off. An R&B belter at the dawn of the soul era, she missed a good twenty years of evolution in black music. She and Ike chose to court white pop and rock audiences instead of mastering the new idioms. "River Deep, Mountain High" may be Phil Spector's crowning achievement, but it wasn't a U.S. hit. And Tina's association with the rock gods served mainly to validate their R&B leanings rather than to advance her own career.
So the monumental success of Private Dancer came not out of the artist's own traditions (excepting her bias toward white English writer-producers) but seemingly from thin air. It's no surprise that Turner's new Break Every Rule, without any deeper creative sources to draw upon, obeys every rule set by Private Dancer, and slavishly.
Instead of trying out some promising new collaborators on this LP (how about Mike Scott of the Waterboys, Tears for Fears or even the Hooters?), Turner's organization doubled up on the safe bets, giving us more from Terry Britten, Mark Knopfler and Rupert Hine, her partners from Private Dancer. Bryan Adams is a low-risk addition (considering the success of their duet "It's Only Love"), but is that really the producers' idea of innovation?
Rule rules out the growth and daring that we expect of a major artist. But looking past "Typical Male," the rote first single, and "I'll Be Thunder," Rupert Hine's bombastic closer, Turner and her crew have compiled an enjoyable album.
For one thing, Turner has never sung better. In the "A Fool in Love" days she possessed more pure curdle, but there's plenty of that left (check out "Girls," David Bowie's spectacular Spector deconstruction), and now, for the first time, there's a depth of understanding to her readings. From the smooch in "What You Get Is What You See" to the admission in Knopfler's "Overnight Sensation" ("Well I guess I been a long time/Workin' in the backline/Tryin' to make a song fit/You know it never was mine"), Tina even lets in some humor. Throughout Break Every Rule, Turner sounds as if she had the time, guidance and confidence to really master these songs. The result is a potent display of passion and control, and that alone would make this record worth discovering.
Break Every Rule comes in two halves. Side one is all Britten (producing, writing with Graham Lyle and rendering Bowie's "Girls" in fine style). S