Friday, November 2, 2018

Another Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume Two, Track Fifteen

While compiling Volume Two, your humble correspondent thought that it would be cool to add another instrumental to the mix, and the one I had in mind was "Swanee River Boogie," a piano-driven instrumental I had first heard a few years ago by Ike Turner on his 2001 album, Here and Now.

Now today, Ike Turner is probably known most for being one of the most recognized symbols of the term "abusive husband" for his cruel and manipulative treatment of his former wife, Tina Turner (allegations that Turner has refuted somewhat awkwardly over the years).  The biopic of Tina Turner certainly helped solidify that reputation, as well as Turner's own erratic behavior over the last years of his life (he died in 2007 at 76), which makes him pretty difficult, if not impossible to defend. 

But that's not the Ike Turner we're talking about right, we'll briefly discuss Ike Turner, the musician who played a pivotal role in the early development of rock & roll, R&B, and the blues.....something that gets overlooked far too frequently in his biography.

Turner was born in Clarksdale, MS in 1931 and was taught to play piano by Pinetop Perkins.  He also worked as a DJ in his teens and formed his first band, The Kings of Rhythm, which traveled to Memphis to record at Sun Records.  One of their first recordings was "Rocket 88," with lead vocals from saxophonist Jackie Brenston.  This led the single to be mislabel as being from "Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats" instead of "Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm."  The song was a huge hit and is considered by many to have been the first true rock & roll song.

Turner and band soon became in-demand session musicians for many of the Memphis artists, including Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Robert Lockwood, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush (that's Turner playing 2nd guitar on Rush's "Double Trouble" side for Cobra Records), and many of Sun's artists.  Turner also doubled as a talent scout for the L.A.-based Modern Records, where he helped sign the Wolf and B.B. King.

Relocating to St. Louis in the mid 50's, Turner and The Kings of Rhythm  became the hit R&B attraction of the town and recorded for various labels......Federal, R.P.M., Flair......and began using a series of vocalists, one of which was a teenager from Tennessee named Annie Mae Bullock, who later began a relationship with Turner and became his wife, Tina Turner.  Her immense talent as a singer and performer prompted Turner to reform The Kings of Rhythm to the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, which became a force in the soul and R&B genres in the 60's and early 70's.

The fame and fortune soon got to Turner as he developed a cocaine addiction, which was the beginning of the end of his career at the time.  The drugs were a bad combination with Turner's already combustible personality and temper and though the band enjoyed success until the mid 70's, Ike and Tina's marriage was done around the same time.

The rest of Tina Turner's history is fairly familiar to most music fans.  She became a major pop star in the mid 80's.  Meanwhile, Ike spiraled out of control with drug issues and prison time in the 80's and early 90's.  He launched a comeback in the 90's and toured with Joe Louis Walker as his keyboardist and guitarist, where he saw that the type of music he made as a youngster, blues and R&B, was still in demand.  This encouraged him to reform The Kings of Rhythm and to eventually record Here and Now.

Here and Now was a mix of old favorite tunes and a few new originals.  While Turner will never be mistaken for a standout vocalist, he was still a monster on guitar and piano, which really came to light on "Swanee River Boogie," a fast-paced instrumental that dares you to sit still.....go ahead and try.

Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume Two (to date)......
1.  Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters
2.  Big Legs - Zuzu Bollin
3.  If It Wasn't For Bad Luck - Lee "Shot" Williams
4.  Taylor Rock - Sonny Landreth
5.  How'd You Learn To Shake It Like That - Snooky Pryor
6.  The Score - The Robert Cray Band
7.  Ninety-Nine - Bobby Rush
8.  Your Love Is Like A Cancer - Son Seals
9.  Rats & Roaches In My Kitchen - Larry Garner
10.  Baby Scratch My Back - Slim Harpo
11.  If You Let A Man Kick You Once - Corey Harris & Henry Butler
12.  Bring Your Fine Self Home - Albert Collins & Johnny Copeland
13.  Down In The Delta - James "Super Chikan" Johnson
14.  Pocketful of Money - Frank Frost
15.  Swanee River Boogie - Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm

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