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Two beards & one Beard,
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This review is from: Rancho Texicano: The Very Best Of ZZ Top (Audio CD)
I`ve got a bit of a thang for Southern rock, whether it`s straight down the line
Lynyrd Skynyrd, the more country-tinged Marshall Tucker Band, or this pared to the bone trio.
Other reviewers have rightly pointed out that the Top were more compellingly basic and gritty on their first few releases, until their commercial breakthrough Eliminator, but that era gave us three imperishable hits in Sharp Dressed Man, Legs and the classic Gimme All Your Lovin`, a strong contender in the Greatest Singles Ever stakes.
I must admit though that it`s CD1 that is the more nutritious, with tracks taken from their first six records - they`d already been around quite a while - from 1970`s "First Album" to 1979`s Deguello. They had such a bluesy, rootsy sound and feel, with Billy Gibbons showing what a very tasty guitarist he is, a match for anyone. Some of his riffing, and many of his solos, are masterclasses in discreet brevity and the ability to say a lot without saying too much.
Highlights on CD1 for me include La Grange, Jesus Just Left Chicago, the immortal Tush, the slow Blue Jean Blues, It`s Only Love, their Sam & Dave cover I Thank You,
and the cheap & cheerful Cheap Sunglasses.
Apart from the big hits already mentioned, CD2 is a more mixed bag. Tube Snake Boogie and Pearl Necklace (wonder what they could possibly be about!) from their last pre-Eliminator album El Loco get things going in fine style, then come the three biggies in a row. A standout is the wonderful Rough Boy, a brooding ballad with some of their old swagger, albeit with a slinky production, all disco-y drums and echo, but with some of Gibbons`s most evocative guitar. A great track, not quite ruined by longtime Top producer Bill Ham. My Head`s In Mississippi is another great track, a deep, threatening blues gumbo of ornery vocals and insinuatingly sinewy guitar.
Late surprise hit Viva Las Vegas is of course here (a southern band whose covers are via Sam & Dave and Elvis - go figure!) in its irresistible if unlikely pomp, with a witty vocal nod to Presley en route. Two unnecessary remixes end this second disc in an anti-climactic lack of sensitivity on the compilers` part.
All in all, I`m left thinking what a tremendous 80-minute CD I would have compiled, had they asked me - funny, they never do - but it`s good to have over an hour and a half of ZZ in one place, and who can begrudge such an unassuming band their wish to be better known.
Mostly essential stuff, with at least half a dozen no-question classics.
Long live and all hail the resonantly named Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard - the one without a beard. You couldn`t make `em up!
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Initial post: 31 Aug 2013 17:33:20 BDT
Agreed in all respects!! CD one must always be played at full volume. On my iPad I always sequence Cherry Red and PCH straight after Jesus Just Left Chicago. Billy's use of pinch harmonics in the solos is one of my all-time favourite effects.
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