Review #455: Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley

Karla Clifton
3 min readNov 5, 2023

#455: Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley

Pardon my language, please. But this is some bullshit. BULLSHIT. This is just two albums! Taking up one slot! I don’t even think this is a compilation album — it’s not on the Wiki page for his discography, and RS simply says it’s “a repackaging of his first two records.” “Dearest Darling” appears on BOTH RECORDS.

But it is on the list, and I’m not a quitter. Okay, done bitching. Ahem.

Bo Diddley made rock and roll what it is. He’s got a beat named after him, and once you hear it in George Michael’s “Faith,” you can’t unhear it. We’ve already seen CCR cover his “Before You Accuse Me (Take A Look At Yourself).” And I kept being struck by how many songs started out exactly like George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” — see “I’m A Man” and “Oh Yea.” Imagine, a world without “Bad to the Bone!”

Diddley might have gotten his somewhat pejorative nickname from a Zora Neale Hurston story, but more likely he got it from his friends. And Diddley had some cool-ass friends. He apparently taught Jerome Green how to play maracas, which he did so successfully that Green shows up in Keith Richards’ autobiography. Green sounds like the second-coolest person on the planet when he sings co-lead on “Bring It To Jerome.” He also gets featured on the insult-hurtling “Say Man,” where he calls Diddley “that thing I throw peanuts at.” That’s the kind of insult only a true friend can get away with. I also love his harmonica players — see “You Don’t Love Me (You Don’t Care)” and “Little Girl.”

But Diddley is the cult of personality at the center, so much so that a lot of these songs are simply named after him. See “Bo Diddley” and “Diddley Daddy.” (Though NOT “Diddy Wah Diddy,” which is about a mythical place.) And he was a one-of-a-kind guitarist — though you can’t see it on either of these album covers, Diddley played a rectangular guitar called a “Twang Machine.” He showcases it on the instrumental “Bo’s Guitar.” Then he tilts it and plays the violin on “The Clock Strikes Twelve.”

Unfortunately, Diddley claimed that he wasn’t paid any royalties for any of his hits until 1989, due to a bad contract. In fact, “Hey! Bo Diddley” was later reworked into “Pay Bo Diddley.” He was bitter about it, saying, “I am owed. … I’ve never got paid. A dude with a pencil is worse than a cat with a machine gun.” This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a Black artist complain about getting shafted on royalties, so it’s hard to blame him for his bitterness. I’ve never had a recording contract, but it seems to me that labels still love taking advantage of artists. Can’t wait for that shoe to drop.

Fun Fact: Bo cameos in Trading Places!

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