Tyrone Davis – 1979 – In The Mood With Tyrone Davis
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His best overall Columbia album. Tyrone Davis surprised many observers when the title cut smashed the embargo non-Southern urban contemporary stations had on soul music and soared into the Top 10, peaking at number six.
The rest of the album was a bit slick by past Davis’ standards, but even the sappiest numbers were performed with Davis’ customary grit and soulfulness.
A1 In The Mood 4:09
A2 You Know What To Do 5:48
A3 I Can’t Wait 3:52
A4 Keep On Dancing 3:37
B1 I Don’t Think You Heard Me 3:59
B2 Ain’t Nothing I Can Do 4:44
B3 All The Love I Need 3:40
B4 We Were In Love Then 3:58
Review by Derek Anderson
After Carl Davis signed Tyrone Davis to Dakar Records in 1968, success came quickly for Tyrone. His debut single “Can I Change My Mind“gave Tyrone the first of three US R&B number one singles. A year later, Tyrone released his debut album “Can I Change My Mind” in 1969. This was the first of seven albums and twenty-five singles Tyrone released for Dakar Records. Then in 1970, “Turn Back the Hands of Time“, the title-track from his sophomore album, became the most successful single of his career. This resulted in Tyrone’s second US R&B number one single. Tyrone went on to release five further albums on Dakar. The final album was 1975s “Turning Point“. Its title-track gave Tyrone his third US R&B number one single. By now, major labels were taking an interest in Tyrone Davis, including Columbia Records.
Following the release “Turning Point”, produced by Leo Graham, Tyrone left Dakar Records, he signed to Columbia Records. His eighth album, and Columbia debut, was 1976s “Love and Touch” featured the number two US R&B hit single “Give It Up (Turn It Loose)”.” Let’s Be Closer Together” followed in 1977 and I Can’t Go On This Way in 1978. By 1978, although Tyrone’s albums were selling in larger quantities than his Dakar albums, sales were dropping. Each album was selling less the previous album. Something had to be done to stop Tyrone Davis’ career from stalling. Tyrone’s fourth album For Columbia,” In The Mood“, which will be re-released by BBR Records on 28th January 2013, marked a change in Tyrone Davis’ fortunes. Not only would “In The Mood”prove to be one of his most successful albums, but featuring another top ten US R&B single.
Just eleven years after Tyrone Davis had made his commercial breakthrough, the former chauffeur and valet for blues singer Freddie King had come a long way. He was signed to one of the biggest and most prestigious record labels in the world, about to release his eleventh album in ten years. Tyrone was then forty-one, so was making up for lost time.
For Tyrone’s eleventh album, In The Mood, his producer Leo Graham and some of his band worked on eight songs. This included bassist Paul Richmond, who until 1978, had worked with The Impressions. When work dried up for The Impressions, Paul joined Tyrone’s band. He had plenty work. Guitarist Darryl Ellis was another top musician. Joining Tyrone Davis and his producer Leo Graham for the recording of In The Mood, were a rhythm section that included bassists Ron Harris, and Bernard Reed Paul Richmond, drummers Steven Cobb and Eddie Fisher and guitarist Darryl Ellis. Percussionists Thomas Radtke and Derf Lecklaw and Terry Fryer on synths were joined James Mack on alto flute, backing vocalists, plus a horn and string section, courtesy of the Bauer Strings. Once In The Mood was recorded, it was released in March 1979.
Before the release of “In The Mood“, the title-track In The Mood was released as the lead single, reaching number six in the US R&B Charts, Tyrone’s biggest hit since 1977s “This I Swear”. When In The Mood was released in March 1979, it reached number 115 in the US Billboard 200 and number nine in the US R&B Charts. Then Ain’t Nothing I Can Do reached number seventy-two in the US R&B Charts in June 1972. In The Mood was a return to form for Tyrone Davis, as you’ll realize when I tell you about the album.
Opening “In The Mood” is the title-track In The Mood. Stabs of blazing horns give way to a meandering, bass-lead rhythm section. It tiptoes along with bursts of soaring harmonies and flute giving way to Tyrone’s smooth, sultry pleading vocal. Horns blaze, harmonies soar and the bass provides a pulsating heartbeat. Tyrone’s needy vocal is filled with emotion and drama, reflected by the horns, pleading harmonies and lush strings. Chiming guitars and melodic keyboards provide the perfect backdrop for Tyrone’s vocal, as sets the scene and gets in the Mood.
“You Know What To Do” is a very different track, opening with the space-age sound of a vocoder. Soon, a driving funky track unfolds. An uber funky bass, chiming guitar, stabs of braying horns and flamboyant flourishes of strings accompany Tyrone’s raspy, powerful vocal. He gives thanks, with bursts of soaring harmonies for company. They cascade, before it’s all change. The vocoder reenters and things get funkier. Thankfully, it’s used sparingly, as Tyrone mixes funk, soul and space-age sounds, as he vamps his way through the track.
“I Can’t Wait” sees the tempo drop, on the second consecutive Leo Graham penned track. This is a slow, romantic song, where Tyrone lays bare his soul. Hurt and regret fill his vocal, while lush strings slowly sweep. Joining them a wistful piano and bursts of growling horns. They reflect his pain and hurt. Adding to the drama and emotion are sweeping, punchy harmonies. Together, they each play their part in making this one of the most heartfelt, emotive and beautiful songs on In The Mood. The clincher though, is Tyrone’s inspired vocal that’s makes this one of the highlights of In The Mood.
“Keep On Dancin’” was penned by producer Leo Graham and bassist Paul Richmond. Chiming guitars join the rhythm section and horns that remind me of David Bowie’s Fame. Together, they up the tempo on a track that’s dance-floor friendly. Soon, the band kick loose. Taking his lead from them, Tyrone unleashes a vamp, that’s sassy and sensual. Horns and harmonies accompany him. The band give one of their best and funkiest performances, while Tyrone testifies, spreading joy, sass and hooks in equal measures.
“I Don’t Think I Heard You” has a slight hustle sound when it begins. Again, it’s a track designed for the dance-floor. Swathes of lush strings float along. They’re joined by cooing, sensuous backing vocals. Meanwhile, the rhythm section add a pulsating beat. Stabs of grizzled horns punctuate the arrangement, while the arrangement slows down, taking on a tough, funky sound, with gnarled backing vocals. It’s a song with two sides, floaty and sweeping and tough and funky. This shows two very different sides to Tyrone and his band, resulting is a captivating song.
“Ain’t Nothing I Can Do” sees the tempo drop and Tyrone become a bedroom balladeer. Instantly, you realize something special is unfolding. The rhythm section create a slow, sultry heartbeat, as meandering keyboards and lush strings set the scene for Tyrone. He doesn’t disappoint. Tyrone delivers an impassioned, sensual vocal. Harmonies sweep in, while bursts of funky bass and blazing horns reflect the drama in his vocal. Producer Leo Graham drops everything into place at the right time, resulting five minutes of sheer sensuousness, that should come with a government health warning. Absolutely stunning. That’s the only way to describe this track.
“All The Love I Need” sees blazing horns and the rhythm section drive the arrangement along. Tyrone’s joyous vocal, is fervent, heartfelt and filled with hope. He ensures the song is delivered with a swing. Strings dance, horns growl and kick, drums pound and the guitars and bass trade funky licks. The band seem to be spurred on by Tyrone. They up their game, as if realizing this is one of Tyrone’s best vocals. For his part, Tyrone gives thanks, his joyous vocal become an irresistible, swinging vamp.
Closing In The Mood is “We Were In Love Then“. This is another of the slow, sad ballads, that Tyrone breathes life and meaning into. There’s a nod to James Carr in his impassioned, emotive vocal. Horns rasping, strings sweep and tender harmonies reflect the hurt and heartache in Tyrone’s throaty vocal. It’s almost as if he’s become overcome by emotion. Cooing harmonies try to sooth his broken heart, as memories come flooding back, bringing back the hurt and heartache. Tyrone’s reading of the lyrics brings them to life, and results in a deeply moving, beautiful and soulful way to close In The Mood.
During the eight tracks on In The Mood, you hear different sides to Tyrone Davis. There’s the deeply soulful side of Tyrone, where his heartfelt, heartbroken and impassioned pleas breath life and meaning into the lyrics. For me, that’s Tyrone Davis at his very best. Having said that, when the music gets funkier and tougher, Tyrone rises to the challenge, vamping his way emotively and sometimes, sensually through the songs. Then when the tempo rises and the music becomes dance-floor friendly, Tyrone Davis kicks loose, showing yet another side to his music. With a tight, talented band and some soulful backing vocals accompanying Tyrone Davis, the eight songs fly past. There’s neither filler, nor flops, just an eclectic selection of music. Of the four albums Tyrone Davis had released on Columbia, In The Mood which rereleased by BBR Records on 28th January 2013, sees Tyrone back to his very best. While Tyrone Davis’ career started late, then by 1979, when he released In The Mood, Freddie King’s former chauffeur had come a long way. Indeed, In The Mood finds Tyrone Davis back, to his soulful best. Just one listen to In The Mood demonstrates why.
Standout Tracks: “In The Mood“, “I Can’t Wait“, “Ain’t Nothing I Can Do” and “We Were In Love Then“.
Enjoy his terrific album that ranks among the finest soul records of its era, “Turn Back The Hands of Time” in our back pages here