Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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***

IKE TURNER
Here and Now
Ikon

A St. Louis-based native of the Delta blues hub Clarksdale who was generating groundbreaking r&b as guitarist, bandleader, and a&r scout before Chuck Berry, much less the superstar we know as Tina, ever got inside a studio, Ike Turner is the kind of innovator best appreciated by connoisseurs--for his solos, his arrangements, the singers he exploited. One of these, headlong shouter Jackie Brenston, had his name on the 1951 r&b smash and first-rock-and-roll-record nominee "Rocket 88."

On this comeback, 69-year-old Ike, who hasn't made a solo album since 1972, slows the classic just a hair, and though his typically expert band hits the groove on all cylinders, his raspy vocal could use an oil change. And so it goes. Of the seven songs, only the newly minted sexist novelty "I Need A-Nuddin'" properly shows off his comic baritone, and only a remake of Turner's old Billy Gayles showcase "I'm Tore Up" conveys the urgency palpable in late Muddy Waters or Alberta Hunter. Of the four instrumentals, only the fast-moving "Baby's Got It"--highlighted by Ike's (or maybe Ernest Lane's) piano--strops up the kind of edge that sharpens 1994 Rhino compilation I Like Ike! throughout. Ike can still get it up, definitely. But how much he enjoys it isn't as clear as it should be.

Rolling Stone, 2001