Ike Turner's death on Wednesday brings to mind some fond memories of some great music.
It's been more than 50 years since Stan Lewis opened Stan's Record Shop in downtown Shreveport. From his vantage point at the top of Texas Avenue (I used to sneak down there after class), he would go on to create a once-lucrative business, then see the shop whither and go under (as vinyl died). But, all the while, he issued some of the nation's most influential artists on three separate independent, north Louisiana-based record labels.
In the early 1990s, we got a digital opportunity to become reintroduced to his best work from the Jewel, Paula and Ronn imprints through a series of terrific CD reissues. Taken together, these labels moved around in every important Southern genre — early rock 'n' roll, country, down-home blues, black gospel and swamp pop.
On one of those discs, Ike Turner's terrific 1958-1959, we find an encapsulation of all of those many diversions.
Sometimes Ike comes close to blues here with slow-burns like "Down and Out" and "You Got to Lose."
More often than not, however, Turner is spinning a rhythmic hybrid, something one might call heavy R&B — a very intense mixture of what would become full-bore rock 'n' roll. And fine, indeed. It's a tough sound, with horns and vocals right up-front, sometimes to the point of distortion.
This CD includes sides credited to Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm — as well as Otis Rush and his band, and the Betty Everett and Willie Dixon Band. All include Turner (primarily on guitar, since the bands included keyboardists).
That multiple-take feel travels throughout: There are three versions of "Matchbox." Then there's "I'm Gonna Forget About You," which is included in two versions; this sounds like a precursor to "Matchbox" itself.
So okay, all of that duplication doesn't exactly make for a record you can listen to all the way through, over and over. But you are invited to mix and match versions as you program your CD player. Which, of course, I did.