Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Nutbush City Limits

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B-side  "Help Him"
Format  7" single
Length  2:57
Released  June 1973 (1973-06)
Genre  Funk rock
Recorded  Bolic Sound Studio, Inglewood, CA

"Nutbush City Limits" is a semi-autobiographical song written and originally performed by Tina Turner in which she commemorates her rural hometown of Nutbush, Tennessee. Released June 1973, shortly before her separation from then-husband and musical partner Ike Turner, "Nutbush City Limits" was the last hit single the duo would produce together. In the years since, "Nutbush City Limits" has been covered by a number of other artists—most notably Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band—and Tina Turner herself has re-recorded several different versions of the song. As an unincorporated rural community, Nutbush does not officially have "city limits"; rather, its boundaries are described by "Nutbush—Unincorporated" signs posted on the local highway.


1973 original version

The first recording of "Nutbush City Limits" was produced by Ike Turner at his Inglewood, California facility, Bolic Sound Studio, in May 1973 and released as a single the following month by the couple under their professional name, Ike & Tina Turner. Though Ike composed the music, he did not list his name in the credits alongside Tina, who wrote the lyrics. This version is characterized by inventive guitar sounds, a substantial synthesizer solo, and a funky brass section.

The song later appeared on their album of the same title, released November 1973, and proved to be the duo's final significant chart hit, reaching #11 on Billboard Hot Soul Singles, #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #4 on the UK Singles Chart. In Australia, the single peaked at #14, spent 52 weeks in the top 100, and is still a party staple among Generation X and Y where it is accompanied by a dance similar to line dancing. The album also appeared on the Billboard Soul LPs chart, peaking at #21 during its run. Following the couple's split, the song became a staple of Tina's live show where she reworked the funky studio version into a hard-driving rock and roll showstopper.

Typical of the period, none of the session musicians who contributed to "Nutbush City Limits" were given specific mention in the song credits. It has been rumored for years that Marc Bolan, frontman for the glam rock band T. Rex, played guitar on the track. Gloria Jones, his girlfriend at the time—who herself provided backing vocals for Ike & Tina Turner during the 1960s—asserted that this was the case in the 2007 BBC4 documentary Marc Bolan: The Final Word. This claim is bolstered by the fact that Bolan toured the U.S. extensively and resided in the Los Angeles area during the mid-1970s, and is also acknowledged to have played on the Ike & Tina Turner singles "Sexy Ida (Part 2)" and "Baby—Get It On". However, a 2008 Ebony magazine article about Ike Turner's death identified James "Bino" Lewis, then a member of Ike & Tina's backing band Kings of Rhythm, as the guitarist. It has also been suggested that James Lewis is the guitarist on "Baby—Get It On".

1988 live version

A live recording of "Nutbush City Limits" from Turner's 1986–1987 Break Every Rule Tour was released as the lead single to promote the 1988 double album Tina Live in Europe, but it was in fact a different recording than the one that appeared on the official concert album. While this version did not manage to register much of an impact on any charts, the single is notable for being one of the very first by Turner to be released on compact disc, at that time a relatively new format, in addition to 7" and 3-track 12" vinyl editions.

Both the CD and 12" singles featured a 10-minute 57-second live rendition of ZZ Top's song "Legs" from their 1983 album Eliminator, which was not included on the Tina Live in Europe album. A shorter version of "Legs", recorded during Turner's 1993 What's Love? Tour, would later appear on her 1994 CD box set The Collected Recordings - Sixties to Nineties.

  • "Nutbush City Limits" (live) – 3:30
  • Tina Live in Europe album track – 3:43
  • 1991 remixes

    Turner re-recorded "Nutbush City Limits" in a modern dance style—subtitled "The 90s Version"—for inclusion on her 1991 compilation album Simply the Best. Upon its release as a single, the song peaked at #23 on the UK Singles Chart and was a Top 20 hit in several other European countries. A different rendition, entitled "Nutbush City Limits ('91)", appeared alongside "The 90s Version". This funkier yet more laid-back arrangement is actually the one for which Turner recorded new vocals that were later remixed by producers Chris "C. J." Mackintosh and Dave Dorrell to become "The 90s Version". The 12" single also featured an extended six-minute version of the dance remix, and a limited-release promotional DJ edition from the UK included still another take, "A Little Bit o' Bush". The corresponding music video for "The 90s Version" shows Turner recording the song in studio, intercut with footage of the various landmarks mentioned.

  • "Nutbush City Limits (The 90s Version)" – 3:43
  • "Nutbush City Limits ('91)" – 4:16
  • "Nutbush City Limits (Nutbush City '91)" – 6:00
  • "A Little Bit o' Bush" – 5:01
  • 1993 re-recording

    In 1993, Turner re-recorded the track as a re-working of the original studio arrangement for the What's Love Got to Do with It soundtrack album.

    Cover versions

  • Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band recorded "Nutbush City Limits" for their 1975 album Beautiful Loser. It was a mainstay of their concert performances as documented on the Live Bullet album, where they used it for the opening number. The Live Bullet version was released as a promotional single and became a Detroit-area hit.
  • In 1980, Brian Johnson sang "Nutbush City Limits" and "Whole Lotta Rosie" as part of his first audition for the band AC/DC.
  • Alvin Lee and Steve Gould included a version of "Nutbush City Limits" on their 1981 collaboration, RX5.
  • Precious Wilson and La Mama covered the song on their 1983 album Funky Fingers.
  • Sam Brown covered the song on the European release of her 1988 debut album Stop!.
  • A rendition by Bloodloss appeared both on their 1988 album Human Skin Suit and as a B-side on the 1989 single release of "School's Out" by King Snake Roost.
  • The German electronica group Boom Operators, fronted by Harald Blüchel, featured "Nutbush City Limits" on their 1991 album Hu-Man.
  • Martin Barre, guitarist for Jethro Tull, recorded a cover of this song in 1992 for his first solo album, A Summer Band.
  • NWOBHM act Girl recorded a version which appeared on their posthumously released third album Killing Time in 1997.
  • In 2005, the tune was also covered by Nashville Pussy and can be heard on their album Get Some!.
  • On May 15, 2007, American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle sang the song in her second Top 3 performances; she received excellent marks from all three judges.
  • Pearl Aday performed "Nutbush City Limits" as part of her band's opening set for father Meat Loaf's Casa De Carne tour in 2008.
  • Black Diamond Heavies featured this song as the opening track of their 2009 album A Touch of Someone Else's Class.
  • Australian country singer Nicki Gillis included the song on her 2011 covers album Woman of Substance; she also played it at the end of each show during her 2011 UK concert tour.
  • In 2013, Naya Rivera performed the song as her character Santana Lopez in the fourth season episode "Diva" of the television series Glee.
  • In 2013, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa included the song in the album Seesaw (album).
  • The German heavy metal singer Doro included the song on her 2014 covers album "Powerful Passionate Favorites"
  • The Voice UK contestant Beth Morris sang a rendition of the song on week 1 of blind auditions. She successfully made it through to the next stage of the competition.
  • References

    Nutbush City Limits Wikipedia