Bo Diddley

Ride On: The Chess Masters, Vol. 3 - 1960-1961

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One of the great things about Bo Diddley, something that often goes unmentioned, is that he was a home-recording pioneer, building his own studio years before any other rocker. The full fruits of this labor can be heard on Ride On: The Chess Masters, Vol. 3 -- 1960-1961, Hip-O Select's third installment in their complete Bo Chess/Checker masters and easily the weirdest set yet. All 54 songs here were recorded over the course of 13 months: a whopping 17 them have never been released (an additional seven have never seen release in the U.S.), every one of them was cut in his home studio in Washington DC, and not a one reached the charts. That lack of commercial success should in no way be seen as an indication that the music on Ride On is subpar -- odd and messy, yes, but the music here is fueled by a mad genius that could only have flourished in a hothouse setting like a personal home studio. Bo wound up succumbing to every studio habit that would eventually become cliché: he messed around with tempos, tinkered around endlessly with the same theme, left instrumental backing tracks without vocals, sped up his own voice to create an alter ego (Frankie Jive, who jousted with Bo on the "Say Man" rewrites "Funny Talk" and "Bring Them Back Alive"), kept sloppy notation so records by other musicians were called his (Peggy Jones claims to have recorded everything on the instrumental "Aztec"). On top of this, Diddley wrote a clutch of cheap, infectious dance-rock cash-ins, appropriated old folk tunes as his own, wrote plenty of self-mythologizing tunes ("[Bo Diddley's A] Gunslinger," "Bo Diddley Is an Outlaw," "Bo Diddley Is a Lover," "Bo's Vacation"), and tossed off some killer-diller jokes and a few classic rockers like "Ride on Josephine," which gives this collection its name. Much of this music was heard on the classic LPs Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger and Bo Diddley Is a Lover, but in many ways the way to hear it is on this wild, woolly complete compilation, where all the flights of fancy sit next to the big, booming rockers, where the variety proves Bo to be the visionary he is.

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