ZZ Top recycles early, bluesy sound

January 11, 1991|By Dave Larsen | Dave Larsen,Cox News Service

ZZ Top Where: Capital Center, Landover.

When: Jan. 13-14, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $22.50

Call: 481-6000. The members of ZZ Top may call their group that "Lil' Ol' Band From Texas," but several multiplatinum albums and packed houses on its concert tours make the moniker seem modest.

With its original lineup intact for more than 20 years, the almost telepathic interplay band members Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard demonstrate nightly onstage carries over into backstage conversation, as the band members cut off and complete each other's sentences. Yet Mr. Hill and Mr. Beard defer to Mr. Gibbons when it comes to discussing their latest release, "Recycler," which is a return to, if not a retreading of, the band's early, bluesier sound.

"As we were preparing to complete these sessions, we had written some material kind of in front of the studio arrival, and ironically, we arrived before our equipment did, which left us a few days to kind of jam on our own," the 41-year-old Mr. Gibbons says. "But we had to kind of piecemeal the equipment together out of what was laying around the studio, and we wound up jamming our three favorite chords for three days, and the effect was a rather bluesy one at that."

"It kind of took off in that direction on its own, and like we always do, we just latched on and followed it," adds Mr. Hill, whose Rip van Winkle beard is almost identical to Mr. Gibbons'.

"Recycler" was recorded on Beale Street in Memphis, the Tennessee city that gave birth to the blues. The album is a big step back from the electronic "techno-Top" of the band's last two releases, "Eliminator" and "Afterburner."

Mr. Beard, the band's drummer, says the new release was named "Recycler," "because of our love for rebuilding old cars; taking old blues tunes and restructuring them." The album does, however, include an environmental message about having only 10 years to save the planet.

"A little later we became informed a bit into the environmental issues," explains Mr. Beard.

"We're just saying throw the cans in a separate container maybe, or whatever you're comfortable with doing," says Mr. Beard. "I mean, we can all do something. Of course, we still drive 150 miles an hour down the road and use the gas like crazy, you know, but there are some things that we can all do . . ."

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