Friday, May 20, 2011

498: ZZ Top - Tres Hombres

Well, I didn't have anything to do tonight (for some reason, my Friday evenings tend to be the most boring), so I decided to listen to another one of the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums.  MOG didn't have Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign, so I had to skip it and move to the next (I'll get back to Mr. King eventually; I ordered the album on vinyl).  That would be ZZ Top's third album, Tres Hombres.

Release Date: July 26, 1973
Label: London

I'm not real familiar with ZZ Top, but I have heard a couple of their hits on classic rock radio over the years.  They also made an appearance on The Simpsons, when Bart runs into them and says, "Hey, you're ZZ Top! You guys rock!" One of the band members replies, "Eh, maybe a little."

Three songs in, I agree with them.  They do rock...a little.  They have a bit of a hard rock sound, with strong rhythm, and somewhat of a blues influence.  The first four tracks are all upbeat blues rock songs, with what I would call a typical ZZ Top sound.  There were no surprises there.  "Master of Sparks" was the first I really liked.

"Hot, Blue and Righteous," the last track on the front side, is the first ballad.  It is a typical, pedestrian ballad, and at just over three minutes, is not given nearly enough to develop like a ballad properly should.

The back side starts well, with "Move Me On Down The Line."  This is a driving rock song, with an excellent lead guitar part and the type of riffs you would expect from a good 70s hard rock song.  Again, at two and a half minutes, this song could have been so much more.

The overall sound of this album is a bit too muddy for my tastes.  The vocals are fairly low in the mix, and the rhythm guitar has a very low tone, muddled tone.  This seems to be fairly common in this type of music.

The middle track on the back, "La Grange," is an excellent track, and one of the aforementioned hits.  This song never had much of a melody, but it does have excellent drumming, and, in my opinion, one of the greatest riffs in rock music.  You know the one: bahda da da da da d daah daah....

The album ends with "Sheik," a lighter song with a fairly loose feel and a little bit of jamming, and a straight-up blues song, "Have You Heard?"

This is a record that I consider very listenable, but unessential.  They are a very typical blues rock band, without any major innovation or creative genius.  The singing is nothing to write home about, but they have proven that they can come up with some great riffs.  The back side is far superior to the front, so if you check it out, focus your energy on that.

1Waitin' for the Bus2:59
2Jesus Just Left Chicago3:29
3Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers3:23
4Master of Sparks3:33
5Hot, Blue and Righteous3:14
6Move Me on Down the Line2:30
7Precious and Grace3:09
8La Grange3:51
10Have You Heard?3:14

Two stars.  I am really temped to give them an extra star or two, just because of those awesome beards.


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