Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Tres bien! Gillette poster boys "Zed Zed" Top outdo themselves with an almost spotless half hour of heavy blues. Years before Frank Beard was replaced by a machine, he was free to rock the kit with gut-bucket shuffles and tasty fills. This is where the trio really sharpened their sound, marrying classic blues riffs with clever arrangements and lyrics. Opening with the stellar one-two punch of "Waitin' For the Bus" and "Jesus Just left Chicago" the pace is set and never drags. Headphone fanatics have a virtual Billy Gibbons symphony with plenty of dirt under the fingernails playing across the stereo spectrum.
One of the best in the business, Gibbons overlays an impressive and tasteful series of guitar tracks that are expertly supported by Hill and Beard.
My own proper introduction to the group involved a massive herbal jazz cigarette and a mind blowing car ride with "ZZ Top's First Album" and this gem as the soundtrack. "Eliminator" had just come out around this time and following my epiphany with the earlier (and far superior) stuff, I decided that wine was a hell of a lot better than grape juice.
Lots of FM favorites sprinkled throughout the disc ("Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers", "La Grange") and they make sure not to wear out their welcome, keeping the the material short and sweet. WARNING: Look for a vinyl copy of this (and all other pre-eighties ZZ Top) because someone thought it would be great to give the older LPs an "updated" sound for re-release on CD. This means horrible sounding drums, boosted in the mix with far too much reverb and guitars that lack the presence they had on the original analog versions.
Apparently, if some fine southern gentlemen ask you to step into a metal cage that's tied to the back of a pick up truck, you really shouldn't do it.