ZZ Top: The Very Baddest Of

Desert-hot collection of the best ‘baddest-ass boogie rock’n’roll from Texas’.

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ZZ Top’s music has been in my life as early as I can remember. My Dad [Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters] gave me the albums Tres Hombres and Rio Grande Mud, and later I found Recycler on a cassette in my uncle’s old Ford pickup truck. I would play My Head’s In Mississippi in my room and pray for the naked cowgirl to dance across my ceiling!

This was the first band that you could listen to their music and feel the desert heat on your back and rattlesnakes crawling at your feet. The imagery created in their videos – like Sharp Dressed Man with the epic Ford Coupé and the spinning white fuzz-covered guitar and bass – turned the world on its head.

‘The baddest-ass boogie rock’n’roll from Texas’ is exactly what you can expect from this two-disc set. The tone of Billy Gibbons’s guitar and the incredible rhythm section of Dusty Hill and Frank Beard are hands-down the tightest in the land. The Very Baddest Of includes so many epic cuts from all over the course of their career. I’m so glad later tracks like Rhythmeen and Mescalaro made the collection, and who doesn’t love the early staples like Jesus Just Left Chicago and Waiting For The Bus? La Grange and Sharp Dressed Man were two tracks that Black Stone Cherry played at our high-school basketball games.

ZZ Top were a band that we connected with on so many different levels. We would sit at the practice house and play those records and try to steal some of the voodoo and swagger that the bearded bandits created. For us, being a young band from the south, we looked up to them because they were gritty and lowdown and we could relate to that.

I love it that the compilers of this surprisingly broad collection found room to also include Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers (rumour has it the song was written about a little town in Kentucky) and Just Got Paid. I could have done with even more but, as everyone knows, you can’t fit all of this little ol’ band from Texas’s amazing catalogue on just two discs.