Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Legendary Ike Turner: The Kat Sure Could Play!

Ike Turner's life may have been a controversial one, but their can be little doubt of his significant contribution to the blues, rhythm & blues and rock musical worlds. A four CD box, "The Legendary Ike Turner: The Kat Sure Could Play! (Secret Records) presents 118 songs (and over 5 hours of music) from singles Turner played on between 1951 to 1957. Some of these recordings include famous recording like "Rocket 88" by Turner and his own band The Kings of Rhythm, and others are backings to recordings by the likes of Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Johnny Ace, Bobby Bland and Elmore James.

There are so many historic recordings here starting with Rocket 88, but also including King's 3 O'Clock Blues, Wolf's How Many More Years, Boyd Gilmore's raucous Rambling On My Mind, and Rosco Gordon's No More Doggin'. The is a terrific delta juke joint band session that produced Drifting Slim's Muddy Waters pastiche Good Morning Baby, and Sunny Blair's house rocket, Step Back Baby. Junior Brooks terrific Gonna Let You Go is a reworking of a Muddy Waters recording with Ike on piano as he is on Elmore's frantic broom dusting on Please Find My Baby. Ike is present on Little Milton's early If You Love Me Baby as well.

Ike also had his own coterie of musicians including Eugene Fox whose Sinner's Dream and the two-part The Dream, are interesting bits of story-telling with Ike's evocative use of tremolo in his guitar noticeable. As The Sly Fox, Eugene Fox had a couple of other gems with his extroverted vocals; Hoo-doo Say (with a solo from Ike) and I'm Tired of Beggin'. Lonnie the Cat's I Ain't Drunk is a choice cover of a Jimmy Liggins tune that Albert Collins made famous. Johnny Wright's The World Is Yours is one of several times Ike adapted lyrics to Guitar Slim's The Things I Used To Do with Wright shouting with considerable vigor as Ike makes effective use of his Fender's whammy bar during his solo. 

Some of the latter recordings come from when Turner recorded for Federal and include such gems as Billy Gayles I'm Tore Up, Just One More Time, and Let's Call It A Day; Jackie Brenston's Gonna Wait For My Chance and Clayton Love's She Made My Blood Run Cold and Do You Mean It. Also heard are instrumentals including Cubano Bop and Trail Blazer.

Not every track is a classic, but throughout one can discern Ike Turner's ear and ability to craft the sound of the recordings with some nice piano on his earlier recordings and distinctive guitar in the later recordings. Included is a booklet with a lengthy overview of the recordings and Ike's contributions by Fred Rothwell as well as another booklet with discographical details on the selections included. The Kat Sure Could Play! is an impressive compilation of Ike Turner before Tina. Folks might check better mail order outfits like to purchase this.

I purchased my copy. Here is Clayton Love singing She Made My Blood Run Cold.

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