Ike Turner

Blues Roots/Bad Dreams

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Whatever the public's view of Ike Turner may be, and for all his personal problems and demons, the fact remains that he was a great musician, maverick and eccentric by turns, and a blistering electric guitar player with a sharp, precise, and hauntingly beautiful tone. During the peak commercial years for Ike & Tina Turner, he recorded a few solo side projects, including these two albums released by United Artists Records in 1972 and 1973, respectively. The first, Blues Roots, was sort of a swampy funky soul-blues mix, with Turner's voice, always somehow shaky, somehow sounding compellingly right on tracks like the great version of "You're Still My Baby" that opens the LP, or the hard to classify "Right On," a glorious mesh of spoken vocals, doo wop harmonies, girl group dynamics, and other odd but refreshing twists and turns. The second of these two albums, Bad Dreams, is pretty weird, full of spoken word monologues and other little oddities, but it also has some marvelous tracks, including a stunning version of Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," a joyous romp with swampy rhythms and girl group backup vocals that builds to a tremendous gospel-like crescendo. Then there's "Rats," an odd spoken word rant about rats that is both irritating and musically fascinating. Not that Turner was trying to be Frank Zappa or anything, but he definitely wasn't aiming for the commercial charts with either of these albums, and they remain maverick curios with some brilliant tracks that showcase Turner as a bandleader, arranger, and producer, and that sharp funk tone of his guitar is always in there somewhere.

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