Amongst the many labels that Ike Turner licensed his records to during his unbelievably busy mid-sixties period (managing and touring the Revue, playing guitar and piano, constantly writing and recording), were the Bihari Brothers' Kent and Modern labels, and it is the bulk of these these that are collected here. Ike Turner had an association with the Biharis that dates back to at least 1951, when he played piano on the Howlin' Wolf's first single, Morning At Midnight.
During the period between 1964 and 1966 six singles appeared on Kent and Modern with varying degrees of commercial success (only two charted): I Can't Believe What You Say, Am I A Fool In Love, Goodbye So Long, Gonna Have Fun, Chicken Shack and, finally, Flee Flee Fla. The frenetic I Can't Believe What You Say (For Seeing What You Do) went on to become a club classic and the song has since been covered by Manfred Mann and Toots and the Maytals, among others. Seven of these twelve sides were collected on a Kent label LP in late 1966 along with five other tracks. The LP was titled The Soul Of Ike And Tina Turner (as an earlier Sue label album had been), and was later reissued on United Artists with a slightly amended track list. The Kent Years includes this LP almost in full (If I Can't Be The First is left off) and adds three of the other single tracks (omitted are Am I A Fool In Love? and its James Brown cover flip, Please, Please, Please).
Of the other eleven tracks, none were released at the time. Some appeared in 1987 on an album called The Ike And Tina Turner Sessions, the rest are previously unissued; probably stockpiled and gradually forgotten. A couple of these appear to be studio workouts in rehearsal for the live Revue, because the old Eddie Boyd blues Five Long Years begins with a spoken introduction from Tina, as if on stage, and their version of Etta James' All I Could Do Was Cry contains the lengthy monologue about Tina watching her man marry someone else, just as when performed live.
Virtually all tracks feature the wonderful Ikettes, horns are liberally sprinkled and Ike's distinctive guitar and piano are prominent. He also adds a few vocal moments on the ultra-fast Goodbye, So Long and on Something Came Over Me, a sort of sequel to their most famous hit, A Fool In Love, which it references musically throughout just as Hard Times harks back to It's Gonna Work Out Fine. From The Ike And Tina Turner Sessions, Makin' Plans Together has some rare soulful strings but suffers unfortunately from some wonky edits half-way through - a singular blemish on an otherwise well-presented round-up.
Tina Turner's vocal style at this time was a world away from that with which she dominated the world in the eighties and nineties, but was aimed at a wholly different audience with whom she was highly successful, and it is excellent news that the confusing clutter of releases from this era are gradually being made sense of and becoming available on compilations such as this one.