With the release of the four-CD set, Chrome, Smoke, & BBQ, an affront to humanity was corrected—namely, early ZZ Top was finally available on CD, remastered, and not caked with Rockman and digital reverb. But for all the rejoicing, Chrome is a collection, so those lesser-known cuts that inhabit an album’s grooves, are unfortunately lost in time, where vinyl freaks get to hear stuff that you don’t. So here’s hoping that these complete, remastered, and expanded versions of Tres Hombres and Fandango! are a sign that the rest of their early catalog (ZZ Top’s First Album, Rio Grande Mud, Tejas) are forthcoming.
Released in 1973, Tres Hombres is way more than just the album that sports “La Grange.” It’s the trio’s most fully realized effort, with soulful cuts such as “Hot, Blue and Righteous” and “Have You Heard?” riding shotgun with the stony groove of “Shiek” and the heavy-as-hell, “Precious and Grace.” Billy Gibbons’ is at the peak of his powers throughout, as Tres Hombres is where his trademark pinch harmonics are everywhere (listen for some pre-Van Halen finger tapping as well). Nationwide, indeed.
The half live, half studio, Fandango! has some big moments—Gibbons’ milkshake-thick raunch on the entire live side, and the steamrollin’ “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings,” on the studio side, for example. The album’s centerpiece, however, is the slow blues tour de force, “Blue Jean Blues,” as it shows Gibbons’ impeccable taste as well as his command over the instrument. Both reissues feature three unreleased live cuts each just in case you need even more incentive to grab these bad boys. Do it! (Warner Bros).
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