Rock and blues guitarists alike owe a gargantuan debt to Ike Turner. His ferocious whammy-bar hammering, choppy chording, and ultra-aggressive string-bending solos were way ahead of their time from the mid-1950s onwards. Yet the man himself has never taken his audacious guitar chops all that seriously.
Even after all these years and adulation from a legion of bedazzled admirers, he considers himself first and foremost an expert boogie pianist who purchased an electric guitar during the early 1950s out of sheer necessity more than anything else. Encountering some difficulty finding a reliable axeman for his combo, the Kings of Rhythm, Ike strapped on a Stratocaster and cut loose (besides, his girlfriend Bonnie was accomplished on the ivories). "It sounds like I was a guitar player," humbly demurs Ike. "But I'm not."
Ah, but we know better. In actuality, Ike laid down some of the most daring and exciting blues guitar solos of the 1950s and 1960s. And if you've yet to savour this Clarksdale, Mississippi native in his pre-Tina prime, look no further than Ace's first ever all-instrumental collection from Ike. It's a superb non-stop celebration of Ike Turner the Stratocaster master, featuring sides from the Bihari brothers' Flair and Crown logos, Juggy Murray's Sue imprint, and microscopic Stevens Records of Granite City, Illinois.
In March of 1954, between producing a variety of vocal prot?©g?©s for the Biharis in Clarksdale, Turner waxed a handful of marvellous instrumentals. Included was a curious marathon medley, eventually issued under the title All The Blues All The Time, that found Ike and his crew accurately recreating the grooves of B.B. King, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Junior Parker, and John Lee Hooker.
By the time he briefly surfaced at Stevens in 1959, Ike Turner's credentials as a certified guitar monster were entirely in order - as the blazing Ho Ho and his first version of Prancin' eloquently attest. Though his hitmaking activities with Tina began to relegate Ike's wild guitar antics to the background from 1960 on, he found time to cut an instrumental album for Sue in 1962 showcasing the Kings of Rhythm at their fire-breathing, take-no-prisoners hottest.
Twistin' The Strings (another jaw-dropping workout that Kent inexplicably shelved in '64) and both halves of his funky '65 Sue gem The New Breed add to the unassailable digital testimony herein. This splendid disc proves that Ike Turner's long reign as blues guitar royalty is entirely justified - even if he has yet to be fully convinced himself!
By Bill Dahl