By the time they released their third (and best) album Tres Hombres, it seemed that ZZ Top were pulling blues-rock nuggets out of some mythical desert goldmine. As well, they had established themselves as tellers of Texas tall tales with the guitar firepower to back it up.
However, after Tres Hombres followed Fandango — an odd album where the first side contained three live songs, including one cover and one an extended medley, and the second side contained studio cuts that played like a continuation of their previous recording. Tres Hombres is a great album in its own right, so the idea here is to rehabilitate that one-half side of studio tracks from Fandango.
Interestingly enough, the studio side of Fandango was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, the same place where they recorded Tres Hombres. That makes it real easy to fix: throw it all together as a 16 track super deluxe package, or just pick the best dozen tracks and there’s your Texas Twelve Pack — welcome at any event that involves beer drinkin’ and barbecue.
And you can call it …
Waitin’ For the Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
Master of Sparks
Blue Jean Blues* (Fandango)
Move Me On Down the Line
Heard it on the X* (Fandango)
Mexican Blackbird* (Fandango)
Have You Heard
Even the songs left off are pretty good: “Hot, Blue & Righteous,” “Precious and Grace,” “Sheik,” and “Nasty Dogs & Funky Kings” could easily serve as substitutions for many songs on the original list.
Yep, for a while the Memphis to Texas connection helped solidify ZZ Top as one of American rock’s great archetypes. Although they successfully changed their image and sound in the 80s to fit the visual age brought on by music with video TV, the fact is that they’re still together — writing, touring and recording, the same tres hombres, the same el loco.