Nutbush City Limits – Ike & Tina Turner

My parents love for Tina Turner was a constant throughout my youth. She was an artist my Mum couldn’t help but shake it and sing along to (There is no sight more endearing that a tiny little plump white lady with a bubble perm grooving like Tina Turner in her kitchen) and my Dad clearly appreciated her powerful lungs and sturdy pins.

Tina’s 80’s output had them all in a spin for Private Dancer, Break Every Rule and Foreign Affair. I had her pegged as the Female Robert Palmer. A polished shiny blemish free and thrill free corporation of an act. Session musos, glossy videos, no. real. soul.

Tina was presented to me by the media of the time as part of the problem. The establishment loved her. Grown ups loved her and the music was everywhere. So I zoned out. Wrote her off… Until that is, I realised that was her in The Who movie Tommy. I was about 13 when Tina’s performance of The Acid Queen in Ken Russell’s Weirdathon gave the young SFTD a weird mix of feelings. One of them was utter fear. She was terrifying with her hallucinogenic Iron Maiden and her promises to tear souls apart. So Metal! I figured right there if The Who were cool with Tina and she could come over like a sexy Alice Cooper with added funk maybe I’d misjudged her.

Digging deeper in the parents record collection I discovered River Deep Mountain High was by Ike and Tina. I had no clue. I’d known this song my whole life. I Want To Take You Higher was given a fantastic work over by them too. Proud Mary. That tune was a belter. It’s become a standard these days but songs get to those sorts of heady heights for a reason. CCR’s original version is great and all and Solomon Burke covered it a nanosecond or two before Ike and Tina got to it. Lump it in with Jam Night Stodge Rock at your peril Proud Mary is a litmus test for a bar band. If they fluff that up, you drink up quick and aren’t obliged to tip.

Nutbush City Limits though. There is a land speed record setting piece of 70’s funk rock as beloved by Headbangers as it is Soulboys, Funkateers, Pop Kids and Gang Bangers.

That funk swamp guitar line that opens it up is a classic in it’s own right. Hendrix fans can dig on it as much as Disco Divas. The band is full on hard rock (I knew my folks wouldn’t steer me wrong).

Hip Hop has steered clear of sampling anything from this track to my knowledge despite it having many stealable elements. Perhaps for fear of the ramifications. The noises that come out during the solo sections? Fuggedabahit! They’re unique to Nutbush. No one would dare steal that.

It has been successfully covered in its own right. Nashville Pussy and Joe Bonamassa with Beth Hart have done storming covers of this track. In a strange turn of events when Motörhead Guitarist Phil Campbell’s All Star Band covered it they had to slow it right down as they obviously felt Ike and Tina had them outgunned on the rock side of things. 

So it is apparent the song clearly plays to one side of the crowd more than it does to certain others.

I’m sticking it here near the very end of SFTD because it’s a record I find unskippable. If the radio or the shuffle throws up Nutbush I’m in it from the ‘Church house, Gin house’ all the way to the City Limits.


10 thoughts on “Nutbush City Limits – Ike & Tina Turner

  1. It’s such a shame Ike beat her. Today’s political climate means that he will never be very acknowledged for his Rocket 88 masterpiece.

    I mean, but it’s also sad all that happened to her.

    I saw her in concert at Auburn University in the 80’s. Fabulous.

    But my favorite Tina thing is from Beyond Thunderdome.

    “Two men enter, one man leave…”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up with The Ike + Tina Turner Review all over TV of the late 60s/early 70s. This is a stone cold classic. My fave rave Ike + Tina moment out of many honorable ones! Though I loved that Heaven 17/B.E.F. re-introduced her as coolness for the new generation, I never bothered with anything she released in the 80s beyond her brilliant “Ball of Confusion” turn on the first B.E.F. album. In fact, I went to Tina Turner concerts – twice! – in the late80s/90. In Arenas! But only to see her opening acts: Level 42 and Chris Isaak. I had no problem blowing off Tina then in spite of the cost of the ticket. Better to hang out at the stage door with other fans eager to meet L42 [not my first time] or to skip off to a local pub after having Chris Isaak sign my t-shirt at the merch table to see my friend’s New Wave cover band, The Pragmatix play a set later that night!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah. I just gave you a quarter century of my Tina Turner history in a single paragraph. The Prags were fun, and I had more enjoyment with them in a pub than with Tina Turner in an arena. The Pragmatix [mk II!] are back in action following a 20 year layoff when Mr. Ware had children. They have grown up now and in fact, his son is his new drummer inThe Pragmatix! He just sent me a rehersal file of their take on “Mary’s Prayer.” They’ve moved past the early 80s. As have we all. [sort of]

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. Awfy fond of this tune, Steve. Awfy fond of a lot of what Ike and Tina put out actually (especially ‘Nuff Said).

    They had loads of incredible tunes and they weren’t just the singles.

    Liked by 1 person

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