Album Review: ZZ Top – RAW (‘That Little Ol’ Band From Texas’)

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Boogie woogie all night long

Since around 1960, ZZ Tops have been as reliable as a Swiss army knife and twice as sharp. They came up with a formula early on—shove a stick of dynamite into the jacksie of the blues—and, odd sonic concession to the new wave aside, happily stuck to it. They kick ass with a consistency akin to Messi casually kicking a ball against a barn door. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest streaming device and enjoy the grandeur of their This little band from Texas documentary that tells the story of the band that maintained the same holy trinity line-up for fifty-one years until the sad passing of bass god Dusty Hill in 2021.

The film is based on a simple idea; place the three of them – guitarist/frontman Billy Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard and Hill – in a room and let them play, as their story is told around them. BELIEVED features these takes in all their no-frills glory, from 1971’s “Brown Sugar”—a porch blues opener that’s steam-rolled by a truck-heavy riff with Hill’s bass laying the tarmac below— down to fucking awesome classics later like ‘La Grange’, ‘Tush’, a ridiculously groovy ‘I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide’, and the all-conquering ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ that swings like a screen Japanese shoji during an earthquake. The latest version of “Tube Snake Boogie” is so good that after one listen you’ll probably tell your boss to put his shitty job in his wind tunnel so you can put together a blues band and hit the road.

The game is – of course – superb from start to finish; Beard lays down an irresistible boogie shuffle behind “Heard It On The X” and Hill lands like an elephant on a diving board in “Thunderbird,” but special praise must go to Gibbons. The man wields a guitar sound that Jesus would sell his soul for and as a plank wrestler he can do more with a single note – he even goes slightly in reverse just for a laugh at the start of “Just Got Paid” before the melody overwhelms you. like maple syrup on a waffle – which almost anyone else can do with a thousand. No wonder he’s always smiling — and you practically hear him moaning “let’s go” before “La Grange” broke down — just imagine being in such a good band. I’ve only seen them live once, but Almighty Lord Jesus Christ, it was a religious experience and RAW is almost as awesome as this night. It’s dirtier than the back of your fridge, it swings like a bus hanging over a cliff, and it’ll make you smile like free money. No other proof was needed other than the “Top” rule, but here it is anyway.

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