Review ·
There's a good reason you still won't hear Bo Diddley rockin' on your (satellite) radio. The man behind the eponymous hit from 1955 is one of those rare artistic concessions -- not to the mainstream, but the other way around. The placement of his debut single in rock 'n' roll history was a rare instance of democratic capitalism in the music industry: when creativity met a critical mass of public opinion, or when the consumers actually got what they wanted. The subsequent success of "Bo Diddley" (eighteen weeks on the R&B charts) was an exception made by a slow-to-change culture that also made a mental note, "That's the last time we let this fucker in." And understandably so: More than fifty years later, Bo Diddley's beat is still as vicious as ever.

I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958
is a welcome reminder that covers Diddley's formative years at Chess Records. Many of his signature hits -- including "Bo Diddley," "Diddy Wah Diddy," the pre-Mickey & Sylvia version of "Love Is Strange," and "Who Do You Love" -- were recorded in this fertile period and are included here. Heard together in this manner, the apparent primal simplicity surrounding the "Diddley beat" is fleshed out as deliberately carnal, like the pulsing throb of an adolescent heartbeat, and a landmark in rhythm ’n’ blues and rock 'n' roll.

Granted, as an early inductee to the Rock 'n’ Roll Hall of Fame and a bona fide icon among current young adults through his popular Nike campaign in the '80s, Diddley has already been well documented. Chess Box (1990) offered a thorough overview of his nearly career-long relationship with the label. However, I'm a Man brings greater depth to the conversation with an abundance of alternate takes that illustrate Diddley's rapid development. For example, three versions of "Bo Diddley" feature subtly different arrangements and key signatures, but reveal an adventurous and prescient use of the studio. Should Hip-O continue to explore Diddley's career in such detail and depth, then I'm a Man could become an essential serial in any popular-music fan's collection.


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Hi guys,

Many thanks for this great review of the new Bo Diddley compilation 2-CD set "I'm A Man: The Chess Masters 1955-1958" (Hip-O Select).

Visitors to your website may be interested to know that the only authorised Bo Diddley website is the BO DIDDLEY-The Originator website, which is located at

The website that you currently have a link to is one of many websites owned by an organization called and has no connection at all with Bo Diddley.

One of the founding fathers of rock & roll, Bo Diddley celebrates his 79th birthday on Sunday December 30th 2007 and we encourage all his many fans around the world to sign the BO DIDDLEY-The Originator website Guestbook with their birthday greetings and messages.

As we always do at this time of year, we are making special arrangements for Bo Diddley to view each and every one of your greetings. This is an opportunity for you to convey your appreciation and best wishes to one of the undisputed legends of rock & roll and a true original on the occasion of his 79th birthday.

Please sign the Guestbook, located at and show your support for The Originator - BO DIDDLEY.

Thank you very much.

David Blakey, Webmaster,
BO DIDDLEY-The Originator
A Celebration of his unique contribution to Popular Music.

David Blakey

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