ZZ Top – The Complete Studio Albums: 1970-1990 (2013) [HDTracks FLAC 24bit/192kHz]

ZZ Top – The Complete Studio Albums: 1970-1990 (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 370:49 minutes | 11,9 GB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Digital Booklet | Rhino/Warner Bros.

This ten-album, must-have set includes ZZ Top’s acclaimed albums: ZZ Top’s First Album, Rio Grande Mud, Tres Hombres, Fandango!, Tejas, Deguello, El Loco, Eliminator, Afterburner and Recycler.

This sturdy American blues-rock trio from Texas consists of Billy Gibbons (guitar), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums). They were formed in 1970 in and around Houston from rival bands the Moving Sidewalks (Gibbons) and American Blues (Hill and Beard). Their first two albums reflected the strong blues roots and Texas humor of the band. Their third album (Tres Hombres) gained them national attention with the hit “La Grange,” a signature riff tune to this day, based on John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen.” Their success continued unabated throughout the ’70s, culminating with the year-and-a-half-long Worldwide Texas Tour.
Exhausted from the overwhelming workload, they took a three-year break, then switched labels and returned to form with Deguello and El Loco, both harbingers of what was to come. By their next album, Eliminator, and its worldwide smash follow-up, Afterburner, they had successfully harnessed the potential of synthesizers to their patented grungy blues groove, giving their material a more contemporary edge while retaining their patented Texas style. Now sporting long beards, golf hats, and boiler suits, they met the emerging video age head-on, reducing their “message” to simple iconography. Becoming even more popular in the long run, they moved with the times while simultaneously bucking every trend that crossed their path. As genuine roots musicians, they have few peers; Gibbons is one of America’s finest blues guitarists working in the arena rock idiom — both influenced by the originators of the form and British blues-rock guitarists like Peter Green — while Hill and Beard provide the ultimate rhythm section support…

ZZ Top – ZZ Top’s First Album (1970/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 35:38 minutes | 1,31 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

ZZ Top’s First Album may not be perfectly polished, but it does establish their sound, attitude, and quirks. Simply put, it’s a dirty little blues-rock record, filled with fuzzy guitars, barrelhouse rhythms, dirty jokes, and Texan slang. They have a good, ballsy sound that hits at gut level, and if the record’s not entirely satisfying, it’s because they’re still learning how to craft records — which means that they’re still learning pacing as much as they’re learning how to assemble a set of indelible material. Too much of this record glides by on its sound, without offering any true substance, but the tracks that really work — “(Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree,” “Backdoor Love Affair,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Goin’ Down to Mexico,” among them — show that from their very first record on, ZZ Top was that lil’ ol’ blues band from Texas.

01 – (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree
02 – Brown Sugar
03 – Squank
04 – Goin’ Down To Mexico
05 – Old Man
06 – Neighbor, Neighbor
07 – Certified Blues
08 – Bedroom Thang
09 – Just Got Back From Baby’s
10 – Backdoor Love Affair

ZZ Top – Rio Grande Mud (1972/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 39:04 minutes | 1,47 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

With their second album, Rio Grande Mud, ZZ Top uses the sound they sketched out on their debut as a blueprint, yet they tweak it in slight but important ways. The first difference is the heavier, more powerful sound, turning the boogie guitars into a locomotive force. There are slight production flares that date this as a 1972 record, but for the most part, this is a straight-ahead, dirty blues-rock difference. Essentially like the first album, then. That’s where the second difference comes in — they have a much better set of songs this time around, highlighted by the swaggering shuffle “Just Got Paid,” the pile-driving boogie “Bar-B-Q,” the slide guitar workout “Apologies to Pearly,” and two Dusty Hill-sung numbers, “Francine” and “Chevrolet.” There are still a couple of tracks that don’t quite gel and their fuzz-blues still can sound a little one-dimensional at times, but Rio Grande Mud is the first flowering of ZZ Top as a great, down-n-dirty blooze rock band.

01 – Francine
02 – Just Got Paid
03 – Mushmouth Shoutin’
04 – Ko Ko Blue
05 – Chevrolet
06 – Apologies To Pearly
07 – Bar-B-Q
08 – Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell
09 – Whiskey’n Mama
10 – Down Brownie

ZZ Top – Tres Hombres (1973/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 33:30 minutes | 1,16 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

Tres Hombres is the record that brought ZZ Top their first Top Ten record, making them stars in the process. It couldn’t have happened to a better record. ZZ Top finally got their low-down, cheerfully sleazy blooze-n-boogie right on this, their third album. As their sound gelled, producer Bill Ham discovered how to record the trio so simply that they sound indestructible, and the group brought the best set of songs they’d ever have to the table. On the surface, there’s nothing really special about the record, since it’s just a driving blues-rock album from a Texas bar band, but that’s what’s special about it. It has a filthy groove and an infectious feel, thanks to Billy Gibbons’ growling guitars and the steady propulsion of Dusty Hill and Frank Beard’s rhythm section. They get the blend of bluesy shuffles, gut-bucket rocking, and off-beat humor just right. ZZ Top’s very identity comes from this earthy sound and songs as utterly infectious as “Waitin’ for the Bus,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “Move Me on Down the Line,” and the John Lee Hooker boogie “La Grange.” In a sense, they kept trying to remake this record from this point on — what is Eliminator if not Tres Hombres with sequencers and synthesizers? — but they never got it better than they did here.

01 – Waitin’ For The Bus
02 – Jesus Just Left Chicago
03 – Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
04 – Master Of Sparks
05 – Hot, Blue And Righteous
06 – Move Me On Down The Line
07 – Precious And Grace
08 – La Grange
09 – Shiek
10 – Have You Heard?

ZZ Top – Fandango (1975/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:03 minutes | 1,27 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

Blessed with their first full-fledged hit album, ZZ Top followed it up with Fandango!, a record split between a side of live tracks and a side of new studio cuts. In a way, this might have made sense, since they were a kick-ass live band, and they do sound good here, but it’s hard not to see this as a bit of a wasted opportunity in retrospect. Why? Because the studio side is a worthy successor to the all-fine Tres Hombres, driven by “Tush” and “Heard It on the X,” two of their greatest songs that build on that album by consolidating their sound and amplifying their humor. If they had sustained this energy and quality throughout a full studio album, it would have been their greatest, but instead the mood is broken by the live cuts. Now, these are really good live cuts — and “Backdoor Medley” and “Jailhouse Rock” were fine interpretations, making familiar songs sound utterly comfortable in their signature sound — and Fandango! remains one of their better albums, but it’s hard not to think that it could have been even better.

01 – Thunderbird
02 – Jailhouse Rock
03 – Backdoor Medley: Backdoor Love Affair / Mellow Down Easy / Backdoor Love Affair #2 / Long Distance Boogie
04 – Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings
05 – Blue Jean Blues
06 – Balinese
07 – Mexican Blackbird
08 – Heard In On The X
09 – Tush

ZZ Top – Tejas (1976/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:55 minutes | 1,27 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

ZZ Top was riding high in the mid-’70s on the strength of Tres Hombres and Fandango, but they were starting to run out of steam by 1977’s Tejas. Its predecessor was padded with a live side, but even if it was close to padding, it was still enjoyable. Tejas, despite sounding pretty good, is just forgettable. It has the patented, propulsive ZZ boogie, but none of the songs are particularly memorable, even if the whole thing sounds pretty good as it’s playing. ZZ Top and their label, London, must have noticed this too, since even though the album went gold, they followed it months later with The Best of ZZ Top, which contained none of the songs from this album.

01 – It’s Only Love
02 – Arrested For Driving While Blind
03 – El Diablo
04 – Snappy Kakkie
05 – Enjoy And Get It On
06 – Ten Dollar Man
07 – Pan Am Highway Blues
08 – Avalon Hideaway
09 – She’s A Heartbreaker
10 – Asleep In The Desert (Instr.)

ZZ Top – Degüello (1979/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:16 minutes | 1,31 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres. During their time off, ZZ Top didn’t change much — hell, their sound never really changed during their entire career — but it did harden, in a way. The grooves became harder, sleeker, and their off-kilter sensibility and humor began to dominate, as “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Fool for Your Stockings” illustrate. Ironically, this, their wildest album lyrically, doesn’t have the unhinged rawness of their early blooze rockers, but the streamlined production makes it feel sleazier all the same, since its slickness lets the perversity slide forth. And, forget not, the trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time. Undoubtedly one of their strong suits.

01 – I Thank You
02 – She Loves My Automobile
03 – I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
04 – A Fool For Your Stocking
05 – Manic Mechanic
06 – Dust My Broom
07 – Lowdown In The Street
08 – Hi Fi Mama
09 – Cheap Sunglasses
10 – Esther Be The One

ZZ Top – El Loco (1981/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 37:23 minutes | 1,41 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

El Loco follows through on the streamlined, jet-engine boogie rock of Degüello, but kicking all the ingredients up a notch. That means that the grooves are getting a little slicker, while the jokes are getting a little sillier, a little raunchier. The double entendres on “Tube Snake Boogie” and “Pearl Necklace” are barely disguised, while much of the record plays as flat-out goofy party rock. Not necessarily a bad thing, but much of it is a little too obvious to be totally winning. Still, the most telling thing about El Loco may be the rhythm of “Pearl Necklace,” its biggest single and best song, which clearly points the way to the new wave blues-rock of Eliminator.

01 – Tube Snake Boogie
02 – I Wanna Drive You Home
03 – Ten Foot Pole
04 – Leila
05 – Don’t Tease Me
06 – It’s So Hard
07 – Pearl Necklace
08 – Groovy Little Hippie Pad
09 – Heaven, Hell Or Houston
10 – Party On The Patio

ZZ Top – Eliminator (1983/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 44:25 minutes | 1,73 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

ZZ Top had reached the top of the charts before, but that didn’t make their sudden popularity in 1983 any more predictable. It wasn’t that they were just popular — they were hip, for God’s sake, since they were one of the only AOR favorites to figure out to harness the stylish, synthesized grooves of new wave, and then figure out how to sell it on MTV. Of course, it helped that they had songs that deserved to be hits. With “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “Legs,” they had their greatest set of singles since the heady days of Tres Hombres, and the songs that surrounded them weren’t bad either — they would have been singles on El Loco, as a matter of fact. The songs alone would have made Eliminator one of ZZ Top’s three greatest albums, but their embrace of synths and sequencers made it a blockbuster hit, since it was the sound of the times. Years later, the sound of the times winds up sounding a bit stiff. It’s still an excellent ZZ Top album, one of their best, yet it sounds like a mechanized ZZ Top thanks to the unflaggingly accurate grooves. Then again, that’s part of the album’s charm — this is new wave blues-rock, glossed up for the video, looking as good as the omnipresent convertible on the cover and sounding as irresistible as Reaganomics. Not the sort the old-school fans or blues-rock purists will love, but ZZ Top never sounded as much like a band of its time as they did here.

01 – Gimme All You Lovin
02 – Got Me Under Pressure
03 – Sharp Dressed Man
04 – I Need You Tonight
05 – I Got The Six
06 – Legs
07 – Thug
08 – TV Dinners
09 – Dirty Dog
10 – If I Could Only Flag Her Down
11 – Bad Girl

ZZ Top – Afterburner (1985/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 37:32 minutes | 482 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

Well, if you just had your biggest hit ever, you’d probably try to replicate it, too. And if you were praised for being visionary because you played all your blues grooves to a slightly sequenced beat, you’d probably be tempted to not just continue in that direction, but to tighten the sequencer and graft on synthesizers, since it’ll all signal how futuristic you are. While you’re at it, you might visualize how space age this all is by turning your signature car into a space shuttle. If you look at things that way, then Afterburner, ZZ Top’s follow-up to their blockbuster Eliminator, makes sense — they’re just giving the people more of what they want. Problem is, no matter how much you dress ZZ Top up, they’re still ZZ Top. Sometimes they can trick you into thinking they’re a little flashier than usual, but they’re still a lil’ ol’ blues band from Texas, kicking out blues-rockers. And blues-rock just doesn’t kick when it’s synthesized, even if ZZ Top’s grooves always bordered on robotic. So, Afterburner, their most synthetic album, will not please most ZZ Top fans, even if it did go platinum several time over and reached number four. That’s all just a sign of the times, when even hard rock bands had to sound as slick as synth pop, complete with clanging DX-7s and cavernous drums. As an artifact of that time, Afterburner is pretty good — never has a hard rock album sounded so artificial, nor has a nominal blues-rock album sounded so devoid of blues. Apart from the chugging “Sleeping Bag,” not even the singles sound like ZZ Top (though “Dipping Low (In the Lap of Luxury” is a blatant “Gimme All Your Lovin’” rewrite): the terrific post-new wave rocker “Stages” is the poppiest thing they ever cut, the ballad “Rough Boy” is far removed from slow blues, and the full-fledged synth dance of “Velcro Fly” is a true mind-bender. All this means that Afterburner is merely a product of its time — the only record ZZ Top could have made at the time, but it hardly exists out of that time.

01 – Sleeping Bag
02 – Stages
03 – Woke Up With Wood
04 – Rough Boy
05 – Can’t Stop Rockin’
06 – Planet Of Women
07 – I Got The Message
08 – Velcro Fly
09 – Dipping Low (In The Lap Of Luxury)
10 – Delirious
Please note: this album presented in 44.1kHz/24bit.

ZZ Top – Recycler (1990/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 40:03 minutes | 480 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

The continuation of Eliminator’s synthesized blues boogie made sense on Afterburner, since it arrived two years after its predecessor. ZZ Top’s choice to pursue that direction on Recycler is puzzling, since a full five years separates this from Afterburner. It’s not just that they continue to follow this path; it’s that they embalm it, creating a record that may be marginally ballsier than its predecessor, but lacking the sense of goofy fun and warped ambition that made Afterburner fascinating. Here, there’s just a steady, relentless beat (Frank Beard is still chained to the sequencer, as he has been for a decade), topped off by processed guitars turning out licks that fall short of being true riffs. Put it this way, apart from “Doubleback,” a continuation of the arena pop of “Stages,” the other number that really works here is “My Head’s in Mississippi,” the closest they’d come to the greasy boogie of “La Grange” since Degüello. When it arrives halfway through Recycler, it not only sounds refreshing; it puts the rest of the album in perspective, showing how tired the once-bracing synth-blooze-boogie has become. And the worst thing about it all, it doesn’t seem like the band realizes how uncomfortably ironic the title of Recycler is.

01 – Concrete And Steel
02 – Lovething
03 – Penthouse Eyes
04 – Tell It
05 – My Head’s In Mississippi
06 – Decision Or Collision
07 – Give It Up
08 – 2000 Blues
09 – Burger Man
10 – Doubleback
Please note: this album presented in 44.1kHz/24bit.



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