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Review / Tina Turner: Private Dancer / anniversary deluxe edition

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Private Dancer was massive. As Heaven 17‘s Martyn Ware, who co-produced two tracks, correctly pointed out when he talked to SDE about the album last year “at that point in recording history there were three or four albums that everybody had – I call them coffee table albums. And that was one of those.”

As is often the way with these iconic albums, the singles just kept coming, with seven in total pulled from the record across all territories. It almost became academic whether they were big hits (many weren’t), they simply kept the promotional merry-go-round turning. The three 45s everyone remembers are UK top ten hit Let’s Stay Together, US chart topper What’s Love Got To Do With It and the Mark Knopfler-penned Private Dancer. But lest we forget, I Can’t Stand The Rain was big in Germany, and even fifth-single-in-the-USA Show Some Respect snuck into the top 40.

If we’re honest, Private Dancer isn’t a Rumours, a Dark Side of the Moon or an Automatic For The People, inasmuch as there are some rather middling tracks that bask in the light generated by the really great songs. J’accuse Show Some Respect, Better Be Good To Me and especially Steel Claw. Also, unlike those other albums mentioned, Private Dancer isn’t really a work of art forged from the mind, body and soul of one person or group, it’s a manufactured product made by committee. No less than 20 writers and eight producers contribute to the 10 tracks. Even the front cover wasn’t sacrosanct. Different images were chosen to optimise appeal in the US and the UK.

angle

Private Dancer had enough diversity to appeal to the trucker making his way up the Alaska Highway and the housewife in the UK suburb doing the school run. It was designed that way.  The success of the singles does a great job of illustrating the difference in pop/rock sensibilities on either side of the Atlantic from both public and record companies alike. For example, the American label liked Help so much they left it off their version of Private Dancer altogetherwhereas in the UK not only was it on the album (track 9 of a 10 track album) it was the second single  – which then proceeded to flop, peaking at number 40.

The US record buying public loved the chugging AOR of Better Be Good To Me, sending it high up the Billboard Hot 100 (it peaked at number 5). In Britain, there was a collective shoulder shrug and stalled at number 45. I’m not claiming UK superiority here because the excellent Private Dancer was a top ten hit in America but didn’t even penetrate the UK top 20.

One of the highlights, the Martyn Ware and Greg Walsh produced Let’s Stay Together, failed to reach the top 20 in the US but we loved it in the UK and it kickstarted the Private Dancer campaign. The only thing everyone agreed on was that What’s Love Got To Do With It was a great pop song and it was a massive hit all over the world, including America where it was Tina Turner’s only number one single.

This new anniversary edition uses the UK ten-song track listing. In terms of bonus material it is solid enough, although irritatingly incomplete. Yes, the seven-inch mix of the title track is available elsewhere, but this is a 30th anniversary edition and it surely the version-everyone-heard-on-the-radio should be here – but it isn’t. None of the other radio versions are included either. Also, the twelve-inch mix of Better Be Good To Me isn’t the 7.40 version as originally released on vinyl, it’s the same 7.04 edit that appeared on the last reissue of Private Dancer (groan)And there were three mixes of We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) issued originally, so why in this collector’s set just include the bog standard version and deny fans the rarer Extended Version or instrumental?

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The packaging is six-panel digipack with decent photo reproduction and this deluxe settles on the UK cover art, albeit with the updated typography (first used on the 1997 reissue). The 2015 vinyl maintains the old typography.

The glossy 16-page booklet does offer the US cover on the back, but of course because it’s a digipack and not in a jewel case you can’t flip the booklet over and slot it in and ‘pretend’ you have the US version.

It’s great to hear from someone who was actually involved, and to that end Martyn Ware’s notes in the booklet are welcome, although he really just ‘talks’ you through the album in a very PR-friendly way. You don’t really learn much. For example: “Better Be Good To Me is a lovely example of the purest of storytelling-style, all  mixed up with chants, drama and pathos – you just know it will bring the house down live/ Steel Claw is an out-and-out Springsteen-esque rocker in the grand tradition…”.

Ultimately the booklet and the content itself of this deluxe edition lack any historical narrative or insight. What was Turner up to before this ‘comeback’ album? What battles did Capitol Records A&R man and producer John Carter (now sadly deceased) have to endure when pulling this together with Tina’s manager Roger Davies and the many writers and producers that contribute to the album. And why no word from Tina Turner herself, for the album that relaunched her career so spectacularly?

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In an era where a Deacon Blue album gets a 3CD+DVD deluxe treatment and Universal Music explore Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair over six-discs (including the 5.1 mix) the ante has been upped and the game has changed.

This deluxe edition contains no demos (Mark Knopfler’s demo for Private Dancer would have been really interesting) or alternate versions, or anything unreleased for that matter. No one has commissioned a documentary (like the one on the DVD that formed part of the excellent Roy Orbison Mystery Girl deluxe). Arguably, with just eight tracks more then the 1997 expanded set, it doesn’t offer enough to justify another deluxe edition. This new two-CD set feels a little bit half-hearted – safe and unambitious. It is a deluxe edition for the mid-noughties, released in 2015.

The Private Dancer 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is out now. If you haven’t read it before check out the SDE interview with Martyn Ware discussing Private Dancer.

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2CD Deluxe Edition [2015 remaster]

Vinyl LP reissue [2015 remaster]


Track listing

CD1. PRIVATE DANCER

  1. I Might Have Been Queen
  2. What’s Love Got To Do With It
  3. Show Some Respect
  4. I Can’t Stand The Rain
  5. Private Dancer
  6. Let’s Stay Together
  7. Better Be Good To Me
  8. Steel Claw
  9. Help!
  10. 1984

CD2. BONUS DISC

  1. Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today) (with B.E.F.)
  2. I Wrote A Letter
  3. Rock ‘n Roll Widow
  4. Don’t Rush The Good Things
  5. When I Was Young
  6. Keep Your Hands Off My Baby
  7. Tonight (with David Bowie) [Live At The Nec, Birmingham]
  8. Let’s Pretend We’re Married (Live)
  9. What’s Love Got To Do With It (Extended 12” Remix)
  10. Better Be Good To Me (Extended 12” Remix)
  11. I Can’t Stand The Rain (Extended 12” Remix)
  12. Show Some Respect (Extended Mix)
  13. We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)
  14. One Of The Living
  15. It’s Only Love (with Bryan Adams)

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48 responses to Review / Tina Turner: Private Dancer / anniversary deluxe edition

  1. Philip says:

    Great read. Must point out that (old rocker that I am) STEEL CLAW is my favourite track on the album…….

  2. Alone With Strangers says:

    In my opinion, one of the worst things Mr Ware ever did, possibly only topped by the Terence Trent D’Arby album.

    Just a personal opinion….

  3. Francis says:

    It always amuses me how so many Deluxe Editions end up in cheaper card packaging rather than the old style tougher plastic cases.

    • John says:

      Exactly. So your ‘deluxe’ music ends up looking tatty on the shelf because it either arrives damaged or gets damaged over time.

      Much prefer plastic storage, which is also replaceable, unlike the cardboard packaging.

      • george says:

        totally agree. re: the suede cds, all *arrived* with creased/buckled spines. now the erasure re-isssues … in plastic cases

  4. Gazelle says:

    If we’re honest, ‘Private Dancer’ isn’t even a ‘Time’, an ‘Ummagumma’ or an ‘Around The Sun’.

  5. gary C says:

    “Coffee table album” is not a compliment. Three hit singles put this album everywhere, the rest of it is filler. The cover versions of Help and 1984 are appalling. Steel Claw I like tho, its one of Paul Brady’s best songs too and i think, like Let’s Stay Together, Tina nailed it.

  6. Lee says:

    Needless to say I purchased the CD and then hunted around for various mixes/versions to complete it (record companies are so lazy)!! Albums likes this should be given to fans while compiling for their input and opinions before the finished product is manufactured/agreed.

    I think it’s a defining album for Tina (her career) and sold bucket loads but for me, it certainly didn’t change the landscape of music at the time – a re-introduction of an incredible artist who has since be credited for the existence of some of todays r&b divas with ballsy attitudes and flare

  7. Fady says:

    I actually think Better Be Good To Me is a cracking song and one of the highlights on the album. I’ve always been a fan of the Private Dance Mix album that was released (obviously to cash in on the success of the album proper) as well. Each to their own I suppose.

  8. Darren says:

    I also love “Better Be Good To Me”. For me it is one of the best tracks. It is unforgivable that they have included an edit of the 12″ mix again on what is supposed to be a deluxe edition.

    I’ve also seen the waveforms compared to the old CDs and this is another victim of the loudness wars with everything compressed to the same level throughout crushing the original dynamic range.

    As others have also said, Digipaks are nasty. The standard jewel cases are still the best design for a CD for protection and durability.

    I’ve got the 1997 edition and there is nothing here that would entice me to purchase.

  9. Fredpostman says:

    Ummmm ‘Better Be Good To Me’ is my fave on the album.
    The whole album is consistantly good,BUT i hate digipaks as well,and as Darren has said i also have the 1997 edition so i will pass on this.

    • ChrisGa says:

      Yeah, Better Be Good To Me is not only my fave track on the album(Let’s Stay Together is probably a close second) but it’s easily in my Top 3 favorite Tina tracks of all time.

  10. ChrisGa says:

    And also, HATE digipaks or any other mode of CD storage that isn’t a jewel case.

  11. Straker says:

    Marketing types like digipacks because they have “shelf-appeal” over the ubiquitous plastic jewel-case. They could not give a tuppeny feck that 6 months down the road and out of the shrinkwrap they look like crap and are dinged to hell.

    Not Martyn Ware’s finest hour by a long chalk, they won’t be seeing my money for this although I will admit to an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia every time I hear We Don’t Need Another Hero. That record is more effective time-travel than the Tardis.

  12. Tom says:

    The digipak IS gorgeous BUT I wish they continued with the slipcase they had done previously for ABBA, Diana Ross, Bob Marley and previous reissues like they did in the ’00s. It’s just a recipe for scratching and decay without it.

  13. Rodolfo Martin says:

    Paul, nothing is being said about sound quality improvements, if there is one, compared with previous releases. Thank you.

  14. Galley says:

    One Of The Living is difficult to find on CD. The Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack has been out-of-print for a long time. I see that iTunes has the album for only $5.99, and it has the album versions, not the single versions like this reissue does.

  15. claudio says:

    …as I said before: this release is not enough for a QUEEN!!! Sadly for all of us…

  16. Sal says:

    The album certainly put Tina back on the map again. Didn’t she perform to one of the largest crowds for a solo artist in Brazil?

    Talking of packaging, the worst packing in my collection is the Simple Minds themes fold-out digipaks. Even after storing them safely on a shelf for all these years, it’s looks scuffed and scratched as if it hasn’t been taken care of.

  17. Jon H says:

    Don’t get the hate for this critically acclaimed album. Tina reignited a long dead career with this brilliant collection of songs. Sorry but i love every single song here and all of the b-sides (Rock ‘N Roll Widow especially). Tina is an ICON and deserves respect. It’s ridiculous to compare this album with those you feel are better. There’s a lot left off here especially the mixes of One Of The Living (one of her best tracks and one she clearly loves). There was plenty of room plus Carter had mentioned he recorded 19 track with her and stated he has hoped some of them would be on her next album but he was shut out of the production. I’ll buy it just for Keep Your Hands Off My Baby. I respect everyone’s opinions but don’t short side this LP. It sold over 12 million copies. I love her version of 1984, brilliant! My only complaint is I wish they had removed Steel Claw (which I do like) and replaced it with When I Was Young, Rock ‘N Roll Widow or Total Control (recorded during the Carter sessions for this album). I hope Break Every Rule gets a deluxe treatment, it’s just as good as Private Dancer and like the former has a lot of unreleased songs. I know fans are a little disappointed that the “movie” version of OOTL isn’t included but that was just an early demo of the song. Chapman hadn’t finalized the track in time so they submitted the demo in hopes that the final mix would be done and could be replace the demo (which is never did).

  18. Better Be Good to Me and Steel Claw are two of the best on it, you cloth-eared buffoon (he said, affectionately)

    And of the coffee-table albums of that era, it had a better-than-average balance of classics and idiosyncrasies such as “1984”

    If anyone’s interested in having the original Capitol pic disc version, I’ve one that needs a good home… (he adds, shamelessly)

  19. Jyo says:

    Add me to the list of folks who like Steel Claw. I imagine lines like “Sometimes I contemplated suicide. Meanwhile Eddie’s on the West Coast…” had some meaning for her at the time. It was, to me, a bolder choice for a cover tune than the other covers on the album.

  20. DLG says:

    Not including the 7″ version of the title cut is a bit of a head-scratcher.

    Better Be Good To Me – not a bad song, my wife loves that one. Primarily written by Holly Knight for her own band Spider in the early 80s. Knight wrote / co-wrote so many propulsive 80s anthems – The Warrior by Scandal, Love Is A Battlefield and Invincible by Pat Benatar, Obsession by Animotion, Pleasure And Pain by the Divinyls, etc. Turner’s cover of Better Be Good To Me is the better version for my money, though.

  21. Gordon says:

    I love this album – even the tracks that everyone else seems to hate apparently, but I bought the 1997 edition so I can’t see myself buying this one anytime soon. Apart from “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby” and “One Of The Living”, there’s nothing here that I don’t already have. And – as others have discussed in previous SDE posts – ‘remastered’ doesn’t always equal ‘improved’. So, I love you Tina, but it’s a pass from me.

    I agree with the sentiments about the tracklisting – at only 45 minutes, there’s plenty of room on disc 1 for adding b-sides, extras and single edits. And even “Johnny And Mary” and “Crazy In The Night” from the ‘Summer Lovers’ film/soundtrack. (Not technically from the PD period in Tina’s career, but only 2-3 years earlier, closer to the PD album than any other and not available on (official) CD or download anywhere else…..to my knowledge – and anyway, “Ball Of Confusion” is from the same time as SL, so why not?) That leaves more space on disc two for more mixes and remixes. Now THAT would change my ‘no’ to a ‘yes’. Oh well, here’s hoping for a ’40th Anniversary’ edition in 2024!

    And 100% agree with the anti-digipak comments – I’ll use Grace Jones’ “Nightclubbing” as my most recent example: dodgy design meant the inside flaps/panels were almost as long as the outer flaps/panels, so when the sealing pushed them in (I’m not explaining this very well, lol), the edges put a big dent/crease in the main spine…..GRRR! And because it was mail-ordered, there was also some minor in-transit-squashing. *sigh* Even the hard-cover book-style ones irritate me because the disc-sleeves are so damn flimsy that the disc nearly ends up sliding right through the bottom! (once again, poorly explained, lol)

    I’ll admit that digipaks look nice and fancy, but they just ain’t long-term practical! Jewel-cases are more hard-wearing and MUCH easier to store. And when it comes to deluxe packaging, I reckon a fatbox can be just as fancy and attractive as a digipak. And tactile too – I love holding a fatbox! (keep it clean, people :))

    /rant

    • Francis says:

      Mmmm, a fatbox.

    • ChrisGa says:

      Great point Gordon about the casebound book-styles; Edsel’s been doing a lot of them lately. I have all the Belinda Carlisle deluxes and, you’re absolutely right, the discs almost slide right through the bottom. But then, I’ve never been of fan of the slipcase/pocket style of holding CDs. Again, jewel case all the way for me.

    • Darren says:

      The mention of a fatbox deserves a thumbs up! Much better than the slim double.

      Adding to the Tina discussion: When this deluxe edition was first announced, I was alerted to the fact that none of the 7″ mixes were included. So I bought “Simply The Best” which includes all those 7″ versions (Private Dancer/Better Be Good To Me/Let’s Stay Together) and is a very satisfying addition to the 1997 “Private Dancer” CD. That’ll do me.

    • george says:

      totally agree Gordon, re: fatbox
      was listening to DM’s 101 last week,
      so simple to get the cds in and out
      – I just prefer a jewel case, period

    • Carlton Fisher says:

      Not that it helps for this release, but you can get an official release on disc of “Johnny and Mary” on the second disc of 60s-90s, the Tina box set that came out around 1995 or so. It doesn’t have “Crazy in the Night” though. which I had never even heard of until it was mentioned here. Oddly, despite mentioning it in the notes that come with the set, “One of the Living” is not included either, but there is a remastered version of it on the three-disc version of The platinum Collection.

  22. Peter says:

    I think Steel Claw is the best song on the album.

  23. Shane says:

    I’d really like to know why this is the only place where you call a digipak with three folds a SIX-panel digipak. Do you call the normal one a 4-panel digipak?

  24. JuzzyB says:

    I don’t understand the anti-digipakers. I’ve got loads and they look like lovely little books. They are also in good nick – try looking after them and they’ll be OK. You can keep your crappy old jewel cases.
    I won’t be buying Tina Turnip’s one though.

    • Michael says:

      I am with you JuzzyB. I love them. More often than not, it sells the CD to me because it “feels” like a deluxe edition. Case in point are the recent Tori Amos and Lisa Stansfield reissues and the Super Deluxe Edition of Madonna’s Rebel Heart. They’re just beautiful. Its why I didn’t buy the Diana Ross reissues last year. The jewel case appearance, for special/deluxe editions, is very unappealing.

      I don’t know how everyone else here treats their digipaks but I treat mine like I do my books and they look as beautiful as ever.

  25. Soren says:

    I vote for jewel case / super jewel case. No digipak (:

  26. noel says:

    The album went out originally to Capitol, why it emerges at Warner while Capitol belongs to Universal!

  27. Michael Khalsa says:

    Hi,

    If anyone from EMI is reading for ‘Break Every Rule’ on the 1st disc please include the 7″ versions & the B sides as well as ‘Tearing Us Apart’.

    On the 2nd disc the 12″ should be room enough for 12.

    Cheers

  28. Glenn says:

    Many of the reissues come in digipaks and aren’t stocked in my local record stores so I have to order them through the mail. It is very common for them to get smashed and for them to arrive with a creased spine. Very frustrating. Also, they don’t hold up well over time.

  29. Todd says:

    I bought this assuming that Warners would do the right thing and include the full length 12″ mix of Better Be Good To Me… How wrong was I… I’m going to find a copy of that rare ‘Private Dance Mixes’ EP that was released in Japan and Australia/NZ.

    And as far as that packaging goes – I’d be ok with the digipack if they didn’t chop off the top of Tina’s head…

    And last comment – when are we gonna see the Private Dancer Tour on DVD?

  30. Michael L says:

    I prefer digipaks. I bought this as a Heaven 17/B.E.F. fan and for me, Let’s Stay Together is the highlight of the album.

  31. Eric says:

    Meh. What a lazy and half arsed re-issue.

    These projects are only as good as the project manager. Clearly the one working on this was a) an idiot and b) completely missing any Tina knowledge or interest.

  32. David C says:

    This is certainly, for the most part, a pretty comprehensive track list. I currently have the reissue with 17 tracks. I may consider this new reissue and trade in my current one at the local record store. Then again, maybe I’ll wait for the 50th anniversary edition.

    I’m not sure what everyone’s expectations for this reissue. While I grew up in the 80s, there are probably some things I am unaware about as it relates to Tina’s career and things that are missing that should be included. I guess no release is perfect and you can’t have everything. I’d much rather have a separate DVD not part of a CD reissue.

    Regarding packaging, while I’m not a huge fan of digipaks, I am even less of a fan of the clunky and often damaged jewel cases. Over the past several months, I’ve ordered various CDs, some of which in jewel cases and half of them looked like they were ran over by a truck. Call my “vinyl nostalgic” but I prefer the Japanese mini-LP sleeves, which also include inner sleeve protection.

  33. Mark Franklin says:

    I just want to add my love for this album too. As a 10 year old kid at the time, I probably shouldn’t have been into TT but the haunting riffs of Private Dancer on the radio made have to have the whole record. Also, big love for I Might Have Been Queen, strong album opener that I still love today.

  34. Julian H says:

    Given that Mark decided against putting “Private Dancer” on Love over Gold and to let a woman sing it instead because the lyrics made more sense that way, I’d doubt that he’d like to release the demo now. I’ve heard Tina imitate the way Mark originally sang it and it was hilarious! Of course she exaggerated his singing style but yeah, you can imagine how it must have sounded when he sang it to her… :)

  35. mino says:

    What an horrible reissue: in the 2nd cd the remixes jam with the next track so that you do not have an entire track but one continuing in the next one. AWFUL!!!! Do noT buy it!

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