BY REQUEST: TYRONE DAVIS


Tyrone Davis: Can I Change My Mind?
From Can I Change My Mind? (Dakar, 1969)

Alton Ellis: Can I Change My Mind
From 7″ (Studio One, 1970). Also on I’m Still In Love With You

Tyrone Davis: Let Me Back In
From Turn Back the Hands of Time (Dakar, 1970)

Jesse Anderson: Let Me Back In
From 7″ (Curtom, 1970). Also on The Curtom Story.

Tyrone Davis: A Woman Needs To Be Loved
From Can I Change My Mind? (Dakar, 1969)

I’m definitely not that well-versed in Tyrone Davis’ career – most of what I knew about him for a long time was what he recorded in the mid to late 1970s rather than – as requested – his Brunswick/Dakar output. On paper, I would have thought I’d really be into that era of his career; I’ve generally found Brunswick very reliable in the early 1970s, especially when you have producers like Carl Davis and Willie Henderson in the mix. But overall, Davis’ years at Brunswick didn’t knock me off my feet – he was certainly a good enough singer but song-for-song, there’s a lot there I never really got into.

I would certainly make an exception for one of his first big hits for Brunswick: “Can I Change My Mind” which is, by far, my favorite Davis song (thus far): the horns are fantastic here and there’s such a great “boogie on down” swing to both the vocal and musical arrangements. One way in which you can see how far Davis got with it is by looking at the number of covers that followed. One of the best I’ve probably heard is out of Panama and should be coming out on a forthcoming compilation (props to Beto for sharing) but on the reggae soul tip, you could do a lot worse than Alton Ellis’ cover, once again proving that Ellis wasn’t only a brilliant songwriter and musician in his own right…he had impeccable taste in music writ-large.

What’s interesting about Davis’ original, thematically, is how similar it is to one of his other songs from the same era: “Let Me Back In.” Of course, there’s probably a billion songs about boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wants-girl-back, etc. but given that these singles came very close to one another and even sound alike, you do have to wonder a bit.

Hope I’m not blasphemous in saying this too but I think Jesse Anderson’s version pretty much destroys Tyrone’s original – a better arrangement, stronger rhythm section and Anderson manages to out-Davis in a Davis-esque singing style. I may simply be biased because I heard Anderson’s version before I heard the original but I still think Jesse’s got the jam with this one.

I’ll end with Davis’ deep soul single “A Woman Needs To Be Loved.” Doesn’t this one have “power ballad” written all over it? Davis is swinging for the fences with that growling, shouting performance and the music keeps in step with its dramatic force and bluesy intensity. Mercy!

 

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