The best music you're not listening to.™ Reviews of lost classics and obscure titles. Unheralded bands and songwriters. New bands deserving of greater attention. The site for the music omnivore. It's all here, on the Ripple Effect
I was at a show a couple weeks
ago and the sound guy put this album on between bands. I probably sat there for
a good 5 minutes with a stupid grin on my face, just enjoying the music, before
I realized it. That's what a great album that you absolutely love will do to
you. Come to think of it, I've probably had a stupid grin on my face over a
woman too, so maybe that's just my natural state when I really enjoy something.
I listened to this the next day, and the day after that, and the day after
that. And here I am writing a review about it.
I grew up listening to these
guys because my dad was a massive fan. One of my most enjoyable concert
experiences ever was taking my dad to see them shortly after I graduated from
high school. As much as he loved them, he never would have gone to see them
otherwise. So here I am with my dad, who was a State Trooper, and his best
friend, also a State Trooper, standing in line in the good old days of GA
shows. There's all kinds of underage drinking and consumption of various
illegal substances going on around us, and of course the poor, unfortunate
souls who overindulge and pass out before they even get inside, and I'm there
with two cops who can't do a damn thing about it. Their reactions alone were
worth the price of admission.
But I digress. For me, this
album was the pinnacle of ZZ Top. Everything they had done prior to this just
set them up for this moment, and certainly nothing they did afterwards came
close. On this album they were smooth as a cue ball and cooler than a polar
bear's toenails, to quote Andre 3000. All of their influences came together and
on this album they did what every great band does; they established their
sound. It's not blues, it's not rock, it's not western swing, although there is
some of all of those in the mix. This album, this sound, is ZZ Top. If you
asked me what the band sounds like, I'd give you this album. Their previous
four albums were very good, don't get me wrong. This one, though, is it.
“Tejas” is just a powerhouse
album. There is not a bad song here, which you really can't say about the
albums that followed. The songs are tight and concise. Listen to this with
headphones and check out the interplay between drums, bass and guitar.
Everything is right in its place. I love that little 4 note rising pattern
right after they sing “It's Only Love”. It just knocks me out. Something so
simple and just so right, and the album is full of things like that. The lyrics
are good and quite funny in places, and you can tell that the boys are very
familiar with the places and things about which they sing. “Pan Am Highway
Blues” is a killer track and one of my favorites on the album, and as you
listen to it you feel as though you are taking a road trip from Texas to Peru.
You can almost see the white lines rolling past. “Avalon Hideaway” is a real
place, or at least was, and the slinky groove of this song makes you feel like
you are right there with all those characters.
The album “Deguello” would come
after this and the musical weirdness would start. It was full blown on “El
Loco”, and I consider the 80's and most of the 90's to be lost years for this
band. They finally righted the ship with “XXX”, “Rhythmeen” and “Mescalero”,
but as many a band has discovered, you can't go back to the early days once you
are so far removed from them.
This is the album that I will
always remember them by. Its one of those albums that I can put on no matter
what kind of mood I'm in and it will always hit the spot. We all have those
classic albums that we love and have listened to more times than we can count.
Put on one of your favorites and enjoy.