Mind Over Matter: Nolan Strong & The Diablos

Dave Marsh wrote a book called "The Heart Of Rock 'n' Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made" which contains a little essay on 1001 different songs. Among these are two by Nolan Strong & The Diablos: "The Wind," and "Mind Over Matter."

Nolan Strong & The Diablos were something like the 5 Royales: a group at the cusp of soul, R & B, and rock 'n' roll. "The Wind" is an eerie, hushed vocal group record from 1954. Either Marsh did a really good job of describing it or the song is completely unique: I recognized it from his description within seconds, the one and only time I heard it on the radio.

"Mind Over Matter" is a somewhat different story. By 1958 these guys had created a really tough amalgam: a vocal group, a snarling lead guitar, a little cheesy organ for texture, and a song structure that takes you all the way around the steeplechase and past the grandstand waving the flag. Great lyrics round out the picture. This song belongs way higher than #967 on the all-time list, even though you've probably never heard it.

This song was later covered by the Temptations, recording under the pseudonym "The Pirates." Their version has a lazier beat and the guitar part is nowhere near as dynamic or propulsive as the one on the original.

An index of the 1001 songs with selected reviews can be seen here.

Mind Over Matter


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