Mr. Groove Band,
Rocket 88: Tribute to Ike Turner
(ZOHO, 2009)

This is actually a tribute to both Ike and Tina Turner, beginning with "Rocket 88" from 1951 to a bonus instrumental track left off of Ike's 2005 release Risin' With the Blues.

It might be impossible to capture the excitement of the classic Ike and Tina Turner revue, but this CD comes has close as you can get.

Along with the Mr. Groove Band of guitar, sax, bass, keys and drums, the four Groovehouse Horns are on seven of the 13 cuts. It also features Audrey Turner on three songs, a former Ikette who became Ike's lead singer in his later years. She is joined by Bonnie Bramlett of Delaney & Bonnie fame on "Proud Mary." Darryl Johnson handles the vocals on the other cuts except the instrumental "Funky Mule" and the bonus track.

The vocals are the big thing here, with Johnson strangely enough sounding a lot like Tina at times. Things start out a little slowly with some so-so blues after "Rocket 88," considered by some to be off the first rock 'n' roll record. But they pick up with increasingly stronger vocals. The singers hit these songs harder than Ike used to hit Tina (sorry, but that subject always comes up).

All of the I&T hits are included, but luckily with different arrangements and modern production that keeps their power and freshness with a full horn section and Ikette-inspired background vocals. Although everything is Turner-related, there are a few surprises. Sly Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher" was a big part of their shows for years. And they once recorded "Rock Me Baby," pure blues instead of soul.

Unlike many tribute albums that are just cover versions, this is a loving and well-crafted remembrance.

review by
Dave Howell

13 February 2010

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