On the high-powered soul circuit of the '50s and '60s, where being able to bring it night after night was a must, few acts could bring it like Ike & Tina Turner. Ike Turner, who cut his professional teeth as a sideman on the original recording of "Rocket 88," was an outstanding guitarist, pianist, arranger and bandleader who found the perfect focal point for his high-voltage review in singer Anna Mae Bullock, rechristening her Tina Turner. Together, they created a steamroller of a soul sound, taking R&B chestnuts and pop tunes to a whole new place.
If Absolutely the Best doesn't quite live up to the promise of its title, it does feature several bona fide musts such as "Nutbush City Limits," "Come Together" and an extended take of their live hit version of "Proud Mary." Like all great stylists, Ike & Tina could place their indelible stamp on any song, regardless of origins — a point hammered home here with their heartfelt, raucous readings of such otherwise forgettable songs as Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain" or that ultimate barometer of pop piffle, "Sugar Sugar." A note of caution: the version of "River Deep Mountain High" is not the original Phil Spector-produced recording on which Ike Turner was all but absent.