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Bo Diddley - Surfin' With Bo Diddleydotdotdotdot
artworkSurfin' With Bo Diddley is a historical oddity. Aside from keeping up with the Jones, it's hard to imagine why Chess did this with one of rock'n'roll's progenitors, but they did! On some tracks, Bo Diddley uses his reverb and twang coupled with his style to great effect, and on others, it's almost as if he wasn't at the session, which used to happen in the record business back then! The stand outs are "Old Man River," "Surfboard Cha Cha," and "What'd I Say."
Picks: What Did I Say, Surfboard Cha Cha, Surf, Sink or Swim, Surfers Love Call, Wishy Washy, Hucklebuck, Old Man River, Low Tide

Track by Track Review


What Did I Say dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Well, this is interesting. Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" done instrumentally in more or less an R&B style, with horns and a soulful backtrack. Added for that surf feel is a reverbed guitar playing muted chops and even doing some Dick Dale-ish string pulls. While not the real deal, it's pretty darn cool.

White Silver Sands dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Don Rondo's "White Silver Sands" is done with a saucy sax lead and organ taking the jammy breaks. Mostly a rock jam.

Surfboard Cha Cha dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Boy is the lead guitar Dick Dale-esq! Liberated directly from his version of "Sloop John B," it creates a nearly genuine surf appeal. Cool plinking piano and a solid rhythm section. Way cool!

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.

Piggy Back Surfers dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is an instrumental treatment of "You Don't Love Me" done more like Booker T. and the MG's than a surf band. It's a typical studio session, though it has a stinging edge.

Surfers Love Call dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

Echoed tremolo guitar drives this Bo Diddley vocal. It's a ballad featuring his great voice. Man, was he an original! "Surfers Love Call" is a rendering of "Indian Love Call" written in 1924 by Rudolf Friml. This version owes a lot to the many country interpretations.

Twisting Waves dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Organ, guitar and sax riff rock a la Stax-Volt sessions. Not at all surfy, except for the moderately inclined break.

Wishy Washy dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Wishy Washy" is an organ instro with a sow Stax-Volt jam sound. Similar to Booker T. and the MG's, it's not particularly memorable. There are some muted reverbed plucks here and there, and a surf guitar playing a blues jam in the break.

Hucklebuck dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Some cool surf tone guitar licks behind a Stax-Volt jam. Mostly organ and sax dominated, "Hucklebuck" just doesn't grove much until the surf guitar comes into the middle. That part is oddly cool.

Old Man River dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Muted reverbed chop chords play havoc with Jerome Kern's classic from 1927's Show Boat. While totally different than other surf covers, Bo Diddley's version id entirely cool, with tremolo guitar and Steve Douglas-like sax. Great stuff!

Oops He Slipped dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Oops He Slipped" is all Stax-Volt jam wholly dependent on Booker T. Jones style organ and Steve Cropper-ish guitar chords. There is reverbed guitar in the break, but it's only surf connection is the shallow reverb.

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.