Once Upon a Song Ago: Johnny Hates Jazz, “Turn the Tide”

In short order, an oral history I’ve put together for Johnny Hates Jazz’s debut album, 1988’s Turn Back the Clock, will be going live on Popdose, but while it serves as a great introduction to the band and their most famous album while also serving as a link to their new album, 2013’s Magnetized, it makes no attempt to tackle the material the band produced between those two records.


It should not be forgotten, however, that after Johnny Hates Jazz’s original lead singer, Clark Datchler, made the decision to depart the ranks more or less as Turn Back the Clock was released (though there are some who say he’d considered this plan of action before they’d even finished recording it), the band opted to soldier on, bringing back the gentleman who’d co-written and sung on the demo their very first single, 1986’s “Me and My Foolish Heart” – Phil Thornalley, who, for better or worse, tends to be better known for his work as a producer and songwriter than as a musician – and emerging with a new single in 1989 called “Turn the Tide.”

Alas, the title of “Turn the Tide” did not prove prophetic for Johnny Hates Jazz’s commercial fortunes: the single only climbed to #84 on the charts. It would be another two years before the band managed to release their sophomore album, 1991’s Tall Stories, by which point the single was so far in the rear view mirror than it didn’t even manage to make it onto the record as a closing track. It has, however, turned up on the band’s various best-of collections.

Please, hold your jokes about how a band with only two albums hardly warrants a best-of collection, let alone a couple of them. Just accept that that’s the nature of the major-label beast…and, in finding that acceptance in your heart, have a listen to the song in question. It’s quite good, really.

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5 Responses to Once Upon a Song Ago: Johnny Hates Jazz, “Turn the Tide”

  1. Ray Sawhill says:

    Sorry to leave this here — couldn’t find any other way to contact you.


    If you’re a fan of ’60s rock and pop, you might enjoy this interview I did with De De Mollner, who was a dancer on the TV show Hollywood A Go Go. Lots of sexy glimpses of the early ’60s art-and-pop scene in L.A. Plus I’ve dolled the interview up with loads of links, pix, and YouTube videos from the show. Dig that cute and funny “I Shot the Law” performance. Thanks for taking a look at it.

    Ray Sawhill

  2. Pranav says:

    “Turn The Tide” is a criminally under-rated song. It is a shame it only peaked at #84. The songs never seems to get boring. I can’t for the life of me understand why it did not feature on “Tall Stories”.

  3. Jamon Scott says:

    Thanks so much for shedding a little light on this era of the band. It’s such a shame that the “Tall Stories” album has been retconned out of existence on the band’s website. Had it received a proper release with “Turn the Tide” as the first single, things might have been different. I’m sure Thornalley’s and Nocito’s accident didn’t help matters, either. “Last to Know” should have been a big hit, as well. Very “Heart of Gold”-ish, in my opinion. Very excited about “Magnetized”, which I just discovered and ordered on Amazon. Long live Johnny Hates Jazz and Phil Thornalley, too!

    • will says:

      One of these days, I’m going to publish my oral history of Johnny Hates Jazz’s “Turn Back the Clock.” I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever put together, but Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito literally threatened to contact their attorney if I ran it. Apparently, when I told them I wanted to do the piece, it never occurred to them that I’d planned to talk to the others who’d been involved in the band at the time they made the album, even if they aren’t in the band any longer. I don’t know if they really have a leg to stand on, anyway, but I figured I’d better play it safe. The long and the short of it, though, is that I offered them the opportunity to respond to the statements that Calvin Hayes made within the piece, and that’s when the threat came forth, so that’s what I get for trying to produce an even-handed piece, I guess!

      • Jamon Scott says:

        Wow. What a shame. As is the case with a lot of bands, it sounds like egos prevented us from getting a lot more music from this talented bunch of guys. I look forward to reading your piece if it ever sees the light of day.

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