Early 60s Ike and Tina Turner: I love Ike's mighty processed conk and sleazy little moustache. Tina's painted-on eyebrows are worthy of Divine
This night (at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern) represents one of my angrier and tenser sets that definitely required more alcohol than usual to endure (tense, angry tittyshakers – maybe that’s my new forte?). It all relates to still-raw agonising, mortifying romantic disappointment, but this isn’t that kind of blog so don’t worry, I’ll stop there.
I guess the set list is a bit of a glimpse into a DJ’s inner torment, though: especially the first few songs of desperate rhythm and blues awash in heartache (Little Richard, Lula Reed drowning in her own tears). The two Ike and Tina Turner songs are particular favourites. The lyrics to “You Got What You Wanted” really nails my mindset at the moment. The song (surely Ike and Tina’s finest moment?) has slayed me since I first heard it as a teenager on crackling vinyl: two minutes and 26 seconds of simmering, contained tension that keeps escalating. Tina initially delivers the words of heartbroken lament in a pained snarl, as if through clenched teeth (with the Ikettes cooing their support) until finally lashing out in a full desperate wail. Forget everything you think you know about her admittedly awful post-1980s comeback stadium rock: in the 1960s, Tina truly was the tigress of R&B!
Cruelly brief fragment of Tina on blistering form, singing "You Got What You Wanted" in 1968. I'd kill to see the entire performance
The great irony of the Turners' music is that Ike himself wrote for Tina these incredible despairing lyrics to sing - and yet he was the cause of her despair, the reason she can sing them with such turbulent, wrenching conviction. One of the best analyses I’ve ever read of the tortured psychology that makes Ike and Tina’s best music so riveting is in Jimmy McDonough’s biography of sexploitation auteur Russ Meyer (Big Bosoms and Square Jaws, 2005). He shrewdly notes that ...
“... the sexual tension in Meyer’s movies is not dissimilar to that within such classic Ike and Tina Turner records as “You Got What You Wanted” or “I’m Gonna Find Me a Substitute.” Ike Turner – another infamous control freak who worried every detail down to the fringe on the Ikettes costumes – crafted tense, tough, tightly constructed songs for Tina, with melodramatic and often masochistic lyrics that portray a mythical dream woman willing to subjugate herself to Her Man at any expense. At times she struggles to stay on top of the number, singing like there’s a gun at her head. The song is a cage, built for Tina to bust loose from. Her desperate, impassioned, angry vocals often seem at odds with words, adding a layer of divine complexity to one very bizarre and moving puzzle.”
Ike and (pre-wig) Tina: The early years
Otherwise: the great Tricity Vogue made her very assured debut as a Dr Sketchy emcee and she’s always a blast. She accompanied herself on ukulele on a rendition of “Put the Blame on Mame” (the sultry Rita Hayworth striptease song from the film Gilda) – definitely the evening’s highlight. And Bettie Bottom Dollar (who’s becoming a bit of a Dr Sketchy stalwart) made for a scintillating performer and model.
You Got What You Wanted - Ike and Tina Turner Drown in My Own Tears - Lula Reed Directly from My Heart - Little Richard A Mess of Blues - Elvis Presley A Cheat - The Earls of Suave Hurt - Timi Yuro Snow Surfin' Matador - Jan Davis Camel Walk - The Saxons Torture - Kris Jensen Dragon Walk - The Noblemen Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson You Win Again - Bill Black Combo Blue Kat - Chuck Rio & The Originals I'm a Bad Girl - Little Esther Intoxica - The Centurions Comin' Home - The Delmonas Stranger in My Own Hometown - The Earls of Suave Beat Girl - Adam Faith (Beat Girl soundtrack) Salamander - Mamie van Doren Caterpillar Crawl - The Strangers No Good Lover - Mickey & Sylvia Baby, I'm Doin' It - Annisteen Allen What is This Thing Called Love? Esquerita Drums a Go Go - Hollywood Persuaders Dansero - Don Baker Trio Train to Nowhere - The Champs Crawlin' (The Crawl) - The Untouchables Like a Baby - Wanda Jackson Womp Womp - Freddy & the Heartaches Blues in My Heart - John Buzon Trio Close Your Eyes - Dolores Gray Willow Weep for Me - The Whistling Artistry of Muzzy Marcellino Black Coffee - Julie London Hiccups - The Empallos Suey - Jayne Mansfield Beaver Shot - The Periscopes Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas Boss - The Rumblers Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks Revellion - The Revels Esquerita & The Voola - Esquerita Black Tarantula - Jody Reynolds The Beast - Milt Buckner The Stripper - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Love - Eartha Kitt I'm a Fool to Want You - Billie Holiday Love Me or Leave Me - Lena Horne Shadow Woman - Julie London Sometimes I Wish I Had a Gun - Mink Stole You've Got That Look That Leaves Me Weak - Marlene Dietrich Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker I Put A Spell on You - Nina Simone If I Should Lose You - George Shearing Misirlou - Laurindo Almeida Strip-tease - Nico (Strip-tease soundtrack) The Good Life - Ann-Margret Begin the Beguine - Billy Fury
And finally ... perhaps the mother of all tittyshakers. This song ("Crawlin'" by The Untouchables) had become an obsession and it was proving impossible to find until Jorge (aka DJ Zorch) from Los Angeles came to the rescue. I'll be buying him plenty of cerveza when I see him at Viva Las Vegas in April!