Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Bo Diddley - Bo Knows Instrodotdotdotdot
artworkThis is a very ambitious set of Bo Diddley instrumentals. Why-oh-why don't the holders of these tracks release CD's like this web-only compilation? This is a great slab of tracks from the man who invented rock'n'roll (just my humble opinion).
Picks: Bo's Bounce, Help Out, Shank, Mumblin' Guitar, Bo's Guitar, Diddling, Congo, Aztec, Give Me A Break (Man), Corn Bread, Stay Sharp, The Twister, Untitled Instrumental, Detour, Diddling, Sad Sack, Roller Coaster, Surf, Sink or Swim, Scuttle Bug, Fireball, Quick Draw, Low Tide, Stinky, Travelin' West, Watusi Bounce, Spanish Guitar, The Clock Strikes Twelve

Track by Track Review


Bo's Bounce dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is almost Freddie King like, with a bouncy blues riff and a great rhythmic chunk. Quite jam like, but Bo's slidin' chokin' guitaristry is too much fun. It fades long before it should end, probably because it was an improvisation at the time of the recording.

Help Out dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Echo trembled guitar fronts this pure Bo Diddley track. It sounds like it might have been from the same sessions that produced the Two Great Guitars album. I'm basing this on the mix and the sound of the piano, Bo's guitar, and the rhythm section. It's infectious and very cool!

Shank dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This track is more typically Bo Diddley, rhythmic, vibratoed, and 15 IPS echoed. It has the sense of highway flight, and sports exquisite glissandos. Chunky and oh-so cool!

Mumblin' Guitar dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

From 1959, this track is a fast track Bo Diddley beat instro, with the lead guitar using a tremolo and mean tone everywhere. Bo is using some sort of Magic Bag technology that gives the guitar notes his words... a very strange track just waiting for the surf to find it. Very cool.

Bo's Guitar dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Tribal drums and shimmering fast tremolo guitar rely partly o the same beat and rhythm as "Say Man," and sound like they are from that era as well. Cool chop chords and tinkly piano.

Diddling dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Diddling" is in a cool bluesy groove, jammin' with smooth picking and throbbing second guitar vibrato. Deluxe damped chops, a relentless rhythm, and a semi-menacing sound. Very good.

Congo dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Congo" uses a regular rock beat, but has the pace and fun of the great Bo Diddley tracks, and his great guitar tone as well. Bo's signature guitar tone and playing style make this all fun and no slacking off. You can't sit still for this one.

Aztec dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those wonderful fifties tunes Bo Diddley created that woulda-coulda been a surf monster if picked up by the right band. The vibrato guitar and swooping slides are spectacular. Any intro fan should have this, and besides, who is more important to guitar rock than Bo Diddley. Peggy (Jones) Malone a.k.a. Lady Bo played lead guitar on "Aztec." Recorded in 1961.

Give Me A Break (Man) dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

When Bo Diddley's band plays a fast blues while he flies around his guitar, you just wanna get up and run around the block! "Give Me A Break (Man)" truly that. manic double picked flurries, and those great Diddley chords! Oh yeah, the walking bass is superb!

Corn Bread dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Moving with a slow sinewy shuffle, "Corn Bread" is a gentle shimmering tremolo wonder. In some ways, it sounds like there's a touch of Booker T. and the MG's influence, which is entirely possible via its recording date of 1965 and its title. The easy but stinging guitar is just too cool!

Stay Sharp dotdotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Previously unreleased, this track comes from the same "at-home" tape that yielded "Pills." It's murky sound testify to it's demo origins. It was recorded in Washington, D. C. on May 2, 1961 with Bo Diddley (guitar), (possibly) Lady Bo or Billy Johnson (guitar), Jesse James Johnson or Chester Lindsey (bass), Billy Downing or Edell Roberts (drums), and Jerome Green (maracas).

The Twister dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The chord progression Bo used so effectively in "Road Runner" gets a work out here. This is a rockin' jam.

Untitled Instrumental dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This 1961 Previously unreleased instro is a shimmering track, melodic and pretty, with the tremolo effect set at warble on Bo's guitar. This straddles the fence between rock and MOR, being infectious, very well written, and smooth, yet clearly Bo Diddley magic. His use of harmonics predates nearly all other artists. Great track.

Bo's Twist dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a moderately interesting number, much in the vein of the frat rockin' fifties, jam guitar riffs and a Leslie console churning. Just OK.

Mess Around
Rock (Instrumental)

"Mess Around" seems to me like it's way under developed for a Bo Diddley instro, but perhaps the harsh stereo of guitar left, band right. What is interesting is the

Detour dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

An adventure down a path less taken, especially for Bo Diddley, "Detour" presents a rolling open two-lane cruise on a Hog. The wind is in your face, and Bo is playing in fine form. Much more melodic and less rhythmic than his classic "sound," this features tremolo and a round sound. No relation to the Duane Eddy tune.

Billy's Blues (Part 1) dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Piano and bongos and guitar kinda buried in the mix, which echo drenched and pretty lo-fi. The riff is very cool, with an infectious circling progression.

Diddling dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Diddling" is in a cool bluesy groove, jammin' with smooth picking and throbbing second guitar vibrato. Deluxe damped chops, a relentless rhythm, and a semi-menacing sound. Very good.

Sad Sack dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

What a cool track! A walking bass line, exotic drums (though they're mostly indistinct in the mix), and a mysterious guitar line more like something out of 1968 than the late fifties. A huge pre-psychedelic event, mystical and very adventurous.

Roller Coaster dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The main rhythm pattern is similar to "Diddley Daddy," and so is the pace. The harmonica plays lead during much of the song. "Roller Coaster" is very earthy and bluesy. Great drums, pumping bass, and a very honest emotional blues vibe.

Surf, Sink or Swim dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

No reverb here, but in its place is Bo Diddley's classic distortion and long pre-psychedelic sustain created in part by the use of chamber reverb. "Surf, Sink or Swim" is more a jam than a song, yet it seems more durable than most such efforts. Raw sax breaks amped by a bit of extreme reverb complete the picture.

Scuttle Bug dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Scuttle Bug" is a classic early blues jam with lots of 15 ips slap back and cool plinking piano. It's mostly about the progression and piano, both of which are excellent.

Fireball dotdotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Previously unreleased, this track was recorded July 25, 1966 with Bo Diddley (guitar), The Duchess (guitar), Chester Lindsey (bass), and Clifton James (drums).

Quick Draw dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Quick Draw" has classic Bo Diddley beat and guitar interplay. This pattern Bo Evolved from the diddley bow is so infectious that it doesn't really matter much if it's not very melodic. You just can't sit still!

Low Tide dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Moody tremolo guitar plays a nifty riff above booming bass and a slow walkin' blues jam. There are some reverbed guitar parts that lend a hand, and you can well imagine early surf guitarists hearing Bo Diddley this way in their reverb soaked heads.

Stinky dotdotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

This track was originally on what became the 500% More Man album master, but was replaced by the title track. It was recorded July 25, 1966 with Bo Diddley (guitar), The Duchess (guitar), Chester Lindsey (bass), and Clifton James (drums).

Travelin' West dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Great rolling piano and shuffle beat drive this murky little gem into can't-sit-still territory. The basis is not far from the backtrack to "Say Man" stylistically. The piano is very very cool!

Watusi Bounce dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Stereo bounce echoed production doesn't do much to elevate this beyond the basics. My guess is that if the echo were stripped out that it would have all the power and charm of "Who Do You Love." So, product aside, the song is infectious and rhythmically compelling. Perhaps it was intended as a vocal backtrack.

Spanish Guitar dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Spanish influences, Bo Diddley chops, hints of "Jezebel," and tribal drums... There's lot's here to like! The classic tone and the moody melody are perfect above the lusty rhythm track!

The Clock Strikes Twelve dotdotdotdot
Bowed Bass Dirge (Instrumental)

This amazing track was issued in 1958 as the B-side of Say Man. It features Bo Diddley playing bowed upright bass as the lead instrument, and a very dark almost dirge ambiance decades ahead of it's time. A very cool track - no surf, not even guitar, but what a monster.