Bo Diddley

Say Man

Song Review by

"Say Man" was Bo Diddley's one and only Top 40 pop hit, which seems pretty surprising when you consider the man's body of work -- while such obvious classics as "Bo Diddley," "I'm a Man," "Who Do You Love," "Mona," and "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover" never crossed over from the R&B charts, "Say Man," which sounds like a time-filling comedy routine by comparison, was the number that was embraced by pop radio and the single-buying masses. Go figure. But if "Say Man" is filler, it's sublime filler -- here Bo and Jerome Green (Bo's maracas player, and let's pause to mention no other artist would be so obsessed with rhythm and such a visionary that they would hire a guy just to play maracas) exchange comic insults for two and a half minutes in a cleaned-up version of a couple guys running the dozens. However, most guys ranking out on each other wouldn't have a backing track this good, an up-tempo shuffle that all but demands movement, and as it turns out Bo and Jerome were a great comedy team, with Jerome playing the clown with his wild laugh and exaggerated drawl ("You so ugly, the stork that brought you into the world oughta be arrested!"), while Bo stays cool as the unflappable tough guy, no matter how crazed his banter may be ("You that thing I throw peanuts at!"). In the grand tradition of Otis Redding and Carla Thomas's "Tramp," "Say Man" sounds like a bit of comic stage business that somehow made it into the recording studio, but like "Tramp" it happens to be pretty funny, and the music cooks -- though someone ought to tell Bo that Texas does not count as South America, even if I lack the courage to do it myself.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Go Bo Diddley 1959 Friday Music
No Image 1962 Not Now Music
The Story of Bo Diddley 1964 Pye 3:12
No Image 1981 Chess
No Image 1983 Chess
Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley 1986 Chess 2:30
The Chess Box 1990 Chess / Universal 3:10
Best of Bo Diddley [JCI] 1990 JCI Associated Labels 3:12
Cruisin' 1959 1991
Various Artists
Increase Records 3:39
Who Do You Love 1992 Snapper 3:12
Chess Rhythm & Roll 1994
Various Artists
Chess / MCA 3:15
His Best 1997 Chess / Geffen / Universal 3:17
Basic Blues, Vol. 1-3 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 3:13
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bo Diddley 2000 MCA / Universal Distribution 3:16
The Essential Bo Diddley 2001 Spectrum Music
Bo Diddley Rides Again/Bo Diddley in the Spotlight 2002 Beat Goes On 3:15
Rock & Roll: 50th Anniversary Collection 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 3:16
The Universal Masters Collection 2005 Universal Distribution
Chess Pieces: The Very Best of Chess Records 2005
Various Artists
Geffen / Universal 3:14
Blowing the Fuse: 29 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1959 2006
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 3:11
The Story of Bo Diddley: The Very Best of Bo Diddley 2006 Chess
The Definitive Collection 2007 Geffen/Chess 3:16
I'm a Man 2007 Geffen / Hip-O / Hip-O Select 3:13
Rock N' Roll Legends 2008 Polydor
Joel Whitburn Presents: Top Pop Treasures 1959 2008
Various Artists
Curb 3:15
Road Runner: The Chess Masters 1959-1960 2008 Geffen / Hip-O / Hip-O Select 3:08
Gold 2008 Geffen 3:14
Have Guitar Will Tour 2010 Music Avenue / Blues Boulevard 3:12
The London American Label, Year by Year: 1959 2010
Various Artists
Ace / Ace UK 3:14
I'm a Man: The Singles As and Bs 1955-1959 2011 Jasmine
The Cruisin' Story 1959 2011
Various Artists
One Day Music 3:12
Diddley Daddy: The Collection 2012 Music Club Deluxe
The Legendary Bo Diddley 2013 MCA 3:11
Rock 'n' Roll Master Blaster 2013 Metro Select
No Image
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 3:08
American Music Library: The Hits of 1959
Various Artists
Fantastic Voyage
Best of the Blues: Bo Diddely - Jungle Sound Éditions Atlas
Black Stars of Rock 'n' Roll
Various Artists
Documents
Essential Chicago Blues
Various Artists
Not Now Music
Golden Oldies Hit Series, Vol. 44
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 3:08
No Image Must Have Records 3:11
I'm a Man [Charly] Charly Records
On the Charts: 1948 to 1972 - Blues, Soul, R&B and Rock 'n Roll
Various Artists
AMC
Six Classic Albums Real Gone Jazz / Real Gone Music
The  Original Sound Of R&B 1959
Various Artists
Ideal 3:06
blue highlight denotes editor's pick