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Kent Years

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Performer Notes
  • Includes liner notes by John Ridley.
  • Liner Note Author: John Ridley.
  • Twenty-six of the duo's 1964-1967 recordings (five previously unissued) for the Kent and Modern labels are on this compilation. Note, however, that this is just a partial retrospective of their mid-'60s work, since during this time the Turners were also releasing sides on several different other labels. It remains, though, a good sampling of their sound during this era, when their soul tracks still betrayed much of their blues/R&B roots, and before the arrangements had gotten as heavy and beefy as they would in the late '60s and early '70s. Tina Turner's vocals are unflaggingly enthusiastic and committed, if perhaps not as nuanced as they could be. What keeps this from the top rank of mid-'60s soul, however, is the largely average, occasionally below average material (mostly written by Ike Turner). It's often a collision of blues, chitlin circuit R&B, and brassy pop-soul that sounds a bit dashed off. There are some ace moments along the way, of course, like the infectious "I Can't Believe What You Say," the down-and-bluesy "Hurt Is All You Gave Me," and the swaggering soul-swing shuffle of "Chicken Shack." Ike Turner's twangy guitar seems underutilized for much of the set, and there's very little of the vocal sparring that would be such a big part of their act by the early '70s. Tina Turner goes into a big rap on the previously unissued "All I Could Do Was Cry" where she really overdoes the raspy breast-beating; Etta James' more famous version has a big edge. "Give Me Your Love" is minor-keyed blues/R&B that's not too far from Otis Rush territory; at the other extreme, "Makin' Plans Together" has gossamer strings typical of the New York pop-soul on the Scepter/Wand labels. ~ Richie Unterberger
Professional Reviews
Living Blues (5-6/01, p.100) - "...A thrilling overview of the duo's 1964-67 studio work..."

Mojo (Publisher) (7/00, p.124) - "...[Their] sheer sexual energy and exhilaration on-stage [was] rivaled only by James Brown and His Famous Flames....This gathers together their studio cuts for the Kent and Modern labels from 1964 to '67..."
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