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Billy F Gibbons - 'The Big Bad Blues' Album Review

Tracklist: (all songs by Billy F Gibbons except where noted):

1. Missin' Yo' Kissin' (Gilly Stillwater)

2. My Baby She Rocks

3. Second Line

4. Standing Around Crying (Muddy Waters)

5. Let The Left Hand Know...

6. Bring It To Jerome (Jerome Green)

7. That's What She Said

8. Mo' Slower Blues

9. Hollywood 151

10. Rollin' And Tumblin' (Muddy Waters)

11. Crackin' Up (Bo Diddley)

Recently released, via Snakefarm Records, comes this absolute blast of a second solo album from ZZ Top front man, Billy F Gibbons. He follows up 2015's “Perfectamundo” - which dealt heavily in Afro-Cuban flavours – with “The Big Bad Blues” - an 11- track collection which comprises some choice cover versions and also a sprinkling of original new tunes.

Gibbons returns with foot firmly to the floor, with lots and lots of that trademark guitar we have all come to love through the years, and his rasping, well-weathered voice. The album was recorded at Foam Box Recordings in Houston, Texas and was co-produced by the man himself and Joe Hardy – who also handles bass duties throughout.

Completing the stellar line-up are legendary Blues harmonica man, 'Icepick' James Harman; the in-demand Mike Flanigin on keyboards – who was once in the ranks of The Red Devils, and has also worked with the likes of Jimmie Vaughan and Sue Foley; drum duties are shared by Matt Sorum – ex Guns N' Roses of course, and Nashville session man Greg Morrow.

Things get off to a rousing start, with the rocking”Missin' Yo Kissin'” - penned by Gilly Stillwater (aka Mrs Gibbons), and it's followed by the self-explanatory Gibbons original, “My Baby She Rocks”. Things really take off with a superb version of Muddy Waters “Standing Around Crying”, with Gibbons rich-toned slide guitar almost duelling with James Harman's exemplary harmonica.

The mid-paced rocker “Let The Left Hand Know . . . “ chugs along in classic ZZ Top style, with all sounding if they are having a ball! Other highlights are a couple of 'nods' to the legendary Bo Diddley, in the shape of “Bring It To Jerome” - penned by his loyal sidekick and maracas player, Jerome Green; and also the very well-known “Cracking Up”.

Elsewhere we have the greasy rocker “That's What She Said” - with lashings of more slide guitar, and tough harmonica; another Blues classic in the form of “Rollin' And Tumblin'” and the fabulous “Mo' Slower Blues” - with nice piano from Mike Flanigin, and driven along by the fine rhythm section.

With ZZ Top not very active these days, I can heartily recommend this to all fans – and indeed, to all Rock and Blues lovers out there. A treat from start to finish!

Review - Grahame Rhodes

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