Acid Queen

Tina Turner

United Artists, 1975

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


By 1975, Tina Turner’s life was in somewhat of a holding pattern, despite the personal hell that was her life as Ike Turner’s wife and meal ticket. The devout Buddhist had spent the last few years accepting her life as it was and waiting for a chance to escape it. That chance came in Dallas, TX in July of ’76, although forging a successful solo career would still elude her for the best part of a decade. Ike Turner at this point was wallowing in his own personal (self-inflicted) hell. He was drowning in debts, drugs, guns, and the Turners’ once not-to-be missed Revue was back to playing small venues. It was a long and violent fall from grace that was still far from over.

Amid all of the doom and gloom that this period in time brough to Tina, one immensely positive thing happened to her: she won herself a role in a major motion picture, fulfilling a dream she had as a little girl growing up in Nutbush, Tennessee. By this time Tina, was in her 36th year and had longed for a chance to break into the world of cinema. Nothing serious was ever offered, save for the odd promise here and there from various producers during the early to mid-‘70s. That all changed, however, when Tina was cast as the Acid Queen in Ken Russell’s 1975 film adaptation of The Who’s rock operetta my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Tommy. Tina scored the role only after it was rejected by Mick Jagger who wanted to perform his own material (really, Mick..?)

Nonetheless, Turner made the most of her few minutes of screen time, giving one of the most memorable performances as the maniacal prostitute. It remains a sight to see. This also meant that Turner had to record her own version of The Who’s “Acid Queen,” and wanting to cash in on the buzz, United Artists suggested a solo project would be most welcome.

Rush recorded in LA and released in August of ’75, Acid Queen was Tina’s second solo LP following the previous year’s covers album Tina Turns The Country On! (it wasn’t great.) Tina had long been obsessed with the British bands that formed the Invasion of the mid-‘60s, and by this time in her life, it was the only music she’d listen to for pleasure. To pay homage to her favourites, the decision was made for side one to feature covers and side two was saved for Ike’s originals in the hope something might hit and put some much-needed cash in the bank.

Side one kicks off with two from the Stones with respectably rocking takes on “Under My Thumb” and “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” as Turner had long been covering the Stones on stage and never had a problem putting her own stamp on a song. The next two belong to The Who as Tina’s ass-kicking version of the title track gets another airing. She breathed fire over the soul/funkadelic mash-up that is “I Can See For Miles.”

Side one then comes to a close with Tina’s astonishing take on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” This thing is so hot it could’ve melted the vinyl to the turntable. It’s a slow-burning, heavy-set funk track that sizzles with Tina’s legendary sexuality as she pouts then hollers over the vibrant strings and porno guitars.

Side two features four Ike originals that would be largely forgettable if not for the sexed up romp that is “Baby Get It On,” a disco track that Ike sang on and thus became the Turners’ final single together.

Acid Queen holds up well for what it is, thanks to the talented LA session players that brought their A-game along and Tina’s amazing paint-stripping vocals.

Rating: B

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