ZZ Top – Live in Germany (2011)

Share this:

When ZZ Top, tearing through “Waiting for the Bus,” howls “have mercy!” in tandem, I’m right there with them.

It’s been easy to forget what this band sounded like before pasting a sheen of MTV-approved synthesizers over their nasty little amalgam of blues, rock and long-haired Texas-bred don’t-give-a-damn. Not anymore: Recorded in 1980, when ZZ Top was arguably at the peak of its powers, Live in Germany finds ZZ Top digging waist deep into a groove. Then neck deep. Then all the way down — and they get there just one song later, on “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” which sounds like Blind Lemon Jefferson hooked up to a blown transformer.

[SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: Gas up the hoopty-car space shuttle for a fun trip back to ZZ Top’s blues-rocking, furry-guitared past — from ‘Tejas’ and ‘Deguello’ to ‘Afterburner’ and “Recycler.’]

“Heard It On The X” simply blasts off, with you hanging on for dear life like a loose space shuttle tile. Even the raggedly laconic “Cheap Sunglasses” is a cornered animal here, lashing out with a darker, far more dangerous approach. Could a heavy-blues meltdown like “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” be that far off?

A pair of late-show covers underscore just how unbridled ZZ Top was, only a few years before becoming video-icon caricatures: They dial “Dust My Broom” down into a tangy Texas stomp, then kick “Jailhouse Rock” squarely in the nuts. Live in Germany concludes, perhaps as it should, with a tough, if far too brief, rendition of “Tush.” ZZ Top quickly discards the tune’s familiar piney-woods shuffle in favor of this barroom brawl between a soaring guitar, a thumping bass and a thundering drum kit. It’s hard, at times, to believe all of this sound, all of this fearless music making, is coming from just three guys.

I would’ve lost a lot of money to any one who bet me that furry guitars and “TV Dinners” were just over the horizon.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B0038EPHIU” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000002LSV” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0045FEEAS” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0012FE4BS” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000002KYR” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close