it’s a nice song for a spring day like today. You could eat an ice cream sundae to “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.” You could plant flowers, play marbles, or bake a pie to this song. DJs on “goodtime oldies” stations can play this right after “Rockin’ Robin”. . .you get the idea.

Listen to it streaming here.

You Got What You Wanted

As promised, here is another song from the excellent Cussin’, Cryin’ and Carryin’ On album. “You Got What You Wanted” is one of my favorite Ike-penned songs ever.

This is a real cool bluesy rock song, and it is nuts that (as far as I can tell) no one has covered it. Bands of the world, listen up! You should perform “You Got What You Wanted”! If the universe made any sense, this would be a classic.

Tina is downright sultry as the song begins:

You got what you wanted / Now you don’t want what you got / Once I was a thri-i-i-ill to you / And suddenly I’m not / Was it my mist-a-a-ake to give you everything I got? / You got what you wanted / Now you don’t want what you got

The song is only 2 minutes and 20 seconds long, but it manages to escalate into some passion from this chill beginning. (Lord knows that if anyone can work an emotional crescendo into a song, it’s Tina Turner.)

I wish I had this on vinyl, because it’s just the kind of song that you know would sound best on a record. I imagine the warmth of the tone would be better on vinyl, if that makes any sense.

You can listen to it streaming here.

Cussin’, Cryin’ and Carryin’ On

This is the title track from another LP they released in 1969. I love this album, and it was hard to choose which song to write about first. “Cussin’, Cryin’ and Carryin’ On” is a knockout song title, so it won.

Ike has a nice, laid-back guitar part and the Kings of Rhythm rock along with some cool percussion (cowbell!) and horns. Ike also wrote the lyrics, and “Cussin’, Cryin’ and Carryin’ On” is a simple, well-done ditty about a woman who’s been wronged. Tina sounds ticked off and I like her throaty singing on this one:

My daddy told me a long time ago / Never take candy from a stranger-er-er / I shoulda thought about that when I met you / I shoulda run away from the danger-er / But like a CHILD / I BELIEVED what you said / I let your LIES run DREAMS through my head / I let you have what you WANTED / And now you’re go-o-one / And you left me cussin’ and a cryin’ and a carryin’ on / ‘Bout the way you HURT me / And my BAD mistakes / Well I guess I hafta keep on carryin’ on til they carry me on when I’m dead from heartaches.

Whoa, Tina, take it easy! It’s a bit over the top to picture yourself being carried out dead from all this mess! This is getting almost as morbid as “Unlucky Creature” on Come Together.

But she’s not a lost cause on this track. True to pop song convention, she manages to turn the tables at the end:

MARK MY WORD / You gonna PAY the price / You gonna meet somebody some day somewhere that’s gonna make YOU think twice / You gonna MEET YOURSELF SOMEBODY that’s gonna turn you o-o-on / She’ll leave you cussin’ and cryin’ and a carryin’ on!

That’s better.

Bold Soul Sister

There was one song on The Hunter LP that was not a cover: “Bold Soul Sister,” written by Ike and Tina and sounding like a James Brown cut. It was a modest hit single for Ike and Tina, getting to #59 on the pop charts in 1970.

This is a hot number, with Ike getting down on the guitar and the band contributing a funky bass line and drum beat. The Ikettes come in singing “Do what you wanna, when you wanna, how you wanna / Now do your thing soul sister.”

Tina, the soul sister in question, does just that, and it turns out that what she wants to do is sing a bunch of nonsense. I am a big fan of quality absurdity, so I am grooving to this song.

Hey! Unh! / Thangs and stuff / And stuff and thangs and, and. . . stuff / GREASE me! / I’m a BOLD SOUL sister / BSS! / Ow! / SOCK it to the biscuit! / Bring it on down to the bone / Cleaner than big boys with HAIRY backs [?] / HEY hey!

I’m really curious what “grease” (pronounced “greeze”) means in this slang, because she later adds “the more I grease you, the smaller you get.” Of course, maybe they were just making up words on the spot.

“Bold Soul Sister” is in the same vein as James Brown’s “I Got Ants in My Pants” or “Mother Popcorn,” a funky workout without much structure. Ike and Tina and the band seem to be having a lot of fun, and I love Ike’s guitar sound here.

This is a good getting-dressed-up-to-go-out-on-a-Friday-night song. “It’s hanging, now let it dry!”

The Hunter

This is the title track from a 1969 album. . .one of six LPs they released that year. Of those six, two of them were released on Blue Thumb Records: The Hunter and Outta Season. The Blue Thumb releases were almost entirely blues covers, and Ike is really in his element on these discs.

The song “The Hunter” was written by the guys in Booker T. & the MGs, and gives Ike some nice guitar licks and blues piano to work with. The song’s lyrics have Tina hunting big, handsome men:

I got my love gun loaded / With hugs and kisses / When I pull my trigger / There won’t be no misses / There ain’t no need to hide / Ain’t no use to run / ‘Cause I got you in the sight of my loooove gun.

Just like when Apollonia sings the Prince-penned “Sex Shooter,” the phallic imagery is a bit subtler coming from a female singer. (Wait, I take that back–there’s nothing subtle about “Sex Shooter.”)

Ike’s facility with the blues makes this a great track, and I also like Tina’s delivery. The song isn’t as overheated as many of Ike’s compositions, so she has room to give it a little attitude. (As opposed to keeping it cranked up to 11, as she often had to do.) “I’m a big game hunter, baby!”