By Derrick Lord
This was just what Ike Turner
fans had been waiting for.
The Clarksdale, Mississippi native returned to his roots with a barrel-house style blues recording that brought him back as a force on the music scene, earning two W.C. Handy Awards from the Blues Foundation for best traditional blues album and comeback album of the year in 2002. This edition of his Kings of Rhythm band sounded tight and Ike picked right back up where he left off with his 1950s sound.
Everybody seems to know more about Ike's history than his music
, and that's too bad. You can't forget one, but should at least get to know the other.
Ike took turns playing keyboards, bass and even a bit of drums on the album, but the Turner trademark guitar existed on all of the tracks. Surprisingly, he said that he enjoyed playing piano more than guitar in the liner notes. Ike was a great keyboard player, but if I played rhythm guitar like him I would never put it down.
Little bit of trivia in there, also. Ike apparently switched from piano to guitar in order to accommodate an old girlfriend that played keyboards in the Kings of Rhythm, and bought his first Stratocaster at O.K. Houck's music store in Memphis. Maybe Houck's and the gal should be listed as historical landmarks. They did us all a big favor.
The disk starts off with Tore Up," a drinking anthem more than a few of us can relate to. It is a good updating of I'm Tore Up," recorded in '56, but this time Ike does the singing. You Can't Winnum All" has a guest appearance by Little Milton
on guitar as does Feelin' Low Down." Catfish Blues" gives Turner a chance to strut his stuff on a good old-fashioned Delta blues rumble, and Gave You What You Wanted" lets him give his Strat a hell of a nasty workout. Swanee River Boogie" is a nifty piano instrumental piece that has some swing. One thing I really enjoyed from the disk was Dell Akins' work on the stand up bass on Catfish Blues," as well as two other tunes. A horn section staffed by many keeps the album grooving all the way home.
Now for the scary part. When I first glanced at the set list, I was surprised to see that Turner took a shot at the classic Rhythm Kings song Rocket 88." Everyone likes Ike's Rocket 88," but nobody likes it when something that works is messed with. After all, this is the song that Bill Haley and the Comets covered a full three years before Rock around the Clock." If you list the music that gave birth to rock and roll, Rocket 88" will be on the page.
When I listened to the song, I was a little surprised. A worthy successor to the original, sung by Jackie Brenston from '51, it is every bit as fun as your first ride in Ike's Oldsmobile.