Produced by Bill Ham
Label – London
There’s no doubt that Texan three piece ZZ Top benefited from the groundswell of interest in the Southern rock that had been pioneered by The Allman Brothers band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the shuffling boogie of Canned Heat. Their tight, power packed dynamic energy would be fully realized on this, their 3rd studio album. The sound they create is wholly derivative, the muscular white man’s twelve bar chug with lyrical clichés, ironic paean’s to Southern life. Guitarist Billy Gibbons’ licks are sharp, precise, and his throaty vocal snarl deliberately mimics delta blues singers from decades before. Bill Ham’s sparse production deliberately reflects the band’s live presence, with few effects and direct mastering that allows little unnecessary echo. Kicking off with the inseparably spliced duo of “Waitin’ For The Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago”, there’s a loose vibe that both highlights, and sets the tone for the remainder of the record.
For all the distinctive “clap your hands y’all” routines, some of the material on “Tres Hombres” transparently copies many acts from the period. “La Grange” is an almost carbon copy of “Shake Your Hips” from The Rolling Stones “Exile On Main Street”, mixed with John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom and “Boogie Chillen”. “Waitin’ For The Bus” carries a repetitive three chord riff that Canned Heat had been trading in for years, and the slow groove of “Hot, Blue And Righteous” could be mistaken as an Allman Brothers outtake. However, with all the similarities to their musical peers “Tres Hombres” still carries an abundance of Southern charm, simplicity and fluidity. There’s no intention to impress with flashy solo’s, studio tricks, or superfluous lyrical imagery. Indeed the record impresses by its lack of pretension to be anything but down n’ dirty electrified blues.
It’s all no frills, deep fried, hot ass boogie. What’s not to like?
1 – Waitin’ For The Bus (7)
2 – Jesus Just Left Chicago (7)
3 – Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers (7)
4 – Master Of Sparks (7)
5 – Hot Blue And Righteous (7)
6 – Meet Me On Down The Line (6)
7 – Precious And Grace (7)
8 – La Grange (7)
9 – Sheik (7)
10 – Have You Heard? (6)