Last leg of the journey before my diseased-rattled body is able to plunk itself down in a familiar bed with my sweetheart. I had exactly one hour to pass at the Detroit Metro Airport so I scarfed down one “Burrtio Bowl” from some nameless Mexican fast food kiosk and hunkered down at my gate to await the boarding for this final flight home. Thankfully, this steel fart tube is bigger than the last steel fart tube I just deboarded and there’s an open seat next to me to stretch out into. So I’m plugging into my last Texas-themed album, the debut album by ZZ Top released in 1971, and settling in for the next 45 minutes or so.
Establishing their attitude and humor, ZZ Top incorporated boogie, hard rock, heavy metal and Southern rock influences into their sound. Thematically, the album is lively, playful and at times brash, filled with the band’s personal experiences and sexual innuendos that became central to the group’s image. Seeking inspiration from the old school Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac, the Beards began recording the album at Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, Texas, but only one single (‘(Somebody Else Been) Shakin’ Your Tree’) was ever released from the album which ultimately failed to appear on the Billboard charts.
It may not be perfectly polished, but it does establish their sound, attitude, and quirks. Simply put, it’s a dirty little blues-rock record, filled with fuzzy guitars, barrelhouse rhythms, dirty jokes, and Texan slang. They have a good, ballsy sound that hits at gut level, and if the record’s not entirely satisfying, it’s because they’re still learning how to craft records – which means that they’re still learning pacing as much as they’re learning how to assemble a set of indelible material. Too much of this record glides by on its sound, without offering any true substance, but the tracks that really work – ‘(Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree‘, ‘Backdoor Love Affair‘, ‘Brown Sugar‘, and ‘Goin’ Down to Mexico‘, among them – show that from their very first record on the Top was that lil’ ol’ blues band from Texas. Honestly, this is right up there with my favorite Beard albums.
What it is particularly good at is blocking out whatever ghetto rap is pumping out of the headsets of the two members of G-Unit sitting beside me. Not that I’m at all bitter and cranky at the moment or anything…
This has also been recently added to our vinyl collection as well and has definitely upgraded to LOUD! status.