As you may recall from some of my earliest posts, I relied on certain lists and rankings, to include Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, to help shape my selection, particularly for artists for whom I’m somewhat of a novice. Today’s selection, “Go Bo Diddley”, which is rated as the 455th greatest album on that list, was certainly an anticipated highlight for me.
There are few artists more directly influential on the music most central to my life than Bo Diddley. The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, George Thorogood and just about every other rock and roll band with even a hint of the blues in their sound leaned on the infamous Bo Diddley beat at a minimum, if not covering his songs as well. As I listened to this album, I was surprised by how diverse the song selection was, and candidly, a bit disappointed I didn’t hear more of the signature songs I trace directly back to this blues master. This was one of those times when after the album finished, I went back to some of his most famous tracks like “I’m a Man”, “Who Do You Love”, and “Bo Diddley” to complete my experience.
That extra-credit project aside, there are certainly some outstanding, if less familiar songs, on “Go Bo Diddley”. I particularly like “The Great Grandfather”, “Little Girl”, “Don’t Let It Go” and “The Clock Strikes Twelve”, which erupts with that ever-present Bo Diddley riff that is also embedded in “I’m a Man”. Of all the tracks on this album, my favorite has to be “Oh Yea”. Bo Diddley set an early example in using his music to let all around him, male and female alike, know who was in charge that night. His bravado and self-confidence was even passed down to generations ahead when hip-hop M.C.s battled their way to be king of the hill.
If you had any doubt where Bo was coming from, a verse or two from “Oh Yea” will let you know where it’s at:
“I got a little woman, she ain’t very tall, she says she loves me, me best of all”
“I roll around, I have a lot of fun, she always whispers to me softly, yeah Bo Diddley, you the one”
Words to live by, I think we all want to be Bo Diddley. I know I do.