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Bo Diddley: Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger

Album Reviews:

Uncut (p.123) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[The album confirms] his status as both the most avant-garde and irresistibly good-time groover in the Chess stable."

Mojo (Publisher) (7/02, p.165) - "...Veering from the archetypal work'n'sweat of 'Sixteen Tons' and 'Working Man' to hard-as-nails rock in 'Cadillac' and 'Ride On Josephine'. It's a Bo classic."

Album Notes

Personnel includes: Bo Diddley (vocals, guitar); Peggy Jones (guitar); Jesse James Johnson (bass); Bill Downing, Frank Kirkland, Clifton James (drums); Jerome Green (maracas).

Recorded in Chicago, Illinois in 1960. Originally released on Checker (2977). Includes liner notes by Chris Morris.

Though Bo Diddley never achieved the commercial success of his Chess label mate Chuck Berry, his contributions to the early evolution of rock & roll are no less significant, and, if nothing else, Diddley should be enshrined for being so freaky, funky, and downright rocking--a perfect distillation of the genre's attitude. Fortunately, the music is irrepressible as well: The primal "Bo Diddley beat," the gospel-tinged backing vocals, the snaky shake of Jerome Green's maracas, and Diddley's tremolo-heavy guitar riffs and boasting shout-croon all come together in an exquisite rave-up package.

It's worth picking up 1960's BO DIDDLEY IS A GUNSLINGER for the cover art alone (Diddley in full cowboy regalia about to "draw" his mean-looking git fiddle). The music--cleaned up here on this 2004 reissue--is great too: Cowpoke clippity-clop rhythms join the melange of ballads, session patter, R&B, blues, and unbridled rock & roll energy. "Gun Slinger" and "Cadillac" rip things up in classic Bo style, whereas "Somewhere" goes tender and melodic, while "Working Man" borders on a field holler. This is one gem of a record.


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