Bo Diddley: Bo Diddley’s Beach Party

Bo Diddley laying it down live in 1963

The dense, primitive, and at times overmodulated sound of this 1963 live recording might be a negative if it didn’t reinforce the guttural punch at the core of Bo Diddley’s rock ‘n’ roll. Seemingly recorded with a single microphone, you can make out the drums, bass and guitar, as well as Diddley’s vocals, but it’s the combination of the instruments with hard driving rhythms and the incessant shave-and-a-haircut rhythm that gives the record its power. Diddley sounds fired up for these two summer performances at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, singing with abandon and giving his guitar a real workout. The crowd’s raucous response hints at the frenetic dancing that must have accompanied these performances, and Diddley works hard to keep the audience fired up.

The song list includes Diddley favorites “Gunslinger” and “Road Runner,” but also adopts and integrates folk tunes (“Old Smokey” and “Goodnight Irene”) and popular novelty hits (Larry Verne’s “Mr. Custer”) to the cause of keeping dancers on the floor. If you wondered why 1950’s parents were alarmed by rock ‘n’ roll, this rough, raunchy and ready live set will give you a hint. Diddley howls – literally – on “Bo Diddley’s Dog,” and his take on “I’m All Right” shows the Rolling Stones version on the T.A.M.I. Show to be more copy than cover. Originally issued in 1963, this album has been a tough find until this mono reissue brought the show into the digital age. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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