Arts Entertainments

History of ZZ Top

Like the state of Texas where they come from ZZ top combines rural primitivism and urban imagery in a way that has led to a perfect synthesis between provincial rock’n’roll and high-tech.

When, in the late 1980s, Forbes magazine published the list of the world’s top-grossing entertainment celebrities, only one rock group, U2, ranked above ZZ Top among those who had amassed the most. fortunes. However, they have managed to stay curiously away from the circus of rock’n’roll high society and remain immune to the “rock messiah” syndrome that generally haunts other artists of their stature. In almost thirty years they have traveled the globe on tour, although they haven’t been long away from their base in southern North America, and someone’s description of them when they started, “that little band from Texas.” even today they fit me like a glove.

Billy gibbons, who was a graphic arts student, began playing guitar in The Moving Sidewalks, a psychedelic “garage” band of the 1960s whose debut single, “99th Floor,” topped the charts. Texas lists for five weeks in 1967. Dusty hill and Frank beardMeanwhile, he graduated from The American Blues, a Dallas band best known for the fact that its members wore blue-dyed hair more than anything else. The three met in 1970 and the pact they later sealed has stood the test of time with overwhelming strength. Except for the brief contribution of a guitar accompaniment by a stranger on one of their first albums, the three men have been self-sufficient until the last note and the last rhythm of those they have included in their albums, although they have even had to learn to play the saxophone or play a section of three brass, as is the case with some songs on his album Degüello. They have never enriched their live performances with extra musicians, nor have they recorded or played with other bands.

His manager and producer from day one has been Bill Ham, a nonconformist Texan with a management style very similar to Led Zeppelin’s first manager, Peter Grant. Ham categorically separated ZZ Top from television throughout the 1970s, preferring the band’s live performances to other procedures that guaranteed easier success. Although such principles had to be hard by force, the truth is that the foundations of the band were already unbreakable by 1976, when the Taking Texas to the People tour was made, an ambitious production that had them on the road for a long time. along with all its outdoor life gear and great wildlife (an ox, a 2,000-pound buffalo, half a dozen vultures, two rattlesnakes six feet each, a pig, and a wolf). Their aversion to television was softened in the eighties, when they became quirky MTV stars thanks to a trilogy of videos directed by Tim Newman for the songs “Gimme All Your Lovin”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs.” all of them. featured on their 1983 hit album Eliminator.

Presenting itself since the eighties as the “mausoleums of rock”, ZZ Top is the only group that has seriously faced the bet to age in a market, rock’n’roll, which always trades with the currency of youth. The image that Gibbons and Hill conceived for the group when their members were barely thirty years old has undoubtedly contributed to this capacity for permanence, an image in which the most prominent note is the long beards that have not been in fashion since the 30s. Old Testament times. This strategy freed them from worry thereafter, as unless they dramatically gain weight, they won’t look any older in twenty years than they do now.

Given the enormous number of works published by this band throughout its history, only those that have been most relevant are mentioned. The first is a 1973 LP titled Tres Hombres, which made number three of his production at the time. Some people think that this was the best album of his career. The album’s opening tracks, “Waitin ‘for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” are two of the greatest opening salvoes of all time, along with “Route 66,” from the Rolling Stones’ first album. and “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin II. In fact, the two inseparable songs continued to be an essential component in the set of songs that they played live on the occasion of the 1991 tour, Recycler. Another interesting cut is “La Grange,” a lewd tale set in a brothel that was a minor hit in the United States, as well as “Precious and Grace” and the surreal “Master of Sparks,” whose unconventional lyrics are adorned with a somewhat questionable Texan folklore. Although Tres Hombres reached number eight on the American charts, it was never recorded on the British charts, and is one of the most ignored great albums in rock history.

Another of ZZ Top’s great works is Degüello, published in 1979. It is a new collection of seemingly casual brilliance, illuminating, among other things, the consummate control of the Gibbons guitar’s textures. It oscillates between the perfect Fender sound from “A Fool for Your Stockings” and the Marshall sound from “Cheap Sunglasses.” Half a decade before Michael Jackson and LL Cool J entered the scene, the ZZ Top demonstrated perfect familiarity with street language on “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide.” The band’s fascination with auto racing is also revealed through another one of those surreal fantasy lyrics, “Manic Mechanic,” sung by Gibbons like he’s speaking through a broken megaphone. Dazzling covers of Isaac Hayes ‘”I Thank You” and Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” culminate in a spectacularly rich composition.

When someone asked Gibbons what a guitarist could do to improve his technique, his response was to go out and buy an album called The Sound of the Drags (a recording that picked up the peculiar sound of car racing), and I absorbed all the heat. feeling it emitted. The success of Eliminator, an album released in 1983, is based precisely on having managed to capture that “warm feeling”; So much so, that the LP has become part of the mythical history of rock’n’roll, along with the car, the girls, the videos and the ten million copies that were sold of it. The trick they discovered was simple, but surprisingly effective. They trumpeted the sound of the guitar, energized the choirs and banished all kinds of rhythmic crowds. Contrary to what is common on a heavy rock album, “Gimme All Your Lovin”, “Got Me Under Pressure”, “Sharp Dressed Man”, “Legs”, “Dirty Dog” and “If I could only Flag Her Down “are held exclusively by a basic drum beat.

In addition to Afterburner (1985), which was number two in the UK, we must also mention two compilation albums of the band: The Best of ZZ Top (1977) and Greatest Hits (1992), compilations that only share two songs, ” Tush “and” La Grange “, which give a good account of the group’s creativity. The Best of ZZ Top collects an acceptable selection of the band’s work up to 1977, with special attention to Tres Hombres (which contributes four songs out of a total of ten). Greatest Hits, which was catapulted to the singles charts for its cover of the song “Viva Las Vegas”, shows the more modern and commercial side of ZZ Top. However, there are several notable omissions (“TV Dinners”, “Velcro Fly”, “Stages”) and other rather questionable inclusions (“Gun Love”, “Give It Up”) that make this, according to some, a summary of Little trust.

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