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RPM 362; AUGUST 1952



Well here’s one way to get around Ike Turner’s deficiencies as a songwriter… have him use somebody else’s song.

The choice though is rather interesting. It’s not an original submitted by a freelance writer, nor is it a cover of a current hit. It’s not a rock song, not a pop number, not even technically a blues, though that’s often what it’s called by those seeking a label for it.

In reality though it’s a song that almost seems to belong to no musical genre at all.


I Took Things Because I Loved You
In the Twenty-First Century the name Arbee Stidham almost seems made up… certainly not that of a fairly well respected singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose career was ideally suited for the late 1940’s when the mixing of musical styles was starting to take hold.

Stidham had started off playing clarinet before switching to saxophone along the way. He played for a time with Lucky Millinder – who didn’t? – and at his first session in 1947 cut My Heart Belongs To You which quickly topped the Race Charts.

The thing is, Stidham’s original isn’t quite worthy of that acclaim.

It’s definitely a good song as written but Stidham’s almost the wrong singer to deliver it. His vocal tone is harshly metallic in nature and a little strident and as such doesn’t accentuate the song’s best attributes which is the melodic flow, making it sounds needlessly choppy. You can see why they pegged him a bluesman simply for the way his vocals come across.

By comparison other versions try and bring out the qualities that lay mostly dormant in the original. Big Joe Turner’s 1948 release goes heavy on the horns but he’s almost too morose in his interpretation to give the melody the light effervescent feel it really needs.

Clyde Bernhardt that same year had the right idea, but his vocal isn’t commanding enough to take advantage of the better piano-based arrangement.

In the mid-50’s pop singer Gale Storm cut a version that tried to combine some light rock guitar with a blaring horn chart in the breaks that predictably clashes. Not until Chuck Berry took a crack at it in 1967 did we get something that does it justice, but by then he was no longer a commercial force and few heard it.

The same could be said, in a different way, for Bonnie & Ike Turner in 1952, as they were more or less unknown even if they were on the way up rather than the way down. Ironically though, they might have the best idea for how to present it, at least in the context of the times, but since they can’t carry the weight vocally it winds up being all for naught.


You Baited Me In
Let’s start with the positives in that the arrangement the Turners use here showcases the effortlessly lazy melody that sticks in your head, rising and falling as if blown by a gentle breeze.

Ironically, though there was no clarinet on it, the song seems ideally suited for that instrument which remains most associated with jazz and which of course was Stidham’s first instrument and may explain how he came up with it even though he wasn’t playing it by the time he wrote it.

Instead it’s the saxophone which handles the role in a rather discreet way, droning away as the walking bassline captures just as much of your attention.

Bonnie and Ike sing this mostly in unison, a good idea provided they were better singers. As stated with the flip, Bonnie doesn’t have a bad voice, but it’s a limited one and it doesn’t blend well with Ike’s more tentative efforts here. Usually duets in rock were not sung in tandem, but those who did so down the road, such as Gene & Eunice, certainly show how effective it could be with sloe-to-mid tempo songs like My Heart Belongs To You, letting that swaying melody work its way into your brain.

But you’ll notice the things we’ve singled out are not things that Ike Turner specialized in. Understated arrangements were not his forte, and singing was something he strenuously tried to avoid, so even though both of those things are more or less positives here in terms of their concept, they’re focusing more on his weaknesses than his strengths.

The song itself though does manage to get a good airing here, allowing the lyrics to be properly showcased as they recount the ups and downs of love in a personal realistic way. Despite its declaration of devotion in the title it’s not a happy optimistic song. They are on the outs, both of them hurt by the other even though they each seem to hold out hope this is all some sort of bad dream.

Whether or not the musical touches they’ve added which help to set this apart are closely aligned enough with the dominant rock mindset to pull in those listeners isn’t clear, but it’s definitely not skewing towards the blues at least. If anything this is almost a weird hybrid kind of record, a blues cut sung by a rock duo in an almost pop presentation.

If grading for the degree of difficulty in pulling THAT unlikely feat off, this may earn some praise, but when judging it strictly as a rock release in the context of 1952 this is merely a pleasant, but ultimately forgettable, diversion.


(Visit the Artist page of Ike Turner for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)