Arriving on the doorstep, left by the kindly Postman was the new album from ZZ Top it’s a live affair entitled RAW (That Little ‘Ol Band From Texas.) Sadly, it will be the last album to feature Dusty Hill the band’s Bass player, the very heart and soul of the band.
ZZ Top formed in Houston, Texas, US of A in 1969 the trio of Billy Gibbons, Lead Guitar Vocals Frank Beard, Drums, and Dusty Hill Bass Guitar, Vocals, had been together for fifty one years, before Dusty was taken away.
Between 1971 and 1981 ZZ Top released six studio albums. Well actually Fandango 1975 was half studio with an amazing half live and in your face.
Each album was met by great critical acclaim, with moderate success. But every album held Classic Road Songs that became ear worms in the world of Rock Music. (Fandango also included the studio version of Tush. Which up and coming band has not included a version of Tush in their set list at some point?)
Then in early 1983 Eliminator was released upon the world. With it’s smooth, polished sound, brought to a fine sheen by Producer Bill Ham, Engineer Terry Manning, with Billy Gibbons himself. You can’t argue with facts, figures etc. The album topped the charts worldwide, selling over 20 million copies. MTV was dominant in those days, air play more or less guaranteed more success.
Who could possibly forget the videos for the singles from the album, containing the band with Gibbons and Hill in splendid waist length beards, the 1933 Bright Red Ford Coupe, and those Legs?
ZZ Top became one of the biggest bands in the world. Not bad for a little ol’ band from Texas with their Southern Fried Boogie.
The live set carried on the same way three guys on stage, playing as the tightest band on this planet or any other.
So, saying of course they weren’t always just a Trio in 1976 ZZ Top hit the road on their world tour with a full menagerie in tow! Including Buffalo, Longhorns, Rattle Snakes, Vultures, Buzzards, Hyenas. I kid you not. It was a spectacular site. The band were also letting off fireworks during the show. Plus of course Rock Music is by nature loud.
At certain points during the show the Buffalo would look very anxious, probably wasn’t as it never went on the rampage, but every night the snake wrangler would pretend one of the Rattlers had escaped. That put the wind up I can tell you! Attending those concerts you kept one ear and eye on the band the other on the animals!
After more successful albums in this vein, in the 2,000’s ZZ Top started to come back to the more rock style of the earlier albums. They remained a top draw on the live circuit.
During the making of the Netflix movie for ZZ Top – Little ‘Ol Band From Texas ostensibly to get some photos at Gruene Hall, Texas’s oldest dance hall, this wonderful recording took place. But the bands equipment was set up, and when the members of ZZ Top get together, they play music.
Luckily the mobile recording studio was there, so what we get is a powerful performance from the three of them, just one take, no audience just the band playing for the sheer joy of it. The band by this time know each other inside out.
It’s glorious. If the Editor would allow, I would give this album 6 out of 5 Stars. The mix is perfect, separating each instrument as they play alongside each other. You can actually hear and see the looks of friendship that swap between the three of them. This is what comes of playing in one band for more than half a century.
The songs on show are highlights from across the albums in their career. Older Classics such as Tush played in such rip-roaring fashion look out for your roof blowing off. La Grange which is now a staple of Joe Bonamassa’s set usually saved for the climax of his shows. I’m Bad I’m Nationwide speaks for itself! Finishing with a definitive version of Tube Snake Boogie watch out for them rattlers.
The opening salvo is Brown Sugar (Not the Rolling Stone song, but ZZ Top’s own Brown Sugar.) Billy Gibbons leads the band in with typically gruff vocals and guitar, but at one minute and forty seconds Dusty and Frank come in and the band Thunder away. Rock’n’Roll bliss. The hits plus deeper tracks keep coming at you. You cannot help but nod along, shaking yourself to the core. Just Got Paid is thrown in as the second song.
Then there are the Eliminator songs Legs, Gimme All Your Lovin’ given a good shake down, a class song is a class song they are still amazing without all the studio razzamatazz. In fact, to some ears far superior. Certified Blues is a slow burning number with some mind-numbing guitar work. Thunderbird is a wonderful groovy 12 Bar Blues to set the dance floor alight.
A fine way for Dusty to bow out.
ZZ Top with Dusty’s blessing are still going strong bringing in Dusty’s friend and ex Guitar Tech having stepped into the breach.
Certainly, the finest of ZZ Top’s Live albums, therefore one of the best live rock albums of all time.
Written by Mott the Dog.
ZZ Top on RAW are.
Billy Gibbons- Guitar and Vocals.
Dusty Hill – Bass Guitar and Vocals.
Frank Beard – Drums.
Just Got Paid.
Heard It On The X.
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide.
Gimme All Your Lovin’
Blue Jean Blues.
Tube Snake Boogie