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ZZ Top | Tres Hombres | review | rock | Lollipop
Tres Hombres (Warner Brothers)
by Brian Varney
For hardcore ZZ Top fans, this CD reissue is truly a joyous occasion. These days, you can hardly turn your head without knocking over a box full of reissued/remastered/deluxe edition CDs, most of which provide no tangible improvement over previous versions of said album. There are, however, rare instances where remastering treatment is desperately needed, and the ZZ Top catalog is one of those instances.
For those who don't know what I'm prattling on about, a bit of history: Back in the late '80s, just as CDs were taking off, ZZ Top released The Six Pack, which compiled six of the band's early albums. Not merely content to preserve the magic of those recordings, some goofball decided to mess with the drum tracks, adding a bunch of reverb and echo and other shit in an attempt, I guess, to "modernize" the recordings, perhaps as a misguided attempt to endear them to fans of the slick sounds of the band's breakthrough hit, Eliminator. What this actually did was ruin those albums, pissing off a bunch of hardcore geeks like myself.
Finally, almost 20 years later, the correction of these wrongs has begun. Tres Hombres, the band's third album, is finally available on CD with the original mixes intact. This album is probably best known as the home of "La Grange," but its riches reach far beyond that lone tune. From the bluesy shuffle of opener "Waitin' for the Bus" to the torrential rock of "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers," the BBQ-sauce slathered funk of "Precious and Grace" and the almost poppy "Move Me on Down the Line," Tres Hombres has a lot to offer. Those who somehow missed out on the fact that Billy Gibbons is one of the best guitarists in rock history will be reminded with nearly every note he coaxes from the Les Paul during these ten tracks, and the rock-solid rhythm section of Dusty Hill and Frank Beard is never less than spectacular. And thanks to the sonic overhaul, you can finally hear this stuff on CD the way it was meant to sound.