” What’s A Matter Baby” ?
The Music Business is rich with great stories! One of our favorites is about Ike Turner and his new girlfriend, protegee, meal ticket, future wife and Love Slave. Anna Mae Bullock…..Mrs. Tina Turner!
As the story goes, the first time Ike took Tina into the studio, they had quite a difficult time recording Tina’s voice. The problem was, her voice was just so uncontrollably powerful! No matter what Ike and his engineer tried to do Tina’s powerful voice overwhelmed the microphone, “Pinned” the limiters and blew every fuse in the control room!
So, Ike got an idea, he simply moved the microphone to the furthest corner of the studio and told Tina to “Hit it”…….And Tina “Hit it” When you hear “A Fool In Love” you’re hearing Tina’s voice from across the room! Yet it sounds like she’s singing in your ear!……There was no voice more powerful than Tina Turners’
BUT WAIT….Do you remember Timi Yuro? The diminutive 22 year old Italian/ American Contralto from Chicago?…..If Ike had to move the Microphone across the ROOM for Tina, then Timi Yuro’s producer, Clyde Otis had to move Timi’s Microphone across the STREET!
YES! Timi Yuro was a Force Five “Contralto” the lowest register for the female voice humanly possible. With a clarity, power and richness no one had heard before. For reference, think James Earl Jones doing Burt Bacharach…….And, in a way in 1962 a lot of people did. When Timi Yuro broke thru with the incredible “What’s a Matter Baby?” Many radio listeners thought she was a man, several more thought she was a BLACK MAN!
But NO! Timi was a petite 5 ft. female… A Feisty / sexy Italian, Chicago transplant who came to L.A. In the mid 50’s and as a young girl sang in her parent’s Italian restaurant along with other Bars and Dives around L.A.until Clyde Otis from Liberty records heard about “The girl who sounds like a guy”
Timi was 21 when Otis (fresh off huge hits with Dinah Washington and Brook Benton) took her in the studio and wrote and produced “What’s A Matter Baby”……In 1962 we believed Tina Turner was the untouchable Amazon Queen of Girl singers…..But then came Timi. She was everywhere, starting in L.A. On The Lloyd Thaxton show, then American Bandstand, Where The Action Is and TWO appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show!
But most of all she was all over the radio, every format, every country, every city. Which brings us to our favorite memory and our point ; The power of Timi Yuro’s voice!
In 1962 the only radio in our family was an RCA “VICTOR” A.M. Radio, it was red with a kind of gold leaf. It was a square box with two knobs, Volume and Tuning….It looked like a toaster and in 1962 it was already twenty years old, survived several moves, spilt milk, food, clouds of our Mom’s cigarette smoke and a glop of whipped cream my brother flung at me, missed, but VICTOR took head on. Through the years, however our beloved “VICTOR” A.M. radio/toaster developed a slight buzz in the speaker, nothing serious but certain sounds came out with a benign “bzzzzzz”…….very manageable, until Timi Yuro visited VICTOR with “What’s A Matter Baby” It was a Saturday Morning, my brother Rob and I were enjoying our bowls of “Cheerios”, we had VICTOR blasting when “What’s a Matter” comes on, my brother leans over and turns up the volume. Even at the young age of 12, I somehow knew that was not a good idea…….Rob and I are swaying to the music enjoying our Cheerios ignoring the occasional “bzzzzz” and Then Timi gets to the bridge where she hit’s “The Money Note” as she sings “Go find another shoulder to CRY E Yi Eeeyi on” and that little “bzzzz” in VICTOR erupted into an awful “Platspumf ”
VICTOR, my brother and I would never hear music right again. Now, thanx to Timi and Clyde every record we heard included that distinctive “Platspumf” but it was getting louder and somehow always happened right at the same moment as our favorite point in every record!….How did it know?…..”Platspumf”……
My brother Rob believe’s it was all the years of knob twisting abuse and sloppy table manners that finished “VICTOR”……..But I say no “‘Twas Timi, killed The Beast”
But it’s time for you to enjoy this incredible record….”Little Timi Yuro” at the peak of her powers, singing from across the street but sounding like she’s right in your ear!…..If you’re listening with a mobile device, turn down the low end, if you’re listening in the car, turn it up! AND…….If you’re somehow listening on your family’s old A.M. Radio/ toaster…..Prepare to kiss the speaker Good Bye…