Love Songs

Tina Turner

Parlophone, 2014

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Since the great Tina Turner retired upon wrapping up her Twenty Four Seven World Tour in late 2000, every four years, without fail, there has been a compilation CD released. In 2004, we had the two-disc set called All The Best that featured four new songs, only one of which was above average (“Complicated Disaster”). In 2008, to accompany Turner’s surprise six month 50th Anniversary Tour, there was yet another hits compilation simply titled Tina! And for the ’09 European leg, that set was an expanded into the three-disc release called The Platinum Collection

So four years later and with Turner fully retired (the Tennessee native even relinquished her US citizenship before getting married last year to her longtime partner and former head of European EMI, Erwin Bach) and living comfortably in Switzerland, we have yet another compilation released to remind us that Turner was once a major hitter in the world of entertainment. This time, however, there was a fresh concept for the release instead of just another tried and true “hits” collection. On Valentine’s Day earlier this year, Parlophone released this slick and heavily R&B collection fittingly entitled Love Songs. I remember heading out that very day to purchase it and laughing to myself in the store as I read the track list, thinking, “You gotta be kidding me.”

I have been a massive Tina Turner fan ever since I saw the video clip for Tina’s first ever solo number one hit “What’s Love Got To Do With It” in 1984 when I was only five years old. I was mesmerized by the wildest looking woman I had ever seen strutting through the streets of New York looking cooler than I imagined any human being could. I loved the song, too, and later in life as an adult, I love it even more. Of all the love songs and mushy ballads to come out of the 1980s, here came the ultimate anti-love song brilliantly sung by a 45-year-old woman who had more reason the most to never believe in love again.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And so here I am in the store marveling at how they have included it on Love Songs to simply get more people to purchase it. How anyone can spin “What’s love but a secondhand emotion?” and “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” into a love song is beyond me. Not to be outdone, though, that ultra-cool song has a mate on the disc that is equally cynical and even darker but remains as soulful and enchanting as ever. 

Mark Knopfler wrote “Private Dancer” and gave it to Tina when he heard she was in London with her manager trying to throw an album together on a shoestring budget. The song is the true highlight of Turner’s massive comeback album that shares the song’s name but it is in no way a love song; it’s either the lament of an exotic dancer or prostitute: “Deutschmarks or dollars? / American Express will do nicely thank you / Let me loosen up your collar / Do you wanna see me do the shimmy again?” How romantic, eh? 

The rest of this CD covers Turner’s lighter moments that peppered her albums from 1984’s Private Dancer right through to her last studio album in 1999’s Twenty Four Seven. The only exception is the stadium anthem “The Best” and the overly bombastic, ill-fitting Phil Spector production, “River Deep Mountain High,” which is the only track her that predates the ‘80s.

Concept aside, it is nice to hear a collection of Turner’s songs that show what a wonderfully soulful singer she really is as evidenced by “Be Tender With Me Baby,” “Look Me In The Heart” and “Falling.” Her classic 1983 cover of AlGreen’s “Let’s Stay Together” is here as is her effortless reworking of John Waites’ ‘80s mega-hit “Missing You.” A couple of my personal favorites have also been included in “Way Of The World” and “I Don’t Wanna Lose You,” which are both fantastic R&B tracks written by Albert Hammond and Graham Lyle.

So as nice as it would have been for a few more less often heard/released tracks in lieu of the anti-love songs or at least some new photos for the cover art (these date back to the early ‘90s), Love Songs is a pleasing compilation that at most highlights Turner’s oft-overlooked vocal capabilities.

Rating: B+

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© 2014 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Parlophone, and is used for informational purposes only.