ZZ Top
ZZ Top's First Album



by Tusk USER (1 Reviews)
April 30th, 2006 | 18 replies

Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

First Album, simple name, simple concept. ZZ Top, a band out of Texas, had been playing together for two years before getting the.. beards.. it takes to release an album of new material.

The album starts off innocently enough, (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree is a fine blues song, with tasty Gibbons guitar licks, and another classic Hill bassline.. with more of those pseudo-sexual ZZ Top lyrics we all love. That theme comes back in famous tracks such as Tush, Pearl Necklace, and La Grange on later albums(to scrape the barest tip of the iceberg); as well as Bedroom Thang late in this, their first album experience. Interestingly, out of all of those, Bedroom Thang is easily as catchy as Tush, as bluesy as La Grange, and as innocently devilish as Pearl Necklace.

Brown Sugar, on the other hand, sounds like a much more mature blues song, beginning much like a classic blues song, before an explosion into the heavy blues rock they helped pioneer. This is one of the better, more solid songs on the album, if not the discography. Goin' Down To Mexico ends up feeling similarly mature, but its got a bit of a pop feel, which takes away from the blues most of ZZ Top based their music on at this point, while hinting at things to come. I would probably classify Neighbor, Neighbor in this category as well.. this is a hard song to really pinpoint, its ZZ Top, and if you're a fan, you'll enjoy yourself.

The guitar in Squank manages to come off sounding like an intoxicated Clapton; however, the effect manages to stay clean, and Dusty Hill plays as good on the bass he ever did.. on that note, beardless wonder Frank Beard plays a thoroughly convincing bass drum on this track.

Old Man is very different from the other songs on the album, it comes off sounding like a slow Skynyrd song, and they do a bang-up job of it. It drags on a bit, but more interesting than Tuesday's Gone, if you follow me.. a very strange touch of indie in here too. A different kind of track for ZZ Top, but no less fantastic.

Certified Blues is just that, but with the hint of ZZ that blues always needed anyways.. and is more of a blues continuation. More modern than.. Jeff Beck or early Cream blues, but less so than damn near anything after it, it hits just right on that scale measuring your daily blues:rock ratio. Cruising through the LP in a blue hot-rod, Just Got Back From Baby's comes around and lets its presence known, its a bit heavier on the blues side, but its easily, easily the superior of most heavy blues period. If you like what Gibbons can do with his voice, and you like blues rock, you'll absolutely love this song. On par with anything by a Vaughan or a King at the same time.

Backdoor Love Affair finishes this album off with promises of the future for ZZ Top, and its indicative of the popular culture matured blues they would release on later albums: raw, heavy, with a dash of sexuality included. This might very well be the perfect blues album from the near-perfect group of heavy blues musicians.

Final Words: All in all, this is a great album for a ZZ Top fan who wants to spread their collection around a bit. If you're into the sub-genre of the blues known as 'heavy blues,' then this album comes highly recommended, and is placed, in this author's opinion, right there next to anything by Cream, the Jeff Beck group, the Allman Brothers Band, and Skynyrd as far as talent, showmanship, and quality is concerned in this genre. If I had one major criticism to make about the album, it would be that the lyrics can feel contrived and are typically weak, in contrast to the love him/hate him vocals of Gibbons, but are very much in the blues tradition.

Overall Score: Tough... between 4 and 4.5, ill give it a 4.5. I want to give it a 4.25, but that would just be me being difficult. 4.5/5 Excellent

user ratings (148)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 30th 2006


Nice Review. ZZ Top is a good band, though I haven't heard that much from them, still fun though.
It is weird and funny how the one guy that doesn't have a long beard, last name is Beard. :p Their guitars look so cool too.This Message Edited On 04.30.06

May 1st 2006


Great first review Tusk.

I might check this out. From your review, I gather that this is more Tres Hombres dirty blues rockish than crappy eighties pop stuff. I've only heard Brown Sugar off of this, but that's one of my favorite ZZ Top songs.

May 1st 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the comments guys.

This is definately more Tres Hombre-ish than Eliminator-ized... so to speak, robo (good point, should've included it). I think everyone in the CR thread would enjoy it. I'd even go so far as to say that its a bit dirtier than Tres Hombres, just by its sound, its 2 year earlier release date, and the completely unabashed blues feel that ZZ Top slowly but surely cruised away from.

I noticed several things I could do to improve my review, and ill be sure to take your advice as well, Iluvatar. This Message Edited On 05.01.06

May 15th 2006


Didn't ZZ Top re-mix this to be more Eliminator-esque? If not, I'm gonna get it.

May 15th 2006


Billy Gibbons said that this album didn't have any bass on it.

May 16th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

wgfa, no.. thank God. I enjoy Eliminator, but that would have been a cruel treatment for such a good album.

Jr., thats a strange thing for Billy to say, because it definately does. Do you have a link to this?

May 16th 2006


I think it was in an issue of GuitarWorld. I'll find it and get back on it later.

May 23rd 2006


Deguello is ZZ Top's best album by far, but this one is great too.

May 24th 2006


ZZ Top was better in the 80's. And La Grange gets old, really fast.

May 25th 2006


You obviously don't know what ZZ Top is all about.

April 21st 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

This album has some of their better songs in my opinion, specifically 'Old Man' and 'Brown Sugar'.

Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Album's excellent. Deserves the same love as the more well known ZZ Top albums.

September 19th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Not a bad ZZ top album although they done better ones after this of course songs like brown sugar and going down to Mexico kick serious ass.

September 19th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

haven't heard this one. suppose i should get around to it soon.

May 27th 2016


Album Rating: 3.5

Changed my rating. It's a good album, though.

June 13th 2018


Album Rating: 2.5

The Steve Miller Band was making better blues-rock than this back then

December 24th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

brown sugar

July 7th 2023


Album Rating: 3.5

Shaking Your Tree, Goin’ Down To Mexico, Brown Sugar, and Backdoor Love Affair kick ass!

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