A celebration of the LP, the long-player, the album music format. Reviews, recommendations and discussion.

River Deep Mountain High – Ike & Tina Turner (1966)

If there is one person I never thought I’d own a record by it’s Tina Turner. But then again this isn’t the stadium filling, middle of the road, private dancer who bored us all senseless in the 80’s, this is the thigh high boot wearing, howling and yelping funky so ‘n so from the mid 60’s…..quite a different prospect.

So how did this first foray into the world of the Turners go? Well………it was alright.

It’s actually quite a difficult album to review. It was cobbled together from tracks recorded at different sessions and frankly it very much sounds like it. Just under half of the tracks were produced by legendary producer turned professional crazy person Phil Spector, the remaining tracks being produced by Ike Turner himself.

We start of with the undeniably awesome title track with Tina giving it her best over the rolling rhythmic backing track. What then follows is a further 11 perfectly acceptable tracks, a mix of the mid 60’s girl group sound and more soulful r&b.

I got to the end and thought “….that wasn’t bad”, but felt I really needed another listen to get into it. But on the second listen I actually liked it a bit less, and the third listen even less. Rather than finding my way into this record as I became more familiar with the tracks I actually found myself getting a little tired of it.

After spending some time thinking why this is I can only conclude it is the production of the thing. I’ve often found Phil Spector produced tracks to be very strange pieces of work. Upon first listen I almost always think they sound great, really exciting, the sheer amount going on in them promises lots of surprises with further listening……but somehow this never happens. The first listen always seems to be the best. And this is exactly the case here.

Spector’s production is always described as the Wall of Sound, and I think this is extremely apt, however the problem with a wall is that it is impossible to get through. The sound he produces is impenetrable. I find it almost impossible to distinguish what is actually going on in it and so can’t hear anything new when I listen to it again.

The Spector produced tracks on this record seem to be particularly poor listening experiences, they sound like they are being played in the next room. In contrast the Ike Turner produced tracks sound much crisper and are therefore far more enjoyable.

It sounds like I really disliked this record…….I didn’t. I fact there are some decent songs on here. The title track and Hold On are two tracks which still entertain despite the production and I Idolize You, with it’s stripped back musical arrangements really allow the Tina Turner vocals to shine. But overall too many of the tracks are merely average.

Not sure I’m tempted to try any more Ike & Tina albums, certainly not on the strength of this one. Maybe they were more of a singles act.

River Deep, Mountain High *
I Idolize You *
A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Everyday)
A Fool In Love
Make ‘Em Wait
Hold On Baby *
I’ll Never Need More Than This
Save The Last Dance For Me
Oh Baby!
Every Day I Have To Cry
Such A Fool For You
It’s Gonna Work Out Fine

* = standout tracks


2 comments on “River Deep Mountain High – Ike & Tina Turner (1966)

  1. angrickerson
    February 16, 2013

    so… what makes you pick these records? It sounds like you are picking things that you are predisposed to not like.

    • allaboutthealbum
      February 16, 2013

      The records are picked for lots of different reasons. Either I’ve read a really compelling review somewhere, or someone I know (who has an admirable taste in music) may have recommended it to me, or I’ve heard small snippets somewhere and wanted to hear the album it comes from, or sometimes it’s just the records own reputation means I think I should check it out.

      It may seem that the last couple of reviews have been quite negative and it’s true they have been records outside my regular areas of listening but I don’t want to limit myself too much to any certain type of record otherwise who knows what I could miss out on? Of course the downside to this is that there are going to be some records which I just don’t like. But then again if you don’t try it you’ll never know!

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