Through her seismic anthems of Black liberation and her ability to conjure fire, fury and tenderness, Turner’s music evolved to soundtrack a changing world I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, with Ike TurnerFor just a minute, let’s hold at bay the boys’ club surrounding her: the Maysles brothers’ footage of the casually cavorting Rolling Stones man-children backstage, leering and watching the spectacle on a monitor; the menacing spectre of Ike in the shadows, making his presence felt with a quease-inducing call-and-response. Pay attention to that voice – floating out into the atmosphere and, though surely under duress, still a thing of astonishing, visceral gravity. This is a record of agony that deserves to be recognised as Tina Turner’s wrought testimonial to the world, her excruciating meditation on intimate subjugation and the will to be free. Whole Lotta LoveSo many of those early-career tracks – from her work with Ike to her emergence as the Who’s Acid Queen in Tommy, and beyond – were face-off extravaganzas, showdowns with patriarchy either in the home or in the rock’n’roll arena. Turner kicks down the door of Led Zeppelin’s anthemic ode to the phallus and rearranges the playing field, transforming Plant and Page’s masculinist romp into a slinky bedroom power dance. “I’m gonna send you, yeah, back for some schoolin‘ … ,” she sings. This is our woman’s terrain, an electrified, sexual tête-à-tête. Let’s Stay TogetherBut don’t box her in, please! Tina covers Al Green and pulls the 1970s into the next decade, dressing up the warm Memphis sounds of the reverend and showing off the complexity of her range – at once arching and gripping and yet also supple and aching. We move with her in the swirl of late-disco dancefloor bliss. It’s a left-field choice of a cover that reminds everyone of Turner’s multifaceted abilities as an entertainer capable of conjuring tenderness and fire all in one song. Private DancerThe title track from the album that yielded a trifecta of hits. Dark and pensive, a stunner of a concept track and the flipside to Donna Summer’s Bad Girls smash from the previous decade. Private Dancer is perhaps pop’s profoundest critique of sex work and gender exploitation; it’s late-capitalist cynicism from the perspective of a Black woman protagonist faced with a stark set of choices in a man’s world. Turner delivers some of her finest interpretative work here as an actor, first-person narrator and vocalist, oscillating between the emptiness of “dancing for money”, the slip of a confession that her protagonist longs for “a family”, and the turn back into shrewd “shimmying” for her johns. Melancholic, brooding, masterful. I Don’t Wanna FightThe exhale song that will bring tears to your eyes. If Angela Bassett’s legendary portrayal of Tina Turner gave the masses our first insight into the enormity of what and how she survived the domestic tyranny that nearly killed her, the What’s Love Got to Do With It biopic theme song is the gorgeous, gentle landing that Tina the heroine and Tina the pop star both deserve. An early 90s Black woman’s liberation anthem sung in the key of Terry McMillan novels, I Don’t Wanna Fight is the flipside to all of the breakup songs that came before and after it. Tina leans into the light and the “letting go” and brings you along with her. Nutbush City LimitsBehold the birth of the hard-rock memoir belted out by a sister with much to tell us about her hard-scrabble, Jim Crow Tennessee upbringing; the daughter of sharecroppers who picked cotton at an early age, sang in church and found domestic work in her teen years while holding it down on the cheerleading squad. A barn-burning vamp, City Limits is a textbook lesson on how the blues begat rock’n’roll, how Black southern sacred and profane communities sat in the crucible between “church house” and “gin house”. It’s a story of a “one-horse town”, a world of time in the “field” during the week and “picnic” holidays, “salt pork”, “molasses”, prohibition and bootleg whiskey – it all comes together in one volatile universe of lurching power chords and Turner’s forceful, gravel-road vocals. We’re on the edge of town with her. We Don’t Need Another HeroAll hail Aunty Entity (but keep in mind that “Aunty” is a title best bestowed on Black women by someone in their circle), the woman who goes toe-to-toe with Mel Gibson’s Mad Max in the dystopian Beyond Thunderdome action-pic. With a bit of What’s Love hangover production, Hero still soars, combining the sweep and force of her Ike and Tina singing days with a 1980s pulsating rock and pop radio hook – and hot sax! Landing smack dab in the middle of the Reagan-Thatcher era of austerity, it is arguably Tina Turner’s most poignant and timely social message arriving via the Trojan horse of a popcorn movie soundtrack sequel. “Out of the ruins /Out of the wreckage /Can’t make the same mistake this time /We are the last generation … We are the ones they left behind,” sings Turner as the 20th century began its slow wind down. Dressed in the garb of a superhero, Tina Turner called out to us to gather round and save ourselves. But we looked to her for ferocious inspiration. Proud MaryWatch her run with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s working man journey song, turning white southern vagabond country rock into an epic tale of Black migration. The genius of Tina Turner’s reinterpretation of Fogerty and company’s classic lies in its riveting shift in tempo and emotional tenor: from its trademark, slow-rolling opening, a gritty lament about labour and longing reinhabited here by a Black woman on the move to its upstart boogie-woogie rock’n’roll bounce. This is the music of Black movement, reinvention and unstoppable determination. And in spite of the obvious and impossibly fraught innuendoes that she and Ike trade here, Turner’s insistence on doing it “nice and rough” is also a daring declaration of a new woman’s voice in rock’n’roll, an assertion of the rough and tumble agency that would become her well-earned trademark. What’s Love Got To Do With ItYou could count on one hand the Black women on MTV when Tina Turner came strutting on to the scene, staring out at the New York City skyline with that mile-high hair in her first US single for her blockbuster Private Dancer album, the greatest comeback record in pop history. Sexy, moody, intimate, candid, What’s Love returned our Tina to the spotlight initially in a different register, with the amps turned down and the smouldering playfulness turned up high. If there’s wistful undercurrent here, it’s due to the fact that this iteration of Tina Turner is so entirely sceptical of true romance. But at least for now, we hear a bit of joy in pursuing the hookup rather than risking another broken heart. Poised and assured, she comes to us as a new pop diva, establishing a post-soul, rock-meets-pop crossover queen of the 80s. River Deep – Mountain HighWho else can stand up to Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound like Tina? Long before Miley set out on her Climb, Turner was taking us higher in a symphony of sonic majesty. Here she demonstrates how best to collaborate with Spector, a sociopathic Svengali, by embracing the histrionic drama of a song that suspensefully builds a trajectory of a woman’s desire. Don’t be fooled by the opening verse’s “rag doll” child’s play. Love here is a thing of mighty scale, its depth and magnitude likened to the run of the Earth itself. No wonder Spector tapped Turner, whose steely belting abilities were seismic enough to withstand the onslaught of orchestral arrangements he had in mind for this track. Welcome to the era of stadium-level rock – right where she belongs.