“Mixed bag” would be an understatement regarding this tribute to the Texas trio. Two important elements that you have to understand to do ZZ Top’s music: humor and sex. Some of the artists here get that.
The M.O.B., a super group made up of Steven Tyler, Jonny Lang, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie, winks their collective eye at you on a cover of “Sharp Dressed Man.” Tyler’s leering vocal and Lang’s fiery guitar drive the tune perfectly. Country artist Jamey Johnson turns “La Grange” into a jam tune with guitar from Billy Gibbons (is it legal for an artist to be on a tribute album dedicated to him?) and pedal steel from “Cowboy” Eddie Long.
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals do an interesting job with “Tush,” the gender bending alone supplying the sex appeal along with Scott Tournet’s guitar playing. Duff McKagan’s Loaded handles “Got Me Under Pressure” perfectly, sounding like a band that is used to getting the dancers up at a bar. Other noteworthy appearances include Wolfmother’s “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Just Got Paid” from Mastodon, with a helping hand again from Gibbons.
Several of the covers don’t work on a number of levels. Nickelback’s take on “Legs” is overbearing in the worst way. An ode to the female anatomy gets an extremely serious arena rock treatment that takes all the fun out of the song. And Daughtry’s “Waitin’ For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago” is dull and ordinary in a way that hundreds of bar bands could have delivered.
Finally, the diversity of artists listed above should be noted. The appeal of Gibbons, Hill, and Beard, even if the songs don’t always work, reaches far and wide on the music spectrum.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’12 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.