Ike Turner, Sun Alternate Takes

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: With a very few exceptions, nobody listens to the pre-Tina Ike Turner sides for the vocalists; you listen for the skull-crushing guitar work and those riffing horn arrangements.

Here’s the proof: even Ike Turner’s outtakes rock you like a hurricane.

Most of these alternate takes are very similar to the versions that appear on The Sun Sides, but aren't quite as good: this take of Bonnie Turner and Raymond Hill's "Way Down in the Congo," is virtually identical to the first version, for example, but Bonnie's vocal is less assured; the version here of "Love Is a Gamble" has a less staccato, herky-jerky vocal by Bonnie, but the other take rates higher because Ike's piano work is so much more emphatic; this take of Johnny O'Neal's "Dead Letter Blues" is inferior to the other because of the latter's much nastier guitar intro. Again, it's Ike's rock-hard guitar solo on version #2 of O'Neal's "Ugly Woman" that makes these four takes slightly lesser achievements (although the big-bandy arrangement on the horn outro makes version #3 stand apart from the others). The one glaring exception is Billy "The Kid" Emerson's "When My Baby Left Me" — version #1 and version #3 are both based on Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used to Do," with the first take the more memorable thanks to Ike's solo, which begins with some tough riffing before getting into some serious biting. Take 2, oddly, is based on Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since My Baby Left Me" and is rather shallow. Still, most of these alternate versions manage to add to the formidable Ike Turner legacy, and are worth checking out.