Daddy Rockin’ Strong: A Tribute to Nolan Strong & The Diablos

Posted on December 23, 2010 by

And, at number nine:

Artists: Various
Title: Daddy Rockin’ Strong: A Tribute to Nolan Strong & The Diablos
Label: The Wind 002
Released: September, 2010

Nolan Strong & The Diablos were not a band that was underappreciated by followers of vocal group harmony. To the general public though, they don’t have the recognition of groups like the Orioles or Moonglows. Only one of their singles broke nationally; “The Way You Dog Me Around” b/w “Jump, Shake & More,” hitting the number twelve position on the national R&B charts. But around Detroit in the 1950s, these guys were kings. They were a franchise group at the Motor City’s Fortune Records. Their 1954 single, “The Wind,” was rated the eleventh best Detroit record out of 100 in the Detroit Metro Times, nestled between “Kick Out the Jams” and “Smokin’ In The Boys Room.”

Nolan Strong was the link between Clyde McPhatter and Smokey Robinson. He was a master of the falsetto and also a great songwriter. The majority of the songs on Daddy Rockin’ Strong have come from the pen of Nolan Strong, and some from Devora Brown – a co-owner of Fortune Records. And knowing the practice of the music industry, I wouldn’t doubt that Nolan lent a strong hand in writing the Devora Brown numbers.

Daddy Rockin’ Strong is thirteen tracks in tribute to the Diablos, all covered by bands that have roots in sixties garage, but an obvious appreciation for Nolan Strong. One exception to that rule would be a surviving label mate of Strong’s, Andre Williams. In the past two decades, Andre’s musical spectrum has expanded, but in the sixties, he put out some gritty R&B. He covers Strong’s only national hit, “The Way You Dog Me Around.”

The album opens up with “The Wind,” a strangely produced cover by Mark Sultan, the other half of King Khan & Bab-B-Q. It’s literally fingernails on the guitar strings, sliding up and down the fretboard creating an eerie ambiance behind Sultan’s falsetto.

The Dirtbombs contribute the title track, which is a twist (a polite euphemism for rip off) of “Daddy Rolling Stone.” Greg Cartwright’s Reigning Sound rocks a version of “Mind Over Matter,” one of the more popular tracks amongst Strong followers. In fact the A-Bones riff on it in the closing of their cover of “Real True Love.”

Guitarist Lenny Kaye, the compiler of the great Nuggets collection and member of Patti Smith’s band performs the ballad, “I Wanna Know.” Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby to a fine interpretation of “I Wanna Be Your Happiness,” sounding like a new millennium Mickey & Sylvia. And from beyond the grave, Cub Koda, another Detroit rocker, a founding member of Brownsville Station, contributes, “You’re The Only Girl Delores.” The song was originally released in 1994 on is album, “Abba Dabba Dabba.”

There were some good tribute albums released in 2010. Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows, the John Prine tribute record was very good, as was Twistable, Turnable Man the Shel Silverstein collection. But I’ll take the Daddy Rockin’ Strong as my favorite tribute record of the year. The record rocks (And it’s available on clear vinyl for a price). It shows Strong’s recognition of a good hook. It also displays a great cast of musicians that definitely have a strong feeling for the Diablos.

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