Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Ultimate Tina Turner Collection

At the end of September, Tina! was released with Turner looking too wonderful for words on the cover and 18 tracks on the disc of this collection. The good news was two tracks ("It Would Be A Crime" and "I'm Ready" were making their CD debut on the disc. For some, that's great and it's groovy and it's all they'll ever need. And for the collectors, it's another disc to add. For those of us who love the kick ass Tina, it leaves much to be desired.

And until the digital age you could be a BMW until the all night diner Denny's lost its racist reputation and nothing would ever change. But today, you can hit Amazon's digital downloads for Tina Turner and make the collection album you've long been waiting for -- the one that that Simply The Best, All The Best, the boxed set (The Collected Recordings), etc. didn't manage to satisfy you with.

For many, the first purchase will be off the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack.

No, not "We Don't Need Another Hero." "One of the Living," the hit single and Grammy winner for Tina that never, ever makes a collection (not even the boxed set). The soundtrack version is the extended version which comes in at 5:58.

As you search for that track comes the shocker: there are over 1,500 Tina Turner tracks. You may be searching for your favorites for some time if you just scroll through; however, if you don't scroll, your memory may fail you and lead to a "I should have downloaded ___!" about five minutes after you've got the playlist all set for your Turner collection.

We knew what we wanted and set about making our own collection.

The only problem we encountered was our thirteen track collection dropped to a twelve track collection. Why?

The 1,570 Tina Turner downloads include Tina's solo work (post-Ike) and the work credited to Ike and Tina Turner. With that vast amount of tracks, we were expecting that we'd find all the better known and loved songs. That was not the case.

The Rolling Stones "Under My Thumb" not only requires the female interpretation Tina Turner gave it in her Ike & Tina days, it needs it. Tina's version rocked harder (some would just argue: "Tina's version rocked" due to the fact that the Stones recorded the Jagger & Richards song in a very poppy production). When debating what to include from her Ike & Tina years, this was second only to "River Deep Mountain High." So we were disappointed to discover Amazon didn't include it.

As noted, we grabbed "River Deep Mountain High" and if you're trying to grab it, use the preview function before purchasing. The version we love is the one produced by Phil Spector, featuring the Wall Of Sound and Tina. (Ike was not invited into the studio for that recording.) Ike and Tina (and Tina solo) recorded that song many times. If you're looking for a live version and end up with a studio, you may not be happy and vice versa. So use the preview to be sure you're getting the one you want. If you want the Spector version, we suggest you download it from Tina! because, to our ears, that has the best (remastered) sound quality. It's the original version, the one that charted huge in England back in the sixties and it sounds sharp without mucking around with the wall effect Spector was going for. (Some remastering has worked hard to bring out individual instruments -- doing that really undermines the sound Spector was going for.)

Two other Ike & Tina songs were on our must-have list: "Let It Be" and "With A Little Help From My Friends." Both are Beatles covers and on "Let It Be," you want to grab the version from Workin' Together for the digital remaster (if you want the studio version of "Let It Be"). As for "With A Little Help From My Friends," you've got no choice. The only version Amazon has is from Ultimum Maximum.

And you may end up feeling compelled to purchase another track after downloading: "Come Together." Why? At 2:42, the three minute download of "With A Little Help From My Friends" -- having finished the song and finished the audience applause -- begins playing the opening of "Come Together."

So we were back to thirteen tracks, which was fine. And debating sequencing because that really does matter. Our final playlist looked like this:

1) "A Change Is Gonna Come."

2) "With A Little Help From My Friends"

3) "Come Together"

4) "Let It Be"

5) "Honky Tonk Woman"

6) "Johnny And Mary"

7) "When I Was Young"

8) "Games"

9) "Total Control"

10) "One Of The Living"

11) "Let's Pretend We're Married"

12) "Don't Turn Around"

13) "River Deep Mountain High"

Tracks 5 through 12 -- excepting track 10 -- all came from The Collected Recordings: Sixties To Nineties which provides the best sound for "Honky Tonk Woman" (another Stones cover). You could also grab a studio version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" there, however, we prefer the live version and grabbed the Tina Live In Europe recording.

All but tracks 2, 3 and 4 we already have compact disc and our goal for our personal collection was to pull together tracks that usually aren't to create a collection that didn't play like Simply The Best or one of the other compilations already out there.

During the entire CD revolution, we refused to purchase any Ike and Tina Turner discs. He's dead now so the man who terrorized Tina will not profit from the purchases. And, for us, that realization is like the end of the Wizard Of Oz when the Good Witch Glenda beckons everyone to come out because it's finally safe. We could see going back at a later date and making a compilation of Ike & Tina recordings -- paying close attention to the late sixties and their seventies days when Tina re-invented the duo musically.

"Tina Turner: A retrospective" and "Ike Turner (Ava and C.I. feature)" are two examples of previous Tina coverage we've offered at Third and we are huge Tina fans. We'll assume there's a good chance you are as well and, furthermore, that you completely disagree with our playlist. Where is ____????? How did we forget _____!!!!!! Exactly.

Because for Tina fans, The Ultimate Tina Turner Collection is the one they create themselves. Get over to Amazon and, at 99 cents a download, get to creating. And may you be more fortunate than we were. About twenty minutes after burning our playlists on CDs, we realized we'd forgotten the amazing vocal Tina lays down on Herbie Hanckock's "Edith And The Kingpin." (From Hancock's River: The Joni Letters, his album of Joni Mitchell songs.)
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