Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Albums of 1973: ZZ Top: Tres Hombres

Release Date: July 26, 1973

Members: Billy Gibbons (vocals, guitar); Dusty Hill (bass, vocals); Frank Beard (drums)

Produced by Bill Ham

Side One: Waitin' For the Bus; Jesus Just Left Chicago; Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers; Master of Sparks; Hot, Blue and Righteous

Side Two: Move on Down the Line; Precious and Grace; La Grange; Sheik; Have You Heard?

The third album by the Texas trio ZZ Top is a solid 33 minutes of blues-based tock. The riffs are razor sharp; the tracks get right down to business. 

"Waitin' for the Bus" and "Jesus Just Left Chicago" are banded together to start the record, are both straight up blues, the latter a sort of hip gospel. I imagine "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" is about playing some of the toughest joints in Texas, certainly not Led Zeppelin country. "Master of Sparks" is allegedly a true story about some crazy driving around the highways of Houston. "Hot, Blue, and Righteous" ends Side One on a soulful note.

"Move on Down the Line" sounds like a lost track from Exile on Main Street, followed by another road rocker, "Precious and Grace." "La Grange" was inspired by a John Lee Hooker groove and became one of ZZ Top's first hits and a staple of FM radio. "Sheik" features more intricate guitar work with a swampier sound. "Have You Heard" is another synthesis of the spiritual and the blues.

Tres Hombres sounds refreshing in 2023, as most of the tracks are around three minutes, while the production and playing are air tight.

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