Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Bo Diddley: The Chess Box [Chess, 1990]
Robert Palmer's noble notes to this modest two-CD collection makes all the connections I'd been noticing (kids' culture, rap) as well as plenty I didn't (to ring shouts, gospel, habanera). Palmer notwithstanding, Bo's lyrics aren't up there with Chuck Berry's, although they signify for sure. But of course the key is rhythm, or rhythms--there are as many diddleybeats as there are Diddley songs. The '80s were Bo's time to take his rightful place among the great originators for the same reason they were James Brown's time to ascend to the top of the heap. A+