The Big Bad Blues
Guitarist/Vocalist Billy F. Gibbons formed the rock band ZZ Top in 1969. Their debut recording “ZZ Top’s First Album” was released two years later. Their discography includes fifteen studio albums and four albums recorded live. The rock n’ boogie band has sold over twenty-five million albums in the U.S. alone, not counting international sales. Gibbons and the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
In 2015 Gibbons released his first solo album, the Afro-Cuban flavored “Perfectamundo”. This is only Gibbons second solo release and it showcases Gibbons’ lifelong love for the blues which has long been the foundation of his music over the past five decades. Gibbons’ notes “There’s something very primordial with the art form; nobody gets away from the infectious allure of those straight-ahead licks! I suspect Jimmy Reed did me in early on. The inventiveness of that high and lonesome sound remains solid and stridently strong to this day. We could go on to mention the lineup of usual suspects, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy, all three Kings (B.B., Albert and Freddie). The lengthy lists of champions are forever carved in stone.”
The band includes co-producer Gibbons, guitar, harmonica, and vocals; the Austin based Mike “The Drifter” Flanigan, organ and piano; bassist Joe Hardy who co-produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the session; Greg Morrow or Matt Sorum, drums; harmonica sensation James Harman, and Elwood Francis, guitar and harmonica.
The album is a mixture of originals and covers. Gibbons’ opens with “Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’” written by his wife Gilligan Stillwater. He adds “she knows what girls want and laid it out cold”. The other six originals were all written by Gibbons including “My Baby She Rocks”, “That’s What She Said”, and “Second Line” about the “many good days and nights down New Orleans way”.
One of Gibbons’ biggest influences was Bo Diddley and included are two songs from the icon’s catalogue. “Bring It To Jerome” was written by Bo Diddley percussionist Jerome Green and first recorded on Checker Records back in 1955. The other tune “Crackin’ Up” was a single for Diddley in 1959.
Muddy Waters is the other influence covered by Gibbons. “Standing Around Crying” is an early song recorded by Muddy sometime in the fifties and issued on a French import. Harman, who is also a blues historian, nails it with some fabulous harp playing. The other song from the Waters catalogue is “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”. Parts 1 and 2 were issued on a two sided 78 RPM single in 1950.
The fun loving Gibbons is serious about his love for the blues. This is a thoroughly enjoyable recording.