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ZZ Top Tour/Mini Review (1 Viewer)

Brian L

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Just a note for any Top fans looking in...

Caught the show in Albuquerque last night. All I can say is Wow! This was probably the best live sound I have ever heard. Fabulous.

The tone Billy Gibbons squeezes from his guitar is nothing short of breathtaking. Great set list, and a great show. He pulled out Pearly Gates (an absoluteley TO DIE FOR sunburst Les Paul) for "Just Got Paid" and his slide work and tone was spectacular, jaw droppping stuff. Anyone with any aspirations to play guitar will be awed.

The played a couple cuts from the new unreleased album Mescalaro. Not bad. Definitely Top. Pretty rare to hear new, unfamiliar music live and actually like it.

If you like Top, I would highly recommend seeing this tour.

As a side note, Ted Nugent and Kenny Wayne Shepard were the opening acts.

I have been a Ted fan since my youth. Beside the fact that Ted has morphed into Ted Limbaugh, it was vintage Ted. Pretty much all the tunes you would expect to hear, with a good dose of conservative politics (which I tend to agree with most of the time). If you had any liberal leanings, it may be tough to swallow though.

The dissapointment for me was KWS and Double Trouble. No doubt he has found the keys to SRV's tone closet, but the performance lacked the fire and intensity that SRV would bring to the party (and I have seen SRV live). I have seen KWS on TV before, and was always impressed, so I would have to assume it was just an off night, coupled with the fact that the opening act has no say on the sound system, which did not flatter the band. In the plus column, he did close with a cover of SRV's cover of Hendrix's Voodoo Chile, which was pretty cool.

BGL
 

Kevin C Brown

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Question: I saw ZZ Top in the 70's. *Was* a big fan. Is this tour more the "synth pop" of Eliminator (i.e., IMO, garbage)? Or the real guitar blues/rock Top of Tres Hombres, Fandango, and Deguello? :)
 

Brian L

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Question: I saw ZZ Top in the 70's. *Was* a big fan. Is this tour more the "synth pop" of Eliminator (i.e., IMO, garbage)? Or the real guitar blues/rock Top of Tres Hombres, Fandango, and Deguello?
It is mostly the real deal.

They did three or four cuts from the MTV Eighties (Legs, Sharp Dressed Man, Rough Boy, and I don't recall the other), but everything else was solid vintage Top (plus two cuts from Mescalero).

Waitin' for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago, Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers, La Grange, Just Got Paid (as I may have said, a stunning display of slide work on Pearly Gates, my jaw just plain dropped), Manic Mechanic, I'm Bad I'm Nation Wide, Cheap Sun Glasses, to name a few.

Without putting too fine a point on it, anyone who likes Top should like this show. Anyone who occasionally straps on a Les Paul will have a major woody over the sound of the band, and the tone that Billy Gibbon's gets (that would be ME!).

I personally am no great fan of the 80's MTV stuff, but given the rest of the set list, I was one seriously happy camper.

If they come your way, and you like ZZ Top, its a no-brainer.

BGL
 

Kevin C Brown

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Brian- I had heard rumblings that the last lp Rhymeen (?) was also a harkening back to their early sound? But I was hesitant to get it. Do you have it?

Hee, hee. I'm a proud owner of a '79 Cherry Sunburst Les Paul Custom...
 

Brian L

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Brian- I had heard rumblings that the last lp Rhymeen (?) was also a harkening back to their early sound? But I was hesitant to get it. Do you have it?
I do have it, but you know, I haven't listened to it for a while. Just ran downstairs and grabbed it. Its in my office player as we speak. The first cut certainly is classic ZZ Top, but I will have a full report after I listen to the whole thing and refresh my memory.

I started to answer your question based on Antenna, which I think came before Rythmeem. That is IMHO, also vintage style Top, in the same vain as Deguelos. They played Pincushion from that LP.

And as one LP owner to another (95 Classic, Honeyburst), cheers!

BGL
 

Brian L

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OK, I am 8 tracks into the total of 12.

BUY Rythmeen!

I had forgotten how good this album was (so many Cd's and DVD's and DVD-A's and SACD's, so little time).

I can't comment on the sonics just yet (my office system is a walkman piped into a Wave Radio (say a word, and I will beat your dog!).

Very reminicent of Deguelos, which I really like. Nothing at all like the 80's synth stuff.

BTW, do you have Antenna? Thats pretty good too. And having listenned to that recently on the big rig, I thought the bass and kick drum on that album was huge.

BGL
 

Kevin C Brown

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Cool, I will have to pick up Rythmeen and Antenna then. So Eliminator, Afterburner, and Recycler are the ones to avoid.

Here, there's just a steady, relentless beat (Frank Beard is still chained to the sequencer, as he has been for a decade), topped off by processed guitars turning out licks that fall short of being true riffs.
From Allmusic's review of Recycler. Thanks! :)
 

Kevin C Brown

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I guess XXX isn't that great either... I have *heard* that Mescalero is supposed to be vintage Top too.

I'm still awaitin' for some more live stuff too... :)
 

Brian L

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Off topic Kevin, but I just got around to reading your letter in Stereophile. I liked your comment about tube amps, but does that apply to ALL amplification in the Brown household?

I have three different tube amps (small bore Fender, Laney, and Mesa Boogie) and would not consider plugging my beloved LP or Strat into anything but!

For guitar amps, distortion is a GOOD thing, right?

BGL
 

Kevin C Brown

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Brian- I sent in that letter last Nov. I have since been "enlightened" in terms of tube eqp, to the extent, that if I ever split out 2 ch listening from HT, I actually probably would go with a tube integrated amp. :)

The bottom line (I think!), is that tube gear overdrives more gracefully than ss gear.

I have 2 Lab Series L-5 (?) amps that I ran in "stereo" with an Alesis Quadraverb. But I think they are solid state...

Just won Antenna and Rhythmeen on ebay. I think I'm going after XXX next anyway. It does have 4 live tracks at the end! :)

Kind of nice to "rediscover" a band.
 

Brian L

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I have 2 Lab Series L-5 (?) amps that I ran in "stereo" with an Alesis Quadraverb. But I think they are solid state...
If memory serves, those are the amp of choice for BB King. I think they are out of production, so you probably have some potential E-bay fodder there! I also have a Midiverb III and have used it for the same purpose.

My current fav is a Fender Blues Junior. Bought if for the Strat, and recently discovered that I like it better with the Les Paul. I run through a Tube Screamer and then a Line 6 Distortion Modeler. Getting some really nice crunch (Zep, AC/DC, Aerosmith) and vintage sounding tones out of the combo.

Do report on XXX. That one slipped under my radar.

As for tubed Hi-Fi, one of the nicest sounding rigs I ever heard was at a co-workers house. Tubed integrated amp driving a sub/sat in stereo. Very sweet sounding. They played Little Feat Waiting for Columbus through it....wonderful sound, if memory serves.

One more ZZ Top anecdote....

There is a story in today's local Sunday paper about a message therapist that last week had an odd looking guy with a navel length beard come in for some work. He worked the guys left shoulder extensively. Yup, it was Billy Gibbons, enjoying a couple days of R&R in Santa Fe before the show. The kicker is that the message dude is a Top fan, but he didn't recognize him...figured he was just a local hill-billy!

As a tip, Billy gave the guy 6 free tickets to the show.

BTW, in the thread on new SACD releases that instantly degenerated into another stupid SACD/DVD-A debate, there is talk about Aerosmith's Rocks coming to SACD. I didn't see that listed anywhere with a confirmed date. When I posted in that thread, my question got completely lost in the noise.

Have you seen a confirmed date for Rocks? That is without a doubt my favorite Aerosmith album. If that comes to Hi-Rez, I am all over it.

BGL
 

Kevin C Brown

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If it was my post about Rocks, then it was more *hope* than anything definate. Oh, funny one. Aerosmith don't "party" like they used to, right? But if I look at what I like from them, I much prefer their "party" releases (Night in the Ruts and before, plus Done with Mirrors), but really not much from after Done with Mirrors.

I actually got the Lab Series' because there was supposedly a connection to Norlin Electronics (to Gibson), plus, Ronnie Montrose used them for a while in the late 70's, early 80's. I got a good deal too. :)

Hey got a question for you: where do you stand on ZZ Top's 6 lps and the "remastering" that was done? I now have the "6-pack" box CD, and maybe in retrospect, mistakenly got rid of all the lps.
 

Brian L

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Hey got a question for you: where do you stand on ZZ Top's 6 lps and the "remastering" that was done? I now have the "6-pack" box CD, and maybe in retrospect, mistakenly got rid of all the lps.
Well, you know, I guess I am one of the unwashed heathens that thought it sounded pretty good. I never had all 6 on LP (I did have a few), and my analog rig was never anything to brag about.

The only Top I had on CD (prior to buying the 6 pack) was greatest hits (that particular GH package was pre synth 80's), so I had no real frame of reference other than the cuts on the GH CD.

In any event, I liked the sound of the drums on the 6 pack (much bigger, with some real depth to them). I guess now that I am knee deep in rediscovering ZZ Top, it would be a good time to take a listen on the big rig; see if I still like what I am hearing.

Side note: Please do not report this indiscretion at the Steve Hoffman forum. The mob will grab their torches and pitch forks and hunt me down for even THINKING that that 6 pack sounds good.

BGL
 

Kevin C Brown

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See, that's just it. I kind of also do prefer the "remastered" sound. Yes, it is different from the original 6 lps. But as some people have very erroneously reported on the Amazon reviews, ZZ Top did NOT go back and rerecord the drums on a drum machine just so they could sound like Eliminator/Afterburner/Recycler. I also thought the drums have more depth and a more extended top end. (I was just always nervous about *how* they accomplished that though. I.e., did they just turn off the Dolby noise reduction on playback and re-record *that* sound? I.e., a "false" remaster?) Shoot, now I'm going to have to go back and listen to them again! :) Oh, the torture!

I need to investigate a little too, in that this is the exact type of thing that ICE Magazine reports on. But the 6-pack came out before I was a subscriber...
 

Brian L

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But as some people have very erroneously reported on the Amazon reviews, ZZ Top did NOT go back and rerecord the drums on a drum machine just so they could sound like Eliminator/Afterburner/Recycler.
By the time this thread peter's out, every ZZ Top CD I own will be sitting on my desk!

To my ears, the re-mastering sounds like someone with a good ear dialed in some EQ, maybe tweaked some levels, and certain stuff was treated to a bit of reverb and/or delay. It has a more "live" sound, as though you were listening to them from the 10th row/center of the Journal Pavilion in Albuquerque:D

I am listening as we speak to Waitin for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago (the finest blues ever committed to tape, IMHO), and what I am hearing is a bit of 'verb on the vocals and the drums. Even on my trusty Wave, it sounds good.

Now, they may have in fact re-recorded the drums, but it does not to me sound like a drum machine; it sounds like a loud drum kit in a room with some distance miking added to the mix.

The liner notes list involvement by the band, Bill Hamm (long time producer/manager) and Bob Ludwig. A bunch of slouches that know squat about ZZ Top, right?

Yup, that about closes it for me: I LIKE THE ZZ TOP SIX PACK AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!

BGL
 

Chuck Bogie

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Well, I saw the BD&HR tour in St. Louis.

I thought Kenny Wayne rocked, but it was hard to determine because the folks in front of us made better doors than they did windows... Gotta love all the nice yuppie bikers in their nice new leathers...

Really dug Sweaty Teddy. Rocked the house. Gonna catch it again when he's back in the area next month.

ZZ-Top was a disappointment. The midrange was just flat out muddy for the vocals. Couldn't get the words, etc... Plus, the show was sorta dull - Coupla nice jams, but the majority of the show made the yuppie bikers happy - they seemed to really dig it when the boys would stand on stage and move in unison, just like in the videos...
 

Brian L

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Bummer on ZZ Tops sound, and the yuppy bikers.

We have Bikers here, but they look like the real deal. I guess the yuppies stayed home.

The folks at my show doing the door imitation were basically garden variety drunks. They were quite effective at it, though.

I am not a yuppy biker, but I kind of liked it when they stood on stage and moved in unison. Oh well.

I liked it better when Dusty tore it up at the end of I'm Bad, I'm Nation Wide (a killer bass part when it gets fast at the end) and Billy brought out Pearly Gates for Just Got Paid.

BGL
 

Kevin C Brown

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Hee, hee. I also whipped about disc 2 of the 6-pack last night and listened to it. I also noticed a better spread of the imaging across the front soundstage too. Never really listened to it before, just because of the overwhelming difference in the drums.

This was probably the best live sound I have ever heard. Fabulous.

The tone Billy Gibbons squeezes from his guitar is nothing short of breathtaking.
I saw them on the Deguello tour. I remember the same thing back then, and it has bugged me to this day, why they haven't released more live material. :)
 

Brett_H

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Could anyone who has been to one of these shows you tell me if KWS has been playing any new material? Any hints as to whether or not there's a new album in the works?

Seems like lately his CD's have been in really heavy rotation for me and I'd love to hear some new stuff from him.

Thanks,
-Brett.
 

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