The latest from ZZ Top is the soundtrack from the Netflix documentary That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, released in 2019. Recorded live at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas, this 12-track release features drummer Frank Beard, guitarist Billy Gibbons, and Dusty Hill (who passed away last July) on bass.
As the title suggests, the concert is low-down, dirty, and without arena-rock pretense – ZZ Top returning to their roots with three men and their instruments, responding to each other’s energy, musical flow, and groove. With Gibbons in the producer’s chair, the album takes the listener on an inspiring, Texas-tinged journey through the band’s long career, beginning with “Brown Sugar,” through “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and ending with “Tube Snake Boogie.”
Gibbons’ guitar tone is tough, gruff, and visceral as he switches between blues-approved single-note soloing and bodacious slide work. The pulsating riff on “Heard It On The X” straddles the line between blues and straight-up rock and roll. At the same time, “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” displays Gibbons’ less-is-more chordal artistry, patented pinch harmonics, and double-stop growl. In all, RAW is a bare-bones tone-fest of smokin’ Texas groove and nasty blues.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.