Saturday, August 26, 2006

Soul-Blues Saturday: Call Tyrone!

Tyrone Davis - Mom's Apple Pie

Tyrone Davis' vulnerable voice and tender songs made Davis an R&B heartthrob from the late '60s through the end of the '70s. Like Johnnie Taylor, Davis' main body of work came while signed to an independent label (Dakar, 1968-76), and like Taylor, Davis moved on to Columbia Records, where he had some more big hits before changing times did him in as a major R&B chart force (most notably with the Chicago soul "Give It Up (Turn It Loose)" and the ballad "In the Mood"). From the early '80s through to around 1996, Davis recorded for a wide range of small labels, getting some chart action with records like "Are You Serious" but keeping the chitlin' circuit ablaze with his strong stage show (his band was considered one of the best working bands, a fact to which I can attest; I saw Tyrone in 1998 and they were smokin') and soul-blues records that continued to play up his romantic but rhythmic vocals.

During a sojourn for the Atlanta-based Ichiban label (which gave the world Clarence Carter's "Strokin'") Davis recorded "Mom's Apple Pie," which made significant noise in the soul-blues world upon release in 1991. Davis' paean to a woman who's giving him the run-around is a solid toe-tapper with a sing-along chorus. I used to have a tape of Davis and his band doing this with his band for a WGN special ("Blues Goin' On"; if anyone has a video of any editions - I know of at least two - of this special this please contact me), and it was a highlight of the program.

Like Johnnie Taylor, Davis found his final label, Malaco, to be a perfect fit, and his albums that followed were very strong, featuring great covers of older soul material ("For the Good Times," from 1997, was a great cover of the Al Green song, itself a cover) and the love-man stuff for which he was well known ("Kiss You Where I Miss You," "Call Tyrone," "Sugar Daddy"). His long illness in 2004 made Chicago headlines (after an erroneous news story declared him dead), and his death in 2005 was a sad one in the history of Chicago soul.

I need to do more Tyrone stuff on this blog, as it is of a very high quality and, like Bobby Bland, Davis' material did not have the mainstream impact that many other soul artists had. The best example is "Turning Point," one of Davis' most popular songs. On its 1976 release the record shot straight to #1 on the R&B charts, but it missed the Billboard "Hot 100" entirely!


Jadd said...

Nice blog, congratulations from Spain.

Anonymous said...

beautiful melody

Anonymous said...

hi, do u not keep the files up for at least a week? the ones i tried are dead.

The Stepfather of Soul said...

I keep almost all files up for five days; occasionally one will end up only being around for four; if you can't access a file but the five days aren't up yet, try again later or the next day; I try to revive expired links (when a song gets to 100 downloads GoDaddy expires the link) every morning.