Tres Hombres review by ZZ Top

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  • Released: Jul 26, 1973
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (4 votes)
ZZ Top: Tres Hombres

Sound — 10
"Have Mercy!!!" ZZ Top's 1973 album "Tre Hombres" is a perfect example of classic three-piece blues genius. From Billy Gibbons's brilliant guitar work and memorable vocals to Frank Beard and Dusty Hill's solid grooves, the album showcases the group as one of the finest rock acts from Texas, well before their success of "Eliminator" ten years later. It was the first release from the band with engineer Terry Manning and saw their first commercial success with "La Grange" reaching #41 on the Billboard Pop Singles charts and debuting at #33 on the American Top 40 Charts in 1974. The album itself reached the number 8 position on the Billboard Pop Albums charts and #36 in Australia that same year. The album was also the band's first Gold record.

The trio managed to successfully capture their signature sound on this record with brilliantly recorded and mastered pieces of upbeat rocking blues-rock with some slower selections like "Hot, Blue and Righteous" and "Have You Heard." No doubt largely aided by Manning's engineering and Bill Ham's production skills, the sound of this album effectively captures their live vibe. Providing the listeners with a taste of what to expect from their live show. To capture this in a studio is a remarkable achievement and is a perfect sample of the band's sound, prior to the synthesized influence of their 1980s work. "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" highlights how amazingly well Gibbons and Hill's vocals work together, coming across with a precision call-and-response vocal.

Particularly notable about the albums sound is the amazing tones of Billy Gibbons guitars. From the clean stabs of "La Grange"'s opening section to the rough and bass sound of "Precious and Grace" and the flanger-filled solos of "Shriek." Gibbons's masterful guitar work is epitomised of the legend that is ZZ Top. However Hill and Beard's work as the rhythm section on this beast of a record showcases how tight this band is, and how remarkable their sound is. With blues masterpieces like "Waiting for the Bus," to more mainstream pop rock songs like "Move Me on Down the Line," "Tres Hombres" gives you a sample of all the different styles the band has to offer.

Lyrics — 9
Lyrically this album covers all of the usual aspects of Southern music, beer drinking and religion, with constant reference to harsh aspects of life, as blues music famously incorporates. From the gospel-rich lyrics of the album closer "Have You Heard?" and "Jesus Just Left Chicago" to the albums hit "La Grange" which refers to a brothel on the outskirts of La Grange, Texas. This vastly paralleling subject matter is simply the tip of the iceberg of the trio's song-writing subject. However their ability to put a song together is just as impressive. Their impressive use of dynamics in La Grange highlights Gibbons brilliance on guitar and virtually all the tracks have catchy choruses that get people moving. The song writing capabilities of the trio, whilst only newly witnessed on this album, are evident on every track.

Overall Impression — 10
Overall this album is a brilliant trademark example of blues rock, with amazing guitar techniques, a solid rhythm section and classic blues vocal & lyric work. The album was a brilliant breakthrough album for the Texan trios signature blues sound. With one of their most successful songs "La Grange" it was undoubtedly an enormous step in the right direction for the band, and still today stands as a masterpiece of Texan music.

Standout tracks: "Waitin' for the Bus," "Jesus Just Left Chicago," "La Grange," "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers," "Move Me on Down the Line."

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