The Ikettes issued six singles for the Modern label between 1964 and 1965, and one long-player, “Soul The Hits”, which did not include all the singles. The Ikettes Kent compilation “Fine Fine Fine” collected together all but one of the Modern sides issued as Ikettes singles, with some left-over previously unheard gems. When the 1987 was issued as a CD in 1992 we added a few extras, in particular some recordings that featured the Ikettes but were waxed under the solo name of Venetta Fields. That “Fine Fine Fine” CD has remained in catalogue until now, and 15 years on a re-appraisal and upgrade of that collection is overdue. We’ve been able to re-master many of the tracks from much improved sources, mostly in stereo, and sounding better than ever. In addition we have been able to ‘tidy up’ a bit. While losing some live tracks that are available elsewhere in the catalogue, we present some more unheard studio delights. We can also put right a small number of anomalies that nagged some of us about that previous release, the top one being that the ‘wrong’ set of Ikettes graced the front cover art of our LP and CD. This despite the fact that the ‘proper’ ladies could be found smiling from the sleeve of that original 1965 Modern album. The story of the Ikettes Modern sides is the story of three girls; Robbie Montgomery, Jessie Smith and Venetta Fields.
An invitation across the nation …
The early 60s was the high water mark of the dance craze, sparked off by the Twist. Tina and the Ikettes would rehearse every new dance craze and use it on stage, mixed with their own inventions. Every new girl was introduced into the routine, established by Robbie, Jessie and Venetta; it was this visual show that they saw and joined.
By the time of the Modern recordings Ike & Tina Turner were using 3-track and 4-track studios, usually Western Recorders or United Recorders in Los Angeles. Western was one of the busiest studios in Hollywood in the 60s, being used extensively by the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Crickets, Rick Nelson and Elvis Presley, among many others. Ike would get the backing track down by the band first, before going for a vocal take, often at a different location, followed by percussion or horn overdubs and embellishments, at possibly a third location. Consequently, most alternate takes of the songs from this period are in the main alternate vocal takes only. We have spent a lot of hours, days and weeks listening to the many takes in the vaults, partly to make sure of using the original master single take in each case. In the process we’ve discovered interesting alternates and a clutch of previously unreleased songs. To give you a clue as to the sort of thing that took up so much time, we discovered that the previous “Fine Fine Fine” collection presented the album version of Camel Walk. And in mono, even though the “Soul The Hits” album had been mastered in stereo. We found an interesting alternate take of the song, but the ‘single’ version was missing from the session tape. As the single version is slower and funkier than the album version, we spent some time slowing down various takes to see if we could find it, but to no avail. Finally, the elusive take turned up on another tape entirely, it was not a slowed down track, it had been recorded with a completely different feel. Then came the dilemma of whether to use the previously available album version as a bonus but we decided on a bonus of the unreleased take instead. The search for the ‘proper’ Camel Walk also unearthed a truly funky instrumental version that was not recorded as a backing track! Unfortunately you’ll have to wait for this one as it really would not fit in here (can I smell vinyl around here?).
Taking evidence as far as we can from scribblings on original master tape boxes, it seems that versions of Locomotion, Sha La La, Da Do Ron Ron and Sally Go Round The Roses were meant for the Ikettes album, “Soul The Hits”, and go a long way to explaining the album’s title. When push came to shove only Da Do Ron Ron and Sally made it to the album, as they would make it onto singles as well. And only ‘Sally’ made it to our previous release. The rest of the album was made up largely of the Ikettes’ own singles for Modern. A lucky situation where the girls had enough “hits” themselves to warrant leaving off some of the covers. Lucky for us we now had these covers to add to our collection.
As well as all the wonderful music, we have gathered together a gallery of great pictures and memorabilia. And all the pics are of the right girls!
By Brian Nevill