We are one hell of a long way from 1971 and ZZ Top's First Album (London). That music was as purely organic chewing tobacco and loose as the dust on the bank of the Rio Grande. Well, all that ended in 1976 with Tejas (London), which was the beginning of the band's ascendency to pop stardom in the '80s with songs shining with polish, humor, and technology. Break forward 40 years and band-frontman Billy Gibbon's picks up where he left off with La Futura (American Recordings, 2012). On is solo debut, Perfectamundo, Gibbons embraces every technological and cultural advance offered in music since the ZZ Top's heyday: Over-autotuning vocals, loops, synths, hip-hop, and space-aged studio engineering exploiting that overdriven guitar sound he pioneered. Gibbons has not missed a beat.
Perfectamundo is a slickly produced take on R&B, soul, and blues as strained through Cuban-Latino filter. Much seed has been spilt on the ground regarding the Cubano- Latino influences contained herein. As a native of south Texas, this would be part of Gibbon's musical genome. Add to Gibbons' guitar, keyboards (lots of them) including the copious use of the Hammond B3 coupled with thick use of the habanera (Cuban contradanzaJelly Roll Morton's "Latin Tinge") and the result is a dense and molten momentum that is as immediately listenable and danceable as is a margarita is drinkable in an unforgiving Laredo Summer.
Gibbons pulls a couple of blues from the mire, a radioactive take on Slim Harpo's "Got Love if You Want It" and the ever-present "Baby Please Don't Go" as imagined by Lightnin' Sam Hopkins. Both get an oversized sonic treatment and thorough updating. Gibbons transforms the Roy Head and the Trait's hit, "Treat Her Right" into a sweaty night at the cantina before sliding into the original Classics IV on acid "You're What's Happening Baby." Gibbons brings on the salsa picante in the percussion-heavy "Sal Y Pimiento" and "Hombre Sin Nombre." I can say this for Gibbons, he keeps thing interesting. Many will realize the obvious charms of this recording, young and old.
Got Love If You Want It; Treat Her Right; You're What's Happenin'
Baby; Sal Y Pimiento; Pickin' Up Chicks On Dowling Street; Hombre Sin
Nombre; Quiero Mas Dinero; Baby Please Don't Go; Piedras Negras;
Pefectamundo; Q' Vo.
Billy Gibbons: vocals, guitars; Alx Garza: bass; Mike Flanigin:
Hammond B3; Martine GuiGui: piano, Hammond B3; Greg Morrow: drums;
Joe Hardy: guitars, keyboards; Gary Moon: guitar.