Mott the Dog: ZZ Top RAW – This Tiny Texas Band

ZZ Top album cover. A nice comic caricature for RAW.

Arriving on the doorstep, left by the nice postman was ZZ Top’s new album it’s a live affair titled RAW (That Little ‘Ol Band From Texas.) Unfortunately, this will be the last album to feature Dusty Hill the bassist of the band, the heart and soul of the band.

ZZ Top formed in Houston, Texas, United States of America 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 is taken away.

Between 1971 and 1981, ZZ Top released six studio albums. Well, actually, Fandango 1975 was half studio with half amazing live and in your face.

Each album was critically acclaimed, with moderate success. But each album contained Classic Road Songs that became earworms in the rock music world. (Fandango also included the studio version of Tush. What up-and-coming band hasn’t included a version of Tush in their set list at some point?)

Then, in early 1983, Eliminator was released to the world. With its smooth, polished sound, brought to life by producer Bill Ham, engineer Terry Manning, with Billy Gibbons himself. You cannot argue with facts, figures, etc. The album topped the worldwide charts, selling over 20 million copies. MTV was dominant at that time, the aerial game more or less guaranteed more success.

Who could forget the album’s singles videos, featuring the band with Gibbons and Hill in glorious waist-length beards, the Bright Red 1933 Ford coupe and those legs?

ZZ Top has become one of the biggest bands in the world. Not bad for a little old band from Texas with their Southern Fried Boogie.

The live set similarly took three guys on stage, playing like the tightest band on this planet or any other.

ZZ Top from Texas, United States of A. Left to right Frank Beard. (The one called Beard, doesn’t have a beard! Does that make sense?) Billy Gibbons on his weird hat-sense day.

So, saying of course they weren’t always just a trio in 1976, ZZ Top hit the road for their world tour with a full menagerie in tow! Including buffaloes, longhorns, rattlesnakes, vultures, buzzards, hyenas. I am not joking. It was a spectacular site. The band also shot fireworks during the show. Also, of course, rock music is inherently loud.

At times during the show, the Buffalo looked very anxious, probably not because he had never gone on a rampage, but each night the snake wrestler would claim that one of the Rattlers had escaped. It got the wind in its sails, I can tell you! By attending these concerts, you have kept one ear and one eye on the band and the other on the animals!

After more successful albums in this vein, in the 2000s ZZ Top began to return to the more rock style of earlier albums. They remained among the best on the live circuit.

During the filming of the Netflix movie for ZZ Top – Little ‘Ol Band From Texas, apparently to take pictures at Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas, this wonderful recording took place. But the bands’ equipment has been set up, and when ZZ Top members get together, they play music.

Luckily the mobile recording studio was there, so what we get is a powerful performance from all three of them, one take, no audience, just the band playing for fun. The group at that time knew each other inside out.

Billy Gibbons in his cheerful rags.

It’s glorious. If the publisher allowed it, I would give this album 6 stars out of 5. The blend is perfect, separating each instrument as they play side by side. You can actually hear and see the friendly looks exchanged between the three of them. That’s what happens playing in a band for more than half a century.

The songs featured are highlights from all the albums in their career. Older classics such as Tush, played in such heartbreaking fashion, lie in wait for your soaring roof. La Grange which is now a staple of Joe Bonamassa’s set, usually kept for the heyday of his shows. I’m Bad I’m Nationwide speaks for itself! To finish with a definitive version of Tube Snake Boogie watch out for rattlers.

The opening salvo is Brown Sugar (Not the Rolling Stone song, but Brown Sugar from ZZ Top.) Billy Gibbons leads the band with typically gruff vocals and guitar, but at one minute and forty seconds Dusty and Frank enter and the Thunder group one way. Rock’n’Roll happiness. Hits and deeper leads keep coming to you. You can’t help but nod, shaking yourself deeply. Just Got Paid is added as the second song.

The new line up of ZZ Top with Elwood Francis on bass guitar enters the ranks.

Then there’s the Eliminator Legacy songs, Gimme All Your Lovin’ shook up, a classy song is a classy song, they’re still amazing without all the studio razzamatazz. In fact, to some far superior ears. Certified Blues is a slow-burn number with mind-numbing guitar work. Thunderbird is a wonderful groovy 12 Bar Blues to ignite the dance floor.

A nice way for Dusty to bow out.

ZZ Top with Dusty’s blessing continues to be strong bringing Dusty’s friend and ex Guitar Tech who stepped into the breach.

Certainly the most beautiful of ZZ Top’s live albums, therefore one of the best live rock albums of all time.

Written by Mott the dog.

Another thing they all had in common was a love of cheap sunglasses.

ZZ Top on RAW are.
Billy Gibbons – Guitar and vocals.
Dusty Hill – Bass guitar and vocals.
Frank Beard – Drums.

Songs.
brown sugar.
I just got paid.
Heard on the X.
Barn.
Tush.
Thunderbird.
I’m bad, I’m national.
Legs.
Give me all your love’
Blue Jean Blues.
Certified blues.
Tube Snake Boogie

As close to each other on stage as off. Brothers.
Lights on, ZZ Top comes to take you in their Ford coupe.
Dusty Hill, 1949-2021. TO TEAR APART


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