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Gilding the Lily,
By A Customer
This review is from: Sharp Dressed Men: a Tribute to Zz Top (Audio CD)ZZ Top were always due a tribute album, and on the surface it seems right that their music gets the country treatment. To be fair though, it's pretty obvious right from the start that it's the country folks that are getting a little more of the blues treatment than the reverse.
Straight out - the best cover here by a long chalk is Hank Williams Jr's "Jesus Just Left Chicago/Waiting for the Bus" - most of the voices on show here are a little too "clean" to match the trademark ZZ Top growl 'n howl, but Williams takes the song and wrings its neck. It's the only version here that you might think is better than the original.
And that's the problem. This album shouldn't be about comparisons with the originals, but about a different take on a clutch of classic blues songs.
Sadly, much of the rest is simply close covers of the originals, inflected with country vocals and a whole heap of "production". Once or twice - Alan Jackson's "Sure Got Cold..." for example - a country arrangement gets a proper look-in, but you'll be excused for expecting a little more.
ZZ Top built their sound on just three instruments, played sparingly but brilliantly. The temptation to start playing around with production values, adding horn sections, slide guitar and a wall of sound doesn't really add a lot to the completeness of the originals. One or two ideas here are interesting, but what you're basically getting is country musicians rocking out. As the liner notes say: "country music, at its core, is just the white man's blues"; all this album shows is how true to the roots of blues ZZ Top have always been.