Sunday, April 3, 2011

#498 - ZZ Top: Tres Hombres (1974)

There are artists that while I love what they do, I hate the music that the people that they influenced released. For me, ZZ Top is that type of band. These guys released some stellar Blues/Rock tunes and really pushed the Texas Blues sound to the fore front of the blues genre, where it dominated the 80's and 90's.

The beef I have with ZZ Top has nothing to do with the guys themselves. ..it's the guys in bar bands across the country who have butchered so many ZZ Top tunes and kind of made caricatures of a great band.

Tres Hombres was the first album for ZZ Top to break into the Top 10, and created a national reputation for this Houston Band.

Interestingly enough, that while the album made the Top Ten, it only yielded one single "La Grange" that peaked at #41 on the Billboard Singles Chart. Without a strong radio presence of any singles on the album, this album relies on 19 solid songs.

This was ZZ Tops third album and this really cemented the style that would define their albums over the next 10 years. Really catchy blues guitar riffs, and a drummer who plays a back beat that you could set your watch too.

The real gem of this album for me is "Jesus Just Left Chicago", a song that I'm not surprised that hasn't become a Blues-Rock standard (Although, considering what's been done to other tunes ZZ Top tunes, I'm a little glad)

  • Bottom Line: This album brought a great band to National fame....a Solid album with very few weak points.
  • Highlights: Jesus Just Left Chicago, Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
  • Low-Points: Lack of diversity of the songs.. While no songs stand out as truly weak points, the second half of the album tends to kind of blend together.

Does the Album Deserve to be on the Top 500? Yes, although, it's the only album me from these guys that I would be say yes to.

#499 - Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign (1967)

*Disclaimer: I try my best to be as objective as possible when listening to these albums, but considering my 15 year obsession of of Albert King's music, it may be a little difficult to keep my personal bias out of this post.

I was so excited when I saw that I'd get to be listening to "Born Under a Bad Sign", although that excitement was somewhat dashed when I saw the ridiculously low ranking of this album coming in at #499.

To people who aren't versed in the blues, Albert King may not be a very familiar name, or you may just think the's B.B.'s cousin. To any fan of the blues , the name Albert King carries a weight, and has a gravitas that is nearly unmatched.

Rising to fame in the 60's, Albert King practically wrote every modern blues guitar riff, that nearly 50 years later are still being played, and often butchered in blues bars across the country. When Stevie Ray Vaughan had the opportunity to sit in and play with Albert King on stage he commented "How Can I share the guy with the stage with the guy, because everything I would play would be stuff I stole from him" (Paraphrased from Blues Folklore)

Released in 1967, Born Under a Bad Sign was Albert's first release on the Famed Stax Record label, and is now considered one of the most influential blues album.

The album starts off with the title single "Born Under a Bad Sign" , which is now one of the most commonly covered blues songs ever. After that the album continues with an amazing string of songs, most which are known

  • Bottom Line: The guitar playing on this album set the stage for the blues-rock explosion that would take place over the next decade. The lyrics are clever and filled with sexual innuendos that were the hallmark of the early Delta Blues singers....Considering the two extremes, this album was the bridge that paid homage to the Blues History and ushered in a new generation of players.
  • Highlights: Crosscut Saw, Kansas City
  • Low-Points: Absolutely None

Does it Deserve to be in the Top 500? Absolutely, while it's not album that is on everybody's shelf (i.e. The White Album) You could argue that based on the albums it influenced, it could easily be a Top 20 album.

#500 - Eurythmics: Touch (1983)

Following up an album that becomes an International Sensation is one of the most daunting tasks for any band. Tons of bands have great debut albums.....The follow up album is where a lot of bands lose their way. (I dare you to name a song off of Hootie & the Blowfish's second album)

This was the task that the Eurythmics faced on recording Touch. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) had made them an International Success. Would they be able to follow this up with Touch?

My take? Yes and No.

Touch has moments of brilliance and moments of pain. They start the album very strongly with "Here Comes the Rain Again" which is probably the best song this band ever released.

The second track Regrets is also a strong performer.....After that the album drops off for me...While this album was released at the Peak of the Second Wave of Ska, there are some weak attempts to give it a reggae sound.....Albeit, at the time it wasn't as out of place. However, several aspects of this album, out of the context of the time, it just sounds bad.

  • Bottom Line: There are albums that are timeless, and transcend any period or genre. Then there are albums that are good, but sound like the era....This album unfortunately falls in the latter category...Some decent tunes, but it sounds very much of the 80's.
  • Highlights: Here Comes the Rain Again
  • Low-Points: The second half of the album

Does it Deserve to be in the Top 500? My gut says no, but then again, I was never around to experience this album in the context of its' release.....so I could be missing the boat on this one.