TYRONE DAVIS: Do You Feel It (Label: Expansion)

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I’m old enough to remember when Tyrone Davis was being touted as the “next Otis Redding”. Like the great man, Davis was from the Southlands and, by coincidence, his first show business contact was working as chauffeur to Freddie King (Redding, remember, was driver for Johnny Jenkins). On his first forays into recording (as a blues shouter on the Four Brothers label) Davis’ gritty baritone bore a striking resemblance to Redding’s and it was little wonder that when Otis perished in that ’67 plane crash the music commentators were quick to proffer the king’s mantle to Tyrone. By then though he’d signed to Carl Davis’ Dakar label and the Chicago veteran had already started to rub down Davis’ rough and ready Mississippi edges. With the legendary ‘Can I Change My Mind’ (named checked by the late Isaac Hayes in his epic version of ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’, by the way) Davis was off in a new and more lucrative direction. His star soon shone so brightly that he was snapped up by the biggest major label of the day – Columbia, who saw in Davis’ smooth crooning a way to capitalize on the fast growing, black, urban middle class demographic. Working with producer Leo Graham, Davis turned out a whole raft of work for Columbia and here the ever-dependable Expansion people have put together a fine representative selection of his time at the label. Davis and Graham perfected a lovely, lush sound with full orchestration, profusely illustrated here by the likes of ‘Never Stopped Loving You’, ‘Be With Me’, Sam Dees’ ‘Leave Well Enough Alone’ and the oft-anthologised ‘In The Mood’. You also get a jaunty remake of ‘Turn Back The Hands Of Time’ and ‘Do You Feel It’ – on which Graham tried to recreate that famous bass line. Maybe of more interest is the sedate dancer ‘Just My Luck’ – currently getting some mileage both on internet soul radio and modern soul rooms and ‘Satisfy You Before I Satisfy Me’ which Expansion have licensed from a post-Colombia project. Both show that Tyrone Davis could handle the (mildly) up-tempo stuff, but it’s as a balladeer that he’ll (rightly) be best remembered and there’s plenty here to prove that he was one of the very best.
(BB) 4/5