Friday, July 26, 2013

40 Year Itch : Have Mercy!

With their third album, Tres Hombres, released in July of 1973, ZZ Top, that little ole band from Texas, delivered a high powered, tequila-soaked rock 'n' blues best seller. The album hit the Top 10 while the first single, the John Lee Hooker-esque "La Grange", just missed the Top 40 singles chart--peaking at #41. Not bad for a song about a whorehouse!

  Dusty Hill admits he visited the Chicken Ranch, a well known brothel long before "La Grange".

I went there when I was 13. A lot of boys in Texas, when it's time to be a guy , went there and had it done. Fathers took their sons there... oil field workers and senators would both be there

All the publicity forced Texas authorities to put the Chicken Ranch out of business.

Blues fans recognized the "La Grange" lick as John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillin'"and so did the owner of the copyright. He sued in 1992 but had to settle out of court. By then ZZ Top had sold 50 million records.
Only 1979's DeGuello approaches Tres Hombres in quality.

Recorded in Memphis at Ardent Studios, Tres Hombres suggests an evening out with the boys would be one of the wildest of your life: whore houses, beer drinking contests, hell raising and then, when everyone was nice and drunk, you'd all pile into a pick up, convince one of your buddies to crawl into a metal cage then push the whole thing over the side...and watch the sparks fly.

For the gatefold sleeve, Billy Gibbons says they got Leo's Mexican Cafe to prepare a heaping plate of enchiladas. They would take it to go. For the next several years, ZZ Top was one of the biggest touring bands in the US. In Austin 80,000 fans showed up at the "Texas Size Rompin' Stompin' Barndance and Barbecue", destroying some of the stadium's new astro turf.

Years later, for reasons unclear, ZZ Top allowed the record company to issue cds with re-recorded drums. A travesty to be sure! For the original mixes, be sure you're buying cds issued by Rhino. 

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