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Rock - Released September 21, 2018 | Concord Records

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For what is supposed to be another getaway from ZZ Top (the second attempt after Perfectamundo in 2015), the first track on the album - Missin' Yo' Kissin' - sounds suspiciously like the great grandson of La Grange, ZZ Top’s absolute classic. Far from making the revolutionary technology of the Eliminator era, Gibbons is turning back his old pocket watch to the time of the most classic blues-rock. But classic does not mean old-fashioned, especially in the expert hands of this timeless rascal who would never be seen playing for a crowd of old connoisseurs. This opening song (that was written by Gilligan "Gilly" Stillwater, his wife of more than twenty-three years) is proof that he's always open to new innovation. Without using any sophisticated electronic gadgets, The Big Bad Blues is certainly contemporary. It’s hard to believe that he’s 69 years old! Gibbons has nothing to envy of the youngsters that have been flooding into the scene over the past few years. No guest performances this time, instead we find a smaller team composed of Joe Hardy (on bass, as well as co-producer of the album), Mike Flanigin (keyboards) and Greg Morrow (drums), as well as Matt Sorum, who left the Hollywood Vampires, (and also The Cult and Guns N' Roses...) occasionally on drums. Joining the next tour will be Austin Hanks (rhythm guitar) and James Harman (harmonica). As big, bad and blues as the title claims, the atmosphere is more like a "semi-dark fiesta", even on Muddy Waters' song Standing Around Crying. On this track, as on Bring It to Jerome and the classic Rollin' and Tumblin' (also by Muddy Waters), Gibbons lets himself go on his guitar for a performance which would give Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton a run for their money. © Jean-Pierre Sabouret/Qobuz
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Rock - Released September 21, 2018 | Concord Records

Perfectamundo, the 2015 solo debut from Billy F. Gibbons, found the ZZ Top majordomo indulging in his fascination with Cuban music, which meant that it felt fundamentally different than his main gig. The same can't quite be said of Big Bad Blues, its 2018 follow-up. Working with a band featuring drummer Matt Sorum, guitarist Austin Hanks, harpist James Harman, and bassist Joe Hardy, Gibbons dives deep into blues and boogie that's been at the foundation of ZZ Top since their first album in 1971. Superficially, Gibbons is covering the same ground, but having Big Bad Blues as a busman's holiday does significantly change the feel, particularly in regards to rhythm. Sorum and Hardy provide a looser foundation than Frank Beard and Dusty Hill, which lets Gibbons slither a bit more, plus it's fun to hear him have foils in Harman and Hanks. Fun is the keystone for Big Bad Blues. Reviving a bunch of blues and R&B warhorses -- Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'," plus two Bo Diddley songs in "Bring It to Jerome" and "Crackin' Up" -- has inspired Gibbons to write a bunch of originals that are jumping, funny, and earthy, which find a match in "Missin' Yo' Kissin," the keynote track written by his wife Gilligan Stillwater. Unlike latter-day ZZ Top records, which are occasionally weighed down by the band's considerable legacy, Big Bad Blues feels light and free, an album that was made because Gibbons wanted to have some fun and that feeling is not only palpable, it's infectious. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine