Monday, November 28, 2011

Along Comes Misery

Thanks to Ana-B for cooperation on this post!

Why is it that so many of Tina Turner's songs seem to possess such a strong auto- biographical undercurrent? Is it that I am looking for it in her songs when in case of others I wouldn't? But then, why do I seem to hit on something every time I'm looking for it?

From Jack Robinson's photosession, 1969 (look it up here)
Spring 1969. The Turners have out their first Minit 45 (# 32060), released in March. As for their career, 1969 was a good year: they were playing Vegas now and getting paid more than ever; Ike was enjoy- ing his lush life and before the end of the year they were touring with the Rolling Stones. For the Blue Thumb label, they recorded two bluesy LPs that wouldn't go far saleswise but show Ike & Tina doing something different. They re-released their A&M album River Deep, Mountain High and increasingly started to cover songs made famous by others (»With A Little Help From My Friends«, »I've Been Loving You Too Long«, »Come Together« etc.). And Tina came to develop her ill-famed X-rated stage antics (watch Tina in action over here, from the Stones documentary Gimme Shelter). Little mattered it then that in April they had their Los Angeles home burglarized, with items worth $70,000 and their car part of the booty.

On the personal level though, things had gone from bad to worse. Tina had her stomach pumped clear of 50 valiums after she had discovered that Ike had fathered a child with her friend Ann Thomas and after Ike had started to treat her ever more violently. »Yes it finally got to the point where I was ready to die. ... I felt like I could not take any more. ... And that's when I started to hate Ike Turner. ... [W]ith the women, and the beatings, I had started losing that love for Ike. And now, after the pills and the hospital, I was starting to hate him« said Tina in her autobiography (I, Tina, p. 144 + 148).

From Jack Robinson's photosession, 1969
Now, Minit # 32060 was out in March. It features a com- bination of two songs, »I'm Gonna Do All I Can (To Do Right By My Man)« on the A-side and »You've Got Too Many Ties That Bind« on the B-side. And these two songs being put together on one 45 does raise some questions.

The first tune, »I'm Gonna Do All I Can (To Do Right By My Man)«, was penned by country musician and producer Wayne Carson. It's one of those husband & wife songs, crammed with that kitschy marital and ultimately depressing devoteness lyrics so typical of the C&W scene ... he's the only real thing that ever happened to me ...  He can make me be good, he can make me change my ways, do the things a good woman should and I'm gonna make him happy each and every day. I'm gonna do all I can to do right by my man, to be the kind of woman he wants me to be ... Ike couldn't have cared less. The song made it to #98 pop in May '69.

Let's turn to the B-side, Johnny Northern's & Jimmy Bailey's »You've Got Too Many Ties That Bind«. As to Tina's performance, this B-side is much stronger than the A-side. And what a contrast! Listen to Tina singing ... Every time in my life when things begin to glow, there comes a change and back downhill I go ... Every time when happiness comes my way, along comes misery and destroyed my whole day ... I once was blind but now I can see, I can see, oh yes I can see - that there's too many ties that binds (!) ... I cross my heart, hope to die, each time I think about my life, I wanna cry. That's why I'm singin' there's too many ties that bind. Too many, too many ties ... Phew! Ike couldn't have cared less. But how must Tina have been feeling when singing these lines? And how to reconcile the two songs?

From J. Robinson's photosession, 1969
However, things are a little more complicated still. The labels of Minit # 32060 on both sides give Ike Turner and Willie Mitchell the production credits. It is unknown at what time »I'm Gonna Do All I Can« was recorded. But it is known that the B-Side, »Too Many Ties That Bind«, was recorded years earlier and actually released for the first time in 1964 on Sonja # 5000. On the Sonja 45, only Ike Turner is credited and the song title appears as »Too Many Ties That Bind«. Ana-B (from The Singing Bones blogspot) told me that what you hear on Sonja # 5000 is not just the same song, but the exact same recording we find on the Minit B-side. So, essentially, the newer side, »I'm Gonna Do All I Can«, was in 1969 pressed with the older recording. Moreover, this also explains the curious fact why the song on the Minit (re-)release was re-titled »You've Got Too Many Ties That Bind« even though the lyrics of the song do not feature the words »you've got«. Ana-B pointed out that Sonja # 5000 was probably an early Willie Mitchell production and that he got the belated credit on the Minit single. She also hinted me at John Ridley's Page where you'll find a review of Sonja # 5000 (the gist of it is quoted below in the comment section).

So what are we making of the Minit single? Musically, we have Tina singing two heartrending ballads here. Conceptually, we have a plea of marital thankfulness and an outcry of utter desperation, an explosive mix. Are they expressing just the same, after all? If looking at Tina's troubled life in and around 1969 and how she dealt with it this doesn't seem farfetched. But the B-side was recorded years before, and maybe also the A-side was not really a recent recording. So why put out both songs in 1969 (apart from the convenient fact of recycling, in part, older material)? I have no obvious answer to this. In fact, I am musing about this without truly knowing whether Tina's private life had any part in why these tunes were released in 1969. On the other hand, can you listen to these songs and be convinced, in earnest, that her private life had nothing to do with it? They just so closely reflect, in all their contrasting message, Tina's state of mind in 1969. And what she told in her auto- biography about the events in late 1968 and early '69 just so closely mirrors the lyrics of the B-side ... but she kept on holding up the facade and was stuck with Ike (that's where the A-side comes in) ...

For the record: »I'm Gonna Do All I Can (To Do Right By My Man)« never appeared on an album at the time (the Turner's only Minit LP being Live In Person). The song was first released in the '80s on LP and was afterwards included in CD packages of the Minit r&b output (one recently re-issued). »You've Got Too Many Ties That Bind« appears on a 1991 Japanese CD (TOCP-6597) which has all the Minit sides and is actually entitled You've Got Too Many Ties That Bind. 

Ike & Tina Turner: »I'm Gonna Do All I Can (To Do Right By My Man)« / »You've Got Too Many Ties That Bind«
on Minit # 32060 (1969):


  1. "Too Many Ties That Bind" [Sonja 5000] is not just the same song, it's the exact same recording. That's why the full title of the later re-release isn't mentioned in the song.

  2. Ah, thank you very much! this of course changes a lot. I actually wondered how the version on Sonja 5000 sounds like but had never heard it. When was Sonja 5000 released? 1963 or 1964 are normally mentioned. Is one of these correct? So they took that Sonja song, added to the title and put it out again as the B-side on the Minit 45. But "I'm Gonna Do All I Can" isn't by any chance a re-release? Couldn't find any trace of that song in the Turner songbook before 1969.

  3. Sorry if my previous comment changed things for you. I thought it a nice post. It was not my intention to disrupt anything.

    1964 is correct for the Sonja 45. It's a little confusing because 5000 was the first release under a revised numbering system. I notice that at least two online discographies drop the ball on this one.

    Essentially, a newer side, "I'm Gonna Do All I Can", was pressed with the older recording [which to my ears, is slightly cleaned up] on the Minit issue.

    Regardless of the earlier credits, "Too Many Ties That Bind" is probably an early Willie Mitchell production.....thus the connection and the belated credit on the Minit single.

  4. Thanks again for your precious comments! Because the information you provided is so important for this post I included it in the text above. Just had to re-write some passages.

  5. Not to belabor the subject, but on second thought the Minit 45 is probably just a better pressing than the Sonja issue....not necessarily 'cleaned up' as I stated before.

    I also found this bit of info on Sonja 5000 by John Ridley [aka Sir Shambling]. It's undoubtedly where I got the idea that the tune is an early Willie Mitchell production in the first place.

    "...this track is simply wonderful deep soul. Ike used to fit recording dates around his touring schedule and issued 45s on his many labels as well as hustling major label releases. This track was also issued on Minit in '69, with a co-production credit to Willie Mitchell. And this gives the clue, I think, to this marvellous disc. To the best of my knowledge this is the only 45 Ike & Tina cut in Memphis in the classic soul era and it shows. Papa Willie's influence is clear and strong - if only he could have recorded more on the duo! Favoured by a much more restrained instrumental backing than usual, Tina is given so much room to cut loose - an opportunity she takes with both hands. A tip of the hat, too, to the excellent and tasteful guitarist (Ike himself?)."

  6. You're welcome! please go ahead, I'll adjust the text above according to your unearthings. Thanks! Now this 45 gets ever more intriguing ... if that's the only songs they cut in Memphis (which in itself is interesting), one comes to wonder whether also "I'm Gonna Do All I Can" was actually recorded much before '69, presumably at the same session of the Sonja/Minit B-side? Both sides re-releases of older material, then ... which of course would make the connection of the Minit single to Ike & Tina's private situation more tenuous, after all. Well, in view of the importance of I&T it's astonishing how badly documented their career and discography (recording dates etc.) really is ... Somebody's gonna do some grassroots work here

  7. This is fascinating, thank you both for weighing in! And especially thank you for posting audio of these songs, which I have not had a chance to hear before. Ike & Tina + the Memphis sound is catnip to me.

    I also spend time puzzling over Tina's relationship to some of her lyrics. On the one hand, reading "I, Tina" left me with the impression that singing was just a very draining job for her during most of the I&T days. But on the other hand, when you *listen* to her sing, it's almost impossible to believe she's not using any of her own emotions, that she doesn't love to sing, that it's not authentic. (Contrast with some of the 1970s recordings, where I *can* believe she's phoning it in.)

    I think the story of Ike and Tina, and their music, is more complex than we can get from the hindsight provided in either of their autobiographies. . .and maybe the most truthful way we can access the messy reality of their collaboration is just by listening to the songs.

    Or so I tell myself, as consolation, because surely we'll never have a chance to find out more.

  8. Hi HMS, I've been out of commission for a few days. I especially like Too Many Ties That Bind - a side that I'd never heard before.

    I agree that it would have been difficult for Tina to separate her emotional life from the music, particularly at that time.


  9. Glad you like it! I've been away for some days myself ...

  10. You might be interested in this

  11. Oh yes I will, thanks! Hadn't lately checked the new ACE releases but here's proof that one should do so ...!