The Ikettes really should stand beside such as the Supremes, the Ronettes, the Shirelles and the Shangri-Las as one of the greatest of girl groups in the sixties, in turn the greatest of decades for girl groups. That they have been largely overlooked, despite such hits as Fine Fine Fine, Peaches 'n' Cream, I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song) and Camel Walk, could be due to a number of factors. Because they are best known as the glamorous backing singers and dancers for Ike and Tina Turner, their role as artists in their own right probably had less impact, and they had far fewer singles and albums under their own name than, say, the Supremes. Also, they lacked the focus of an identifiable lead singer, as their line-ups were in a state of constant flux as Ike Turner hired and fired them, or they chose to leave because of low wages or other reasons, and indeed it is hard to know who sang what on which record. Lead singers over the years included Robbie Montgomery, Jessie Smith, Venetta Fields, Dee Dee Johnson (aka Flora Williams), PP Arnold and Joshie Armstead.
As well as the singles, the Ikettes had one album to their name, The Ikettes Soul The Hits, which included a number of popular hits of the day as well as their own hits and some original material mostly written by Ike Turner.
The venerable Ace label did its bit to correct their obscurity by collecting a number of their best Modern label recordings (I'm Blue had been on Atco) on a compilation called Fine Fine Fine. This appeared in 1986 and included almost everything from the Soul The Hits album as well as several singles, and hearing them all one after the other should convince any listener just what an awesome unit they were, with some belting vocals, abetted by Ike Turner's tight band and production (plus a couple produced by Stan Venet), and his own not inconsiderable skills as guitarist and pianist.
When the album made it to CD in 1992, Ace took the opportunity to expand it with extra tracks, some previously unreleased, including several featuring Venetta Fields. Two of these (I'm Leaving You/You're Still My Baby) seem to have been a single on Sony (no relation) in 1963, unless they are different recordings. The missing title from Soul The Hits, Blue On Blue, is included (in stereo) and again appears to be identical to the single Blue With A Broken Heart by Flora Williams (it came out on the Sonja label in 1964). The album concludes with two stereo live cuts from the album The Ike And Tina Turner Revue!!!, featuring Venetta Fields and Robbie Montgomery. It is easy from the atmosphere of the record to conjure up the dazzling stage act they must have had.
This CD has since been superceded by another Ace compilation, Can't Sit Down...'Cos It Feels So Good!: The Complete Modern Recordings, which duplicates much of the material here, and adds a number of additional tracks including some outtakes from Soul The Hits. However, phonogram purists may care to know that stereo mixes predominate on the new collection, whereas only four of this CD are not in mono, and that only this CD contains the album (not the single) version of Camel Walk.