A: Nicky Thomas – Turn back the hands of time

B: Nicky Thomas – Let it be


In 1968 the artist formerly known as Tyrone the Wonder Boy signed a deal with the newly set up Dakar label that operated out of Chicago. It turned out a good move for the label, as Wonder Boy took on his producer’s last name and recorded two superb soul tunes which ended up as the A and B side of the first release by Tyrone Davis. ‘A Woman needs to be loved‘ is an impressive showcase of the vocal talent of Tyrone – rough, heartfelt, dynamic –  but it was the B side that would make the biggest impact. ‘Can I change my mind’ had a softer approach, vocally, and it took the charts by storm.

With over a million copies sold, the song made an impact in Jamaica as well and it’s been a fundamental element of the reggae songbook ever since; Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, Dennis Brown, Nicky Thomas, John Holt and Hortense Ellis – among many others – all recorded their takes of the song, while I Roy, Big Joe, Lady Ann and Jah Stitch rode the riddim.

With ‘Can I change my mind’ selling like hot cakes, Tyrone Davis and Dakar needed a song to follow up on the success, so they drew in Jack Daniels and Johnny Moore. The former had co-written ‘Can I change..’ and often teamed up with Moore, who was a gifted singer and songwriter in his own right – as showcased on ‘Call it what you wanna‘, which was released on Chi City in 1968. Apparently, Johnny Moore was having some relationship problems when he was recruited by Dakar. He addressed the issues he had with his then girlfriend Bonnie Thompson in the song he wrote and made a gesture by giving her the credits (as he also did on Call it..) I’m not sure if that was such a smart move. ‘(If I could) Turn back the hands of time’, as the song was called, became Tyrone Davis’ biggest hit ever, selling even more copies than its predecessor. That said, Johnny Moore penned more than one hit in his lifetime, including the impeccable ‘Just because of you‘ (covered superbly by Delroy Wilson for Studio One) so I reckon he did well.

The Kingston music scene responded less enthusiastically to ‘Turn back’ then it had before to “Can I change..” , with far less Jamaican takes of the song as a result. Studio One released the Winston Francis cut in 1970, while Joe Gibbs released a version in the same year by his own hitmaker Nicky Thomas. Coupled with another coversong – ‘Let it be’ by the Beatles, which is just as awful as the original; nothing can repair this song – ‘Turn back the hands of time’ was released on 7″ on Jogibs in Jamaica and on Amalgamated/Trojan in the United Kingdom (credited to Joe Gibbs instead of Nicky). In an attempt to soften the raw backingtrack Trojan added strings and a choir when they included the song on the ‘Love of the common people album. Joe Gibbs, in the meantime, released Lizzy’s excellent ‘Gift of God‘ on the JoGibs label, which rode a straightforward instrumental version of ‘Turn back..’ known as ‘The Raper.’ It’s this instrumental Errol Thompson used as the backing track for an even rawer, proto dub version for the groundbreaking ‘Dub Serial‘ album. Different strokes indeed..

Special thanks to Natad for giving me this disc as a present.


Label: Jogib (Ja) / Amalgamated (UK) / Trojan (UK)
Release date: 1970
Riddim: original
Matrix: Dyna JG Amalmid (sic) 1621 / Dyna JG Amalmid 1627

Posted: 11-02-2016



  • Natad says:
    12 February 2016 at 08:26

    Nice review! F* wikipedia, give us WikiBeatia.
    Still looking for a replacement copy though 😉


    • pressurebeat says:
      13 February 2016 at 20:22

      I’ll be on the lookout for a nice copy my friend


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