Derek Martin circa 2008
“Listen – Daddy Rollin’ Stone – MP3″
I hope you’ve all been slipping, sliding and grinding (oh my!) to the groove grease posted herein on Monday. I always slap these babies onto the iPod and play them at work all day long (though I managed to listen to all nine Beethoven symphonies (albeit quietly) one day last week). I just can’t get enough of that Hammond goodness, and I hope some of you feel the same way.
Last Friday, when I was working the decks at the Asbury Park 45 Sessions, my time (limited as it was) was coming to a close, so I quickly had to formulate and cue up my last two 45s. I had already planned on the Four Larks as my closer, but I had three or four sides hanging in the middle of the box so that I had some choices at just such a moment. As I flipped through the biscuits my attention was caught by an exceptionally hot and tasty one, that being Derek Martin’s ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’. I immediately slapped it on the table, cued it up and let it rip to great reaction, especially from the Empress herself.
Back in the Fall when I finally found a copy of this record down in Baltimore, I was – as they say – gassed. I’d been searching for it since the old Mod/Garage days, when I was first exposed to its intoxicating soulfulness via the cover by the Who.
It should come as no surprise that ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ was something of a Mod anthem (back in the OG Mod days), since it inspired covers by groups containing certifiable Mods, those being the Who (of course) and Johns Children (led by ace face Marc Bolan)*. Give the record a listen and you’ll see why.
Props must be distributed to our pals across the pond, because it was they, not we, who really embraced Black music from the States in a serious way, especially of the R&B and soul varieties. Drop the needle on ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ and hear the very template for smoky basement clubs crowded with parkaed souls, carried away by the spirit (and amphetamines).
Derek Martin (who, thanks to a reader, I got a picture off of his Myspace page) was a Detroit singer who got his start recording with the Pearls in 1954, moving on to the Top Notes (with pianist Dave Clowney, later known as Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez), and Jimmy Ricks and the Raves, with whom he first recorded ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ for Atco.
The song itself was penned and first recorded in 1953 by the mighty Otis Blackwell – best know for writing a grip of classic tunes like ‘Fever’, ‘Handy Man’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’.
Martin’s solo take on ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ is an absolutely inspired bit of groovery. Opening with a snappy little drum rol, the back-up singers (no less than crucial to the success of this record) fall by with the WAAA WAAA WAAA’s and then Derek himself whips out a little Ray Charles–ery and the whole things gets rolling like a Sherman tank of cool, verily unstoppable. The call and response action between Martin and the girls is pure brilliance, with a crazy bit of stop/start action that sets my hair on end every time I hear it. There’s a very cool sax solo, then Derek comes back and takes the whole thing home.
And then there’s the words, which are of course one hundred percent BAD ASS.
I got a friend named Coley**,
He’s got a girl named Chris,
I’m gonna steal that girl though he’s twice my size,
‘Cause I know how to do it like this.
Do WHAT brother?
I think I know.
This is the kind of stuff to make your backbone snap and your feet start burning up the floor.
Makes you want to close all the windows and turn up the heat on account of you NEED to be sweating when this monster is chewing up your HI FI.
So stomp your hands, clap your feet and feel the soul, ‘cause if this doesn’t do it for you…
*There’s even a very nice version from the 70’s by the New York Dolls
**Most transcriptions I’ve seen name Derek’s “friend” as “Cody”, but I’ve listened to the song a bunch of times and I keep hearing something closer to “Coley”. If anyone knows for sure, let me know.