Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall: Another Mediocre Live Album.

The Good: Interesting historical document, Moments of musically interesting bits
The Bad: SHORT, Not the best example of the talents of anyone involved, Interstitials, Poor replayability.
The Basics: What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall is a particularly droll live album that holds up poorly over multiple listens.

Those who read my many reviews no doubt know already that I would vastly prefer to go to a concert for a musical artist or performer that I love as opposed to listening to a “live” album of any given concert. I am not fond of the “live” conceits of the crowd noises captured at concerts on recordings – as if the listener would not believe they were listening to non-studio cuts of the songs without such noises! – and the interstitial conversations between live tracks often holds up poorly over multiple listens. This is exactly the reason why it became impossible for me to recommend What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall. But, beyond that, it was a tough sell to begin with and hearing it over thirteen times in the last two days only cemented in my mind the lack of initial quality that I perceived with the first listen.

While What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall might be an interesting historical document – one doubts Ike and Tina Turner will ever be seen on the same stage again – but beyond that, this recording has very limited appeal and merit as a recording. The soul/funk/r&b show was recorded on April 1, 1971 at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The show featured Ike and Tina Turner, the Ikettes (who carry the first two songs on the album) and the Kings Of Rhythm, who provided the instrumental accompaniment with Ike Turner. The show vacillated between some decent, classic (now) r&b, soul and funk songs presented by Tina Turner and the Ikettes . . . and a whole lot of noise. The M.C. for the night, Eddie Burkes, can frequently be heard at the end of songs shouting “Tina Turner!” to try to rustle up more of an audience reaction, as he does on “I Want To Take You Higher” and “Respect.” As well, there is a disturbing, partially inaudible, partially gross exchange between Ike and Tina Turner at the end of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” where they sound like they are hocking up goobers at one another. Seriously. This, alas, did not play well the first time and as listen number fourteen begins, I find myself dreading this in particular.

With sixteen tracks, thirteen of which are songs, one of those essentially an extension of the track which preceded it, clocking out at 55:22, What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall is very much not the creative genius of Ike or Tina Turner. Tina is co-credited with presenting her own remarks (“Doin’ The Tina Turner”) and Ike Turner is co-credited with those remarks and a brief musical interstitial (“Ike’s Tune”). But none of the songs presented by Tina Turner or the Ikettes were written by Ike or Tina Turner. Instead, Tina Turner presents the primary vocals on ten of the songs with the Ikettes taking the two opening musical numbers. Ike Turner plays guitar and organ on various tracks, the rest is picked up by the Kings Of Rhythm, and Ike is credited as the producer of the album. But that seems the extent of his creative control; the album is largely Ike, Tina, the Ikettes, and the Kings Of Rhythm performing works created by other people.

When the music is just the music, What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall works. Tina Turner presents a melodic rendition of “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” and she gives a wrenching, almost raunchy version of “Honkey Tonk Women” (by The Rolling Stones) which is very much her own interpretation of it. Indeed, Turner’s version of “Respect” which closes the album is so different from Aretha Franklin’s version that one might never guess it was the same song! And the favorite “Proud Mary” is well-presented here.

The real surprise for me was how wonderful “Piece Of My Heart” in this incarnation was. The Ikettes present their version of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart.” Whereas I’ve heard it wrenching and almost painful from Joplin or Melissa Etheridge, the Ikettes make the song groovy and longing on What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall.

But it’s not enough. What You Hear Is What You Get: Ike & Tina Turner Live At Carnegie Hall is short, the funky sound of the songs gets repetitive quickly and the music is broken up by an annoying level of talking which might have been entertaining to see or experience in person, but it holds up very poorly over multiple listens. The listener is lucky if half of the tracks are actually musical numbers as opposed to songs that degenerate into repetitive back and forths between Ike and Tina and/or conversations that become barely intelligible. There is passion, but even that replays poorly over multiple listens.

The result is an album that makes for a marginally interesting historical document, but little else. And the listener is likely to feel cheated by the effort needed to find this disc these days. Fans of soul, funk and r&b might like to hear the recording for one time, hearing the bass, drums and organ which have moments of energy, but there will be little reason to come back to it more than the once. I only hope, should I ever go to a concert where the artists are r&b, soul or funk performers it is more memorable than this recording.

The best song is “Piece Of My Heart,” the low point is “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.”

For other works by Tina Turner, please check out my reviews of:
The Best Of Ike And Tina Turner – Ike & Tina Turner
The Very Best Of Ike & Tina Turner - Ike and Tina Turner
Private Dancer
All The Best (2-disc version)
Tina! Her Greatest Hits


For other c.d. and single reviews, please visit my index page! There you will find organized listings of my music reviews! Thanks!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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