ON THIS DATE (28 YEARS AGO)
May 29, 1984 – Tina Turner: Private Dancer is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# Allmusic 4.5/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Private Dancer is the fifth solo album by Tina Turner, released on this date in May 1984 on Capitol Records. The critical reviews of the album were ecstatic. The New York Times declared that the album was a “landmark” in the “evolution of pop-soul music.” The Los Angeles Times claimed her voice was so hot it “melts vinyl.”
In 1989, the album was ranked #46 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the ’80s. In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Private Dancer the 95th greatest album of all time. Slant Magazine listed the album at #63 on its list of “Best Albums of the 1980’s” saying “Both a personal liberation and sonic redemption, Private Dancer established Turner not only as a genuine diva, but a bona fide force of nature”.
The album was an outstanding success. Private Dancer has been certified 5 × Platinum (5 million) in the United States and sold around 250,000 each week for 2 months. Worldwide the album has been estimated to have sold over 20 million copies.
Private Dancer is the strongest album of Turner’s career. The infectious “What’s Love Got to Do With it” became an MTV staple. The title track, written by Mark Knopfler, features Jeff Beck on guitar. Beck truly shines on the rockin’ “Steel Claw,” where he delivers a blistering solo. Turner lends her distinctive, throaty vocals to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and David Bowie’s “1984.” Bonus tracks abound on this deluxe reissue. The rocker “I Wrote a Letter” finds Turner proclaiming that her lover can “make a white girl sing the blues.” “Rock N Roll Widow” is a tender tale of a wife left lonely while her musician husband is on the road. “Don’t Rush the Good Things” is an up-tempo number that stresses the importance of enjoying life. “When I Was Young” is a non-repentant look back on Turner’s wild years. Private Dancer is a fantastic effort by one of the premier female rockers.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
Rolling on the river without Ike in the boat, Tina Turner makes a powerful comeback on Private Dancer. Turner throws herself into the material here, her voice rasping but strong, physical and impossibly sensual. There isn’t a single dud among the songs, and they’re given modern rock settings that are neither detached nor very fussy. She got some help: Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits wrote the slow, gorgeous title track; Jeff Beck played a heart-scraping solo on the great rocker “Steel Claw”; Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware and Greg Walsh produced her hit cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”; and Rupert Hine produced much of the album and wrote one of its cocky songs, “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”
Turner covers a lot of ground, musically, but this is firmly a rock & roll record, despite its soulful heart. There’s everything from a pumping dance track, “Show Some Respect,” to a slow-tempo piece by Ann Peebles called “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” its tinkling notes seeming to fall on Tina’s head, tormenting her with some memory. “I Might Have Been Queen” has the earthiness of a “Proud Mary”; “Steel Claw,” the ferocity of a Rolling Stones song. Turner seems to completely understand the touch that each of these songs needed. When she sings about being a “private dancer, a dancer for money, and any old music will do,” she gets across the resignation of an old stripper or whore with an appropriate minimum of self-pity.
Last year, I heard Tina Turner sing that awful Terry Jacks song “Seasons in the Sun” on television, and she found something in it that broke her heart. Imagine her doing the same thing to good songs.
~ DEBBY MILLER (July 5, 1984)
1 I Might Have Been Queen – 4:10
2 What’s Love Got to Do with It – 3:49
3 Show Some Respect – 3:18
4 I Can’t Stand the Rain – 3:41
5 Better Be Good to Me – 5:10
6 Let’s Stay Together – 5:16
7 1984 – 3:09
8 Steel Claw – 3:48
9 Private Dancer – 7:11
In 1997, EMI, the parent label of Capitol Records, released a digitally remastered Centenary Edition of the Private Dancer album on CD, then including four additional demo tracks recorded in late 1983 and early 1984 with the producer John Carter, first released as B-sides to some of the Private Dancer singles, as well as three extended 12″ remixes.
Centenary Edition bonus tracks
11 I Wrote a Letter – 3:24
12 Rock ‘n Roll Widow – 4:45
13 Don’t Rush the Good Things – 3:46
14 When I Was Young – 3:11
15 What’s Love Got to Do with It (Extended 12″ Remix) – 5:48
16 Better Be Good to Me (Extended 12″ Remix) (edit) – 7:03
17 I Can’t Stand the Rain (Extended 12″ Remix) – 5:45