With their long, scraggly beards, flashy coats, and matching top hats, the members of the band ZZ Top may be as well known for their appearance as for their music. But the group has also had the formula for barbecue-flavored blues pop down pat -- for more than forty years and counting. In fact, just last year the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers released their fifteenth studio album, called La Futura.
Anna Bond recently wrote about her love for the band for eMusic in something she calls a “Skeptic’s Guide.” She joins us to explain.
I've been a fan for a really long time. I'm a child of the music video era and I just remember finding them really funny and appealing in all their videos with the flashy cars and beards, making faces, and playing these furry guitars. I've just always been interested in them. Over the past few years I've been looking for something kind of great and driving to listen to at work. I started listening to ZZ Top and I started listening more deeply and realizing that they kind of have a lot to offer right now.
A lot of people became familiar with the band because of this heavy visual imagery that was kind of gimmicky. [They] kind of associate them with a sort of novelty. Especially in the '80s there were these southern rock "artists" with these one-hit wonders, a lot of people associate ZZ Top with that trend. Their career goes so much earlier and later and they really bring the kind of musicianship and the creativity to the table that a lot of folks just don't realize.
This is the single from La Futura, the chorus is "25 lighters on my dresser/I gotsa get paid." That is a crib from a really famous classic Houston rap track by DJ DMD called "25 Lighters." They actually use the chorus and some of the lyrics. ZZ Top are from Houston, it's a classic Houston Hip Hop trip. Billy Gibbons tells stories of hanging out in the studio with The Geto Boys and the Cash Money crew. He just hangs out and takes his influences from whoever's around him. You can hear in the song it works perfectly.