While his best studio work captured Bo Diddley and his band redefining rock & roll rhythm within the confines of the vinyl 45, this Live set for Triple X Records catches the six-string slinger at the opposite extreme. Recorded in Woodstock with a trim bass, drum, and double guitar lineup (ornamented by occasional female backing vocals), Bo Diddley and company stretch out on some of the longest performances of the singer's career. Rather than dip into his impressive catalog of early rock classics, the band turns up a batch of more obscure compositions, rendering them as sprawling rhythm workouts. Unfortunately, the group sounds more like a fresh unit finding their feet in rehearsals than a seasoned live unit. Diddley's guitar tone is brittle and his muddled rhythm work is hardly the commanding force it once was. The singer's lead guitarist (and occasional rhythm spar) seems to be testing the waters throughout. Diddley's trademark locomotive guitar strum is present, however, on the opener, "He's a Hell of a Man," and "Bad Dad," while "Don't Handle the Merchandise," "Get Up, Get Down," and "Can I Put My Finger in It" all ride skeletal funk frames. Diddley does manage the odd solo too, though these amount to jumbled bursts of jagged chords that wear out their welcome rather quickly. As a musical document, Live hardly does justice to this skilled axeman and rock legend.
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AllMusic Review by Nathan Bush