Ike Turner

The Bad Man

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The Bad Man chronicles Ike Turner's attempts in the early '60s to launch his own record labels. After moving to Los Angeles in 1963, Turner bought a house, set up a home studio, and began recording some primal R&B and soul featuring Tina Turner, the Ikettes, Fontella Bass, and others. None of the labels (Innis, Prann, Sonja, Sony, or Teena) amounted to much commercially, but quite a few of the sides on this disc stack up well against the hits Ike & Tina were having at the time for Sue. All of them have the quick and nasty sound that Ike always favors. Fidelity and a crisp clean sound were never priorities for Turner; instead, he wanted excitement and sweat, and that is what he usually got. The most successful and fully realized songs on The Bad Man feature Tina, as she was the perfect foil for Ike's clattering wall of sound. She sounds demure and cute on "I'm Going Back Home" and tough as nails on the strutting "If I Can't Be First." The competition is pretty strong though. The Ikettes turn in some fine performances on the folk-rock-styled remake of "So Fine," the Lee Hazlewood (!) production "Here's Your Heart," and the sweet "So Blue Over You." Fontella Bass's two songs sound terrible (like the masters were soaked in beer for 30 years), but her performances are rock-solid soul, and Vernon Guy's sweet and mellow Sam Cooke-styled ballad "Anything to Make It With You" might be the best song on the disc. The end of the disc drops off some as featured artists like Bobby Johns, Jimmy Thomas, and George Jackson are about as exciting as their names promise, and their tracks exhibit a touch of the production-line mentality Ike was sometimes prone to. Overall though, The Bad Man is a fine addition to Night Train's The Ike Turner Diaries series.

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