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‘Twenty Four Seven’: The Full Story Behind Tina Turner’s Final Album
Warner Music
In Depth

‘Twenty Four Seven’: The Full Story Behind Tina Turner’s Final Album

With her final album, ‘Twenty Four Seven’, Tina Turner asserted both her relevance and her artistry at the end of an era.

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In 1999, Tina Turner turned 60. Her career had been tumultuous: her highs were incredible and her challenges had been substantial – much more than most artists experienced. Although she didn’t say so at the time, the album she released in 1999 – Twenty Four Seven – was to be her final solo studio album. “To be 60 and still be able to do it, it motivates people I think, and I still can do it, I’m still healthy, I’m vibrant,” she said at the time of the album’s release. In her interviews to promote the record, Turner did hint that Twenty Four Seven was the end of an era. “It’s the last of this type,” she said. “After this, I’m going to find another way to do it. I don’t know what, but we’ll see.”

Listen to ‘Twenty Four Seven’ here.

The idea: “I want to be happy, I want to be modern”

Four years had passed since the release of Wildest Dreams, Tina Turner’s previous album. On that record, she had worked with a younger generation of musicians including Pet Shop Boys and Sheryl Crow – and had covered Massive Attack’s progressive trip-hop masterpiece Unfinished Sympathy. Turner did not wish to be pegged as a nostalgia act, and knew she had appeal wider than those who had followed her since the 60s.

“I want to be happy, I want to be modern,” she said in 1999, reflecting on the initial impetus behind Twenty Four Seven. “Like what Cher did with Believe!” Turner felt that Cher had captured something which had all the elements of what current audiences wanted, yet which did not sacrifice its essential Cher-ness. She therefore enlisted Believe’s producers, Brian Rawling and Mark Taylor, aka Metro Productions, for the recording of Twenty Four Seven.

The recording: “These guys felt right, somehow”

When Turner visited the Metro base, she was immediately impressed. “It was a very small recording studio with all these young guys,” she said. “The most incredible energy.” She noticed, with approval, that every nook and cranny was filled with people working, writing, testing things out. “These guys felt right, somehow,” she said. “I wanted to feel what it would be like to do that music.”

The result was the Twenty Four Seven album’s key track and first single, When The Heartache Is Over, which captured exactly what Turner wanted (“an up energy vibe”). Unlike anything else she had recorded up to that point, the song was absolutely of its time and defiantly danceable. Metro also recorded another track with Turner for the album, the slower, poignant Don’t Leave Me This Way.

Galvanised, Turner then sought out another young producer, Johnny Douglas, whose work she had admired on George Michael’s 1996 album, Older. “The room was full of toys,” Turner recalled, of Douglas’ studio. But there was nothing frivolous in the producer’s attitude to his craft. “He gets what he wants,” Turner said, “because he listens very intently”. Douglas produced five of Twenty Four Seven’s tracks, including the album’s opener, Whatever You Need.

Finally, for the rest of the songs, Turner reconnected with Terry Britten, who had produced her 1984 mega-hit, What’s Love Got To Do With It. “He usually comes through for me,” Turner said. Britten’s highlight on the album is the laidback ballad Falling – “The first time I’ve sung such a relaxed song,” Turner said.

The songs: “I don’t want an autobiographical song!”

Tina Turner didn’t write the songs on Twenty Four Seven, but she was closely involved in their direction. “I said to the writers, ‘I don’t want an autobiographical song,’” she said, particularly referring to her relationship with ex-husband Ike Turner. “I don’t need to sing about it, it’s been many years since that relationship was over, and it’s not a part of my life or reality anymore,” she said.

However, Turner’s life story is so compelling, and some of her biggest triumphs – like the 1993 soundtrack album, What’s Love Got To Do With It – have explored her survival instinct in a way that resonated with her fans. It transpired that the songwriters for Twenty Four Seven politely ignored her request (although Turner ended up forgiving them, as the songs were so good).

“The songs came and I was really enjoying listening to the demos before recording, and I didn’t really think about the words,” she said. Then it dawned on her: “Hey, wait a minute, this sounds very familiar here. I thought I told the guys no autobiographical songs!”

The farewell: “It’s too much, actually”

At first Turner said that the album’s title, Twenty Four Seven, was “a reflection of the life I live. Being a mother, being a star, being a wife: it’s quite heavy.” This in itself was a hint that a slowdown might be coming; she was reassessing her priorities and thinking of how relentless her schedule was.

In a more candid interview, Turner spoke slightly differently about the title and what it meant to her. “Music today… there’s a lot of work involved,” she said. “It’s too much, actually. It’s not enough to record the album, do a picture, do a video – OK, I’m done with it, take it. You’ve got to live with it, you’ve got to get sick of it almost, but that’s music today. Twenty-four seven.”

Following Twenty Four Seven’s release, on 28 October 1999, compilations and live albums burnished Tina Turner’s legacy as the “Queen Of Rock’n’Roll”, as would low-key collaborations with the group Beyond, spiritual releases focused on prayers and mantras. Yet there would be no more studio albums, leaving Twenty Four Seven as Turner’s farewell. And she was undoubtably happy with the album. “It’s modern, but I’m not putting myself in a place where it’s anything that I’m not,” she said. “It’s all the elements of my roots and my style, and the stories are incredible.”

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