BO’S BREAKS

Bo Diddley: Go For Broke
Bo Diddley: Bad Side of the Moon
From Another Dimension (Chess, 1971).

Bo Diddley: I’ve Had It Hard
From Where It All Began (Chess, 1972)

All three also on Drive By Bo Diddley, Tales From the Funk Dimension, 1970-1973.

I was cleaning out one of my folders and realized that I had digitized a few Bo Diddley songs for a post meant to commemorate his life after his passing this year…but then forgot to put them up. Oops. Please file under “better late than never.”

The first two come off of DIddley’s Another Dimension, an album he recorded for Chess in the early ’70s. I have no idea how these went over with Diddley’s older fans but for funk heads, it’s always been one of his best albums, largely thanks to the drum work by John Birganti who just nails a few ace breaks on this album. Birganti (I’ve also seen his name spelled Briganti) is a curious figure; he only appears on a few albums, including a Ben E. King LP, but he actually helped write “Go For Broke” and certainly adds a defining touch to many of the songs on this album.

“Bad Side of the Moon,” I was surprised to learn, was originally an Elton John song; you would have sworn it was some Dr. John tune given that its swamp funk feel. Once again, Birganti laces this song with a beaut of an opening break, especially as it drops in from that echo effect at the intro.

“I’ve Had It Hard” is one of the many Bo songs to use his much vaunted, clave-influenced “Bo Diddley beat.” It’s so much a part of his musical signature that once you hear that little “bam-bam-bam…bam-bam” shuffle come in, you instantly think of Diddley. This one’s from Where It All Began (always loved the cover art for it), another one in his early ’70s catalog, though this one leans back towards his blues material compared to Another Dimension.

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