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Filling out the story

I Like Ike! The Best of Ike Turner
I Like Ike! The Best of Ike Turner
By Ike Turner

Rhino: 1994


This review first appeared in the January 6, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Before there was Tina, before there were the Kings of Rhythm, there was Ike Turner. Better known today for the headlines surrounding his broken marriage to pop star Tina Turner, Ike has been far more influential on American music – both the blues and Top 40 – than most people probably realize.

Turner was pianist and leader of the house band at Sam Phillips' Sun Studios in Memphis, backing blues giants like Little Milton for labels like Chess. More importantly for American music, though, it was Turner's band – with lead singer Jackie Brenston – that recorded "Rocket 88," the 1951 song generally credited as the first rock 'n' roll song in history. But Phillips put Brenston's name on the record, and Turner's far-larger role was left mostly hidden.

This one-disc retrospective includes "Rocket 88," along with the follow-up "Real Gone Rocket" by the same band. There are also recordings from various blues combos Turner put together throughout the 1950s (including several with Annie Mae Bullock, a k a Tina Turner, on backing vocals). The material from the 1960s is uneven, focusing more on Turner's blues work than the groundbreaking R&B he and Tina were putting out in the latter part of that decade.

If incomplete, this collection shows Turner to be a master of both guitar and piano, as well as the consummate arranger and band leader.