Ike Turner

Blues Kingpins

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Ike Turner began his career as a straight-up blues man and wild R&B guitarist. This 18-track collection drawn from the vaults of RPM, Modern, Crown, and Sue showcases Turner's prowess as a pianist, songwriter, singer, and most of all as a guitarist. The first four tracks date from the early '50s and feature Turner on piano and vocals. They are pretty standard R&B packed full of energy and fire, and Turner proves to be a solid vocalist. By 1954 he switched over to guitar and started putting down some raw and unschooled solos. His playing on "The Way You Used to Treat Me" is primitive and at times barely in tune; his soloing on the swinging "Cubano Jump" is stinging and very tough. "Cuban Getaway" shows off some fine tremolo technique and "Early Times" has Turner providing hard-edged backing for Dennis Binder's blues shouting. The highlight of the disc is the eight-minute-long "All the Blues All the Time," on which Turner solos in the styles of some of the big blues guitarists of the day like John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Elmore James, and Muddy Waters. It is a stunning display of technique and is a lot of fun to hear. It is no surprise that it wasn't released at the time, as there weren't too many eight-minute singles in the mid-'50s. The record also features Turner backing up blues vocalists Clayton Wright, J.W. Walker, and Johnny Wright; the latter's "The World Is Yours" from 1955 is a harrowing slice of slow blues that features the first appearance on the disc of Turner's trademark whammy bar twisting style. That style was used to great effect later by Turner when backing up Otis Rush on his classic Cobra sides and in his own work with his Kings of Rhythm. A slice of prime Turner from the early '60s rounds out the disc; "Prancing" is a smoking instrumental from 1962's Dance that shows just how great a guitar player Turner had become in just a few years. It also leaves you wanting to hear more from that excellent record. Blues Kingpins isn't the best of Ike Turner's guitar work, but it is a fascinating look at the formation of his style and a rollicking good listen as well. Recommended to fans of Turner (and you all should be) as well as fans of electric blues guitar.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:31 SpotifyAmazon
2 2:20 SpotifyAmazon
3 2:28 SpotifyAmazon
4 2:51 SpotifyAmazon
5 2:38 SpotifyAmazon
6 2:18 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:20 SpotifyAmazon
8 2:12 SpotifyAmazon
9 2:17 SpotifyAmazon
10 2:28 SpotifyAmazon
11 2:23 SpotifyAmazon
2:36 SpotifyAmazon
13 2:41 SpotifyAmazon
feat: Clayton Love
2:52 SpotifyAmazon
15 8:43 SpotifyAmazon
feat: J.W. Walker
1:58 SpotifyAmazon
17 2:51 SpotifyAmazon
18 3:45 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick