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Thread: ZZ Top

  1. #1
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    ZZ Top

    Have mercy
    A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw
    A haw, haw, haw
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  2. #2
    I haven't herad any of their recent records, but everything up through and including Afterburner I think is great. Yes, I know, they changed their sound heavily on Eliminator and Afterburner, synths, digital drums, and all that. BUt I still the songs on those two records are great. And Billy G's guitar playing was soulful as ever. If you don't feel moved by his playing on Rough Boy, there's something seriously wrong with you.

  3. #3
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    I have liked some of their stuff over the years, but never became a big fan. I saw them once on the “Deguello” tour. In fact, I was right up-front leaning on the stage. I remember about an hour into the show I had to pee so bad that I had to go and lost my spot, but I did see the band right up close for the first half of the show. I thought it was all rather lackluster. I did not love it or hate it, but I have never gone to see them again.

    BTW the fairly new ZZ Top documentary on Netflix (done by Banger films) is really cool and worth a watch.

  4. #4
    Everything up 'till and including Degüello is really cool, and Billy G. a truly raunchy guitarist. His input with The Moving Sidewalks had already proved that.

    But I can't stand Eliminator and that mechanical synth-hard-rock stuff. There's a pub here in Oslo in which a young female bartender - very pretty, I might add - ALWAYS runs to the player and starts "Sharp Dressed Man" when I attend for beers. It was kinda funny the first time, but not anymore. I'm just an old and wornout, weary man.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  5. #5
    Very interesting timing. I was reminiscing about my junior high years today (no joke) and being the guy who didn't know much about music except the Beatles. I saw the cool kids, I.E. the Freaks and they were wearing Rush Moving Pictures (those shirts are classic with the dates of the show on it on the clapboard) tee's and ZZ Top from whatever tour they were on at the time. This is '80-81. I still remember what they looked like, those jersey style shirts.

    Never got to see them live nor have ever checked out Youtube for something. I wanna see them on stage with the farm animals.
    Carry On My Blood-Ejaculating Son - JKL2000

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  6. #6
    For whatever reason, I was never into ZZ Top back in the day. But a couple of years back I got curious about their earlier stuff and wound up buying their complete studio album box set (1970-1990). The earlier albums are definitely worth the price of admission. The first two and Deguelo in particular are probably my favorites. But all these are good, even up through El Loco, which is a bit uneven but still OK.

    There's obviously a huge swing with Eliminator, Afterburner and Recycler, really in some ways not even the same band. Have to say, I was surprised I didn't hate these records as much as I thought I would. While you lose that authentic and dirty sound of old, for rocking 80s pop, this stuff is not bad (except when it is, like Rough Boy, barf!). By El Loco, the band had clearly mined the territory they were working in and needed a change. Would have been cool to hear them add a B3/Rhodes player and do more stuff like Cheap Sunglasses, but that wasn't to be.

    Anyway, I definitely enjoy those early albums, and on occasion will guiltily spin one of the others. Haven't really explored anything beyond these.

    Bill

  7. #7
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    I have all the important, early albums (except the first album, which is killer), and an album from the mid 90s titled...Rhythmeen (bitchin' album. Highly recommended).

  8. #8
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Glad to see a few fans here. I did a search and was shocked these cats weren't mentioned. The Netflix docu brought me back to this band, and I've been digging in over the past few days and loving it!

    I used to be a BIG fan during the 80's...I loved both Eliminator and Afterburner (yeah, I understand why those albums are now controversial), as they were part of my teen years getting into good music. I also had Tres Hombres and Fandango on audio cassette, so I grew up with those original mixes. In '87 when the ZZ Top Six-Pack came out on CD, they added a shit ton of reverb, especially the drums, and even back then I hated those versions. Terrible. I am now hearing the original mixes on Spotify and those albums sound great in their original mixes. I saw ZZ at the Carrier Dome in 1991 (I think) first row! Loved the show - my brother-in-law went to SU and scored those tickets. The album Recycler they were touring on wasn't great if memory serves.

    Richard...I totally agree that Gibbons is a major BADASS. I am actually in awe in revisiting these albums as just how good he really is. He goes way beyond the typical blues/pentatonic player....he is extremely soulful and is quite melodic and plays these very creative motifs and licks. Such an underrated player...and I am now just remembering how good he is after all of these years. His guitar tones too are fabulous. Vocals too - he doesn't sound very "white" to my ears, which is great. Anyway, I need to dig deeper into the new shit, and Mescalero sounded great from a few tunes I spun.

    Here is a gem that you may not know:

    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    In '87 when the ZZ Top Six-Pack came out on CD, they added a shit ton of reverb, especially the drums, and even back then I hated those versions. Terrible.
    That's why I went with the box set. Original mixes of the early albums. The first two weren't ever on CD without those remixes, I believe. Anyway, the box set sounds great, each album in its own little mini-sleeve. I love it. And those first two albums are pure gold, imo!

    Bill

  10. #10
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    That's why I went with the box set. Original mixes of the early albums. The first two weren't ever on CD without those remixes, I believe. Anyway, the box set sounds great, each album in its own little mini-sleeve. I love it. And those first two albums are pure gold, imo!

    Bill
    Excellent. Even on Spot/YT, the original mixes of Tres and Fandango sound so killer! That 'ole analog magic. Have you seen the NF doc yet Bill? It's a must considering you dig this band. Is that box available on vinyl? This music is made for vinyl imo.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

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    The Rancho Texicano 2-cd best of is excellent. It's all original mixes. I've heard bits of those remixes and they are unspeakably vile, like those awful Free ones from that time. What was with that late 80s/early 90s thing of fucking up perfectly good recordings by making them sound 'modern'??

  12. #12
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Fabulous cover here of Billy's solo on "Beer Drinkers...."
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  13. #13
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    ^^^
    Tasty! I listen to the Top very infrequently but I have all of their 70s albums. Most of them on that reverb drenched Six Pack set that nobody likes.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Excellent. Even on Spot/YT, the original mixes of Tres and Fandango sound so killer! That 'ole analog magic.
    In this situation, I'm not sure if it's a case of "analog magic" or simply the removal of unnecessary digital intervention to help "modernize" the sound. The first two albums are not especially well recorded, and at times the vocals are completely lost in the mix. But at least they sound "of a piece." Having big, gated reverb on the drums on these records is distracting and to me sounds silly. Better to just live with the limitations of the original recording (albeit with a bit of remastering), which for all their flaws perfectly convey the charms of the music.

    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Have you seen the NF doc yet Bill? It's a must considering you dig this band.
    No. I don't get Netflix streaming and I don't see it on DVD. I'll keep an eye out for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Is that box available on vinyl? This music is made for vinyl imo.
    No, CD only. It also looks like its out of print. I got mine for like $30, now the only copy available is $499!

    Bill

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    The Rancho Texicano 2-cd best of is excellent. It's all original mixes. I've heard bits of those remixes and they are unspeakably vile, like those awful Free ones from that time. What was with that late 80s/early 90s thing of fucking up perfectly good recordings by making them sound 'modern'??
    Well, some people say they wanted to "update" the sound of those records for the "modern" era (well, modern as of 1987).

    I always suspected the issue had more to do with contractual matters, i.e. to get the London era albums reissued, they had to remix them so they would be, legally speaking, "new works". But that theory falls apart when you look at the reissue history on Discogs. Warners reissued each of those records numerous times throughout the 70's and the first half of the 80's.

    I imagine it's like what happeend with Zappa remixing his catalog in the 80's. It was more of a "because I can" than anything else. And I guess it was the same old logic everyone else was using in the 80's, i.e. "We gotta sound contemporary so that the kids will like our music", though typically it wasn't carried out on the old catalog so heavy handedly as with ZZ Top. (shrug)

  16. #16
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    The early stuff up through Deguello is good to great. The rest is hit and miss. Yeah, guitar sounds familiar but they started relying heavily on click tracks and drum machines.

    As far as ZedZed live, I've heard from several people who had seen ZZ during different phases and the one consistent theme: pedestrian effort live. On two different tours they played 80-90min with no encores.

  17. #17
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Well, some people say they wanted to "update" the sound of those records for the "modern" era (well, modern as of 1987).

    I always suspected the issue had more to do with contractual matters, i.e. to get the London era albums reissued, they had to remix them so they would be, legally speaking, "new works". But that theory falls apart when you look at the reissue history on Discogs. Warners reissued each of those records numerous times throughout the 70's and the first half of the 80's.

    I imagine it's like what happeend with Zappa remixing his catalog in the 80's. It was more of a "because I can" than anything else. And I guess it was the same old logic everyone else was using in the 80's, i.e. "We gotta sound contemporary so that the kids will like our music", though typically it wasn't carried out on the old catalog so heavy handedly as with ZZ Top. (shrug)
    the CD reissues from around 10 or 12 years ago claim to be from original masters and not from the 6-Pack debacle. I own Chrome, Smoke & Barbecue (a 4 CD retrospective) that seems to be from original masters; its sound way better than the ShitPack.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    There's a pub here in Oslo in which a young female bartender - very pretty, I might add - ALWAYS runs to the player and starts "Sharp Dressed Man" when I attend for beers. It was kinda funny the first time, but not anymore. I'm just an old and wornout, weary man.
    ...and you shall act like one. Go just for the booze!
    Macht das ohr auf!

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  19. #19
    Still kept all my old vinyl from debut up to "Degüello". "Tres Hombres" is still their best after all these years. Solid classic of an album.
    Macht das ohr auf!

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  20. #20
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacefreak View Post
    Still kept all my old vinyl from debut up to "Degüello". "Tres Hombres" is still their best after all these years. Solid classic of an album.
    Yes, Tres Hombres and side two (studio) of Fandango seem to be my fav stuff still. Deguello is great too.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Yes, Tres Hombres and side two (studio) of Fandango seem to be my fav stuff still. Deguello is great too.
    Same here but I’ve never heard deguello


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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fracktured View Post
    Same here but I’ve never heard deguello


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    Its like the mystery album....the one not on streaming and ommited from the 6 Pack bsck in thd day. I have a used CD copy I bought from Amazon. Its great...different. "Manic Mechanic" is warped in a good way. Billy was using the clean channel with chorus on this album.

  23. #23
    This track, along with Clapton's demonstration of licks on the (original) Cream's Farewell Concert at R.A.H. film plus assorted clips of Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Peter Green, made for my first successful tricks on the electric guitar back when I was 12. I spent a lot of hours and days attempting to replay those fingerpicks, spinning the record at half speed repeatedly over the same reels to get it right. I never really did, of course, but it sounded pretty good in the end all the same.

    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Fracktured View Post
    Same here but I’ve never heard deguello
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Its like the mystery album....the one not on streaming and ommited from the 6 Pack bsck in thd day. I have a used CD copy I bought from Amazon. Its great...different. "Manic Mechanic" is warped in a good way. Billy was using the clean channel with chorus on this album.
    Deguello is probably my overall favorite. I think they left it out of six pack because it was still selling well on its own, having many hits (Cheap Sunglasses, I Thank You, Bad/Nationwide, and She Loves My Automobile, which I gather is a live favorite).

    Manic Mechanic is possibly the song that made me take a second glance at these guys. I think it was playing at a party, and I was like, "what the hell is this!?!" I got Deguello soon after, and loved it! I'd always like Cheap Sunglasses, but the rest of the album really surprised me in a good way. Then it was through the process of wanting to buy more albums I discovered this remix fiasco, so I just went with the box set.

    Anyway, my highest recommendation goes to Deguello, I think it's great! I like Tres Hombres, but I put it a little lower than most in their early catalog. Just can't get enough of those rough and raunchy first two albums!

    Bill

  25. #25
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    Always liked ZZ Tops hits over the years, although I never got into the albums. Really liked "Slip Into My Sleeping Bag", "Cheap Sunglasses", "Tush" and "La Grange". Their songs were great "driving down the road songs" when in the mood to just get away quick from civilization.

    Has anyone here gotten into Billy's solo stuff, such as "Perfectomundo"? I never heard anything from his solo releases but they were well received, critically speaking.

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