Tina Turner: Acid Queen - Album Of The Week Club review

One side of classic rock bangers, one of R&B originals: the two sides of Tina Turner fight it out on 1975 solo album The Acid Queen

Tinas Turner - Acid Queen cover art
(Image: © United Artists)

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Tinas Turner - Acid Queen

Tinas Turner - Acid Queen cover art

(Image credit: United Artists)

Under My Thumb
Let's Spend the Night Together
Acid Queen
I Can See for Miles
Whole Lotta Love
Baby, Get It On
Bootsey Whitelaw
Pick Me Tonight
Rockin' and Rollin

The follow-up to 1974's Tina Turns the Country On!, Tina Turner's second solo album The Acid Queen – released a year later – drew inspiration from her portrayal of the Acid Queen character in Ken Russell's film adaptation of The Who's iconic rock opera, Tommy

The first side of the album consists entirely of classic rock covers, including re-recorded versions of two songs from Tommy – The Acid Queen, and I Can See For Miles – plus renditions of the Rolling Stones' Under My Thumb and Let's Spend the Night Together, alongside Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love. The second side of the album was predominantly written and produced by Ike Turner, and includes their final single together, the disco-influenced Baby, Get It On. 

Whole Lotta Love was also released as a single. It was Turner's first single without Ike's name on the cover art.  

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Other albums released in August 1975

  • Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow - Rainbow
  • Atlantic Crossing - Rod Stewart
  • Nightingales & Bombers - Manfred Mann's Earth Band
  • Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
  • Caught in the Act - Grand Funk Railroad
  • Dreamboat Annie - Heart
  • E. C. Was Here - Eric Clapton
  • Searchin' for a Rainbow - The Marshall Tucker BandSo Fine - Loggins & Messina
  • Stamp Album - Climax Blues Band
  • Win, Lose or Draw - The Allman Brothers Band


What they said...

"With its title taken from Tina Turner's role in Ken Russell's film version of the Who's classic Tommy, the singer's second solo album is a fiery workout of hard-rocking covers that, given the songs' predictability, should have been a forgettable exercise. But, of course, Turner is anything but predictable, and Acid Queen is thus an immensely enjoyable affair from start to finish." (AllMusic)

"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 synthesiser zips and zaps rather than reduced to their basics, which are much closer to Turner’s normal style." (Rolling Stone)

"Her rock myth reconfirmed cinematically, Tina quickly turns out two from the Who (only fair), two from the Stones (who else?), and one from Led Zep (Whole Lotta Love, brilliant, I trust R. Plant has his big twelve-inch in a sling at this very moment). With bass lines lifted whole from the originals the singing almost doesn't matter. And what rocks most mythically? I. Turner's cleverly entitled Baby, Get It On." (Robert Christgau)


What you said...

John Davidson: A bit of a mixed bag of covers and original numbers, but it has more catches than fumbles.

Under My Thumb breathes fresh life and a bit of funk into the 1966 Stones number. Let's Spend the Night Together, on the other hand, loses some of its sleazy charm with Tina's more bright and up-tempo performance - its an odd choice of arrangement given she could do sultry so well (as on Steamy Windows and indeed on Whole Lotta Love).

Acid Queen was 'always' Tina's song and she delivers a strong version here. I Can See For Miles is transformed into a funky disco number replete with squelching keyboards and strings. It is almost unrecognisable but works pretty well. Whole Lotta Love finishes off the quintet of covers with a definitive, sultry delivery. It evokes silk sheets and hot nights . Again quite different from the original but that's what I like in a cover version.

Interestingly, the Ike originals are more rockin' then the funked-up covers. Baby, Get In On is an effective stomper. Bootsey Whitelaw has a riff that reminds me of Crazy Horses but develops into a solid groove of a song. Pick Me Tonight is one of the weaker songs and the lyrical theme of a groomed teenager declaring themselves ripe for picking is a bit distasteful. Rockin' and Rollin' finishes off the set in fine style with a song as simple and enjoyable as the title suggests.

Overall I'm not sure if any of Tina Turners albums count as 'classic rock', but she was a fantastic performer that brought energy and style to the stage. They don't make them like her anymore.

Greg Schwepe: Let’s face it, the world is a sadder place now without the sight of powerhouse Tina Turner strutting across the stage, belting out vocals like there’s no tomorrow. And she's kind of like Dolly Parton in that mentioning Tina I've never heard anyone go "Oh, I don't like her." You might not like country music, but everyone likes Dolly. Tina seemed to be the same way; knowing what she endured, you always pulled for her.

Here’s the good things about Acid Queen; you know most of the songs and we know Tina could sing the phonebook. And she totally does justice to all these songs. I especially liked the reworking of Whole Lotta Love.

The downside is that some of the instrumentation is not very “rock” to my tastes and some sounds kinda “lounge-y.” But again, her vocal style and delivery and the fact you know most of these songs by heart gets you past some of that.

So while this is kind of an average album at this point in her career; you're pulling for Tina on this release. And we know she finished out strong. As for the cover of The Who’s Acid Queen, I actually saw the 1975 Tommy movie in the theater when it came out. And if I wasn’t already disturbed by the Cousin Kevin and Uncle Ernie segments, Tina’s menacing portrayal of the Acid Queen made it a trifecta for slightly freaking out an 8th grader

Kingsley Jayasekera: Awesome cover of Whole Lotta Love.

Keith Jenkin: Good album but currently out of print and really hard to find copies at a sensible price.

Philip Qvist: I suppose you could divide Tina Turner's career into three phases; the Ike & Tina Turner era of the late 60s/early 70s, the so-called wilderness years of the mid-to-late 70s, and her triumphant Private Dancer and The Best comeback in the 80s and beyond.

If I had choose my favourite Tina era then it would be the first one with Ike; with great songs like Proud Mary and Nutbush City Limits (one of the very few songs that she penned herself). Acid Queen sits in that wilderness era, which is a pity as this is actually a very good album.

Ms Turner never pretended to be a songwriter, which is both a curse and a blessing - as it did allow her to become a versatile singer and is probably the reason why her career lasted as long as it did. It also allowed her to put her own slant on any song that she covered, which she did quite well over the years - as demonstrated on this record.

The covers of the two Stones and two Who songs are pretty good (even if Acid Queen here is different to the one she sang in Tommy), as are the four songs that were written by Ike Turner; especially Baby, Get It On (the last song she performed with Ike I believe) and Rockin' and Rollin'. But for me the highlight is her cover of Whole Lotta Love, with Tina and her production team putting a Shaft-like feel to the Led Zep classic.

It's not an album that will fit on my essential list, and it doesn't offer much new, but it is a very good album in its own right. Definitely a record that deserves a lot more airplay from people who may have forgotten about that mid 70s period of her career. A respectable 7/10 for the late, great Tina Turner; an amazing singer and performer (and did I mention those legs?).

Mike Canoe: Acid Queen is a fun album that allowed Tina Turner to goose some contemporary classics and strut her stuff on four Ike Turner originals, still her husband and musical partner at the time - with, one would guess, all the baggage and trauma that implies.

There are no deep cuts among the cover songs. Two incredibly popular songs by the Rolling Stones and one from the Who, plus a reworked version of her signature number from the Tommy soundtrack. The fifth track, Whole Lotta Love is easily the most revelatory. Turner turns the fantastic bombast of Led Zeppelin's version down to a slow-burning simmer that still generates plenty of heat. Great backing vocals too by Julia Tillman Waters, Kim Carnes, and Maxine Willard Waters.

The four songs written by Ike Turner are all good as well, even if the lyrics to Baby, Get It On and Pick Me Tonight don't sit well with what is now common knowledge about their relationship. But one doesn't necessarily have to be a good person to write great music. Of the originals, Rockin' And Rollin' is my favorite.

Based on the quality of the album, I'm not sure why it's not more readily available. I did some lacklustre Googling and didn't find anything. I could speculate but there's really no point. However you find it, Acid Queen is an album worth listening to.

Evan Sanders: As I listened to the Acid Queen I was filled with regret. Because I had never heard this album before? No, even worse. I remember having this one on cassette back in my college days, and my cassette collection ended up in a used music store when we moved a few years ago. Every song here is energetic, with Tina singing the Side 1 covers as if she owned those songs. The originals on Side 2 are a juxtaposition, and still work well. My only criticisms of Acid Queen are that a couple of the covers are weaker – Let's Spend The Night Together and I Can See For Miles – and the two differently-themed sides make it feel like two short records, not a coherent whole. I hope this one ends up back in circulation. 7/10 or 8/10


Steve Pereira: The Queen is dead – long live the Queen.

Developing on the popularity of the Acid Queen song, the Acid Queen album was put together and promoted as a Tina Turner album, though Ike was involved – writing and producing Side B, and singing on Baby, Get It On. Side A is covers of two Stones Songs, two Who songs, and a cover of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta “Love, the standout track on the first side. Side B is Ike's songs, including Baby, Get It On, a T. Rex style song, with Marc Bolan on guitar, and without a doubt the best track on the album. As with pretty much all of Ike & Tina's albums it is patchy with moments of, not so much brilliance, but sheer entertainment. And, as is also common with their albums it is out of print.

The opener Under My Thumb is workable, unremarkable, pleasant. Tina goes through the motions as she would do for the bulk of her solo career. She has a strong and attractive voice and knows how to use it. But this is not the soul stirring, life affirming, earth shattering voice that blasted out on Fool In Love. Let's Spend The Night Together is a well behaved (almost lifeless – for Tina) performance. Clean, softly produced, dull as fuck. This points toward her solo career aftter she leaves ike. 

The Acid Queen on this album is different to the Tommy version. Here she is more controlled, softer, less of an acid queen, more of a soda-pop queen. That's not to say she doesn't unleash and roar, but it is a professional performance rather than a primordial one. I Can See For Miles continues the string drenched over production, and though Tina's voice is awesome, she is clearly not giving her all. It's calm, professional, measured. The final track on Side 1, however, goes where no Tina has ever gone before. The cover of Whole Lotta Love is done in a Norman Whitfield psychedelic soul style, blending The Temptations with Sly Stone and Isaac Hayes. To be fair, it is the production that gains the attention here rather than Tina.

Flip over to Side 2, though, and things change. Ike is in the studio baby! And Tina gives it her all. The opener, Baby, Get It On, had Tina letting loose for the first time on the album. There is passion and grit here as the two legends of RnB dual vocally with each other, and the band – including Marc Bolan – groove behind them with some classic glam rock. This is breathless stuff, and approaches the best that Ike & Tina did together. Sad that for most of her career with Ike when she was prepared to let rip she didn't have great material to work with, and sad that when she got better material, she never pushed her voice as she does here. This is living excitement. 

Track 2, Bootsey Whitelaw is a moody piece of RnB, strong and driving but somewhat over produced in an early Seventies soul style, with hints of but not the depths of the psychedelic soul used for Whole Lotta Love. It's listenable and attractive, but not classic Tina. Pick Me Tonight is a professional piece of funk, with Tina doing her best to raise a somewhat ordinary song to something a little more entertaining. Again it's OK, but not essential. The final track Rockin' and Rollin' is a simpler song, a piece of early seventies rock and roll that emulates early 70s Stones, with a dash of John Lennon's Rock N Roll album thrown in. It works on a modest level.

Side A grabs the attention because it contains the covers of recognisable songs, especially Whole Lotta Love, but it's Side B when Tina works with Ike that she really shows what she's got. So Side A has the better songs, but Side B has the better performances. I prefer Side B. And I love Baby, Get It On. Criminal that this album is out of print. 7/10

Final score: 7.69 (68 votes cast, total score 523)

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