Although I was just a kid, I was a pretty serious student of Top 40 radio from the mid-'60s until I "graduated" to "progressive rock" radio in the early'-70s, which I realize in retrospect actually narrowed my tastes for a time.
But I remember ever so vividly being blown away by both of Tyrone Davis's smash pop and R&B hits "Can I Change My Mind" ('68) and "Turn Back the Hands of Time" ('70), the smooth but undeniable groove, the earthy gentle voice oozing regret but not giving up on the possibility of renewal, just classic.
Davis died yesterday at 66. Greg Kot has a fine tribute in the Chicago Tribune:
- Whether they know it or not, many of today's soul crooners take their cues from Davis, who forged one of the more distinctive personas in rhythm and blues during the last five decades.
He was a suave smoothie who sang about relationships with a mixture of wisdom and regret.
He not only helped define the sound of Chicago soul in the 1960s and '70s in the wake of Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler and Gene Chandler, he continued to record and tour until he suffered a stroke last September.
....Davis' hits, including "Turn Back the Hands of Time," "Can I Change My Mind" and "Turning Point," reflected a dark, nearly whispered perspective on relationships that endeared him to the black working-class community for decades.
By 1971, Davis was a star, riding a couple of top 10 hits.
"He was like Mr. Chicago," singer Willie Clayton once told the Tribune.
"It was a thrill to be around and see the fancy cars; you name it, he had it."
Val Kashimura, an R&B singer and executive at Davis' Mississippi-based label, Malaco Records, called Davis "one of the big dogs in our line of work."