[17] The Temptations, ‘Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone’

The Temptations

Ninety seconds in, Junior’s getting restless: “When does he start singing?” “Well, are you sure there’s even going to be singing?” I’d already told her the title – which amused her, of course – and if a song’s got a title, particularly an intriguing one like that, there’s going to be singing, isn’t there? Makes no sense otherwise. That’s what her eyes told me. Then in came Dennis Edwards, “It was the 3rd of September…”

So Junior was happy, but even if she had little patience for the extended, cinematic Blaxploitation-style intro, that’s what makes the record stand out. The story’s a good one – “Bad talk going around town…” – but the bassline’s the driver, swaggering in in fancy shoes and making off with all the loot. And that ain’t right.

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