Wednesday, August 27, 2014


ZZ Top came back strong and gave no quarter with the bearded Texas boogie of these low down hi-fi nationwide blues.  The band had taken an extended break after seven years of non-stop touring.  Dusty Hill went to Mexico, Frank Beard visited Jamaica, and Billy Gibbons traveled to Europe where he explored art and music:  "I had some buddies from Houston that had started this consortium of new-day surrealism – more than just a tip of the hat to the Dada guys. We were doing Xerox art and it was not so great, but the effect … If you took an image and then printed it out and then re-imaged that, the more generations you did the degradations started to set in. It was real vivid. From a technical standpoint it was just degradation, but from an artistic standpoint it was an enrichment of a visual experience...So we go and we drop down when this punk explosion was happening.  One thing I can assure you: I remain open to the effects of the energy events. That really got my attention. The anger and the angst did not allow anything more than: 'I don't have time to practise too long, I'm just gonna give it to ya like I got it.'"

 It was during the nearly three years between their previous album 'Tejas' and 'Degüello' that Gibbons and Hill both grew their iconic beards.  The band also switched from London Records to Warner Bros. Records.  They retained their tried and true team of producer Bill Ham and engineer Terry Manning for the sessions that featured Billy Gibbons on guitar and vocals;   Dusty Hill on bass guitar, keyboards, and vocals;   and Frank Beard on drums and percussion.  

 'Degüello' reached number one hundred in Australia, twenty-four in the US, and nineteen in Austria.  It became their second platinum record.

'Cheap Sunglasses' saw its way to number eighty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100.  Gibbons says:  “This song was actually written during a trip from the Gulf Coast up to Austin, Texas. A bright spot of creativity flared as we were passing the hamlet of La Grange, and I recited all three verses of ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ within the space of 20 miles. And that’s the way they stayed. Though that may sound simplistic, the lyrics speak for themselves. ‘Simplistic’ is indeed a word which may come to the minds of some."

'I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide'
Gibbons:  “We wrote this about the great Texas bluesman Joey Long, a Gulf Coast lead-guitar picker who appeared on a great number of wonderful records by the likes of Slim Harpo and Barbara Lynn. He played on Lynn’s great hit record ‘We Got a Good Thing Going,’ which was covered by the Stones, and which was really one of the important recordings that shaped my understanding of where it was I wanted to go with my life. It was good. And so was he.   Joey loaned me a multistringed mandolin-like instrument from Parral, Mexico, and I put it to good use on ‘Nationwide.’ If you listen closely, you can hear close-miked mandolin-sounding rhythm accompaniment."

'I Thank You' didn't have to become their second top forty hit, but it did, going to number thirty-four.


full album:  

1 - I Thank You   (Isaac Hayes, David Porter) 00:00
2 - She Loves My Automobile 03:25 
3 - I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide 05:48 
4 - A Fool For Your Stockings 10:37 
5 - Manic Mechanic 14:54 
6 - Dust My Broom  (Robert Johnson)   17:31  
7 - Low Down In The Street 20:40 
8 - Hi Fi Mama 23:31 
9 - Cheap Sunglasses 25:56 
10 - Esther Be The One 30:44 

beard talk with Billy

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