That Kat Sure Could Play! Box set
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118 track compilation of Ike Turner's work from 1951 to 1957. Every one of these 118 tracks features Ike Turner on guitar, piano &/or vocals. Includes the original Rock and Roll song 'Rocket 88' by Jackie Brenston as well as tracks by BB King, Howling Wolf, Elmore James, and Johnny Ace to name a few.
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As the liner notes tell us, Ike Turner was a musical phenomenon at an early age. working his way up from child prodigy and teenage talent scout for a major record label to a master bandleader and one of the earliest pioneers of rock and roll (with Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats.). There are few slower, bluesy numbers, and a handful of songs that don't quite pick up the pace, but for the most part the rockin' and swingin' blues songs on this collection back up the claim in the album's title: "That Kat Sure Could Play! "
There are plenty of gems and a multitude of musical joy to be found on these 4 CDs. Along with big names such as Elmore James, Bobby Bland, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Roscoe Gordon, and Little Milton, you are treated to gems such as Billy "the Kid" Emerson's "The Woodchuck", Raymond Hill's "Bourbon Street Jump", and the Starrs' "Ain't Got No Home." Songs to put a big smile on your face!
This CD set (the 4 discs are housed on a double-sided jewel case) comes with 2 booklets. The first booklet contains an informative essay about "the Legendary Ike Turner" written by Fred Rothwell, and the second booklet contains the full discography of music on these discs, with original recording dates and the lineup of musicians on each song, Song times are not listed, but the songwriting credits can be found with the track listings in the first booklet.
One of the best things is that this set comes complete with two separate booklets. One 14 page booklet contains a long essay by Fred Rothwell, about Turner, the era, and the music, plus 4 pages of song information for each disc. There's also a 2 page photograph of Ike Turner's Kings Of Rhythm, taken in 1958. The other booklet contains valuable session details for those (like me) who want to know who played on what, the date, and location and label. This release was done with a great deal of care and thought-and it shows.
Things begin with the well known "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, with Ike Turner and his band turning the song into something approaching early rock & roll. Many people feel that this tune was the "original" first r&r tune released-but who really knows? An interesting thing (for me at least) is that listening to a couple of these discs (or more) in one sitting, you begin to feel that you've somehow stumbled onto some old r&b/blues radio station from the 50's-which is pretty cool in itself.
Other well known artists include Howlin" Wolf, B.B. King, Elmore James, Roscoe Gordon, Little Junior Parker (a personal favorite), Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Johnny Ace (another personal favorite), The Prisonaires, and of course, Ike Turner & His Kings Of Rhythm.
Lesser known but equally fine performers include Houston Boines, Boyd Gilmore, Brother Bell, Charlie Booker, Drifting Slim, Baby Face Turner, Billy "The Kid" Emerson, The Fox, Clayton Love, The Flairs, The Rockers, The Stars, and several others.
Some of the tunes will be familiar besides "Rocket 88", like "How Many More Years" and "Riding In The Moonlight" (Howlin' Wolf), "Three O,Clock Blues" and "You Know I Love You" (B.B.King), "Please Find My Baby" (Elmore James), "A Prisoner's Prayer" (The Prisonaires), and (no doubt) a few others. But people new to Ike Turner's work will find many tracks that are unknown to them. There seems to be several releases of Turner's work currently available, but if you're looking for a set that collects a lot of his best early singles-this is it. Good period sound, two informative booklets, discs crammed with music, and all at a very fair price-how can you miss?
This is the beginning of rock 'n' roll. Almost without exception, this music is nothing but hard R&B, and some great blues-all with the help of Ike Turner's pumping, hot little band. Fans of rocking mostly R&B/tough blues can buy with confidence.