The Overlooked Songs From Each ZZ Top Album

The Overlooked Songs From Each ZZ Top Album | Society Of Rock Videos

via Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Youtube

In Texas, where great artists like Janis Joplin and Pantera come from, ZZ Top stands out for bringing the Southern spirit to rock music. They mixed blues and hard rock, following in the footsteps of Led Zeppelin.

Let’s check out some songs that you might not have noticed from each ZZ Top album:

1. “Old Man” (ZZ Top’s First Album, 1971)
While surrounded by blues-rock stompers, “Old Man” stands out like a dusty ballad on a desert highway. Its melancholic melody and introspective lyrics paint a picture of isolation and lost innocence, hinting at the deeper themes ZZ Top would explore later.

2. “Ko Ko Blue” (Rio Grande Mud, 1972)
ZZ Top’s wit shines brighter than a Texas sun in “Ko Ko Blue.” This bluesy rocker weaves wordplay and humor into a tapestry of double entendres and winks, showcasing their early knack for blending musical complexity with lyrical amusement.

3. “Move Me on Down the Line” (Tres Hombres, 1973)
Don’t let its position fool you, “Move Me on Down the Line” is a hidden gem. Its laid-back groove and Gibbons’ soulful vocals create a hypnotic road trip vibe, perfect for cruising down a sun-drenched highway with the windows down.

4. “Blue Jean Blues” (Fandango!, 1975)
While not a chart-topper, “Blue Jean Blues” has a loyal following for a reason. Billy Gibbons’ smooth, pure-blues vocals take center stage, delivering a heartfelt plea over a stripped-down blues shuffle. It’s a testament to ZZ Top’s ability to excel in high-energy rockers and intimate ballads.

5. “Snappy Kakkie” (Tejas, 1976)
On the daringly diverse Tejas, “Snappy Kakkie” stands out as a jazzy detour. Its swinging horns and offbeat rhythm might clash with the album’s overall sound, but it showcases ZZ Top’s willingness to experiment and push boundaries, solidifying their position as musical chameleons.

6. “She Loves My Automobile” (Degüello, 1979)
It may not rewrite the blues rulebook, but “She Loves My Automobile” is a solid, toe-tapping ode to a four-wheeled love affair. The chugging guitar riff and Gibbons’ playful vocals make it a fun, unpretentious addition to Degüello’s blues-rock tapestry.

7. “Tube Snake Boogie” (El Loco, 1981)
Amidst the mixed bag that is El Loco, “Tube Snake Boogie” rises as a saving grace. Its infectious groove, courtesy of Hill’s tight drumming and Beard’s thumping bass, combined with Gibbons’ signature guitar licks, salvage the album and remind us of ZZ Top’s ability to get listeners moving.

8. “I Need You Tonight” (Eliminator, 1983)
Clocking in at over six minutes, “I Need You Tonight” might initially seem indulgent. However, its extended instrumental sections showcase ZZ Top’s musical prowess, with Gibbons’ bluesy guitar solos and the rhythm section’s tight interplay keeping the listener engaged throughout.

9. “I Got the Message” (Afterburner, 1985)
A bold experiment in synth-pop, “I Got the Message” might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Yet, its futuristic soundscape and catchy melody could easily soundtrack a retro video game or provide a nostalgic throwback for synth-pop enthusiasts.

10. “Tell It” (Recycler, 1990)
Often overlooked at nearly five minutes, “Tell It” reveals its charm upon closer inspection. Its bluesy swagger and Gibbons’ raspy vocals simmer with a potent energy, showcasing ZZ Top’s ability to deliver blues rock with timeless appeal.

11. “Cherry Red” (Antenna, 1994)
While Antenna might not be their strongest effort, “Cherry Red” stands out for its simple yet effective blues-rock groove. It’s a reminder that ZZ Top’s core sound, even amidst experimentation, was always rooted in the blues, keeping them grounded and familiar.

12. “What’s Up With That” (Rhythmeen, 1996)
The futuristic harmonica intro can’t hide the cybernetic heart of “What’s Up With That,” placing it among ZZ Top’s less traditional tracks. This modern experiment might not please purists, but it showcases their willingness to adapt and evolve with the times.

13. “Dreadmonboogaloo” (XXX, 1999)
Despite drawing inspiration from their seventies roots, “Dreadmonboogaloo” falls short of capturing the magic of earlier days. It serves as a reminder that even legends can have missteps, but their overall discography remains a testament to their enduring talent.

14. “What It Is Kid” (Mescalero, 2003)
While Mescalero delivers solid blues-rock throughout, “What It Is Kid” often gets overlooked. Its driving rhythm, Gibbons’ powerful vocals, and bluesy guitar solos pack a punch, reminding us that ZZ Top still had plenty of grit and energy left in them.

15. “It’s Too Easy Mañana” (La Futura, 2012)
Unfortunately, the final track on La Futura, “It’s Too Easy Mañana,” stumbles with its cliché lyrics and uninspired vocals. This laid-back attempt falls flat, marking a less-than-memorable conclusion to the album.

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