1958, Music

Bo Diddley (1958) [Compilation]

I don’t like reviewing compilations normally and I try to avoid them as much as possible. But this record is an exception because, prior to this record, Bo Diddley had never released an LP, just singles, for about 3 years.

Diddley’s early singles are the point where rock and roll and the blues meet. He’s more blues than even Chuck Berry, and he lacks the strong gospel influences of Little Richard. He (obviously) lacks the strong country influences of the rockabilly performers. Instead, he’s blues through and through (see for instance “I’m a Man” or “Before you Accuse Me”), which is often not distinguishable as “rock and roll” accept in his songs with his famous “Bo Diddley Beat” and the songs where he otherwise varies blues tradition.

Bo Diddley didn’t invent his eponymous beat; it’s an old African rhythm and it had been used in American music for at least a decade prior to Diddey making it his own. But make it his own he did – he is synonymous with this rhythm because most of his best rock and roll songs have it and because literally the entire rock world copied it to some extent or other because of these songs. There’s a whole chunk of rock music that doesn’t exist if Bo Diddley doesn’t make these early singles (blues rock in particular).

That’s what makes this record a big deal: it collects his early singles in one place. In addition to being innovative rhythmically (and prioritizing rhythm over literally everything else, unlike his contemporaries), Diddley is also an engaging singer, though his lyrics are kind of awful (look at those titles…).

One of the essential rock and roll records.


All tracks written by Ellas McDaniel (i.e. Bo Diddley), except where noted.

  1. “Bo Diddley” 2:30
  2. “I’m a Man” 2:41
  3. “Bring It to Jerome” Jerome Green 2:37
  4. “Before You Accuse Me” 2:40
  5. “Hey! Bo Diddley” 2:17
  6. “Dearest Darling” 2:32
  7. “Hush Your Mouth” 2:36
  8. “Say, Boss Man” 2:18
  9. “Diddley Daddy” Ellas McDaniel, Harvey Fuqua 2:11
  10. “Diddy Wah Diddy” Ellas McDaniel, Willie Dixon 2:51
  11. “Who Do You Love?” 2:18
  12. “Pretty Thing” Willie Dixon 2:48

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