Monday, June 09, 2008

Bo Diddley in Rock's Back Pages


Rock's Back Pages has made a number of articles on the late, great Bo Diddley available for free this week.

Charles Shaar Murray's extremely insightful defense of Bo Diddley (NME, 1975):

THE WHOLE THING about Bo Diddley was that he was by far the weirdest and craziest musician ever to come out of either blues or rock in the '50s.

Unlike Chuck Berry, he made next to no attempt to relate to white high school kids and articulate their fantasies in a voice that could pass for white on the radio. Diddley was black-ass from the word "funky", and the bemused white critics who referred to his work as "jungle music" weren't as far off the beam as might at first be supposed. Primitive it was, sure, but it had a kind of preternatural sophistication, plus a healthy dose of animal cunning – and you'd best believe you could dance to it.

Richard Williams compares Chuck Berry & Bo Diddley (Melody Maker, 1971):

I suppose you could sum it up by saying that while Berry gave the music its hot-rod speed and the ability to create lyrics relating to the teenage infrastructure, Bo contributed the "dirtiness," the earthy down-home quality. His innovations as a guitarist were surely crucial, too; many a budding picker must have been turned inside out by the intro to ‘Roadrunner’, or by the reverb on ‘Hey Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut’.

Cliff White thoroughly enjoys a trans-Europe jaunt with Bo Diddley and others (NME, 1975):

Bo is fairly well known by British audiences, and although he hasn't received half of the kickback that is his due, he is at least assured of a prominent place in R&B's hall of fame. But even British fans haven't seen him performing 'I'm A Man' with Billy Boy Arnold on harmonica. (Whatd'ya mean "so what?" Billy Boy was the harpist in Bo's first band who played on the original recording. Together they turned the clock back to Chicago, 1955, and if that doesn't stir your imagination you might as well start digging a 6-ft pit right now).

Carol Cooper is highly impressed by Bo live in NYC (Newsday, 1995).

Hank Bordowitz talks guitars with Bo Diddley (Guitar Player, 1996).

"I’m against all that stuff today where a guy just sits back and pushes a button," he insists. "You’ve got to learn to play your instrument, then learn to push the buttons if you get lazy. If the thing breaks, you’re in trouble, you dig? We should not rely on transistors. We should learn to play our instrument so if you are plugged up to something and the sucker quits working, maybe you can take an acoustic guitar and make the gig, so you can pay your rent. I learned that a long time ago, bro."

Gunslinger (live) [right click to download]

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