1997, Music

His Best (1997, MCA) by Bo Diddley

Along time ago R&B was actually something called rhythm and blues. This CD, which collects many of Diddley’s singles and b-sides from 1955 to 1966. His earliest music of 1955 – now his most iconic – lacks the country of Elvis and Carl Perkins, the gospel of Elvis and Little Richard, the manic intensity of the Killer, and the complete package and polish of Chuck Berry; Diddley is rawer and definitely on the rhythm side of R and B – except for “I’m a Man”, which is so blues Muddy stole it from Diddley.

But this music still made a huge impact on later rock (including rock roll). And such an assessment ignores the clear expansion of his sound after his initial success – in contrast to Berry, for example, who never really deviated from his successful formula – as a song like “Who Do You Love?” is definitely rock and roll rather than R&B.

And he gets even more interesting in his later sides, incorporating popular music (doo wop) and Latin influences as well.

The collection is actually surprisingly diverse compared to a lot of the other major R&B / rock and roll pioneers. He even seems to be the source of the endlessly annoying smack talk in hip hop (“Say Man”). And check out that range on “I Can Tell”.

Pretty essential stuff.


All tracks written by Ellas McDaniel, except where noted.

  1. “Bo Diddley” recorded March 2, 1955; 2:48
  2. “I’m a Man” recorded March 2, 1955; 3:02
  3. “You Don’t Love Me (You Don’t Care)” March 2, 1955; 2:54
  4. “Diddley Daddy” (McDaniel, Harvey Fuqua) recorded May 15, 1955; 2:28
  5. “Pretty Thing” (Willie Dixon) recorded July 14, 1955; 2:51
  6. “Bring It to Jerome” (Jerome Green) recorded July 14, 1955; 2:30
  7. “I’m Looking for a Woman” recorded November 10, 1955; 2:34
  8. “Who Do You Love?” recorded May 24, 1956; 2:30
  9. “Hey! Bo Diddley” recorded February 8, 1957; 2:14
  10. “Mona (I Need You Baby)” recorded February 8, 1957; 2:23
  11. “Before You Accuse Me” recorded August 15, 1957; 3:07
  12. “Say Man” recorded January 29, 1958; 3:16
  13. “Dearest Darling” January 29, 1958; recorded 2:54
  14. “Crackin’ Up” recorded December 1958; 2:07
  15. “The Story of Bo Diddley” recorded early September 1958; 2:54
  16. “Road Runner” recorded late September 1958; 2:48
  17. “Pills” recorded May 2, 1961; 2:52
  18. “I Can Tell” (Samuel Smith) recorded June 27, 1962; 4:35
  19. “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” (Dixon) recorded June 27, 1962; 3:16
  20. “Ooh Baby” recorded September 11, 1966 3:49

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