Tuesday, November 27, 2012

ZZ Top - First Album

First Album
ZZ Top, or as many people would call them, That Little Ol' Band From Texas, is truly a band with staying power. 14 albums (Well, soon to be 15), 40 years, and NO lineup changes, they are truly one of a kind and a rare breed indeed. It's hard to imagine this band any other way: The gutsy vocals and deep-fried pickings of Billy Gibbons, the rattling bass of Dusty Hill, and the excellent drumming of Frank Beard (the only one without a beard, thank you very much). The band has virtually reinvented the blues, almost to a self-parody of sorts (I'm of course talking about their 80's blunders, which they have made up for with their more recent heavy albums). But all seriousness aside, they are just a good fun rock and roll band, and that's all their music is.

ZZ Top's first album, which came out in 1971, is a fantastic introduction to their boogie rock stylings. While it doesn't have any of the big hits that became their calling cards, it does establish their sound, their attitude, and their quirks. The songwriting is already unique in itself, using clever double entendres in their sexual repertoire. Each song just hits hard, whether it's the radio-friendly Somebody Else Been Shaking Your Tree, the mean riffing of Brown Sugar, or the laidback grooves of Squank and Backdoor Love Affair.

The band also doesn't mind getting a little heavy in the riff department, as songs like Going Down To Mexico showcase a mean British side to their blues rock. One can say that Billy was a fan of Black Sabbath during this time even! Also, what's prevalent on here and not on future releases are slow ballads, and Old Man is definitely one of those, a slow burner with a lot of soul.

All in all, it's a great intro to the world of Top; slick but unpolished, raw but professional, bluesy and rocking all at the same time. That's the Top for ya. 

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