REVIEW BY: Mark Millan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/16/2009
After a nearly two-year break, Tina Turner was approached to record a Bono/The Edge composition for the theme song of the new James Bond movie Goldeneye. Being unable to resist, it set the wheels in motion for Turner to begin recording her ninth studio album, Wildest Dreams. By the time recording finished, the aforementioned song would be a part of a nearly hour-long, twelve track album of new material, her first since ‘89’s Foreign Affair.
The album starts off well enough with a seriously groovy rocker “Do What You Do,” which proves two things right off the bat: one, Tina’s pipes are still in fine form and two, Tina is a rocker through and through. Her vocal delivery here is slightly understated and there’s no shrieking to be heard, which complements the funk inspired arrangement perfectly. Next up is one of Turner’s best vocal performances ever – too bad it’s a dreadful song. “Whatever You Want” is a car crash of styles due to producer Trevor Horn throwing everything he possibly could into the mix.
“Missing You” (the John Waite power ballad) is covered here (rather pointlessly, if you ask me). I understand that Tina loved the song and was eager to perform it on the inevitable tour, but why she had to include it here, I’ll never know. The video, however, served as the soundtrack for the Hanes ads that Turner appeared in (flashing her famous pins, flogging pantyhose) and was paid handsomely for.
“On Silent Wings” is a welcome relief. Co-written by Tony Joe White and Turner’s longtime guitarist James Ralston, it’s a beautiful ballad that gives Tina another chance to show off her stunning soulful voice. Seriously, if any of you doubt her vocal ability, then search this one out and forever hold your peace. It’s simply a beautiful song, and for once, Mr. Horn left well enough alone, giving the song a simple but uplifting arrangement. Sting graces the song with his distinctive voice in the final choruses.
“Thief Of Hearts” is a curious number that just doesn’t hit the spot. Europop arrangement and daft lyrics aside, it’s always fun to listen to, but you’ll soon forget it. “In Your Wildest Dreams” is one of Turner’s sexiest recording to date. A sly R&B groove is given life by Turner purring “Oh baby” twice for maximum effect. The US version of this album featured the track as a duet with love god Barry White (the animated video is a hoot); however, I prefer the solo version released on the European and Australian album. It’s catchy and sexy and builds beautifully into a soulful climax before Antonio Banderas raps a little Spanish.
“Goldeneye” provided one of the highlights of the live show, featuring Turner emerging from a massive golden eye above the stage. It’s not as much of a standout here, but as a Bond song it’s pretty good – not exactly in the Shirley Bassey stakes but nowhere near as vile as Madonna’s effort or the jumpy a-ha song.
“Confidential” was given to Turner years earlier by Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. It finally was given life here with the boys graciously providing backing vocals. This is followed by the album’s highlight, “Something Beautiful Remains.” The groove is again R&B and Tina’s singing has never been more soulfully graceful.
Penned by “What’s Love Got To Do With It” authors Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, the prolific lyrics seem to give Tina great delight, being that the sentiments are so close to her own beliefs: “We are living in world of stars and dust / Between heaven and all that surrounds us / We are travellers here, spirits passing through / And the love we give, is all that will endure.”
“All Kinds Of People” is the most poppy song here, and although it’s not great, it does get the job done nicely. Again, though, it’s utterly forgettable. The album closes with “Dancing In My Dreams,” which sounds like the perfect Olympic Games anthem. Another Trevor Horn special, he even brought in The Durham Choir for this one.
So, in closing, I’ll say this: it’s not her best, but it’s far from her worst. It’s a little too slick and cluttered for my taste and there’s not enough rock either. It hasn’t aged all that well due to the production values of the mid-‘90s. Tina handled the vocally demanding arrangements with ease and once and for all proved herself as a tremendous singe, making even horrible songs bearable to hear more than once. When it’s good, though, it’s very good; the problem is, there’s not enough good stuff here to get that excited about. But If you love R&B, you’ll probably enjoy this one more than I do.