Review Summary: How much blues do you use before you use it up ?
On 'Rhythmeen', ZZ Top brings the garage blues back leaving aside arena rock. The songs are dirtier, harder punching and the vocals harsher than on any of the band's records. So, even if every fan wanted the return to this stripped sound, why doesn't the record have a higher rating ?
Well, almost like their previous album, 'Antenna', half of the album it's great, there are songs with killer riffs and attitude, but then you wonder what happened to the rest. In between the memorable songs there are scattered some random standard ZZ Top album tracks, that type that you listen to once or twice and then you don't remember which is which.
The best tracks on the record are the lite "What's Up With That", that features some harmonica blues licks along with great loose solos and the slow burning "Vincent Price Blues", a fuzz-drenched number that kicks harder than anything on the album (it's also one of the best ZZ Top post-Eliminator tracks). Also, Billy Gibbons' whiskey vocals really add up to the guitar's muddy sound and the overall result. Others, like Dusty's "good time" boogie "Loaded" and "She's Just Killing Me" are some fine examples of moments when the band sounds like they're having fun.
Even though "Bang Bang" and the title track, "Rhythmeen", are solid and interesting, there's a lack of catchiness the songs mentioned above have. The others are ZZ Top tracks by number; and while they are listenable, they just don't have that spark or a memorable hook the rest of the album has. Of course, old fans will be grateful for the stripped and dry sound the band has finally gone back to and for some truly great songs that are to be found here. New fans should start with their 70's material first, because it's easy to rate this higher since the band delivers with great skill.
However, 'Rhythmeen' is a worthy mention in the band's career, mainly for the fact that the lil' ol'band from Texas is back as we know it, albeit with a little less groove than before. Still, there's sure some blues left in this band before they use it up.
Highlights - "Vincent Price Blues", "What's Up With That ?", "She's Just Killing Me", "Bang Bang", "Loaded"