Friday, 19 August 2016

"Tres Hombres" by ZZ TOP (2006 Warner Brothers 'Remastered And Expanded' Edition CD - Bob Ludwig Remaster Of The Original Tapes) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Got A Lot Of Nice Girls...Ah!" 

Like most I picked up on our Texas Blues Boogie heroes when they walloped our jaded Prog Rock ears with 'riff that mother' album number three - the fab and groovy "Tres Hombres". It was an improvement on 1970's "First Album" which in turn was bettered by "Rio Grande Mud" from 1972.

But armed with the stunning riffage of "La Grange" (surely a shoe-in for the Top Ten Best Rock 7" single ever made) - everyone finally sat up and took notice for "Tres Hombres". It was their first album to chart in the USA - going Top Ten to No. 8 in August 1973 - ensuring their first of many Gold Disc awards - and the first platter most everyone else in the world took interest in. Like most - I've been a devotee ever since...

Yet it seems strange (even now) that excepting 1975's "Fandango!" and 1983's blockbuster "Eliminator" albums - much of their catalogue remains outside the realms of 'Expanded' or 'Deluxe Editions' on CD. The best we fans have had so far (in terms of Remaster value) being June 2013's very cool 10CD Box Set "The Complete Studio Albums 1970 to 1990" which I have enthusiastically entitled "YAR!" in my gushing appraisal (see separate in-depth review).

Time for more sombrero shuffles from one of the best three-piece Rock bands on the planet - ZZ TOP. Here are the beer drinkers and Hell raisers (and that's just Side 1)...

UK and USA released February 2006 - "Tres Hombres" by ZZ TOP on Warner Brothers 8122-78966-2 (Barcode 081227896621) is an 'Expanded and Remastered Edition' CD with Three Previously Unreleased Live Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (46:13 minutes)

1. Waitin' For The Bus
2. Jesus Just Left Chicago
3. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
4. Master Of Sparks
5. Hot, Blue & Righteous
6. Move Me On Down The Line [Side 2]
7. Precious And Grace
8. La Grange
9. Shiek
10. Have You Heard?
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3rd studio album "Tres Hombres" - released August 1973 in the USA on London XPS 631 and November 1973 in the UK on London SHU 8459 (reissued November 1983 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56603). Produced by BILL HAM - it peaked at No. 8 on the US LP charts (didn't chart in the UK).

BONUS TRACKS:
11. Waitin' For The Bus (Live)
12. Jesus Just Left Chicago (Live)
13. La Grange (Live)
Tracks 11 to 13 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED live tracks recorded at the 'Capitol Theatre' in the USA (no dates provided)

ZZ TOP is:
BILLY GIBBONS - Guitars
DUSTY HILL - Bass
RUBE BEARD - Drums

The 12-page booklet is a pleasingly in-depth affair featuring new liner notes from uber-fan BOB MERLIS who can apparently still be heard shouting for "Precious And Grace" in the audience of his 126th ZZ Top concert. The 'food spread' photo that adorned the inner gatefold has pride of place on the inner two pages complimented by two photos of the 'hatted' trio. Merlis puts forward very funny and enlightening details on the creation of songs like "Master Of Sparks" (a homemade toilet with an aeroplane seat on the back of a truck with Billy Gibbons inside) and "Precious And Gone" (the names of two not so angelic prison ladies they picked up hitchhiking out on Route nowheresville).

But the big news is a new BOB LUDWIG Remaster which was done using original tapes at Gateway Mastering in Portland - and what an improvement the original mix is over that disastrous remixed 'Six Pack' crap from 1987. Originally recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis to get a meatier sound than the two preceding albums - that original production value now comes roaring back in underrated album tracks like "Shiek" and the brilliant slide work of "Precious And Grace". There's a fantastic Southern Rock boogie to "Have You Heard?" too - the guitars and voices perfectly placed centre-stage in your speakers. A great job done...

It opens with a one-two sucker punch - the pairing of a rockin' "Waitin' For The Bus" which segues into the fabulous Blues of "Jesus Just Left Chicago" where our Saviour is 'bound for New Orleans and all points in between' - the remaster turning muddy water into wine. Blighty initially took "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" out for a spin as 7" single in June 1974 on London HLU 10458 with "La Grange" on the flip-side. Someone realised that the B was a bona fide A and put out "La Grange" on London HLU 10475 as late as January 1975 with "Just Got Paid" from 1972's "Rio Grande Mud" as its flip-side but amazingly it made no impression in rock-mad England (the US 45 for "La Grange" made No. 41 on their singles charts). "Master Of Sparks" is for me one of the albums unsung heroes - sneaky and brilliant - it's lasted better than most. Side 1 ends with the Blues - the slightly hissy "Hot, Blue And Righteous" - a very cool ZZ Top tune.

Side 2 goes all Allman Brothers with "Move Me On Down The Line" - a poppy tune for ZZ Top. And I'm with Bob Merlis on "Precious And Grace" especially when Gibbons goes into that great slide work. What can you say about the amazing and fun "La Grange" - if it's good enough for Bruce Willis and Armageddon and his golf shots on an oilrig - then it's ok by me. The LP ends on what seems like two slight ZZ Top tracks - but on re-hearing the 'my temperature has risen again' of "Shiek" and the "Jesus Just Left Chicago" identikit chug of "Have You Heard?" - both reward with guitar solo goodies in their midst...

Even the Bonus Tracks have a kick-ass sound to them - obviously they are the opening three songs to a well-recorded 'Capitol Theatre' gig as an excited announcer shouts "ZZ Top!” And don't you just love the way "Bus" slithers into that "Jesus Just Left Chicago" Blues chug (bound for New Orleans). The crowd are delirious by the time we get to a very raucous 'take this town' version of "La Grange" where Dusty lets rip on those pings...

"...You could not be lost...yeah yeah yeah..." - they sing on the gospel-tinged blues of the album finisher "Have You Heard?"

ZZ Top folks. I urge you to buy and hear this superb CD Remaster of "Tres Hombres" - thereafter don a tall hat and shout 'yeah baby' at your Guardian reading neighbours on a regular but suspiciously unhinged basis. YAR!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice review Mark. Great blog you have. Love most of these CD's. Great work. Keep on going. Greets from Holland. Larzz.

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