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Wildest Dreams 1996/97 Era: Virgin's Turner brings her 'Dreams' to U.S. (Virgin Records; Tina Turner)(Artists & Music) Billboard's Complete Article

Virgin's Turner brings her 'Dreams' to U.S. (Virgin Records; Tina Turner)(Artists & Music)

Billboard; 8/10/1996; Sexton, Paul

Virgin Records is preparing for the US release of Tina Turner's 'Wildest Dreams' album on Sep. 3, 1996, following the success of its European tour which ran from May to Dec. 1996. The Apr. 1996 release of the said album in Europe also posted sales of 1.5 million copies. Although Turner's albums have only had mild successes since 1984, the pop and soul artist believes that 'Wildest Dreams' will suit American taste. The album's US version boasts of a different packaging than the other versions. Virgin is also banking on a promotional tie-in with Hanes Corp. to boost album sales.

LONDON - When her huge European tour came to Cologne July 27, German audiences became the latest to buy into the seemingly never-ending phenomenon of Tina Turner.

Thirty-six years after her recording debut, European dates on the legendary singer's exhaustive Wildest Dreams tour began May 3 in Paris and will run until December, by which time she will have played to an estimated 2.5 million people. This follows last April's release across Europe of her Parlophone album of the same name, which has had estimated sales there of 1.5 million copies.

Such is Turner's status as a superstar member of the European music community that she has made her home here, with houses in Switzerland and France. But as Virgin Records prepares for the U.S. release of the album Sept. 3, Turner is relishing the prospect of taking her sophisticated blend of fifty something pop and soul back home.

"What I've done so far [in my solo career] in America is to give them good quality music," she says. "You have to leave it up to America to see what they're going to take. Their taste is not flexible; they stick with a theme, a style of music. I'm not a rapper, I'm not a Janet Jackson-style artist, I'm not a Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey type of person. But I think this music has a chance in America."

Invigorated by the typically tumultuous responses to her spectacular live shows across Europe, she adds, "I'm a performer first, and once you see an album performed, it makes a difference. Once people take time to really listen to it, they'll have a memory of it being performed onstage."

Tony Wadsworth, U.K. managing director of Parlophone, says the label has already seen some instant results from Turner's British dates, the first of which was June 30 at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. "We've been able to roll the campaign around the tour geographically," he says, "and that has worked very well indeed. Over the past two weeks, we've sold another 50,000-60,000 albums in the U.K. alone."

The U.S. version of "Wildest Dreams" is being "repackaged completely" from the version out in other markets, according to Turner's manager, Roger Davies. Her U.S. tour is still 10 months away: It is scheduled to begin in May 1997, following dates in Australia in the new year, and will run until September.

In the meantime, Virgin has the benefit of a major promotional tie-in: Turner has been selected as the spokeswoman for a Hanes pantyhose TV campaign, which launches this September and has a budget of $20 million. Hanes will also sponsor the 1997 U.S. tour. Says Turner of the campaign: "It's really quite different and enjoyable, and it adds a little bit more [to] going back to America. And it's a new way of introducing myself to an audience."

Her cover of John Waite's "Missing You" (her current U.K. single, due out in Europe in late August) will be released in the U.S. as the first pop single on Monday (5). This track is featured in the Hanes campaign, images of which are reflected in the new artwork for the American album. "Missing You," the fourth U.K. release from the album, debuted on the U.K. singles chart at No. 12 for the week ending July 27.

The new package also features a different version of "In Your Wildest Dreams," on which Turner shares vocals with soul giant Barry White. The track "The Difference Between Us," removed at the 11th hour from the original album, will also be added, with production by its writing team, C&A and De La Soul. R&B radio is being serviced with a revamped version of "Something Beautiful Remains," featuring new production by format star Joe, although this version is not on the U.S. album.

The stellar lineup of contributors to "Wildest Dreams" also includes writers Sheryl Crow and U2's Bono and the Edge; a guest vocal by Sting on "On Silent Wings"; and producers the Pet Shop Boys, Nellee Hoeper, and Trevor Horn, who has remixed "Whatever You Want," the second European single, for the album's new version. A special edition of "Wildest Dreams" will be released in the U.K. and continental Europe in September and will consist of the original album plus a bonus CD containing the additional U.S. tracks.

Phil Quartararo, Virgin Records president/CEO (U.S.), says the revamped album is "probably more suited to America than anything Tina's made in 10 years. I believe that the strategic combination with the Hanes campaign means that we've got the strongest possible chance of taking her to a new audience." He also enthuses about the planned broadcast in September of a "60 Minutes" segment on Turner.

"I wanted to extend myself," says the singer about the album project. "I didn't want to sound like myself. I'm known basically from my R&B roots, and I made a change with the 'Private Dancer' album. I've tried to make every album since then an album of quality. For listening, these songs sound great."

Twelve years ago, when Turner was signed to Capitol, the U.S. market was a vital part of the overwhelming success of Turner's "comeback" record, "Private Dancer," which went five times platinum in America, part of an estimated 11 million in worldwide sales. Since then, despite all her Grammy Awards, successful film ventures, and tours, her albums have had diminishing returns in the U.S. while remaining tremendously robust in other territories.

"Break Every Rule" (1986) was platinum in the U.S.; her last regular studio album, "Foreign Affair" in 1989, went gold there. The 1991 compilation "Simply The Best," which topped the charts in 12 countries and sold 4 million copies worldwide, peaked on The Billboard 200 at No. 113. Turner came to Virgin in 1993 with the soundtrack to "What's Love Got To Do With It," the film based on her autobiography, "I, Tina."

"Roger [Davies] and I have been friends for many years," says Quartararo. "For whatever reason, he asked if [the soundtrack] could be on Virgin in America. The result was that 'I Don't Wanna Fight' was the biggest song she's had in America for 10 years. That song has given us a plateau to build on, and I think we have a better springboard for Tina in August 1996 than possibly she's ever had in her career."

Davies says Turner was a natural choice for the Hanes campaign. "She's famous for her legs," he says.

The TV commercial was filmed in March. For Turner, the Hanes project "is coming at a perfect time. It's a promotional thing, but it's also musical."

Davies, widely credited with reviving the singer's career after she had descended from her glories in the '60s with ex-husband Ike and was playing the cabaret circuit, says, "I said to Virgin, 'Here's the album. Do whatever remixes and changes you feel you need to make [for North America].' If you originate any album out of Europe, America is going to want to change it, either with remixes, changing the cover, or whatever. I'm happy to have them do that; then they don't have any excuse if it doesn't work."

"Tina's a huge celebrity in the States," adds the Australian-born, Los Angeles-based Davies. "She's an icon over there - everybody knows Tina Turner, and she's had a movie made about her." He also points to a highly successful series of dates in the U.S. at the time of the film's appearance, including seven nights at Radio City Music Hall in New York and six nights at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. "But you're only as hot as your current record," he adds, "and radio changes all the time."

"Wildest Dreams" was previewed outside North America by "Goldeneye," Turner's theme song from the last James Bond movie, which became a top 10 hit in the U.K. and many other European territories last November but failed to reach Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart and reached only No. 89 on the Hot R&B Singles chart.

"That's water under the bridge," says Quartararo. "It didn't connect for a variety of reasons. But people perceive Tina in an upward momentum."

James Curran, head of music at Scot FM in Leith, Scotland, says, "We target the 25-45 age group, and she's very much a core artist for that age group. She played in Edinburgh recently [at Murrayfield Stadium], and that really has brought her much further back into focus. That'll have a knock-on effect not just with singles but the album as well, which got off to a slow start. After that performance, no one can fault her. She's a bit of a legend, and there's very few of them left."

Rod MacLennan, senior chart buyer for the 270-store Virgin Our Price chain, says of the retail performance of "Wildest Dreams," "Initially, sales seemed disappointing, and we thought it was in danger of slipping away. But it's held up really well; it's climbed due to the activity of the new single and the tour, and now we're looking at a long-term seller."

As Turner views the long road that stretches ahead for the next year, filled with arena and stadium dates, she says she misses little about the club circuit on which she cut her teeth as a performer. "Someone else asked me if I missed that. I said, 'Are you kidding?' I worked all my life to pack these stages. I don't think I want to go back."

As for any suggestion of retiring, she has learned never to say never again. "I don't know when I'll ever stop recording," she says. "I still think the time will come when I won't be doing these type of tours, but I'll never trap myself into saying, 'This is the last one' again."

Wadsworth notes that Parlophone U.K. is considering "Something Beautiful Remains" as a U.K. single for November. "There's a whole series of contenders [for future singles]," he says, adding with a smile, "This project's got legs."

COPYRIGHT 1996 VNU Business Media

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