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Retread beyond salvage

A Man Amongst Men
A Man Amongst Men
By Bo Diddley

Code Blue / Atlantic Records: 1996

Buy it on CD now from Amazon.com
Buy it now


This review first appeared in the August 2, 1996 issue of the North County Times.

Bo Diddley is crazy
Bo Diddley is sick
Bo Diddley is crazy
Bo Diddley is a lunatic

Those are the lyrics, anyway.

The truth is that Bo Diddley has settled into a comfortable, if frenetic, groove.

While his contemporaries, folks like Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, have continued their artistic exploration well into their seventh decade, recording some of their best music within the last few years, far too much of Diddley's new album is nothing more than a rehash of the same style he's been tearing up since he and Chuck Berry popularized rock 'n' roll in the mid-'50s.

It is, to be honest, a style he's very good at: high-amperage rock 'n' roll with simple lyrics and scintillating guitar licks.

But there's little new here – "Hey Baby" is a cheap rewrite of his classic "Who Do You Love," "Bo Diddley is Crazy" is remake of "Bo Diddley" and "A Man Amongst Men" is just a newer version of "I'm a Man."

Even the presence of Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Jimmie Vaughan can't save the majority of this album from mediocrity. Everyone seems stuck in a time warp, replaying musical clichés too old and overly familiar to be salvaged.

It isn't until the end of the CD that Diddley stretches at all. "Coatamundi" is a danceable little number with a Caribbean beat, and "Kids Don't Do It" is a pro-education rap song (with Philosopher G providing the rap).

Still, these two songs aren't enough to sustain this album. Save your money and buy one of the many Bo Diddley compilations from Chess Records.