Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley. RIP.

His sound an onslaught, the weirdest of the ‘50s rockers, full of fine excess -- the cataclysmic bellowing desire of “Dearest Darling”; the hot lead guitar and mysterious menace of “Who Do You Love?” (prefiguring my favorite Rolling Stones song, “Jumping Jack Flash”); the pan-rhythmic beat and rollicking noisy humor of “Say Man”; the glorious lust and tidal monochord of “Mona”; the proto-ZZ Top groove shuffle of
“Bring It to Jerome”; the proto-Yardbirds sonic guitar sculpting of “Pretty Thing”; the titanic groove and grooves.

He wasn’t a lot of things. He wasn’t a glorious voice like Elvis, Little Richard, or Roy Orbison. He wasn’t a brilliantly poignant lyricist like Chuck Berry. He wasn’t an endlessly inviting good-time roller like Fats Domino. He
wasn’t a stately blues icon like Muddy Waters.

But his songbook rivals any ‘50s rock writer’s for breadth and depth, and a
s a singer he brought a rare raucous humor and wildness to records that have yet to lose their vitality after more than 50 years. The rhythm named after him retains its excitement, and his rhythmic mastery extended far beyond his eponymous beat.

More than that -- his sound and approach may have been the most influential of any early
rocker’s. He went further into the sonic mysteries of noise + excitement than any of the other classic 1950s rockers, and his timbres and riffs sound less dated than anybody’s of his era; more than any other single guitarist, he made the blueprint for Guitar Rock.

Make way, ye dead! A wide musician and powerful spirit has joined you.

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