April 15, 2003
Pop/Rock, Blues-Rock, Southern Rock, Hard Rock, Album Rock, Boogie Rock

Album Review

Ever since ZZ Top signed with RCA, they fitfully tried to break free of the synthesized blues that once was their savior but quickly became a straitjacket. Like any addict, it was hard for them to quit that processed, sequenced sound cold turkey, so they weaned themselves off the robo-boogie, sometimes relapsing and adding too many synths to mix, other times breaking loose with some credible boogie. Apart from the misstep of 1999's XXX, they showed signs of life on all their RCA albums, and their fourth, 2003's long-delayed Mescalero, is no exception to the rule. Billy Gibbons' fat guitar tone really has some presence here, at least on some of the album, and there are enough rhythm tracks not performed to a didactic click track to provide some real swing. There are even moments that suggest Gibbons' songwriting chops might be returning, such as the closing "Liquor," the rampaging instrumental "Crunchy," and the lithe "What Would You Do." On these cuts, along with a cover of Lowell Fulson's "Tramp," ZZ Top sound like a worthy veteran act, returning to their strengths and building on them, although the rest of the record is pretty much devoted to by-the-books latter-day ZZ Top.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Mescalero
  2. Two Ways to Play
  3. Alley-Gator
  4. Buck Nekkid
  5. Goin' So Good
  6. Me So Stupid
  7. Piece
  8. Punk Ass Boyfriend
  9. Stackin' Paper
  10. What Would You Do
  11. What It Is Kid
  12. Que Lastima
  13. Tramp
  14. Crunchy
  15. Dusted
  16. Liquor