Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Fandango!" by ZZ Top (1975)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Fun Fact: Alphabetically, this is the last LP in my collection.

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:
Mexican Blackbird.  Here's a quote from Mexican Blackbird: "They all call her puta 'cause no one really knows her name."  I can't believe I'm saying this about a ZZ Top song, but on their live cover of Jailhouse Rock, the delivery is just too subdued and clean.

Key Tracks:
On the flipside, Backdoor Medley is a nasty soul-punk-scat fusion.  Blue Jean Blues is great slow blues.  Heard It on the X is The Top doing what they do best.  And Tush.  Yeah, I'm absolutely going with Tush as a key track.  Deal with it.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

This LP falls into a category that crops up way more often than you'd expect.    Side one is live.  The liner notes indicate that it was "captured as it came down - hot, spontaneous - and presented to you honestly, without the assistance of studio gimmicks.  There are three songs on side one, but it's clear that it's all about Backdoor Medley which occupies two-thirds of the side.  And it has exactly the feel you want from a live track.

Side two was done with the assistance of studio gimmicks (in a studio no less) and... presented to you dishonestly I guess.  Interestingly, there's a good bit of variety (by ZZ Top standards) among the six tracks on side two.

Like I said, this one-side-live, one-side-studio LP happens on a relatively common basis - or used to, anyway.  I have seen everyone from Taj Mahal to Guns 'n Roses do it.  I don't know if it's "we wanna do a live album, but we need a new single," or if it's "we've been in the studio forever, but we only have half a record."  Either way, it seems a little dubious to me.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do feel obligated to point out that "Fandango!" was released before (A) Kiss demonstrated the proper way to do a live studio album with "Alive" and (B) the notion of the EP was really out there.  In the interest of more disclore, "G'N'R Lies" was not - that was just a cash grab.

So, is it an album?  No.  Like "Saddle Tramp," there are a lot of great tunes but nothing to stitch them together.

Up next, more T for Texas with "Exit 0" by Steve Earle.  Steve Earle!

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