- 22 Jul 22
Boogie Woogie All Night Long
Since about nineteen-sixty-whatever, ZZ Top have been as reliable as a Swiss army knife, and twice as sharp. They hit on a formula early – shove a stick of dynamite up the blues’ jacksie – and, the odd sonic concession to new wave aside, stuck gleefully to it. They kick arse with a consistency akin to Messi casually knocking a ball against a barn door. Run, don’t walk, to nearest streaming device and bask in the greatness of their That Little Ol’ Band From Texas documentary which tells the story of the band who maintained the same holy trinity line up for fifty-one years until the sad passing of bass god Dusty Hill in 2021.
The film is based around a simple idea; put the three of them – guitarist/front man Billy Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard, and Hill – in a room and let them play, while their history is recounted around them. RAW presents those takes in all their unadorned glory, from 1971’s ‘Brown Sugar’ – a porch blues opening that’s steamrolled by a riff heavier than a truck with Hill's bass laying the tarmac underneath it – through later fuckin' awesome classics like ‘La Grange’, ‘Tush’, a ridiculously groovy ‘I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide’, and on to the world-conquering ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ which rocks like a Japanese shoji screen in an earthquake. The closing version of 'Tube Snake Boogie' is so good that after one listen you'll probably tell your boss to stick his crappy job up his wind tunnel so you can go start a blues band and hit the road.
The playing is - of course it is - superb throughout; Beard lays down an irresistible boogie shuffle behind 'Heard It On The X' and Hill lands like an elephant off a diving board into 'Thunderbird' but special praise must be awarded to Gibbons. The man brandishes a guitar tone that Jesus would sell his soul for and as a plank wrestler he can do more with one note - he even goes slightly arseways just for a laugh at the start of 'Just Got Paid' before the tune rolls over you like maple syrup on to a waffle - than almost anyone else can do with a thousand. No wonder he's always grinning - and you practically hear him at it when he moans "here we go" before the breakdown in 'La Grange' - just imagine being in a band this good. I only saw them live once but Lord Jesus Christ Almighty it was a religious experience and RAW is very nearly as great as that night out. It's dirtier than the back of your fridge, it rocks like a bus hanging over a cliff, and it’ll put a smile on your face like free money. No further proof was needed that The ‘Top rule, but here it is anyway.