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Ike Turner & Family Vibes - Strange Fruit (1972)


The early-'70s found Ike Turner in a strange place.  Together with wife Tina, Ike and Tina Turner had finally broken through to rock audience and were beginning to sell massive quantities of vinyl for their record label.   That seemingly gave Ike the freedom to branch off into other areas, including a series of solo efforts and work with The family Vibes.   Previously known as The Kings of Rhythm, The Family Vibes were essentially Ike Turner's backing band, who'd been playing with the man since the 1940s (with an ever changing line-up).  Following 1972's "Strange Fruit",  "Confined To Soul" was the group's second studio set.

Co-produced by Turner and various band members, the album featured a largely original collection of band member-penned tunes.  While the liner notes didn't really spell out the band line-up, the cover art reflected a seven member line-up.  Based on the cover and writing credits, my guess is the core group consisted of guitarist Jackie Clark, bassist Warren Dawson, organ player Jimmy Foelber, trumpeter Mack Johnson, keyboardist Don Mancha, drummer Soko Richardson, and singer Claude Williams.  Anyhow, anyone working for Ike Turner had to have their act together and judging by these nine tracks, these guys were the consummate backing band.  I've seldom heard a group that sounded as tight.   Musically the album was fairly diverse, including stabs at Stax-styled soul ('Beauty Is In the Eye (of the Beholder)'), more contemporary funk ('Garbage Man'), and a wide array of instrumentals, including a nice cover of Oliver Sain's 'La Vamp''.   The one thing lacking was much in the way of originality, giving the album a spot-the-influences feel.(source)


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