Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy, aka the Joyful Gadfly! Musician, podcaster, writer, historian ... here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album is unique in some way. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

ZZ Top ~ Greatest Hits (hits comp)





(Click on heading to visit official website)
Style: blues-rock, greatest hits
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1992
Home: Houston, Texas

Members: Billy Gibbons ~ guitar/lead vocals
Dusty Hill ~ bass/keyboards/vocals
Frank Beard ~ drums



When I was a boy ZZ was like National Geographic where you looked at the pictures of naked Africaans when your mom was out of the room, but here it was listening to the band's raunchy songs & watching their videos with lusty ladies legs in full view (i.e. "Sharp Dressed Man", "Tush", "Legs"). I felt safe when mom & I saw 'Back To The Future III' & ZZ played over the credits but with a safe song ... but I sat there knowing the truth about this band. When I got older I began to hear ZZ as a great rock band that made this killer & super recognizable fuzz-toned pulsing groove with only 3 musicians & a drum machine. Now, in my 30's, I see them as a greatly under-rated gritty blues-rock band (i.e. "Rough Boy") that took a decade off from playing what they were good at. This last view is probably closest to reality as they started as a raunchy Texas blues band that found MTV success by putting a rock sheen on their sound (for example "Cheap Sunglasses", "Pearl Necklace", "I'm Bad") ... the same approach as fellow blues guitarist George Thorogood. ZZ has two parts to their career - the 70's blues days, where they saw the most successful albums over all, & the 80's/90's, where their albums had a couple hits but were much weaker overall but the band found more commercial success. In the past decade the band has largely returned to their 70's blues sound but with the success of either decade. This greatest hits collection is probably the best starting point for the casual fan as it has the MTV staples, a few blues & some new songs with any missing bits being minor quibbles. As for what the band has produced since it was released that might be missing, ironically, "Doubleback" from Recycler & made popular via the 'Back To The Future III' soundtrack & included here was pretty much the last time they ZZ enjoyed the success of MTV. But, that's not saying what they've released since isn't any good. Some of their most wild playing blues would come with later releases that returned them to their roots, but there's no place for a band like this anymore on MTV & days of rigid blues-rock had done too much damage to bring the band any new highs. Maybe if they dueted with Kanye West or Eminem ... There's only a few weak tracks here(i.e. "My Head's In Mississippi", "Viva Las Vegas", "Sleeping Bag") which are a bit too robotic, as many critics have described their 80's blues-rock, but its a small speedbump.


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