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Music Review: Various Artists – ZZ Top: A Tribute From Friends

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If a band’s influence is measured by the diversity of artists who sing its praise, ZZ Top must hold some serious sway. Because with rare exception, the ones who appear on ZZ Top – A Tribute From Friends are just about the least conceivable musicians one could imagine covering the Tres Hombres from Texas.

And yet most of these performances are not only worth mentioning, but worth blasting at loud volume. Based on his eight-minute, whiskey-strong shot of “La Grange,” country maverick Jamey Johnson probably should just thank ZZ Top for the song and claim it as his own from here on out. He sounds like he’s been singing it for years anyway.

Other moments that are perhaps less potent but nevertheless compelling come courtesy of Wolfmother and Nickelback (no joke), who clearly enjoy cranking out the grooves on “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Legs,” respectively. And as the only woman on hand, Grace Potter (with her band, the Nocturnals) turns the table on “Tush,” putting her own feisty spin on rock ‘n’ roll’s ultimate plea for a piece of ass.

The obvious duds in this bunch come from the likes of Coheed & Cambria (“Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers”) and Filter (“Gimme All Your Lovin’”), whose performances are overshadowed by bloated and bombastic histrionics (or what they seem to consider “singing”). Thankfully such missteps are rare, because by and large this tribute rocks.

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About Donald Gibson

Donald Gibson is the publisher of www.writeonmusic.com and a freelance music journalist whose byline has appeared in such publications as No Depression, Spinner, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, Cinema Sentries, Blinded by Sound, and Blogcritics, where he was the Senior Music Editor (2011-2012) and Assistant Music Editor (2008-2011). He has interviewed and profiled such artists as Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, Allen Toussaint, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Marr, Charli XCX, Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues), Susanna Hoffs, Bruce Hornsby, Delbert McClinton, Jonny Lang, Alan Parsons, Bill Frisell, Rickie Lee Jones, Christina Perri, Don Felder (The Eagles), Jimmy Webb, Katie Melua, and Buddy Guy, among many others.