ZZ Top – Tres Hombres (1973)

FrontCover1Tres Hombres (Spanish for “three men”) is the third album by the American rock band ZZ Top. It was released in 1973. The album was the first time the band worked with Terry Manning as engineer. It was a successful combination as the release was the band’s commercial breakthrough. In the US, the album entered the top ten while the single “La Grange” reached number 41 on the singles charts (meanwhile, “La Grange” debuted number 33 on the American Top 40 broadcast on June 29, 1974).Tres Hombres (Spanish for “three men”) is the third album by the American rock band ZZ Top. It was released in 1973. The album was the first time the band worked with Terry Manning as engineer. It was a successful combination as the release was the band’s commercial breakthrough. In the US, the album entered the top ten while the single “La Grange” reached number 41 on the singles charts (meanwhile, “La Grange” debuted number 33 on the American Top 40 broadcast on June 29, 1974).

At the height of ZZ Top’s success in the mid-1980s a digitally remixed version of the recording was released on CD and the original 1973 mix was no longer issued. The remix version created controversy among fans because it significantly changed the sound of the instruments, especially drums. The remix version was used on all early CD copies and was the only version available for over 20 years. A remastered and expanded edition of the album was released on February 28, 2006, which contains three bonus live tracks.

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The 2006 edition is the first CD version to use Manning’s original 1973 mix. Subsequent releases on digital platforms such as iTunes have used the original mix as well.Reception
The album was released in July 1973 to a lukewarm reception. Steve Apple in a September 1973 review for Rolling Stone felt that while the “Southern rock & roll sound” was becoming popular, ZZ Top themselves were “only one of several competent Southern rocking bands”, though they had “an advantage over most white rockers” because they “sound black”. Apple felt that ZZ Top had “the dynamic rhythms that only the finest of the three-piece bands can cook up. Billy Gibbons plays a tasty Duane Allman lead with Dusty Hill and Frank Beard pounding out the funky bottom”, and were “one of the most inventive of the three-piece rockers” but wondered when “audiences will get tired of hearing the same … ‘Poot yawl hans together’ patter.”

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In 2003, the album was ranked number 498 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2012, the album ranked at number 490 on a revised list. The album peaked at number 8 on the Billboard 200. In July 2013, 40 years after its release, the album was described by Andrew Dansby in the Houston Chronicle as “… full of characters and doings so steeped in caricature – yet presented straight-faced – as to invite skepticism. The album is stuffed with color and flavor, much like its famous gate-fold photo on the inside: a gut-busting couple of plates of food from the much-beloved but now-closed Leo’s Mexican Restaurant on Lower Westheimer.”
The two tracks “Waitin’ for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” segue seamlessly into each other. Although there are many stories of it being a “mistake”, it is in fact an intentional effect according to the album’s engineer Terry Manning, who performed the edit.
The only single released from the album was “La Grange” (b/w “Just Got Paid” from the band’s second album Rio Grande Mud) which peaked at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100. (by wikipedia)

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Tres Hombres is the record that brought ZZ Top their first Top Ten record, making them stars in the process. It couldn’t have happened to a better record. ZZ Top finally got their low-down, cheerfully sleazy blooze-n-boogie right on this, their third album. As their sound gelled, producer Bill Ham discovered how to record the trio so simply that they sound indestructible, and the group brought the best set of songs they’d ever have to the table. On the surface, there’s nothing really special about the record, since it’s just a driving blues-rock album from a Texas bar band, but that’s what’s special about it. It has a filthy groove and an infectious feel, thanks to Billy Gibbons’ growling guitars and the steady propulsion of Dusty Hill and Frank Beard’s rhythm section. They get the blend of bluesy shuffles, gut-bucket rocking, and off-beat humor just right. ZZ Top’s very identity comes from this earthy sound and songs as utterly infectious as “Waitin’ for the Bus,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “Move Me on Down the Line,” and the John Lee Hooker boogie “La Grange.” In a sense, they kept trying to remake this record from this point on — what is Eliminator if not Tres Hombres with sequencers and synthesizers? — but they never got it better than they did here. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Frank Beard (drums, percussion)
Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals)
Dusty Hill (bass, background vocals, vocals on 03.)
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James Harman (harmonica on 01. + 02.)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Waitin’ For The Bus (Gibbons/Hill) 2.53
02. Jesus Just Left Chicago (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.30
03. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.26
04. Master Of Sparks (Gibbons) 3.32
05. Blue And Righteous (Gibbons) 3.18
06. Move Me On Down The Line (Gibbons) 2.32
07. Precious And Grace (Gibbons) 3.10
08. La Grange (Gibbons(Hill/Beard) 3.53
09. Sheik (Gibbons/Hill) 4.07
10. Have You Heard? (Gibbons/Hill) 3.15
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11. Waitin’ For The Bus (live) (Gibbons/Hill) 2.42
12. Jesus Just Left Chicago (live) (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.03
13. La Grange (live) (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.44
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Rare German single (front + back cover)

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Record ad

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ZZ Top – Deguello (1979)

FrontCover1Degüello is the sixth studio album by the American rock band ZZ Top, released in 1979.

“Degüello” means “decapitation” or, idiomatically, when something is said to be done “a degüello”, it means “no quarter” (as in “no surrender to be given or accepted–a fight to the death”) in Spanish. It also was the title of a Moorish-origin bugle call used by the Mexican Army at the Battle of the Alamo, Texas, in 1836. It was the first ZZ Top release on Warner Bros. Records and eventually went platinum.

Degüello was produced by Bill Ham, recorded and mixed by Terry Manning, and mastered by Bob Ludwig. (by wikipedia)

Just before Billy Gibbons (vocals/guitars), Dusty Hill (bass/vocals) and Frank Beard (drums) successfully integrated synthesizers into their formula, 1979’s Deguello further nudged Texas’ proudest boogie-blues outfit into the big time. Gibbons’ bedrock riff and sneaky vocal melody on iconic single “Cheap Sunglasses” still loom large on a modern FM soundscape shaped in part by indebted groups like the Black Keys, while the warped “Manic Mechanic”underscores their importance to future genre-manipulating misfits (and avowed ZZ Top acolytes) such as Ministry’s Al Jourgensen. But 1983’s Eliminator’s willfully gimmicky string of videos forever colored the band’s image, leaving some with the misconception that Gibbons, Hill and Beard are mere goofballs, thus sadly resigning the essential Deguello and its preceding LPs to relative under-appreciation. (by Rollin Stone)

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Degüello opens with a cover of Sam & Dave’s 1968 Soul hit “I Thank You”, written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. ZZ Top’s version takes the Soul roots and treats it with Texas flavored blues-boogie, with Gibbons vocals being extra rough but potent. “She Loves My Automobile” is more blues with the added synthesized horn arrangement by Hill complimenting Gibbon’s bluesy guitar solos.

“I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” is more rock oriented than the previous tracks with a cool drum shuffle by Frank Beard. The song is cut a bit rough with the overdubbed guitars, but this ultimately adds to the overall charm of the song, which was released as a single. A cool outro goes into a bit of a funk with a backing clavichord by Hill. The fine beat-driven ballad “A Fool for Your Stockings” is sonically different than anything else on the album, with a few excellent, mood-driven guitar instrumentals above dry and pointed bass and drums. Side One ends with “Manic Mechanic”, a unique and almost Frank Zappa-esque track with oddly-produced spoken vocals over strong rock and funk riffing.

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Like the first side, the second starts with a cover. Robert Johnson‘s “Dust My Broom”, was made most famous by Elmore James in the 1950s and ZZ Top’s version sticks pretty close to that version with a pure, standard blues arrangement and some slide guitars. “Lowdown In the Street” is back to a more edgy approach, with an interesting vocal arrangement that complements the main riff. “Hi Fi Mama” features Hill’s only lead vocals on the album and he employs a Little Richard-type hyper approach to the vocals. Musically, there is a nice back-n-forth between Gibbons’ guitars and Hill’s synth horn arrangement.

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The album’s climax comes with “Cheap Sunglasses”, built on a consistent groove which has been derided as either a rip-off of Edger Winter’s “Frankenstein” or Blind Faith’s “Had to Cry Today” (or both). No matter the case, this is a musical highlight for the band, with a long, cool, middle section built on a bass groove and key riffs with some bluesy lead guitar by Gibbons and great drumming by Beard throughout. After a final verse, the song slowly dissolves through scaled back groove. “Esther Be the One” is the most like a standard late seventies pop/rock song, with a full arrangement of dual guitars, keyboards, and a great bass groove to top off the album.

The platinum selling Degüello reached the Top 40 on the charts and sparked the group’s first tour of Europe in 1980. More importantly, it re-ignited ZZ Top’s career and introduced the band to a new radio audience, which brought even more popularity through the early 1980s. (by classicrockreview.com)

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ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres. During their time off, ZZ Top didn’t change much — hell, their sound never really changed during their entire career — but it did harden, in a way. The grooves became harder, sleeker, and their off-kilter sensibility and humor began to dominate, as “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Fool for Your Stockings” illustrate. Ironically, this, their wildest album lyrically, doesn’t have the unhinged rawness of their early blooze rockers, but the streamlined production makes it feel sleazier all the same, since its slickness lets the perversity slide forth. And, forget not, the trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time. Undoubtedly one of their strong suits. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Frank Beard (drums, percussion, alto saxophone on 02. + 08.)
Billy Gibbons (vocals, guitar, baritone saxophone on 02. + 08.)
Dusty Hill (bass, background vocals, vocals on 06. + 08., tenor saxophone on 02. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. I Thank You (Porter/Hayes) 3.26
02. She Loves My Automobile (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.23
03. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.47
04. A Fool For Your Stockings (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.17
05. Manic Mechanic (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.36
06. Dust My Broom (James) 3.09
07. Lowdown In The Street (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.50
08. Hi Fi Mama (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.26
09. Cheap Sunglasses (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.48
10. Esther Be The One (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.31

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ZZ Top – One Foot In The Blues (1994)

FrontCover1One Foot in the Blues is a compilation album by the American blues rock band ZZ Top, released in 1994 (see 1994 in music). The album contains a selection of the band’s songs which fall into the blues genre. With the exception of the songs taken from the Degüello, El Loco, Eliminator and Recycler albums, the 1987 digital remixes were used. (by wikipedia)

Before they sweated their image down to beards, babes and hot rods, ZZ Top were a down ‘n’ dirty blues-rock trio with a bonafide hot guitar player in Billy Gibbons. On this 14-track offering, Warner goes back through the back ZZ catalog and cobbles together an interesting collection of the Texas trio’s bluesier sides that originally appeared on their earliest albums. Highlights include “Brown Sugar,” “A Fool for Your Stockings,” “My Head’s in Mississippi,” “Apologies to Pearly” and Gibbons’ storming stringwork on “Bar-B-Q.” (by Cub Koda)

Wow, where do I start with this compilation of Texas’s greatest Little Ole Band from Texas ! I love this album. Alot of these songs didnt get alot of airplay , but they are some of my favorite ZZTOP song’s of all time .These songs are the reason I love ZZTOP , Oldman, Hot,Blue and Righteous,Sure got cold after the rain fell, Bron Sugar,I need you tonight, 2000 blues ! All these songs on one album. ya gotta get it. (by Judy Kopeck)

And “Hot, Blue and Righteous” and “Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell” are one of the finest rock ballads ever written.

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Personnel:
Frank Beard (drums, percussion)
Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals)
Dusty Hill (bass, keyboards, background vocals, lead vocal on 06.)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Brown Sugar (Gibbons) 5.20 Originally from ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)
02. Just Got Back From Baby’s (Gibbons/Ham) 4.09 Originally from ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)
03. A Fool for Your Stockings (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.16 Originally from Degüello (1979)
04. I Need You Tonight (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 6.15 Originally from Eliminator (1983)
05. She Loves My Automobile (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.23 Originally from Degüello (1979)
06. Hi Fi Mama (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2,24 Originally from Degüello (1979)
07. Hot, Blue and Righteous (Gibbons) 3.17 Originally from Tres Hombres (1973)
08. My Head’s In Mississippi (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.20 Originally from Recycler (1990)
09. Lowdown In The Street (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.49 Originally from Degüello (1979)
10. If I Could Only Flag Her Down (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.39 Originally from Eliminator (1983)
11. Apologies To Pearly (Gibbons/Hill/Beard/Ham) 2.44 Originally from Rio Grande Mud (1972)
12. Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell (Gibbons) 6.47 Originally from Rio Grande Mud (1972)
13. Bar-B-Q (Gibbons/Ham) 3.21 Originally from Rio Grande Mud (1972)
14. Old Man (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.32 Originally from ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)
15. Certified Blues (Gibbons/Beard/Ham) 3.25 Originally from ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)
16. 2000 Blues (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.42 Originally from Recycler (1990)
17. Heaven, Hell Or Houston (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.32 Originally from El Loco (1981)

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Still alive and well … ZZ TOP in 2017

ZZ Top – Where’s Frank (2002)

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ZZ Top’s 1973 album, Tres Hombres, might have gotten them known throughout the United States (it went No. 8 on Billboard) and singles such as Tush, I Thank You and Cheap Sunglasses continued to keep their name in circulation, but it is Eliminator (1983) and Afterburner (1985) that really made the bearded rockers superstars. Like many acts who made it big in the ’80s, ZZ Top also had MTV to thank – it’s hard to imagine the MTV generation forgetting the clips for Legs and Sharp Dressed Men. By then, guitar fans had also realised that Billy Gibbons is an extraordinary guitarist and the group’s crunching boogie rock is as distinctive as Mark Knopfler’s licks.

But for this show, John Douglas (who is better known as a drum tech and artist) sat in for Frank Beard (hence the title of the disc) who had to have emergency appendix surgery. This is how Douglas explains the gig:

John DouglasI was playing with X O X, a fairly popular band here in Houston when Frank Beard of ZZ Top came to see the band. He liked my drums and asked if I could paint a kit for him. That chance meeting has turned into a 17+ year friendship over which I have created 13 custom drumkits and traveled the world with ZZ Top as Frank’s drum tech.

In October of 2002, while on tour in Europe, Frank had an emergency appendectomy and I was asked to fill the drum spot. So with very little sleep and no rehearsal I played three sold out shows starting in Paris. In a career spanning 30+ years, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees ZZ Top have never performed without those three original guys, until then. Mucho thanks to Billy, Dusty and Frank for trusting me up there behind the kit. It was an honor and I had a blast!

A reviewer at zzlive.com commented: “This drummer did a super fine job, just perfect in fact. In an odd way, the drums almost seem to be too perfect. Without knowing it, I think most fans, even diehards would not know that this was not Frank Beard playing.”

This disc has just surfaced and thanks to Joe Blotz Records & Lawn Care for sharing the tracks.

Recorded live at Le Zenith, Paris, France; October 14, 2002.
Very good soundboard.

ZZTopPersonnel:
John Douglas (drums)
Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals)
Dusty Hill (bass, vocals)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Introduction 0.21
02. Tube Steak Snake Boogie (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.26
03. I Thank You (Porter/Hayes) 3.25
04. Pincushion (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.23
05. Got Me Under Pressure (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.13
06. Waitin’ For The Bus (Gibbons/Hill) 3.00
07. Jesus Just Left Chicago (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.53
08. Future Blues (Brown) 3.53
09. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.52
10. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.39
11. Rough Boy (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 5.21
12. Mexican Blackbird (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.11
13. Cheap Sunglasses (Gibbons/Hill/Beard)
14, Just Got Paid (Gibbons/Ham)
15. I Love The Woman (Myles/Nath)
16. Bang Bang (unknown) 5.30
17. Gimme All Your Lovin’ (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.31
18. Sharp Dressed Man (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.48
19. Legs (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.59
20. La Grange (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.58
21. Tush (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.31

ZZ Top with John Douglas on drums

ZZ Top with John Douglas on drums

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