"Record Collector" magazine, London, England, Issue #354, October 2008:
Bo Diddley - Road Runner: The Chess Masters 1959-1960
A trademark riff and a whole lot more
The second volume in an ongoing series, half of these 52 tracks are being commercially released for the first time, culled from both the Chess vaults and Diddley’s own library of home studio recordings. It’s hardly the ideal starting point for anyone belatedly alerted to Bo following the rock’n’roll pioneer’s recent death, more akin as it is to a treasure trove for those already converted.
There are three versions apiece of Come On Baby and Let Me In, four of She’s Alright, but it’s the unheard tracks that offer the most variations on Diddley’s trademark “chugchug- a-chug” sound. Gonna Tell It Like It Is boasts a vocal howl reminiscent of Little Richard, while Darling Tell Me is about as close to street corner doo *** as a bespectacled man with a rectangular guitar has ever been.
The home recordings are the most revealing, not just for the diversity of musical styles on show, but for the primitive attempts at multi-tracking, with bum notes and wobbly tempo changes lovingly preserved. It’s nothing less than the basic building blocks of a fiercely creative and often overlooked talent.