Archive for the ‘The Ikettes’ Category

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time on October 30, 1965 at the Syracuse War Memorial. I had forged a press pass, a typed note actually, on letterhead from a weekly paper in my little hometown. My Dad had set me up with the pompous owner of it, as I wanted to interview the band for a feature.

Looking back it was quite a good idea on my part, but this self celebrating fellow was nasty and dismissive. Even though I ended up meeting the band, I still loathe him for his attitude, not towards me, but towards my Father. He was so busy being busy, running in and out of his pathetic office, that I just reached over and grabbed a few pages of letterhead when he wasn’t looking. I shook with fear at what I’d done. I was still a good Catholic boy, but too late, I’d done it. So he tells me, “We don’t need a piece on this dirty English combo”, and that was that, or so he thought. Indeed, they didn’t need a a kid in his late single digits writing a review.

To be exact, this was the Canastota Bee Journal, as close as you can get to Mayberry. He and the paper, I’m guessing, are long gone. Still, I composed this laughable letter, claiming to be a writer on assignment and needing to interview them for a feature.

In those days, arenas were filled with hysterical, screaming kids, so how I managed to slide backstage so easily still baffles. An usher fell for that forged letter, and brought me back, where Bill Wyman was wrapping up his cords. Bill reads it, stares me straight in the eye and says in hindsight with a knowing smirk, “Come on and we’ll meet the rest”.

Holy shit. Is this really happening? It was the first time I nearly blacked out. I seriously remember that vividly. We are suddenly walking up the steps to the dressing room, knees weak, where in years to follow, I would meet, more like pester, (here goes, I know this is all a bit name droppy, but it really, really happened. I met all these bands and I’m proud of it): The Mindbenders, Them, The Moody Blues, The Nashville Teens, The Ikettes, The Who, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Humble Pie, Heads Hands & Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, Caravan, Toe Fat, Derek & The Dominoes, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, Frampton’s Camel, Traffic, Wild Turkey, The Faces, Badfinger, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Mother Earth, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Savoy Brown, Iron Butterfly, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, even Vivian Green, who I worked with decades later, was in that very room when on tour with Maxwell. Talk about coming full circle.

The management knew me and my friends well early on, they must’ve gotten a kick out of these crazy little kids, who’s Mom’s & Dad’s would wait patiently for until the shows ended. Our parents befriended the office staff, and in turn, those nice ladies always let us backstage.

The Rolling Stones were great, so nice. No one was in their dressing room except the band, and one other guy, I’m guess Ian Stewart, the tour manager. No food, nothing but bottles of Coca Cola. They signed my copy of 12 X 5, it probably lasted all of a minute but I still can relive it to this day. Here I was, with this exotic band from England that changed my life, which prior I could only see on TV every three to four months tops. I thought at that very moment, “This is the life for me”. I’m completely convinced it led to my career in music. No question.

Their current album at the time, THE ROLLING STONES NOW, was not a real album at all. In those days, the English labels released singles and EPs, in addition to albums. Not only were the EP tracks not on the LPs, but the singles weren’t either. So the US companies were always dropping off intended LP tracks to make room for the singles and sometimes strong ones from those EPs. For this particular release, London Records basically cobbled together some singles and EP songs, as well as unused UK LP tracks. Remember, the UK LPs were 14 songs compared to our 10-12, thereby creating even more choices.

Probably by coincidence more than design, THE ROLLING STONES NOW actually works as a proper LP. It was certainly a big success, slowly but very solidly scaling the US LP charts and staying Top 10 for ages, as it deserved to. The record’s filled with dark, minor key classics like ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ which they played on that night, Brian sitting at a huge B3 organ, wailing away.

It’s ok if you’re getting tingles. Take your time. You’ll need it. They were back, nine months later, during the AFTERMATH tour, and that’s whole ‘nother post waiting to be written.

This all leads us to ‘Down Home Girl’, a song on THE ROLLING STONES NOW. Little did I know then that it was a cover. I don’t even think I knew what that meant. They were all Rolling Stones songs to us. Years and years later I wised up, seeked out the original, and became a dangerous Alvin Robinson fanatic.

Here’s his version. Get any of his other releases. all of them actually.

The Ikettes

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

FINE, FINE, FINE / The Ikettes:

Side 1:

Listen: (He’s Gonna Be) Fine, Fine, Fine / The Ikettes
IkettesFine.mp3

Listen: How Come / The Ikettes
How

Side 2:

Listen: Peaches ‘n’ Cream / The Ikettes
Peaches

Listen: The Biggest Players / The Ikettes
The

Lord knows how many hours I’ve spent wondering what Ike Turner’s recording sessions with The Ikettes must have been like. Who exactly were The Ikettes in fact? Now there’s a mystery probably never to be unraveled lurking behind that curtain. No doubt these details have had inquiring minds swirling for decades.

Of equal interest is Steve Venet’s involvement, credited as Ike’s co-producer on these original Modern Records masters. Not only did he produce The Reflections, The Essex and the infamous GREATEST HITS FROM OUTER SPACE album, but he actually was in the studio with The Ikettes and basically, the players from The Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Wow.

He’s also one in the same as songwriter to a couple of my lifetime favorites: ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon and ‘Primitive’ originally released in 1966 by The Groupies then covered by The Cramps on PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE. Have mercy.

Marva Josie

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Listen: Don’t / Marva Josie
Marva Josie.mp3

How this clocks at £200 in THE ESSENTIAL NORTHERN SOUL PRICE GUIDE is beyond me. Not being a dancer of any worth myself, I’m probably in no position to judge. Still, this doesn’t sound easy to hully gully to, even on repeated listens. And I thought that was the whole point of Northern Soul, hence all nighters and such. Oh well, learn something everyday.

I do love a voice, rich in gospel timbre, one that could’ve easily fleshed out as a rotating member of Phil Spector’s background vocalists or Ike Turner’s Ikettes even. Marva Josie possessed just that. In fact, this has a number of passages that had me slipping into The Crystals’ ‘Little Boy’ while humming it in my head earlier today, walking from the subway along 6th Avenue to my office. I must have played ‘Don’t’ twenty times last night when ending the weekend with a healthy unboxing/filing marathon and couldn’t get it out of my brain.

The Ikettes

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Listen: What’cha Gonna Do / The Ikettes
What'cha Gonna Do / The Ikettes

Tis the season to celebrate a birthday. SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME is four years old, and as with the blog’s very first entry, each year I re-post one of the greatest records ever made, and the one that premiered this whole hobby: The Ikettes ‘ What’cha Gonna Do’.

Jimmy McCracklin

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Listen: Dog (Part 2) / Jimmy McCracklin
Dog

‘Dog (Part 2)’ was the second of eight singles Jimmy McCracklin issued between ’67 and ’70 on Minit, a sister label of Imperial, where he’d been signed since ’62 and had an additional seventeen releases. All in all, twenty five 45′s during an eight year run with basically one label group, Liberty Records, of which both Minit and Imperial were imprints .

At 90 years old, he can boast a recording career that began in 1945, continuing until most recently, 1999. Yes, 54 years. Given that he performed during 2010, his recording days may not be over yet. I would sure like to shake this guy’s hand.

Like the A side, ‘Dog (Part 1)’, this flip is largely an instrumental style backing track. For all we know, those female voices just may have been The Ikettes. Remember, Ike & Tina Turner were on Minit during this period as well.

Having co-written the Otis Redding and Carla Thomas hit, ‘Tramp’ with Lowell Fulson, released in ’67, and this having been issued around that same time, maybe ‘Dog (Parts 1 & 2)’ were the formative demo beginnings of ‘Tramp’.

Regardless, a great jukebox filler on a winter Sunday afternoon, and a needed artifact, if only for the title.

The Apollas

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Listen: You’re Absolutely Right / The Apollas
ApollasAbsolutely.mp3

For the longest time, I couldn’t quite understand the addictive cult obsession with Northern Soul, and then one day the light went off in my head. I still can’t explain it easily, but I get it. And God, is it addicting. Like when I get into that moment and I really need a proper Northern tune, nothing else suffices.

The inventory of undiscovered Northern necessities is forever high. Undiscovered not meaning unheard of or without some crazy book value but instead, undiscovered in that I don’t have a copy yet. It’s just not enough to actually hear it via a cd comp or on youtube, but to hear it on record, that’s the mainline.

Another official addiction problem this past year in my little world became Loma Records, the Los Angeles based soul label Bob Krasnow headed up for Warner Brothers in the mid 60′s. And there, in the thick of that incredible catalog, sat an aforementioned, or should I say just described, Northern necessity. The Apollas ‘You’re Absolutely Right’, an early Ashford & Simpson co-write with Jo Armstead, formerly one of The Ikettes.

And this devil escaped me for months on eBay, I kept getting outbid by a dollar or two. Until I’d had quite enough and eSniped a crazy high limit price, resulting in this promo pressing beauty turning up last week while on tour with Matt & Kim. Trust me, I rang the house daily inquiring about it’s arrival. All three family members just stopped answering my calls until on Saturday, Lucy phoned with the news that a record had arrived.

I could not get home from JFK fast enough on Sunday.

Here it is, it’s mine. Life is now complete, temporarily that is.

The Ikettes

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Listen: What’cha Gonna Do / The Ikettes
What'cha Gonna Do / The Ikettes

Tis the season to celebrate a birthday. SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME is three years old, and as with the blog’s very first entry, each year I re-post one of the greatest records ever made, and the one that premiered this whole hobby: The Ikettes ‘ What’cha Gonna Do’.

Listen: Down, Down / The Ikettes
Down, Down / The Ikettes

Last year at this time, I was one week into the euphoria of having heard from Rose Ikette. This year, I’m hoping she checks back and emails me again.

Somehow Rose, your contact details didn’t transfer successfully to my laptop/ipad/devices. Please write.

Ike & Tina Turner

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Listen: Cussin’ Cryin’ & Carryin’ On (Single Mix) / Ike & Tina Turner
Cussin' Cryin' & Carryin' On (Single Mix) / Ike & Tina Turner

A seemingly precise representation of the delta, chitlin’ circuit RnB Ike Turner could master in a four hour session when he wanted to, providing Tina Turner was there, that is. Even though it was recorded in Los Angeles, ‘Cussin’ Cryin’ & Carryin’ On’ still felt rural.

The single was released twice, both times on Pompeii and about a year apart. Wish I had some, any info as to why. Trust me, I have dug deep, but uncovered none. Oddly, as with almost every other Ike & Tina Turner record from the period, this never did get a UK issue. How is that even possible, it’s so good.

‘Cussin’ Cryin’ & Carryin’ On’ and their general sound during the era, tortures at what I’m convinced was missed by not seeing The Ike & Tina Turner Review in full, sweaty action during ’64/’65/’66′. If only I’d been born a few years earlier, well at least ten to cover it safely. The live shows I could have attended, and records I could have acquired. Wow.

The Ikettes

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This blog began two years ago with The Ikettes post below. As with SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME’s first birthday, on this it’s second – I am re-posting that very first entry, and plan to do it every year to come.

An added bonus this time round is the addition of the single’s B side and accompanying story.

Listen: What’cha Gonna Do / The Ikettes
ikettes.mp3

The Ikettes only Phi-Dan release came out in early ’66. This was around the time of Phil Spector’s involvement with Ike & Tina, not just producing, but also including them on his Big TNT Show, filmed in November of ’65. The lineup on this record, courtesy of the fantastic booklet from Ace Records’ recent Ikettes anthology, CAN’T SIT DOWN….’COS IT FEELS SO GOOD, was P. P. Arnold on lead vocals, with Tina, Brenda Holloway and her sister Patrice on backgrounds. I’m launching this blog with The Ikettes simply because it’s a record I’m currently nuts about. Actually, right now, I’m in a serious Ikettes phase, fueled by the aforementioned CD. I was in London last week with Matt & Kim, and staying with Roger Armstrong, a great friend who founded Ace. It was one of the discs he gave me, and I just poured over the booklet on the entire flight back home to New York. The CD is a must. And also try finding the single (the CD only draws from their releases on Modern Records). As you can hear, it’ll be worth the search. I picked it up off eBay a few months back having no idea it had existed. $65 later, it’s one of those great moments when you realize there’s always something else to add to the collection.

Listen: Down Down / The Ikettes
IkettesDownDown.mp3

On May 16th – just last week, I had the shocking honor of receiving an email from Rose Smith aka Rose Ikette. Rose, along with Pat Arnold (P. P. Arnold) were in the ’65 – ’66 lineup of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue featuring The Ikettes.

Rose had found the blog while searching for a copy of ‘What’cha Gonna Do’ and it’s flipside ‘Down Down’. She was at these sessions and as it turns out, does the lead vocal on ‘Down Down’.

What a fantastic song, it feels very gospel, almost religious. Apparently getting some decent airplay on LA soul radio at the time of release, Rose hadn’t heard it for years. I sent her an mp3 of the track, and we plan to talk, later today in fact. How’s that for a coincidence? She has kindly promised to share many details about the period, lineup, various sessions and her infamous trip to the UK when they shared a tour with The Rolling Stones. Pat never came back, but instead became P. P. Arnold, signed to Immediate and had a decent run of UK hits. Rose also hung around London long enough to contribute some vocals on various Immediate singles as well.

Meanwhile, here’s ‘Down Down’, with Rose and The Ikettes.

The Ikettes

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

IkettesMakeEmUSA, The Ikettes, Ike Turner, Pompeii

Listen: Make Em Wait / The Ikettes IkettesMakeEm.mp3

IkettesBeautyUSA, The Ikettes, Ike Turner, Pompeii

Listen: Beauty Is Just Skin Deep / The Ikettes IkettesBeauty.mp3

I can admit it, the slightest reason has me in front of the wall shelf, flipping through The Ikettes section, all the while completely smitten with their behind the scenes details. Either truth or fantasy, the revolving lineups and drug dramas running rampant in LA’s black music scene during the 60′s – 70′s make for constant detail digging this end. Add Ike Turner into that mix and boom. Yet, everybody was popping out one great record after the next almost weekly.

Seems Ike was indeed of assembly line mindset. Recycling instrumental tracks often, and rewriting the same song regularly meant the verse/hook had to be strong – seemingly as hard a chore but way cheaper on the wallet.

Not an easy white label promo to find, I was only too happy stealing this for $6 on eBay recently.

Freddy Cannon / Where The Action Is

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

freddycannonaction, Freddy Cannon, Where The Action Is, Dick Clark, American Bandstand

Listen: Where The Action Is / Freddy Cannon FreddyCannonAction.mp3

Let’s face it. The theme song to ABC’s syndicated daily pop show, WHERE THE ACTION IS, titled ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon, was so good, even The Ramones could have covered it.

I lived for WHERE THE ACTION IS and saw many a great act each day after school. Our local Syracuse affiliate, WSYR-TV, was wishy-washy, and many times pre-empted it with other things. Looking over the complete, chronological list of episodes and guests, I’ve only just discovered missing Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, The Action and Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich for just that reason. Indeed, I’m a bit crushed having now discovered these atrocities. Scumbags.

But seeing an LA centric act almost daily, given they were basically down the street from the studios, must have been daily bliss. To name a few: The Guillteens, The Ikettes with and without Ike & Tina Turner, The Vejtables, The Leaves, The Seeds, Gary & The Hornets, Love, Dino Desi & Billy, The Buffalo Springfield, Jan & Dean.

Not to mention the RnB stuff: Martha & The Vandellas, Doris Troy, The Royalettes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Toys, Maxine Brown, Kim Weston, Carla Thomas, Billy Stewart, Bobby Hebb, Alvin Cash & The Crawlers or Felice Taylor. I still replay The Vibrations doing ‘My Girl Sloopy’ vividly in my memory.

Then there were the black and white segments from England, a real high for we Anglophiles: The Small Faces, Gary Farr & The T-Bones, Them, The Mindbenders, The Zombies, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, Unit 4 + 2, The Who, Wayne Fontana, Marianne Faithfull, The Yardbirds and The Cryin’ Shames.

The Ikettes

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

ikettesimblueuka, ikettes, ike & tina Turner, london, atco, modern, stateside, polydor

Listen: I’m Blue / The IkettesIkettesBlue.mp3

All the behind the scenes drama, politics, tension and sleeze associated with Ike & Tina Turner is an endless source of stimulation for this voyeur. Get hold of every last cd booklet accompanying their reissues, and especially the box sets (the Time/Life one is hugely advised) and study. The countless sessions and musical chairs will never really be figured out, but when this bunch was on – they were truly on. Whether as an after thought, or a genius parallel business model, The Ikettes were the bomb. ‘I’m Blue’ premiered them to vinyl and was probably an unexpected hit. The first of many sizzling, gutteral vocal performances – you could always depend on an Ikettes single.

ikettespeachesuka,  ikettes, ike & tina Turner, london, atco, modern, stateside, polydor

Listen: Peaches & Cream / The Ikettes IkettesPeaches.mp3

‘Peaches & Cream’ sounded fantastic on AM radio in ’65, and I was well excited to see that summer’s Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars make a Syracuse stop. The Ikettes took the stage in silk fringed orange mini dresses and gyrated though four numbers including this one. Being afforded the benefit of headliner Tom Jones’ full brass back up band transformed it into a crazy wild Soul revue. Not surprisingly, these weren’t The Ikettes at all, at least not the ones on record. Still through Ike’s revolving door it seems everyone was an Ikette for a minute, so who’s complaining. Considering they followed Them on stage after ‘Here Comes The Night’, ‘Call My Name’ and a rousing ‘Gloria’, and upped the stakes is proof of their power.

ikettesthankfuluka,  ikettes, ike & tina Turner, london, atco, modern, stateside, polydor

Listen: I’m So Thankful / The Ikettes IkettesThankful.mp3

Like The Flirtations’ ‘Nothing But A Heartache, ‘I’m So Thankful’ is one of the great Motown records that was never on Motown. You’d swear it was recorded right there on Grand Blvd.

The Ikettes

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Listen: What’cha Gonna Do / The Ikettes
What'cha Gonna Do / The Ikettes

The Ikettes only Phi-Dan release came out in early ’66. This was around the time of Phil Spector’s involvement with Ike & Tina Turner, not just producing, but also including them on his Big TNT Show, filmed in November of ’65. The lineup on this record, courtesy of the fantastic booklet from Ace Records’ recent Ikettes anthology, CAN’T SIT DOWN….’COS IT FEELS SO GOOD, was P. P. Arnold on lead vocals, with Tina Turner, Brenda Holloway and her sister Patrice on backgrounds. I’m launching this blog with The Ikettes simply because it’s a record I’m currently nuts about. Actually, right now, I’m in a serious Ikettes phase, fueled by the aforementioned CD. I was in London last week with Matt & Kim, and staying with Roger Armstrong, a great friend who founded Ace. It was one of the discs he gave me, and I just poured over the booklet on the entire flight back home to New York. The CD is a must. And also try finding the single (the CD only draws from their releases on Modern Records). As you can hear, it’ll be worth the search. I picked it up off eBay a few months back having no idea it had existed. $65 later, it’s one of those great moments when you realize there’s always something else to add to the collection.