ZZ Top – ZZ Top’s First Album (Review)

ZZ Top – ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)

In the new documentary ‘ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas’, the band’s engineer Robin Brian states that ZZ Top “never sang the blues, they turn the blues into party music”. But on ZZ Top’s First Album the party had yet to get started. This is more of a hangover album with plenty of certified blues running through it. Billy Gibbons’ guitar playing and vocals bring Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green to mind and his deft playing is supported by a tight and ballsy rhythm section. However, the band hadn’t really gelled as songwriters yet. Songs like Squank, Back Door Love Affair and Bedroom Thang have a satisfying boogie vibe but are ultimately forgettable and the album often drags. There are some hints of the band’s future greatness though. Brown Sugar‘s lonesome Hendrix-meets-Mac blues boosts into a gutsy, grooving rocker, the down-and-dirty Goin’ Down to Mexico shows off Dusty Hill’s rollicking vocals and Neighbour has a formative stab at the kind of heavy riff you’ll hear later (and better) in songs like Precious And Grace and Cheap Sunglasses. With its bluesy mood, ballsy sound and confident musicianship, ZZ Top’s First Album is a good album to go with a beer or two. Just don’t expect it to inspire any hellraising.

HMO Rating: 3 Out Of 5

65 thoughts on “ZZ Top – ZZ Top’s First Album (Review)”

  1. I’d be a bit more generous, probably 3.5/5. But you’re not wrong about anything you said. I do feel this album is a bit undercooked. Truth is, I need that remixed Six Pack version so I can say I really heard it.


    Liked by 2 people

      1. I just read the post title these days. I’m too busy isolating myself to actually read any of the wordy or number-y bits. Sometimes, I can only be arsed reading half the post title.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I definitely was arsed with reading it, that’s why I thought the score was too low, it contradicted with how complimentary he was in the text. Created cognitive dissonance, and then I passed out in a puddle of my own urine and feces. And I assume that’s not what Mike wants to do to his readers to keep them coming back for anything more than incontinence. I guess I’ll read it when I need a constipation cure, since it blows my mind by way of excavating my bowls.

        Also it wasn’t Thunder in the East I thought was too low, it was Lightning Strikes!!! Harrison agreed!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Darn you, Mike! Now you’re going to have me go back and listen to Six Pack. I believe El Loco was the one album they left untouched since it was a bit of a step towards the Eliminator sound. The live tracks on Fandango! were definitely not touched. The rest is horrible. I mean, for the longest time I thought Tejas was a terrible album. Now it is one of my favs. I’m off this coming week. Maybe I’ll review it before I hand it over.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Holy Frigg that sure looks like Beard but those other two are old creepers and that’s back in 71 lol
    Cool review and to be honest have never heard any of this. Basically a decent stab at a first album mixing blues and rock.
    Brown Sugar is a good track especially when Beard wakes up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. True some hit or misses don’t get me wrong. I really like Recycler and La Futura. La Futura is still a great album and its already 8 years old!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t heard this one yet – but it sounds like a step on the journey to stronger material. I’m not sure about their second studio album but if it wasn’t quite there yet too, the third time was definitely the charm!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never heard this one…I’m sad to say. I came in real late with these guys around Eliminator and outside of La Grange, never explored further in the early catalog. I need to see the documentary and get motivated to dive in.


  5. I couldn’t agree more. ZZ really didn’t get into the groove until Rio Grande Mud, IMO. This one has it’s moments, Gibbons playing is excellent, but the songwriting isn’t there yet. Good album, with a couple of great tunes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mr Ladano informs me that you doubted my existence early on. In a great irony, when I read Lebrain’s Best of the Beast review, and he made reference to a “Heavy Metal Overlord” not agreeing with him, I thought he was referring to a fictitious being. My reasoning was that he said this almighty being disagreed with him because if it agreed, Stranger in a Strange Land would have been on there instead of Heaven Can Wait.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mr Ladano insinuates that you accused him of making up Holen and myself. The two songs wasn’t something you explicitly chose, Lebrain just knew of your love for Heaven Can Wait

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As I said to Lebrain when he told me, you can’t make up the stuff Holen says. Mr Ladano also insinuates that he can control me with a chip in my brain, so who knows, you may be right.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. And here’s a story I can tell you now. About one month after I started my site, Holen convinced me to tell Lebrain. So I coyly did so on my reader spotlight. But not well enough it seems, as he later informed me that he thought I had merely found someone with similar interests to us. Apparently putting Virtual XI and Seventh Star up there with Physical Graffiti, In Rock and Rising wasn’t a big enough hint.

    But I did get to drop a sweet “well of course I know him, he’s me.” on Lebrain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LeBrain’s such a silly goose man. He’d better be careful, because being such a silly goose people might mistake him for a duck and serve him for Christmas dinner!


      1. That reminds me, my maths teacher once said, about another class he had, “It doesn’t need to be christmas for me to know I have a class of turkeys”


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