In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I’m pretty sure this whole record could stay evergreen for me for just as long.”
Often, when bands stick around long enough, they become a bit of a novelty at best, a punchline at worst. My entire life, ZZ Top have either been seen as nothing more than the long beards (novelty), or dodgy, outdated rock (worst). But here’s the thing, for a band and their songs to stay in the spotlight for decades, there has to be something going on. Even if I hate an old but enduring band, I try to at least respect that endurance and accept that they do have something offer, it’s just not something for me. Which is why I listened to ZZ Top’s mainstream breakthrough, Tres Hombres.
Straight away, I love the three piece simplicity of the ZZ Top sound with Waitin’ for the Bus. No overdubs (well, maybe a little during the guitar solo) or extravagant layering. Just one guitar cranking out a dirty riff, back up by a straight as a die bass line and freight train drums. My usual hatred of the harmonica is even abated with the sparing use of one here.With a little more energy, but still in the stripped back blues / rock mould, Tres Hombres rolls on with Jesus Just Left Chicago and Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers. Things don’t get much more straight forward than this, and I loved every straight forward second of this opening trio. Which is why I wasn’t so on board a couple of songs later with the unexpected, ill conceived “tenderness” of Hot, Blue and Righteous. C’mon boys, stay in your lane, I’m here for the dirty blues, not the pouring out of hearts.
The Kiss-like swagger of Move on Down the Line is even more confusing. It’s an OK song, it just sounds like something I assumed ZZ Top would make fun of other, less traditionally masculine bands, for writing ad recording. But it’s back to basics with the rock radio staple, La Grange. It’s vocal growl has been a constant in backyard barbecues and Holden Commodore car stereos my entire life, and I’m still not sick of it. And after listening to Tres Hombres, I’m pretty sure this whole record could stay just evergreen for me for just as long.