Tina Turner’s attempt to recreate the excitement of five rock classics by the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin never really had a chance. She sings at least one of them, “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” as well as anyone this side of Aretha Franklin, even though she ruins a couple of the others (“Under My Thumb” and Pete Townshend’s title song) with the sheer shrieking bombast that has characterized too much of her recent work. But the primary flaw in the rock-classics side of Acid Queen rests not with the singer but with her producers, Denny Diante and Spencer Proffer. The arrangements here are the opposite of what seems sensible: cluttered with pointless string charts and synthesizer zips and zaps rather than reduced to their basics, which are much closer to Turner’s normal style.
Even when Turner begins a song credibly, as with “I Can See for Miles,” the production falls apart before the end; her voice struggles to compensate, and fails. No voice could succeed.
The material also seems ill-chosen, given the enormous body of work from which to choose. For instance: Why Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” the original of which relies almost entirely upon the dynamic interplay between guitar and voice to succeed, rather than Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love,” which, while expressing the same blatant sexuality, at least possesses a real melody? Why Townshend’s “I Can See for Miles,” which in the original again relies upon dynamic interplay, this time between the guitar and drums, rather than — well, rather than almost anything else?
The four Ike Turner originals on side two are at least written in an idiom that the singer comprehends. If the best of them, “Baby — Get It On,” relies upon vocal discourse between the duo reminiscent of nothing so much as Sonny & Cher in blackface, it’s still not nearly so pathetic as this once-great singer pushing herself through a series of songs without either desire or understanding.