Friday, July 04, 2014

FDF Volume 3 Issue 342 - ZZ Top - Rio Grande Mud

Album – Rio Grande Mud
Artist – ZZ Top
Key Players – Frank Beard – drums. Dusty Hill – bass (vocals on “Francine” and “Chevrolet”. Billy Gibbons – lead guitar, slide guitar, harmonica, vocals.
Produced By – Bill Ham

Release Date – April 4, 1972

Overview – This is the second album by Houston, Texas blues/boogie rock band ZZ Top. Formed in 1969 the three members have remained for over 40 years. The first few years were rough for the band but by the third record the band started to find a larger audience and they'd continue to grow and reach mainstream popularity in 1983 with the help of MTV and clever videos. The band was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. They have released 15 studio albums to date.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – 36 minutes is the run time on this 10 track album. Opening with
“Francine” you get some of that ZZ Top feel right away. The guitars are the most noticeably as Gibbons has that smooth, yet heavy guitar playing. Hill (who sings the lead vocals) and Beard are the rocks to this roll, and you get a tight unit going right along. The blues influence is strong and the solos are great. Its a hot weather, back yard game type soundtrack song. One of the songs I feel don't get the band enough credit is the track "Just Got Paid" . This is just a dirty swampy riff that begs to be cranked. Gibbons has this sort of evil delivery vocally and its just slays. The mid song guitar solo will then want you cruising in your car with the windows down. Gibbons takes on the harmonica as “Mushmouth Shoutin” begins. This is a bit more of that delta blues type track. It's slower, but the band has that big sound and it takes its time. This might be a whole new ZZ Top to fans that came on board much later. The rock comes back in "Ko Ko Blue" and the mix is solid. You can really hear the great bass line put down from Hill and Beard is solid on the kit. The harmonica is back and the groove they find is a real solid. Hill has the lead vocals on “Chevrolet” and it has the same overall feel as the record. The slide guitar is found at the start of “Apologies to Pearly”, which is the shortest track on the album and ends up being instrumental. It is a 12 bar blues riff something you'd expect to hear coming out of a smoky small town bar in a movie....not that there is anything wrong with that. When you see the song title “Bar-B-Q” you pretty much should get what you expect...and you do. “Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell” is a much slower (but still bluesy) track and is a cool track to hear the band break out of their mold. It sounds musically as you'd expect, even vocally, but its nice to hear the change of pace on this 7+ minute tune. “Whiskey'N Mama” and “Down The Brownie” are solid tracks to wrap up the record each with it wonderfully full guitar lines.  Where are they now? Still at it. Same three, still making records and touring. Their most recent studio album came in 2012 and was called “La Furtura”

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? - The record was panned by critics, and as an aside, the band didn't even have the trademark beards at this point. Full disclosure I don't have a lot of experience with their earlier stuff, but I find the record “not bad”. It has some big riffs and something you can play at a BBQ and not totally embarrass yourself. For “Just Got Paid” this is worth it.

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