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Classic Rock News And Views
April 1, 2011
When I heard recent scuttlebutt suggesting that ZZ Top was in the recording studio working on a new album I wondered if I was having a flashback. Similar news surfaced about three years ago which makes me wonder whether the Tres Hombres simply put their album work on the back burner for a while or whether they consider the making of a new album a process akin to making a fine wine.
There was that unfortunate tour experience they had to work through with Aerosmith a couple of years back, so perhaps that kind of threw things off the tracks where the new album was concerned. They also hit the road again towards the end of last year for their Necessity Is a Mother Tour which probably kept them busy in rehearsals for a while leading up to the tour and then the actual tour itself which started in early September and ended toward the end of October.
With the latest announcement hinting that the new album could be ready to hit the streets before the end of the year, perhaps fans will finally be able to get their hands on the first new ZZ Top studio album since Mescalero was released in 2003.
In addition to the work required to finish up the new album, ZZ Top is scheduled to begin touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd next month when the Rebels & Bandoleros tour gets underway The two groups have a long history, touring for the first time together in 1974, although the Skynyrd line-up has changed quite dramatically since those days due to the tragic plane crash in 1977 and other more typical circumstances that tend to change bands that try to keep things together for such a long stretch of time.
ZZ Top fans who need a dose of the Texas Trio can hope that the tour is scheduled for a venue not too far from home, since it may not be a good bet to count on seeing the new album before the end of the year if the comments from 2008 are any indication. These three guys are taking their time getting the new record out and there could be any number of good reasons for that. I don’t want this to come across as a slam against them since I’ve always been somewhat of a fan.
I say “somewhat” only because there are just a handful of ZZ Top songs that I really like, but it’s one of those situations where they are songs that I really like. Cranking the volume up to 11 and firing up “La Grange” is hard to beat and “Cheap Sunglasses” is a close second in my book. As for “Tush,” well that song is just legendary. That opening guitar work has to be some of the most recognizable in the history of rock.
Beyond my passion for those songs, let’s face it, who doesn’t think those guys are just plain cool? Here’s hoping they’re able to get that new album out according to their current timetable, and although I know it’s a long shot, wouldn’t it be nice if there was something that came close to “La Grange” or “Cheap Sunglasses” on it?
March 23, 2010
Them Crooked Vultures, the group that includes former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, landed in London to do their part for the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charitable effort dedicated to “improving the lives of teenagers and young adults with cancer.”
The Vultures took to the stage at Royal Albert Hall in London last night for a two-hour set, and were quite happy to be part of the effort, according to front man Josh Homme, who said, “What an absolute pleasure to see you all here this evening. London let its hair down for the right reason, huh?”
Check out more on the story from NME and the video below from Absolute Radio.
Gene Simmons Speaks His Mind on Fox News
Anyone at all familiar with KISS rocker Gene Simmons knows he’s not the least bit bashful about telling things the way he sees them. In a recent appearance on Fox News, Simmons had a few things to say about President Obama and the current state of U.S. foreign policy.
Simmons told Fox’s Megan Kelly that, “I voted for Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. We can disagree for instance on certain social issues, and completely disagree with our pathetic foreign policy. It’s wimpy.”
With regard to the white-hot health care issue, Simmons does not sound like he’s in Obama’s corner on that issue either. “I think the worst thing we can do right now is health care… When the government gets involved it’s disaster.”
Simmons has described himself on occasion as an “Ayn Randian of sorts,” and has credited some of Rand’s work for inspiring his own creative efforts. Something he apparently has in common with Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart.
ZZ Top Announces Chile Benefit Show
Texas rock trio ZZ Top will appear at Movistar Arena in the Chilean city of Santiago on May 18th for a benefit concert for victims of the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that shook the region on February 27th.
On the band’s official website, guitarist Billy Gibbons announced news of the show via video. Gibbons, speaking in Spanish, expressed the band’s sentiment with the following statement:
“I’m Billy from the band ZZ Top. The whole world knows about the effects caused by the earthquake that happened in your beautiful country. We know that the Chilean spirit can never be broken and that right now it is stronger than ever. ZZ will be in Santiago on May 18 at the Movistar arena. We hope that you can join us for a special night.”
For more, see Undercover.
September 11, 2009
By now, just about every Aerosmith fan on the planet has seen the video of Steven Tyler taking his now-infamous dive off the catwalk in Sturgis, S.D. Well, maybe “dive” is not the right word, since that sounds more like an intentional act, and at 61 years of age, nobody in their right mind is diving off of a catwalk like that!
While Tyler is on the mend and the rest of the “bad boys” ponder their future, the Texas trio we’ve known for some forty years as ZZ Top keeps on rocking. Either the Tres Hombres are a luckier lot than their bad boy brethren, or perhaps they have just been a bit more sensible through the years and taken better care of themselves. I did not manage to uncover any dirt on ZZ Top regarding drug or alcohol abuse, unlike so many of their contemporaries.
How lots of money, fame and millions of adoring fans leads to substance abuse is something that has always stymied me. Then again, I’m not a rock star, and with alcohol and substance abuse so pervasive in our society, perhaps it’s not as hard to understand as I have always thought. With all those things come great temptations that regular folks can only dream about. The ZZ Top guys deserve credit for keeping their heads on straight and feet on the ground. On the other hand, perhaps it’s all about extraordinary discretion and very loyal friends and associates. I prefer to believe the former, however.
Although it is probably a result of Steven Tyler’s unfortunate accident, the spotlight is shining a bit brighter on ZZ Top as they continue to tour, choosing to showcase their enduring material in a more intimate settings by booking smaller venues, which is an experience the group seems to be enjoying.
Still, one gets the feeling that ZZ Top’s days in front of the larger crowds at stadiums and amphitheaters is not over. Recent comments from guitarist Billy Gibbons reveals the group’s disappointment about the cancellation of the tour with Aerosmith, something they had always wanted to do. “The A to ZZ Tour,” as he put it. Might we see a second more successful version of that tour some day?
The recent (and inevitable) rumors about the breakup for Aerosmith, Steven Tyler’s sobriety or simply bickering within the band does not seem to concern Billy Gibbons all that much.
“The good news is they’ll rebound and make a big bounce. Their show is tight as a drum, so all they need to do is get back after it,” according to Gibbons. It’s likely that a lot of Aerosmith fans are hoping that he is right.
Along with the current tour, ZZ Top is planning to spend some time in the studio soon. If that were not enough for a bunch of 60-year-old dudes, they are also moonlighting as fashion models for John Varvatos’ fall fashion campaign. When asked how that came to pass, Gibbons seems as mystified as anyone.
“I don’t know. We always considered ourselves immune to fashion. He’s got a real talent, and we were quite flattered that he thought our rather unusual style was a complement to his great line,” Gibbons says.
Whatever the circumstances, you have to admit, they do look pretty cool.
June 12, 2009
The current Aerosmith/ZZ Top tour seems to be favoring the bad boys from Boston when it comes to media coverage, but the enduring rock legends from Texas who are sharing the stage with them have the distinction of being together a bit longer than even Aerosmith’s nearly four decades as a group. In fact, this year marks ZZ Top’s 40th anniversary.
That fact is not lost on Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry who readily admits that, “They’ve been together longer than us.”
What makes that even more impressive is that ZZ Top is the same three guys that started out together all those years ago. And like those couples you hear about that stay married for 50 or 60 years who are asked what the secret of their enduring relationship is, Billy Gibbons was recently asked that very same question.
“I think first and foremost is the fact we still enjoy getting to do this more than anything we could imagine and somehow that translates into the nightly performance,” Gibbons says. “Those two hours on stage, that’s the real payoff. That’s when we get together and we may not know what each other is gonna do. Some of it is because we’re trying to outguess the next guy, trying to think of what he’s gonna do next.”
Now the fact that three guys who have been playing with each other for forty years can still surprise and challenge each other on stage says a lot about their dedication to their craft. ZZ Top obviously loves what they do and still they remain sharp and energetic enough to tour on a regular basis.
ZZ Top is currently on the road with Aerosmith until September.
Check out all of Gibbons’ comments on Spinner.
July 3, 2008
It was no secret that ZZ Top was making plans for a big comeback, and now we are starting to hear a few details about they plans they have to make it a reality.
Having signed with Rick Rubin’s American Recording label the band is now in the studio with the Rubin working on their new album. With the limited success of their last album five years ago, Mescalero, Rubin is steering the Texas trio back in the direction of their glory days of the 1980′s when albums sales could reach well into the millions.
Rubin has been a very successful producer and has worked with other artists like AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, Metallica,U2 and Green Day. He’s hoping to use his expertise to put ZZ Top back on top with a hit record that could put the group in the running for a Grammy Award.
If they can come up with a track that sounds as good as “La Grange” or “Cheap Sunglasses,” which are my two favorite ZZ Top tunes, they’ll be well on their way towards getting my vote.