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This review is from: Tres Hombres [Expanded & Remastered] (Audio CD)
This 1973 classic was where ZZ Top hit the big time, at least in the USA and especially in their native Texas. Unquestionably their finest album so far, they only really equalled it with Eliminator a decade later. Suffice to say that it contains two of their very greatest tracks in the scorching boogie of La Grange and the awesome blues-rock of Jesus Just Left Chicago, plus several more excellent tunes that beat anything on most of their later albums, including the gospel-fired Have You Heard, quality rockers Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers and Move Me On Down The Line and the opening Waiting For The Bus. Even the filler is pretty good and you unfortunately can't say that about most ZZ Top albums. The whole album is full of some of the best blues-rock guitar-playing you'll ever hear, from the widely underrated Billy Gibbons, and the rhythm section of Dusty Hill and Frank Beard is by turns rocking, funky or just rock solid - shame so many people can't see past the beards.
Now as detailed in some of the other reviews, this remaster has restored (and improved upon) the original sound of the 1973 lp, without the horrible artificial reverb added to the drums on previous cd editions. It sounds great.
Then on top of that, you get previously unissued live versions of three of the songs on the album: Waiting For The Bus, Jesus Just Left Chicago and La Grange. The first two of these, if anything, improve on the studio versions, with a lowdown Waiting For The Bus seguing into a superbly grungy take on Jesus Just Left Chicago, while La Grange rocks convincingly despite being a little on the loose side in places. While the recordings are not absolutely state of the art, given the unfortunate dearth of officially available live recordings of ZZ Top and the high quality of the performances here, carping about the (actually pretty decent) recording quality seems pointless - we want more of this stuff, not less, but what we've got here will do very nicely for the moment. But it's a shame they couldn't find any contemporary live recordings - these appear to be from around 1979-80, although you won't find that out from the CD booklet which gives no details at all of their provenance.