Always read the writing on the label

I was waiting for my computer to reboot after installing an iTunes update and since it’s not like me to be without music playing, I started up the record player and put on one of my old favorites – Tina Turner’s 1986 album Break Every Rule.  I always feel like that album and its singles are completely forgotten, with really the most enduring of Tina’s music being from the Private Dancer era.  That isn’t to diminish the greatness that is Private Dancer – like so many things, it was a lightning in a bottle experience that really couldn’t be duplicated.  It was a hell of a record to have to follow up.

Still, Break Every Rule contains what is probably my favorite Tina track.  “What You Get Is What You See” is quintessential Tina.  As one of the reviewers of the album said at the time, this song was made to become a music video.  So it wasn’t surprising when it became the third single off of the album.  I remember rushing home from piano lessons or some such thing to catch the World Premiere Video.  Man, I was a nerd, even then! (as if that was in doubt at all)

I remember thinking even then that the video looked kind of cheap.  Clearly, Tina is green-screened into a lot of those shots.  I think that probably only the footage of her performing was shot on location.  Despite the fact that the song was a fun, country rock song that was right up Tina’s alley, the song didn’t make Top 10 and was the last top 40 song from the album.

Even though I owned the album, I still bought the 45.  Tina had some great B-sides from this era.  The B-side to kick-off single “Typical Male” was “Don’t Turn Around” which was later recorded by Ace of Base and the B-side to the next single, “Two People”, was “Havin’ A Party” which was excruciatingly recorded by Rod Stewart for his inescapable Unplugged CD.  This brings up a good question in my mind – have ANY of the Unplugged CDs aged well – looking back they seem very gimmicky.  Even though “What You Get Is What You See”‘s B-side was a lowly live version, I still had to have it.

I haven’t really liked a Tina Turner album since the soundtrack to What’s Love Got To Do With It and the last single of hers that really turned me on was “When The Heartache Is Over” which found Tina attempting to “Believe” her sound up a bit.  My heart will always belong to Break Every Rule.

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2 Responses to Always read the writing on the label

  1. You’re right about ‘Private Dancer’ being a tough act to follow. While I liked “Typical Male,” I didn’t care much for “What You Get Is What You See” at the time (the country-rock sound you pointed out), though I have a better appreciation for it now.

    And thanks for the reminder about “Don’t Turn Around.” Always seem to forget that I’ve got it on 45.

    As for the ‘Unplugged’ CDs, I can’t remember the last time I listened to any of them, but I’d expect the 10K Maniacs one to have held up well. Wasn’t a huge stretch for them to unplug. I also have a bootleg of The Cure’s performance that I recall very much enjoying, particularly because of the band’s use of kazoos and toy pianos to fill in for electric instruments.

  2. John Hill says:

    My favorite Tina Turner album by a mile, although I love the slower-tempo tracks. Afterglow, Two People and the amazing Paradise Is Here all make me very happy.

    Popservations beat me to 10,000 Maniacs Unplugged. I also LOVE the George Michael Unplugged…I go back to that one every so often.

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