10 Songs, 33 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

When at the peak of their powers, ZZ Top are the planet's tightest blues-rock band, as the airtight groove of the John Lee Hooker–like boogie of “La Grange” confidently attests. There’s a reason why ZZ guitarist Billy Gibbons is regularly featured in guitar magazines. His enviable tone, his spare and concise rhythms, and his heavily melodic ideas—copped from ancient bluesmen, The Rolling Stones, and Duane Allman, for starters—transform ZZ Top from a Texas bar band into serious arena-rock contenders. Bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard are joined at the backbeat, and it’s pure excitement to hear them move in lockstep throughout their third album, the classic Tres Hombres. Bill Ham’s production is an unadorned beauty, barely using even reverb to embellish the group’s elemental sound. This live vibe brings an intimate urgency to the standard blues stomp of “Have You Heard?” and the extra funk of “Sheik,” while providing a stark, dry-as-desert drama to landmark tunes such as “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and “Move Me on Down the Line.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

When at the peak of their powers, ZZ Top are the planet's tightest blues-rock band, as the airtight groove of the John Lee Hooker–like boogie of “La Grange” confidently attests. There’s a reason why ZZ guitarist Billy Gibbons is regularly featured in guitar magazines. His enviable tone, his spare and concise rhythms, and his heavily melodic ideas—copped from ancient bluesmen, The Rolling Stones, and Duane Allman, for starters—transform ZZ Top from a Texas bar band into serious arena-rock contenders. Bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard are joined at the backbeat, and it’s pure excitement to hear them move in lockstep throughout their third album, the classic Tres Hombres. Bill Ham’s production is an unadorned beauty, barely using even reverb to embellish the group’s elemental sound. This live vibe brings an intimate urgency to the standard blues stomp of “Have You Heard?” and the extra funk of “Sheik,” while providing a stark, dry-as-desert drama to landmark tunes such as “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and “Move Me on Down the Line.”

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