1984: Capitol CDP 7 46041 2
With an opening track that jumps out of the gates and right off the field and out of the racetrack into open countryside, this is an album that commands your respect and often earns it.
Apart from a general impression of Turners Ike & Tina days style, this was my real introduction to Tina Turners music (leaving aside her general presence in the news), and I have no regrets about that: shes so intense, so vital, so strong, and (most importantly) so very much in jet-fueled motion here that I still bow a bit toward the speakers when I play this album. Whatever she was before this, whatever she was afterward, well, thats afterward when such a coup has reset all the settings so thoroughly.
And yet I Might Have Been Queen (which I would swear was autobiographical but apparently isnt) establishes Turners persona on this album as a phoenix, implying heavily that shes some kind of post mortem incarnation following on a substantial reign and simultaneously bursting into new flame; I dont know if she sustained it, but the bursting flame sure impressed me as being hotter and brighter than anything shed done before.
The tracklist for the CD isnt that of the original LP order: besides the addition of the completely discardable cover of Help, the title track has been shifted here from its original album-closing position to follow I Cant Stand the Rain, midway through the set, and from there on things are arranged quite differently and result in something far removed from the impressions of the LP. Heres the original order:
So while the CD ends with 1984 (which was perhaps intended to be ominous but to me doesnt quite convince of anything in particular), the LP closed with the title track and thus provided a closure which was practically the antithesis of the guns-blazing opening tracks empowerment. And perhaps its just that Ive had this tracklists order in my minds ear for so long, but I think the transition from I Cant Stand the Rain to Better Be Good To Me is far stronger than it is going into Private Dancer. But hey, Im not privy to the decisions that determine these things although Id like to know if Turner herself agreed with the reworking of the storyline.
But lets move on to Better Be Good To Me, while Im in its vicinity: its a fine merging of her more manic-energy past styles and this cooler/tighter format, the songs instrumental track plugging along gamely regardless of what vocal is laid on top of it its just that her vocal is FINE and enlivens and humanizes this track immeasurably. (As does the guitar work, actuallyits flirtatious and graceful as a backup trio.) And mercy does this woman know how to deliver a STRUT of a number it compares nicely with Eurythmicss Would I Lie to You? come to think of it, although this one has more of a storyline/development curve.
Lets Stay Together has never really moved me, as I can say of a few other tracks, but I Cant Stand the Rain was my introduction to the song and remains cherished. Steel Claw seems to be a kind of frantic rock ballad of a type that doesnt really register with me, but I appreciate the speed and concision she imbues it with.
The title track caught my attention more than I thought it would, even back in 84 when I wasnt particularly attuned to its nuances, and thats part of the reason I bridle at its being buried mid-album in the CD release. Her excellent delivery of the jaded tone goes almost without saying I was surprised that Turner could give such a convincingly worn characterization and still make the song sweep along on its course dispassionately.
Really, its a lovely album, regardless of the order of its songs; but if it had started with any other track I doubt it would have been so compelling.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.