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Thread: Who's In to ZZ Top?

  1. #1
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 20,653
    I'm Martin.

    Default Who's In to ZZ Top?

    If you're not you should be. Yes, I know some people struggle to get past the beards. It's worth the effort though. You might think they are just another Texas blues band who went commercial in the 1980s. And they are, but they are also much more than that. Jimi Hendrix knew it way back in 1970.


    Here's my guide to checking them out. There are basically four periods of 'Top. Pre-beards, Post beards, Mainstream and Latter period. We'll start with pre-beards.




    ZZ Top's first album is called ZZ Top's First Album. This is essential, and arguably their best work. 3 piece Texas Blues, but well played and the guitar playing in particular is exceptional. Billy Gibbons never does anything fancy, you watch him play and you think 'I could do that' but you couldn't. (Well probably not: maybe you are shit hot and you could, or maybe you are actually Billy Gibbons in which case you demonstrably can. Point made, anyway).

    The highlight is 'Just Got Back From Baby'. If you have this new-fangled 'streaming' gizmo you can check out this one track and you will see the light . Play it at volume of course. This isn't wallpaper music.


    ***

    Next up is their third effort which you'd hope would be called 'ZZ Top's Third Album' but is in fact titled 'Tres Hombres'.



    More of what they did on the first one really, again this is essential. Highlights are 'Jesus Just Left Chicago' and 'La Grange'.


    ****


    Then we skip forward to album number six. We are now in the Post Beard era.



    Deguello is a bit of a mixed bag. Worth having for the cover of Sam n Dave's 'Cheap Sunglasses'. This was the first attempt by the Top to modernise their sound a little. It worked and the album went Platinum.


    ***


    And we move on into the Mainstream era and their next album which is the one everyone knows: 'Eliminator'



    The production is polished up another notch for this one. You'll all be familiar with 'Sharp Dressed Man' and 'Legs' but there is really no filler on this record. For me the best tune is 'TV Dinners'. Just a simple, grinding Texas blues but with some of the best guitar work ever done by anyone, anywhere, ever. The finest, dirtiest groove ever recorded in fact.



    ****


    Which brings us to the second album in this triumvirate, 'Afterburner':



    More of the same but with a much bigger production, more synths (not wheezing away like some prog band but sounding like bin lids being smashed together). A poppier feel to some of the tunes like 'Stages' and 'Rough Boy', but still some properly grinding guitar, especially on the Tap-esque titled 'Woke Up With Wood.'


    ***


    'Recycler' from '1990' is the final album in the 'commercial' period.



    The title may be tongue in cheek since the boys revisit some of the old riffs with this one but it is still well done. No more poppy stuff but the production on this is huge. It must be the 'biggest' sounding rock album ever recorded and sounds very impressive through a big rig. It's also one of the highest rated vinyl albums on the dynamic range database. The CD ain't too shabby either.

    No filler on this one either and if you liked the previous two then this one is also essential.


    ***


    Finally the last one I'd recommend checking out is Rhythmeen from 1996



    A return to roots, so if you liked the Pre-Beard era albums you'll like this too. Marred a little by too much compression I think (only got the cd, vinyl may be better if you can find one) but again some great Texas Blues on this one. How does he get that guitar sound? It's beyond dirty on this. It will actually make you smile just to hear it.

    Get past the beards, folks!
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 44,762
    I'm Grant.

    Default Who's In to ZZ Top?

    Used to have quite a few on vinyl. Sold em all. Lol
    They were in back to future
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
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  3. #3
    Join Date: Oct 2014

    Location: SE London

    Posts: 381
    I'm Richie.

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    No RGM?

  4. #4
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 20,653
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by martian sunrise View Post
    No RGM?
    I left out the albums that are an acquired taste. I don't even think the band themselves were that keen how on RGM turned out.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

  5. #5
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,191
    I'm Geoff.

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    'Nasty Dogs and Funky kings' is still my favourite ZZ Top track. It's short, mean and powerful! Perfect!!

  6. #6
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 17,614
    I'm openingabottleofwine.

    Default

    I'm quite fond of Mescalero, as well as One Foot in the Blues
    Have you listened to this month's choice in the Album Club?

    Barry

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jun 2014

    Location: Chorley Lancs

    Posts: 890
    I'm Steve.

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    I saw them live at Donington in 1985. It was at the height of their 'Eliminator' popularity.

    Their arrival was announced by a helicopter flying over the venue with that hot rod dangling from it (I bet health and Safety would have something to say about that these days).

    They were just brilliant, and probably the loudest band I've ever heard, especially considering it was outdoors. A good day out for rock fans I think, supported by Marillion, Metallica and Magnum.

    At that time, Frank Beard was the only one without one
    'I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested'

  8. #8
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 20,653
    I'm Martin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    'Nasty Dogs and Funky kings' is still my favourite ZZ Top track. It's short, mean and powerful! Perfect!!
    That has got the kick to it, no doubt. Probably shouldn't have left 'Fandango' out actually, but it's not one to start with I don't think.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

  9. #9
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,191
    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    That has got the kick to it, no doubt. Probably shouldn't have left 'Fandango' out actually, but it's not one to start with I don't think.
    Just played it. Wicked !

    Here's a YouTube link if anybody doesn't know it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8WNoG4pf6I

  10. #10
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 3,720
    I'm James.

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    They did a great gig at Glastonbuy a couple of years back. Billy Gibbons is certainly a dude and really like his laid back playing.

    Yep TV dinners is a great bit of music. Bought Eliminator again on vinyl recently just for this track.

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