Tina Turner’s Best Songs: 12 Songs That Aren’t Quite Easily The Best

With the news today of the death of Tina Turner at the age of 83, it’s not just the death of a legend that is touching the wider audience. It is the end of a style of song, her style of passionately powerful, raucous singing, that brings with it the deepest loss. Because whether it was during her time with her ex-husband Ike Turner — the man who discovered Anna Mae Bullock just to abuse her — or during her multi-platinum solo pop career, Tina Turner did, in her own words, ” beautiful and hard”. “, in a husky, sensual voice imbued with the grace of southern gospel and the grit of rockin’ blues. From raunchy R&B to sizzling power ballads, Tina made every song a sweaty, elegant performance.

Nobody has ever sounded like Tina Turner. Nobody ever will.

Here are 12 of the greatest musical moments of her 62-year career, including greatest hits and rarities alike:

Ike and Tina Turner, I’m Jealous (1961)
As the first track from Sue’s debut label album, The Soul of Ike & Tina Turner, I’m Jealous prepares us for much that would shape Tina Turner’s legacy. Written by guitarist Ike Turner and Jane Bussong, I’m Jealous tells the listener a theatrical tale of a lover’s heartache, hardship and wicked romance, with Tina’s high-pitched vocals weaving back and forth through the three-chord melody. Alternately shrieking and swooning, Tina immerses the listener in her world of frustration with delicious abandon.

Ike and Tina Turner, It’s Gonna Work Out Fine (1962)
“A Fool in Love” may have been Ike & Tina’s first million-selling single, but the married couple’s second best-selling song, “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” also on the Dynamite! album, is far more dramatic. Borrowing a fuzzy guitar and rhumba rhythm intro from Bo Diddley, Tina dances around a talking Ike, hopping between a seductive low purr and loud screams.

Ike and Tina Turner, “I’ve Loved You Too Long” (1969)
A longtime staple of Ike & Tina Turner’s live revue, the Otis Redding/Jerry Butler-penned blues number reminds us that Tina had inherited the Technicolor spirit of psychedelic R&B and rock into her widescreen voice in 1969 and still does freer and harsher without ever losing the classic tonality and sweetness of the low end of her voice.

Ike and Tina Turner, River Deep – Mountain High (1966)
The story of how Phil Spector ousted Ike Turner to produce and write “River Deep – Mountain High” (along with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich) for Tina will always play a big part in the legend of that song. Yet nothing is quite as operatic and soaring as Tina, scaling Spector’s deceptively complex melody and dense wall of sound. An epic in the truest sense of the word.

Tina Turner, “I Can See for Miles” (1975)
Movie audiences got their first glam rock glimpse of what a solo Tina Turner might look like in director Ken Russell’s wild 1975 version of Tommy: The Movie, when the she-devil turned to Pete’s Acid Queen Townshend made his own. When it came time for her 1975 solo album – her second after 1974’s contemporary cool “Tina Turns the Country On!” — Tina opted for a slew of Jagger/Richards and Townshend numbers, with “I Can See for Miles” offering a manic mix of rubbery, swaggering rock and glitzy, cheesy disco. whoops

Tina Turner and Cher, Shame Shame Shame (1975)
The high standard of network television in the mid-’70s, as defined by CBS’s “The Cher Show,” didn’t stop Tina Turner from internalizing the bile of jealousy and spite that informed so many of her best-selling coverage of this one Shirley & Company hit. Hear how robust Turner sounds, and she urges Cher to side with her.

Ike and Tina Turner, “Delilah’s Power” (1977)

Though credited to Ike & Tina, the full album for which this track is named was released a year after the Turners split from United Artists, with a rare, raw handful of its songs – like this title track – written solely by Tina Turner . Soulful too, as the mythical tale of a hairy man torn apart by a woman’s cunning is given real funk and guts by Turner’s swaggering vocal delivery and its own sinewy melody. Who knows what else Tina could have done as a writer in those years if she had left sooner.

Tina Turner and BEF, “Ball of Confusion” (1982)
Living in the UK without a record label and contemplating her next move, Turner met two then-retired Human League members, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, whose vision of iron-fisted electro-pop was fueled by soulful soul. Turner’s guttural rendition of the Temptations classic was what prompted Capitol Records to make a Turner comeback, and the rest was history.

Tina Turner, “Private Dancer” (1984)

It might seem odd to say this now that Mark Knopfler’s lyrics about the intimacy of sexuality are so much a part of the ’80s playlist. But hearing a middle-aged woman like Turner embody the immensity of mature sensuality makes this song powerful – for her and for the listening audience. With a quiet, slippery melody guided by Turner’s sonorous growl, the listen induces goosebumps despite the track’s slick surface.

Tina Turner, “What Love Has Got To Do With It” (1984)
Composers Terry Britten and Graham Lyle were two of Tina Turner’s lead writers in the 1980s and beyond, and this title makes it easy to see why. Simple in its message (love is a sweet, old-fashioned term) and upbeat melody, this “Love” song allows Turner to leap octaves with ease (E♭3 through D♭5) until dynamically striking the final epic key change, the send the song home.

Tina Turner, “Not Enough Romance” (1989)
Turner makes the most of composer/producer Dan Hartman’s bold synthetic sheen, just as she did with BEF earlier in the decade, lolling along his sequencer walls and hopping off the floors of drum machines as if he were it would have to do with a complete band. A low-key vocal performance in collaboration with an underrated composer genius, “Not Enough Romance” is as much a chess game as it is a subtle soul workout.

Tina Turner, “When the Heartache Is Over” (1999)
For Twenty Four Seven, her last solo studio album before retirement, Turner chose old acquaintances and new songwriting friends to pen her grand finale. The supple, soulful grace and elegant grandeur of composers Graham Stack and John Reid’s “When the Heartache is Over” allows Turner to take over as her deep, husky voice gently simmers and shimmers over the sweet chords. This song sounds less like a farewell and more like a welcome home.

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