Tina Turner - Tina Live (2009)

Tina Turner
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Tina Live has arrived! The last time an official album attempted to capture the Tina Turner concert experience was 1988. The Grammy-winning Tina Live in Europe set culled together highlights from her Private Dancer (1984) and Break Every Rule (1986) tours. It was less a representation of one concert than a compendium of "greatest concert moments" from over a three year-period. Essentially, there's never been an album that documents just one night at a Tina Turner show. (Of course, there have been a wealth of videos that should have doubled as albums -- they were that good).

On the occasion of Tina Turner's 50th year of performing, Tina Live serves up a particular kind of package that's been missing from the marketplace. Released in the U.S. as a CD/DVD set, Tina Live captures a stop on Turner's 2008-2009 world tour.

Tina Live has arrived! The last time an official album attempted to capture the Tina Turner concert experience was 1988. The Grammy-winning Tina Live in Europe set culled together highlights from her Private Dancer (1984) and Break Every Rule (1986) tours. It was less a representation of one concert than a compendium of "greatest concert moments" from over a three year-period. Essentially, there's never been an album that documents just one night at a Tina Turner show. (Of course, there have been a wealth of videos that should have doubled as albums -- they were that good).

On the occasion of Tina Turner's 50th year of performing, Tina Live serves up a particular kind of package that's been missing from the marketplace. Released in the U.S. as a CD/DVD set, Tina Live captures a stop on Turner's 2008-2009 world tour. The CD portion, recorded at GelreDome in Arnhem, Holland, culls 15 highlights from the full-length concert presented on the accompanying DVD. It's pretty difficult to accurately simulate the excitement of witnessing a Tina Turner concert in person but Tina Live is a solid approximation.

Most of her beloved hits are represented on the album. "Steamy Windows," always a dependable show opener, kicks off the set. The applause greeting Turner's appearance on the stage crashes through the speakers like a tidal wave of adoration. Turner's band is in fine form and, though she aims low on some notes, so is Turner's voice. It is still a voltaic presence and distinct as ever, especially on "River Deep-Mountain High." With the passing of the song's original co-writer Ellie Greenwich earlier this year, the song now has an even more profound resonance.

However, some of Turner's phrasing might bewilder her most ardent admirers. Though she sounds just fine on "What's Love Got to Do With It," her reading of "physical" and "logical" is slightly awkward, as is the elimination of "you must try to ignore that it means more than that" in the first verse. "We Don't Need Another Hero" also contains slightly altered phrasing on the first couple of lines. These are not necessarily demerits, nor do they take away from the overall performance, but listeners might have to adjust their expectations about hearing their favorite song.

Among the more thrilling moments on Tina Live is the medley of the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll," which Turner incorporated into her shows in 1981-1982. Lisa Fischer, who's joined Turner for background vocals on the last two tours, is an added bonus to "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll." She flexes her own impressive vocal muscles after Turner exits the stage for a costume change. The sequence gives credence to Turner's legacy and is best experienced on the DVD, where archive clips of Turner and Mick Jagger are projected on the screen above the stage.

Even as Turner approaches 70, Tina Live becomes the "Queen of Rock and Roll" and affirms her stature as towering presence in the history of popular music. What other septuagenarian can still breathe new life into songs by everyone from The Who to Al Green? Tina Live provides a most riveting answer.

By Christian John Wikane

 

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