09.28.2015

HUB Reissue Review: Tina Turner’s Private Dancer (30th Anniversary Edition)

HUB Reissue Review:  Tina Turner’s Private Dancer (30th Anniversary Edition)

by Michael P Coleman

I’d forgotten just how good Tina’s 1983 “comeback”album, Private Dancer, is. 

Prior to the album’s original 1983 release, the former Anna Mae Bullock had been practically forgotten.  Her hit-making days with ex-husband Ike Turner had been a decade behind her, radio hadn’t played her music in years, and she was a few years away from publishing her best-selling autobiography I, Tina.  The album’s first single, a superb refashioning of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together”, put music fans on notice that Turner was up to something new. 

But no one was prepared for what followed:  the scorching “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, which introduced Tina to a whole new generation, placed her solidly on the burgeoning MTV (back when they actually played music videos!), and foretold the Private Dancer album that would be certified multi-platinum, yield several hit singles, and ultimately earn Turner four Grammys, including trophies for Record and Song of the Year. 

The album itself placed Turner’s gospel-inspired vocals atop the best pop/rock/R&B tracks of the day.  It was one of those post-Thriller albums that could be —and still CAN be —played from beginning to end, and repeated over and over.  And the marketing of the album, including Tina’s unforgettable, leather mini skirt and high heels-wearing stalk through her “What’s Love Got To Do With It”’s video, helped redefine femininity and sexuality for post-40-year-old women in the 1980s.

For the most part, this two-disc 30th anniversary edition doesn’t disappoint.  Disc one is a sharply remastered version of the original album.  If you’ve not listened to Private Dancer since you popped your cassette into your Walkman, this reissue is worth the price for the first disc alone.  But the second disc is a delight for fans, including previously-unreleased Turner covers of The Temptations’“Ball Of Confusion”, a live version of Prince’s “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”, 12-inch remixes of Private Dancer standouts, and the legend’s smash single from her “Mad Max”film, “We Don’t Need Another Hero”. 

The collection’s packaging is mostly impressive, including never-before-published photos from various Private Dancer-era photoshoots.  The accompanying essay by one of the album’s recording engineers is somewhat banal, but does include a few nuggets.  I never knew, for example, that Turner’s recording of the aforementioned “Let’s Stay Together”was captured in a single, glorious take. 

The reissues only real disappointment is its final track, the studio version of Turner’s incendiary duet with rocker Brian Adams, “It’s Only Love”  While the studio version smokes, the live version released in 1988 showcased Tina at her thrilling best, and would have been an excellent way to cap a stellar collection. 

That said, this reissue is a reminder, again, of just how exceptional the Private Dancer album is.  It served as a blueprint for Aretha Franklin’s smash Who’s ZoominWho? album from the next year and, in many ways, for many albums released by Tina’s other contemporaries for the next decade.  I hear Turner’s happily ensconced overseas somewhere, enjoying her well-deserved retirement.  Just one listen to this Private Dancer reissue and you’ll join me in wishing she’d give it a go just one more time, for old times’sake. 

Tina Turner’s Private Dancer - 30th Anniversary Collection is available at retail, amazon.com and iTunes.

 

Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP