Friday, January 23, 2009

January 23: ZZ Top, "Tres Hombres"

Artist: ZZ Top
Album: Tres Hombres
Year: 1973
Label: Warner Bros.

Let's begin by getting the whole "beard" thing out of the way, shall we? Yes, they have beards. YES, they are awesome. Done? Good.

Long before ZZ Top got pigeonholed by their cliché song, "Legs," they were one of the baddest blues-rock bands around. Their down and dirty Tres Hombres is a true testament to their ability and place amongst the finest in music history.

Sleazy guitar riffs, a menacing rhythm duo, combined with the signature dual-lead vocals, define the signature sound of ZZ Top. Lyrically, they are a "mans" band as their lyrics tend to revolve around drinking, women, and raising hell (pun intended). With song titles like "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" and "Hot, Blue and Righteous," the band is quite forward with their musical muses. "Waitin' For The Bus" and "Jesus Just Left Chicago" are absolute classics and sitll blow away nearly every wannabe blues-rock band to this day.

Each song on Tres Hombres is as rockin' blues as one can possibly conceive. While groups like Zeppelin had their own "spin" on blues-rock, ZZ Top are purists and keep things to a very "rootsy" feel. Along with the ten studio recordings, the 1987 and 2007 re-issues of Tres Hombres also feature a trio of live recordings from the supporting tour.

Easily the most notable song on Tres Hombres is the now legendary "La Grange." Outside of The Animals, one would be hard pressed to find a better tune about a house of ill repute. The guitar riff on "La Grange" is absolutely unmistakable and is certainly among the most revered "tasty licks" in a guitar players' bag 'o tricks. For the record, there are, in fact, lyrics to the song as well...quite good ones actually.

ZZ Top are truly living legends of the music scene. From their trademark tone to their distinct fashion ideas, ZZ Top been a staple of blues-rock for nearly 50 years. Tres Hombres finds them at the top of their game and the record is a definite "must hear" for everyone.

Standout tracks: "Waitin' For The Bus," "Jesus Just Left Chicago," and "La Grange."

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