Ikettes - Fine, Fine, Fine - Album

Fine, Fine, Fine is an UK compilation album from 1987, with selected tracks from previously released singles and albums. It put together all the sides issued as lkettes singles, with some left-over previously unheard gems. It was issued on CD in 1992, with the addition of a handful of extras, in particular some recordings that, although they featured the lkettes, were waxed under the solo name of Venetta Fields.

Ikettes - Fine, Fine, Fine - Album
Ikettes - Fine, Fine, Fine - Album
vinyl
A1. FINE, FINE, FINE 2:38
A2. CAN’T SIT DOWN 2:22
A3. DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR ME 2:45
A4. CAMEL WALK 2:43
A5. BLUE ON BLUE 2:44
A6. I’M SO THANKFUL 2:55
A7. YOU’RE TRYING TO MAKE ME LOSE MY MIND 2:13
A8. SALLY GO ROUND THE ROSES 2:28
B1. PEACHES 'N' CREAM 2:19
B2. NEVER MORE WILL I BE LONELY FOR YOU 2:02
B3. NOT THAT I RECALL 2:08
B4. YOUR LOVE IS MINE 2:22
B5. THE BIGGEST PLAYERS 1:42
B6. HOW COME 1:59
B7. NOBODY LOVES ME 2:43
B8. IT’S BEEN SO LONG 2:42

Compiled by Ted Carroll
Sleeve Design by Neil Watkinson

All tracks mono, except „Blue On Blue“ and „It’s Been So Long“

THE IKETTES: throw their name at your average pop fan and, chances are, the image conjured up will be of a flying mass of hair and legs, with the redoubtable Tina Turner at the helm; but as this album shows, The lkettes were considerably more than lke Turner’s dancing girls.

Originally known as the Artettes, backing vocalists for the St Louis-based singer Art Lassiter, the original line-up of the group was Robbie Montgomery, Frances Hodges and Sandra Harding. It was these three, who in 1960 provided the torrid chanting behind Tina Turner on her classic debut single "A Fool ln Love", written by Ike with Art Lassiter in mind. When Art failed to show at the studio for the session, Tina was thrust into the spotlight and a new sound was created. Infinitely blacker and more gospel-drenched than any previous hit (excepting Ray Charles ground breaking hit "What'd I Say", a year earlier), "A Fool ln Love" (Sue 730) had, by October 1960, peaked at No 27 on the Hot Hundred and No 2 on the R & B charts.

Quick to capitalise on a smash hit, Ike formed the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and hit the road minus the Artettes as Robbie Montgomery was heavily pregnant at this time. In what would become standard practice, Ike simply substituted three other girls for the duration. Within three months, her baby born, Robbie rejoined the revue together with Jessie Smith, also a native of St. Louis, and formerly with Vinny Sharp and the Zorros of Rhythm. The line-up was completed 12 months later by gospel singer Venetta Fields, who ran away from home to go on the road with the revue after Ike and Tina Turner played her home town of Buffalo, New York. Venetta’s only previous singing experience had been locally with the Corinthian Gospel singers.

ln the tradition of Ray Charles Raelettes, Ike Turner dubbed Robbie. Jessie and Venetta "The Ikettes". These three women, with periods in and out of the Revue, formed the backbone of the group for the next five years. Throughout the Ikettes existence, a bewildering number of women found their way into the line-up, many only performing live, others on record only. PP. Arnold, Joshie Armstead, Bonnie Bramlett, Claudia Lennear and ex-Reprise recording artist Pat Powdrill being some of the better known members.

As a recording group, the Ikettes hit first time out with the relentless, chugging "I’m Blue" (the gong gong song) on Atco 6212. This record featured lead vocals by Dolores Johnson (who at some point, recorded with Ike as Ike and Dee Dee Johnson), backed by Joshie Armstead, Eloise Hester and a prominent Tina Turner. "l’m Blue", with it’s hypnotic "shooby-dooby-dooby-do’s" and hysterical "gong-ga-ga-gong-gong yeah’s" was an immediate success, hitting No 3 on the R & B listings in January 1962 and No 19 on the pop charts the following month. Three more Atco releases followed, all in a similar throbbing vein, but while none of these set the charts afire, the Ikettes (in various configurations) were kept busy, criss-crossing the nation; an essential element of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

1963 brought a couple of singles on the Turners’ own Teena label - "Crazy ln Love" as Robbie Montgomery and the Ikettes (Teena 1701) followed by "No Bail In This Jail" (Teena 1702) - basically a re-run of "l‘m Blue", but replete with demented cackling, courtesy of Tina. By 1964 The Turners had re-located to Los Angeles and were signed, along with various acts from their Revue, by the Bihari brothers to the Modern label. The Ikettes debut "Camel Walk" (Modern 1003) - a fast moving dance craze, didn’t do much. However, their follow-up "Peaches 'n’ Cream" (Modern 1005) featuring a Jessie Smith lead, soared up the Hot 100, peaking at No 36 in April 1965.

Reminiscent of "Bread And Butter", the Newbeats smash of the previous year, "Peaches 'n’ Cream" was, uncharacteristically, not an Ike Turner composition, but was written by Tommy Boyce and Steve Venet, and produced by Steve, then hot with "Poor Man’s Son" by Detroit group The Reflections.

Modest hits followed with the stomping "Fine, Fine, Fine“ (Modern 1008) again from the pens of Boyce and Venet with help from Toni Wine, and the Motownesque "I'm So Thankful“ (Modern 1011) from the pens of Marc Gordon and Frank Wilson, staff writers for Berry Gordy’s embryonic West Coast operation. Interestingly enough "l’m So Thankful", while not a top 40 pop hit, reached No 12 on the R & B listing, enjoying a 3 month run on that chart. The pop hit "Peaches 'n’ Cream" had reached only No 28 in the rhythm and blues market. Pat (P.P.) Arnold is rumoured to be featured on "l’m So Thankful" and she is pictured with Robbie and Venetta on the cover of the Ikettes album of the time "Soul The Hits" (Modern 102).

The Ikettes were not to benefit from their chart renaissance, for while demand for tours and personal appearances was considerable, Ike Turner could not afford to have them out of the Revue. Instead he sent various trios of L.A session singers out on packages such as "The Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars"!

This was more than Robbie, Venetta and Jessie could bear: they saw no royalties from hits, being salaried members of the Revue, and now these doppelgangers were being paid more than the real thing! Enough was enough!

The Ikettes left the Revue to go it alone, hoping at last to cash in on their pop successes. They took with them as manager, Tina’s sister Alline Bullock, - but not their name, for in the heat of the moment, no-one had remembered that the name "The Ikettes" was owned by Ike Turner. Unfazed, Ike continued to record "The Ikettes" with a shifting personnel, releasing in 1966 "What'cha Gonna Do“ for Phil Spector’s Phi-Dan label with a rumoured line up of Pat Arnold and Brenda and Patrice Holloway. 1967, 1968 and 1969 brought two singles, one for lnnis and one for Pompeii, and 1974 brought a couple of singles and an album containing re-cuts of their hits, all on United Artists.

Meanwhile, our original heroines found a new home with Fred Smith, the man behind the Olympics, at the Los Angeles-based Mirwood set-up. With a new home came a new name - they became The Mirettes. Success didn’t come at Mirwood, despite excellent sides, such as the Sherlie Matthews penned and produced "Now That I Found You Baby“ and "He’s All Right With Me", written by Jimmy Thomas, himself an alumnus of the Ike and Tina Revue. Sides such as these would, in later years, set feet flying at Wigan and points beyond. The Mirettes/Ikettes next taste of success came in March 1968 with a change of labels and a churning gospelish revival of Wilson Pickett’s "In The Midnight Hour" (Revue 11004). This was a reasonable pop hit and made No 18 on the R & B chart. Several fine singles and two albums followed for Revue and Uni, both subsidiaries of MCA, but without creating too many ripples. The Mirettes then entered the lucrative field of session singing, where Venetta Fields is still very much in demand.

This album contains the ‘cream’ tracks by these three ‘peaches', from their most consistent and successful period, so give your speakers a treat and "shake a tail feather" with the fabulous Ikettes.

Liner Notes from Malcolm Baumgart 1986

Ikettes - Fine, Fine, Fine - Album
Ikettes - Fine, Fine, Fine - Album
cd
1. FINE, FINE, FINE 2:38

Written by Venet, Wine

2. CAN’T SIT DOWN 2:22

Written by F. Wilson

3. DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR ME 2:45

Written by Beasley, Josea, Davis

4. THROUGH WITH YOU 3:22

Copyright Control / CD bonus track

5. I’M SO THANKFUL 2:55

Written by Gordon, Wilson

6. CHEATER (feat. Venetta Fields) 2:13

Copyright Control / CD bonus track

7. CAMEL WALK 2:43

Written by Ike Turner

8. YOU’RE TRYING TO MAKE ME LOSE MY MIND 2:13

Copyright Control

9. SALLY GO ROUND THE ROSES 2:28

Written by Sanders, Stevens

10. BLUE ON BLUE 2:44

Written by Frank Wilson

11. PEACHES 'N' CREAM 2:19

Written by Venet, Boyce

12. I’M LEAVING YOU (feat. Venetta Fields) 3:01

Written by Ike Turner / CD bonus track

13. NEVER MORE WILL I BE LONELY FOR YOU 2:02

Written by Ike Turner

14. YOU’RE STILL MY BABY (feat. Venetta Fields) 2:50

Written by Chuck Willis / CD bonus track

15. GIVE ME A CHANCE (TRY ME) (feat. Venetta Fields) 2:29

Copyright Control / CD bonus track

16. THE BIGGEST PLAYERS 1:42

Written by Ike Turner

17. NOT THAT I RECALL 2:08

Written by Ike Turner

18. LIVING FOR YOU (feat. Dee Dee Johnson) 2:13

CD bonus track

19. HOW COME 1:59

Written by Ike Turner

20. YOUR LOVE IS MINE 2:22

Copyright Control

21. NOBODY LOVES ME 2:43

Written by Ike Turner

22. IT’S BEEN SO LONG 2:42

Written by Ike Turner

23. THE LOVE OF MY MAN (Live feat. Venetta Fields) 3:58

Written by Townsend / CD bonus track

24. I LOVE THE WAY YOU LOVE (Live feat. Robbie Montgomery) 3:09

Written by Gordy / CD bonus track

Compiled by Ted Carroll
Package designed by Chris Popham from an original album sleeve designed by Neil Watkinson
Post Production by Sound Mastering Ltd.

All tracks mono, except
„Blue On Blue,“ „It’s Been So Long,“ „The Love of My Man,“ „I Love The Way You Love"

ln the six years since I catalogued the career of these fabulous soul foxes a lot of water has flowed under the bridge and, from the murky depths, we at Ace have fished out a fistful of unissued masters which can only serve to widen our appreciation of just how ultra-talented the individual lkettes were.

Venetta Fields could have been a solo star of the first magnitude, given the sheer intensity ot her five previously unheard inclusions.

On "Give Me A Chance", a Garnet Mimms-styled pleader, there’s nothing she won’t do for that man, whereas the churchy "I'm Leaving You" finds a disenchanted Venetta heading for the door, urged along by some fine, doleful chanting from her sister lkettes who chip in again with snazzy doo wops on the quality slowie "You’re Still My Baby". The gal’s out for vengeance on the torrid blues "Through With You". Solid keyboard support takes this track all the way down to some smokey basement dive on the West Side at 3 am. The infectious „Cheater", with its sparse, loping arrangement, echoes the earlier style of the lkettes Atco sides.

Meanwhile, back in that smokey dive, Dee Dee Johnson, the original "l’m Blue" girl, wraps her silken tonsils around "Living For You", a sultry, jazz-drenched smoocher not far removed from the work of that long- neglected West Coast thrush, Jennell Hawkins. 

Check out the nifty, surprise doo wop ending to a cut that would have fitted snugly on a Dinah Washington album. Certainly the most left-field number in this collection, but one of the most enjoyable.

Rounding off our "lkettes Plus" compilation are two selections from a 1964 album cut live in St Louis. A rare showcase for the individual members of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, the original pressing sounded as if it had been recorded at the wrong end of a long tunnel. No more! Now you can take a ringside seat at the Club Imperial as Robbie Montgomery rocks the house with her powerhouse revival of Marv Johnson’s top ten smash of 1960, "I Love The Way You Love", and once more Venetta Fields melts the mike stand with a blistering assault on Theola Kilgore’s immortal "The Love Of My Man". Her climactic testifying will leave you begging for more.

So now you have it. A fuller portrait of the lkettes, in their hip-swinging hey-day, as the hardest working girls on the circuit. We at Ace have always believed in trying to make a good thing better. We hope you’ll agree that we have.

Postscript to the Ikettes Story 1992

Malcolm Baumgart 

Ikettes - Fine, Fine, Fine - Album

Ikettes album chronology