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Tina Turner - All the Best Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 February 2005

Tina Turner

All The Best
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Capitol Records
release year: 2004
performance: 3.5
sound 4
reviewed by: Charles Andrews

Image All the Best? Who’s woofin’ who?

I’d like to think there’s no one to blame for this mess, except you, if you fall for it, or me, if I don’t warn you.

Tina Turner has had a great career. She’s a legend. And if the legend felt it was past time long ago to collect some serious cash for all those years of paying dues, especially since her dues involved a certain guitar player’s knuckles, who can blame her? Even if it meant going to the dark side, the pop side, yea verily, the dreck side.

I lost interest at that point, because it doesn’t take artistry to crank out decent or even bad over-the-top Vegas-style pop that sells tons when you’ve got a legit hard-earned larger-than-life persona (and those legs), but I’d rather remember the Tina that was.

Problem is, it’s hard to. Turner ruled as queen of the R&B stage for the better part of three decades, first charting with Ike Turner in 1960, but much of her best work was only live and never made it to vinyl, and there’s not even a lot of those recordings still available these days. There must be a problem with rights, with those specialized labels they recorded for in the early days, even through to United Artists and Blue Thumb in the ‘70s, because none of the Tina Turner packages available combines early to middle to later good stuff. Where’s Rhino Records when you need them? They’re the masters at patching together deals for retrospectives, and if they haven’t done it for Turner, there must be a reason. Even her signature biggest hit, “Proud Mary,” on this collection is a simulation (a later recording, no Ike), though a good one that most listeners won’t notice as such. (Also, “Addicted to Love” is a live version.) Only two songs (six-and-a-half minutes) out of 33 on this two-CD set feature Tina Turner with Ike – it would be pretty obnoxious to leave off either “River Deep, Mountain High” or “Nutbush City Limits” and title it anything with the word “best.” Her record conglomerate has a right to Capitol-ize on the recordings they own, since Turner’s now in retirement, but strip-mining can hurt the artist’s reputation. Turner has no power to quash a release like this, no leverage without current chart status. But she’s listed as executive producer, so it’s not like somebody snuck this past her. For shame, Acid Queen. Your fans deserve better. At least title it something like A Few Good Songs and A Lotta Crap Y’all Made Hits.

This definitely should have been limited to a single disc. There’s so much garbage on Disc Two that it’s an environmental hazard. I tried the sniff test on both discs, and I do believe I detected something stinky (not funky) on numero dos. And they throw it in our faces by leading off with “In Your Wildest Dreams,” a contender with “Brandy” for one of the most godawful songs ever recorded. Cartoonishly bloated production, diabetes-inducing strings and synths, some Italian or Spanish dude muttering nothing I’m sure that would interest a woman like Turner, and poor Anna Mae forced to whisper ”Oh babehhhhhhh.” Several times. They must’ve had a gun to her head. No, Turner did record these songs we’re hearing again, apparently so intent at the time on fortune that she cared not a whit for her legacy, or just lost all perspective after a while. It happens: Elvis Presley after the Army. But let’s not let Capitol off the hook. They may not have had a lot to work with, but they didn’t have to go for two discs.

Only “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Better Be Good to Me,” the Thunderdome theme and, I gag as I write it, “Private Dancer” have any conceivable claim to be included on something called All the Best, not because they are best but because they were popular songs very much associated with Turner’s later career. There are without question four expendable numbers that could be tossed from disc one to make room for them. Then you’ve got at least a release that will please many fans, and not anger or disgust those with good taste and long memories. In the meantime, go try to find anything by Tina Turner with Ike, especially with Beatles covers. That’s the Turner that made the rep, that’s really The Best of Tina Turner.

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