Ike Turner

Risin' with the Blues

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R&B/pop fans who only know Ike Turner from his brilliant work with ex-wife Tina Turner (and her dark point of view on their marriage and the heavy stories of his rage and drug use) should check out Risin' with the Blues so as to discover the soul of a musician in the midst of the turmoil. True Ike fans recall that he spearheaded the formative years of rock with his early-'50s recorded output and his later scouting for Chess Records. The one thing he never really did was come to the forefront as a singer, and some of the growly vocals on this powerful recording make it clear that his singing, while definitely stylish in its way, is a secondary talent. What's clear from this sizzling set -- and his Grammy nominated, W.C. Handy Award winning 2001 album Here and Now -- is that he's still at the top of his musical game. The real joys of this disc are his scorching guitar energy, followed by his jumpy boogie-woogie piano. It's pretty much a funky and humor-laden bluesfest throughout, from his funked-up update of "Gimme Back My Wig" to the shuffling blues of "Tease Me." He finds a balance between tongue in cheek attitudes (as on the retitling of "Five Long Years" to "Eighteen Long Years," a reference to his marriage to Tina) with more heartfelt touches on softer songs like "A Love Like Yours." He also ventures into spirited New Orleans territory on "Goin' Home Tomorrow" and offers a prayer of forgiveness for his countless lifelong sins by declaring that "Jesus Loves Me." Hey, who said great gospel singers couldn't be crazy and tormented? Whatever one thinks of Ike Turner personally, there's no denying the man's contribution to several genres of music, and it's good to see them celebrated with so much zeal in his later years.

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