Friday, December 14, 2007

Han Solo Shot First!

Look, I understand George Lucas' desire to update his original Star Wars with all the latest in CGI technology, but does that make it right? No! The original was great and has been ingrained into our collective psyche as it was in 1977. In my world, Han Solo shot first, and we don't see Jabba the Hut for another few years. These attempts to rewrite history often fall flat and only serve to make the originals, that meant so much to our impressionable minds, hard to find. So imagine my disgust when I picked up the "ZZ Top Six Pack" cd box set. You see, I thought I was getting the first six ZZ Top albums in one handy box, saving myself time as well as money, two things I am painfully short on. But alas for woe, upon placing the cd in the player and hearing the opening launch of "Someone Else Been Shakin' Your Tree," followed by Frank Beard's thud, I felt as if I had been shot in the nutsack under the table by a cocky Corellian smuggler. The warm, homey sound of Beard's finessed playing had been replaced by the overbearing, gated '80s cocaine drum sound that marred ZZ Top's later records. And such is the case throughout all six albums, all digitally remastered to completely whitewash the dusty veneer of these precious albums. Why is anyone's guess, but I blame the age-old axiom that once an artist experiences massive success, they no longer can understand what made them appealing in the first place. An endless file of sycophantic yes-men are ever at the ready to tell them whatever corn-studded turd they are unleashing on their once adoring public is spun of angel hair and gold (see Metallica.) So I don't blame the Top themselves, they are mere mortals and problems have plagued these bearded champions from day one, and perhaps they were eager to rewrite a history that they see as less than joyous. The crime of this remaster of disaster is most evident on "Old Man," the album's only ballad, where Beard's fluttery snare work is totally devoured by that horrid reverb. What is most unnerving to me is that future generations, future civilizations even, might actually think this is what ZZ Top sounded like in the 1970s. Just like if I mention my love for this band to anyone born after 1975 they say "Oh, that band that did "Sharp-Dressed Man." Ugh!
But enough about this holocaust revisionism in the form of a rock and roll album, let's try to focus on what made the Texas trio so badass throughout the '70s. Well, for one, they were amazing players. Jimi Hendrix once sited Billy Gibbons as one of his favorite guitar players, and I have heard that this Jimi Hendrix guy was no slouch himself on the electric guitar. They had a chemistry and a telepathic bond like no other band and this shines through on all of their albums, even the absolutely shitty ones. Yes, they made shitty albums, quite a few actually, but between 1970 and 1977 there was no better bunch of bluesed-out ass kickers around. Then there are the themes explored in these fantastic tunes. ZZ Top songs are about two things and two things only, cars and poontang. Sometimes when you think they are singing about cars it's actually about pussy, and sometimes the snatch is actually a car. No other band has so thoroughly explored the similarities between automobiles and that certain part of a woman's anatomy. When Billy Gibbons sings of barbeque, he does not desire meat slapped on a grill, he only wishes to slap HIS "meat" on some young lady's "grill." The one exception may be "Squank" which seems to carry some sort of veiled ecological message, but then again, I could be wrong and "Squank" could be another euphemism for the ol' stinkin' Lincoln. So here it is, ZZ Top's glorious first album unremixed and unremastered for maximum listening pleasure.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=F9FGA982

18 comments:

john said...

thank you!

brandi said...

you're really very good at this blogging stuff, dude. and thank you for this one, in particular, because I'd been listening to it on a crappy 3rd generation -- at least -- tape for years and bemoaned having to give karen back her tape player a few years back and not being able to listen to it (or many other things) since. Meh. But yeah, thanks! and whee!

Tania Sk said...

Wow. I feel like I'm writing my condolences to you because of that drum remastering. I know it's some of your favorite stuff. Can still hear it in your own distinctive style. (I think "Stinkin Lincoln" is that town in Maine with the paper mill.)

Aesop said...

Indeed, Tania, you know my pain. However, Imay be taking it a little personally. Now I gotta get "Tres Hombres" and "Tejas" up here as to not let ZZ Top arbitrarily re-write their own history at the expense of the fans. Believe it or not, thaqt town in Maine was called Mexico.

Anonymous said...

only knew their eighties radio singles , but your review alone makes it worth checking out . besides there´s just so many great seventies bands that turn to pathetic shit in the early eighties . harry lime

DhammaSeeker said...

Thanks for this and the 4 other ZZ Top vinyl rips. Excellent work. Mahalo!

Anonymous said...

This band has been constant listening for me sice the late 80's. Went to buy Eliminator as a 14 year old kid....they only had a tape of 'The Best of ZZ tOP" I bought that instead and was changed forever.

This Irish kid was transported to the warm climes of Texas - to drinking whiskey in convertible cars with black whores.

Much better than the rain soaked life I lead.


I've had the black women and all the whiskey I could drink since those days.

I keep coming back to ZZ Top

alcolm x said...

I too purchased that damned Six Pack abomination but was too thick to be aware of the revisionist hoax that had been perpetrated upon me. What a revelation when I found these same vinyl rips on a newsgroup a few years back. Gotta say that even though Eliminator is pretty shitty, "Got Me Under Pressure" is one helluva song. Maybe their last truly great one.

Steven said...

Holy crap. This album is The Shit. Thanks for posting this American treasure.

big boy said...

I was also duped by the 6 pack fiasco, fuckers. Makes you want to key at least one of Billy's cars. So I gave it to my dad, he doesn't know any better. Thanks for righting horrible wrongs.

El Scumador said...

awesome, thanks for having these posted. Im glad i checked your backlogs...stoked to have these in digital form, as they get constant rotation at my home.

Anonymous said...

"well I'm trying , yes I'm trying just to get a line on you..."


ZZ Top is my all time favourite band, the first tqape I bought as a kid in rural Ireland was "The Best of ZZ Top" and right after that 'Eliminator"

your write up is GREAT!!

frantic said...

thankyou very much for these vinyl rips, have got the lp themselves long ago and saw 'top in uk supporting bryan adams(!) sure they had all the drum effects etc but they were great and the band i went there for. thanks again. Paul

ralph said...

THANK YOY FOR CARING ENOGH FOR ZZ TOP TO WRITE YOUR BLOG , I THINK THE ARENT GIVEN THE RESPECT THEY DESERVE THEIR 70S STUFF WAS DOWN AND DIRTY GRITTY AND I LOVE TO DRINK MY Cabo and slap on sum old zz top .
when ur driving on the hiway at night. and ur feelin that wild turkeys bite... love em

Claudia said...

A personal favorite!

Clay said...

One of the greatest reasons Blogs exist. Warner Bros did release cassette tapes with the original mixes and I burned my Tres Hombres to disc back in 2000 but it's truly wonderful to have Rhino reissuing the real deal along with your blog that has excellent transfers of the REAL recordings.

What in holy hell was someone thinking when the 6-Pack idea was given the green light and what has taken so long to rectify it?

Either way, hearing 'Backdoor Love Affair' as it was recorded was a supreme pleasure. Thanks again for your work.

crumer said...

Thanks so much been looking for unmastered ZZ afor a long time.

Uncle Dirt said...

Yer blog rules. Been following for awhile now. So much good stuff that brings much joy to me and my bros. We use the first song of H Devil as our walk on music for our band. A nice palate cleanser before we take off. Anyways can you repost this one?

Cheers!

Uncle Dirt