on 2 May 2010
Assured of his place in the history of popular music as the creator of the famous Bo Diddley beat, not to mention his influence on a slew of musicians from the 50s to the present day, there has always been more to Ellas McDaniel than the rather one-dimensional, cartoonish figure who gave 'shave and a haircut, six bits' to rock'n'roll. Happily this quality CD from Ace goes a long way towards rectifying this relative injustice.
Starting out as a classically trained violinist, and cutting his teeth in the newly electrified blues clubs of Mississippi and Chicago, Bo brought each of these influences to bear on his songwriting, as well as elements of jazz, soul, gospel and r'n'b. What emerged from this melting pot was quite unlike anything ever heard before - a percussive, insistent, hypnotic rhythm that, among many other things, emphasised the African roots of rock'n'roll. But Bo did much more as well. He wrote doo-wop style melodies, as witnessed by 'Love is Strange'. He created classic boy-girl pop in 'Dearest' He tapped into the Westside conjunto soul of the Tex-Mex border towns with 'I'm Sorry'. He experimented with the basics of rap & funk, and he created THE greatest garage-band intro ever (in my opinion) with 'Road Runner'. And the story goes on - you can find his influence on everyone from Alice Cooper & Marilyn Manson to ZZ Top and The Who, as well as Jimi Hendrix, the Black Eyed Peas, George Michael, Billy Joel, Bowie and Elvis. In fact whatever your musical or stylistic fetish - oddly-shaped, outlandishly covered guitars, surreal and amusing lyrics, experiments with reverb & distortion, female instrumentalists - Bo's influence is likely to be in there somewhere.
On this impressive offering from Ace you will find twenty-four excellent interpretations of Bo's work, ranging from the classics (Pills, Mona, I'm A Man) through comparatively less well known gems (Oh Yeah, Cadillac, I Can Tell) to some of the best kept secrets in rock'n'roll (Mama Can I Go Out Tonight?). Timewise, recordings span a period of almost 50 years from Mickey & Sylvia in 1957 to Gizzelle in 2007. And we get a fabulous range of performers too, ranging from Buddy Holly to the Iguanas (with Iggy Pop) via Dr Feelgood, the Everley Brothers, the New York Dolls and the fabulous CC Adcock. Further proof, if it were needed, of the quality and wide appeal of this music.
Bo Diddley is a songwriter? Oh Yeah!
on 8 July 2010
For all you folks who said, in the past, Diddley's ok, but he's all "shave-and-a-haircut-twobits" [rhythm], here are 24 reasons to reassess.
For me, this st is so solid that the lightest entry is actually by Buddy Holly!
(Interesting that Holly had two 1960s U.S. chartmakers with Bo Diddley material; of course, he hit the Top 10 in the U.K. in 1963 with "Bo Diddley").
The Everlys also charted internationally with Bo's "Love Is Strange". This tune also became a cool live-set piece for the duo.
Delbert McClinton has a hip entry on "Before You Accuse Me" but I think that some folks might have enjoyed the Creedence Clearwater Revival version even more (though, natuarlly, more common). Another perfect marriage of lyrics and beat.
It's fun to note how succssfully many of these artists got a "Bo Diddley sound" on their renditions - another facet of Ellas M. that has been ignored over the years -he went for a new sound...and got it! The maraccas bouncing off the clouds and shaking the ground below.
Standout tracks are Jo Ann Campbells' "Mama (Can I Go Out Tonight)", a teenage rite of passage about that awkward "breaking out"; the New York Dolls' take on "Pills", surely a non-hit but something that will make the next millenium; the Downliners' Sect "Cadillac" also moves. (Anybody ever hear Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis' workout on this one?). Oh yeah, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates do ust fine on "I Can Tell" - man, I love that song!
As always, the packaging and liners are superb. Ace has aced it again!