CD Review of Tina! by Tina Turner
Recommended if you like
Aretha Franklin, Al Green,
Chaka Kahn
Tina Turner: Tina!

Reviewed by R. David Smola


o complement her out-of-retirement tour of 2008, Capitol has released Tina!, an excellent career retrospective of the ultimate soul/pop goddess Tina Turner. Packed with all of her biggest hits, including several live versions and two previously unreleased tracks, this collection is good enough to add even if you own 1991’s The Best.

The track order is neither chronological nor alphabetical; it simply rolls through some great material in no particular order. The collection leads off with the Tony Joe White-penned "Steamy Windows" from 1989’s Foreign Affair. That upbeat pop ditty from the ‘80s moves into "River Deep, Mountain High," which was originally recorded in 1966 and features that Phil Spector `Wall of Sound’ production. That initial contrast is a perfect example of the variety and range of material she has covered in her impressive career. "Better Be Good to Me" is followed by "The Acid Queen," which again accents the different musical terrain covered by divine Ms. T. "Be Good" (along with four other songs contained here) is from her classic 1984 release Private Dancer, that re-established Tuner as one of the pop divas of the ‘80s. Note, "I Can’t Stand the Rain" is a live track and not the Private Dancer version, although it is excellent and a perfect example of the live Tina, which is a fabulous experience in itself.

Turner’s ability to take songs and make them anthemic, stadium rattlers is best demonstrated by some of her soundtrack work. "Goldeneye," from the James Bond film of the same name, is here, as is "We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" from "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (which is the best part of that dreadful sequel). As mentioned earlier, "The Acid Queen" is included from the Who’s "Tommy." Turner is equally effective at covering soul icon Al Green on "Let’s Stay Together" as she is singing the work of Pete Townshend. That is the beauty of Turner, taking material from very different eras, composers and styles, and owning it. She makes the tracks hers with her slightly masculine, powerful delivery. Turner’s soul is revealed whether she is playing the sad prostitute ("Private Dancer") or the prostitute sex therapist ("Acid Queen"). She portrays these characters like Aunty Entity, the mistress of the Thunderdome, with sincerity and without apology.

The two new tracks, "It Would Be a Crime" and "I’m Ready," are pleasant enough and don’t detract from the overall package. The latter is the more vivacious and better of the two, and she sounds great. They don’t necessarily belong with the rest of the material, but that is a minor concern considering this is excellent package. She has been a star for a long, long time and Tina! is the perfect soundtrack to her stardom.

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