The Big Bad Blues (2018)

This is probably not the record of the century but at least that of the return from the summer holidays. A production like this one has been waited for decades. It raises the level of the previous solo effort of the friend Billy that, it must be admitted, had disappointed everyone. We can trust the title of the album because it is mostly about blues. Blues sometimes modernized but blues all the same. Blues in the Billy Gibbons style, what. An excellent initiative! Too bad that Top all present is not responsible for this pilgrimage to the confines of Mississippi. Finally, we will not complain. The artists around Billy know their job and this little event will certainly shake up a bit the music world. The first track "Missin 'yo' kissin '" sets the tone. A John Lee Hooker style shuffle with mixed accents between the early ZZ Top and the 80s star band. Incidentally, this song was composed by Billy's wife. Right after that, the raspy blues "My baby she rocks" sends a solo as grainy as possible that spreads all Billy's class. Texas dictates, two medium titles in the Fabulous Thunderbirds style are very effective (« Second time » and « Let the left hand know »). Billy covers two songs from the huge Muddy Waters. First, « Standing around crying », treated in hyper slow blues and played well in the depths of time as Billy knows so well. Then, « Rollin’ and tumblin’ » in an excited jump blues version with a killer solo (it is undoubtedly the best title of the record). « That’s what she said » carries the "modern" period ZZ Top mark but an inflammatory harmonica balances the books. Also noteworthy are « Mo’ slower blues » (a slow and bewitching blues with a sharp guitar) and « Hollywood » (a relatively fast rock designed to have a good time). But the chapter of the covers is not finished and Billy draws on the repertoire of the great Bo Diddley. Transformed into hypnotic blues, « Bring it to Jerome » hits with a saturated harmonica and a biting guitar solo. On the other hand, we could have done without the fifties’ ballad « Crackin’ up » because of his arrangements a little too delusional. But again, do not complain. And Billy's guitar in all this? As always, its sound is immediately recognizable and remains faithful to the definition given by the Reverend forty-six years earlier: « four flat tires rolling in the mud! ! » This « Big bad blues » tis testament to Billy Gibbons' strong return to the blues world and is a strong reminder of the debut of his original trio. Listening to him, we are wondering if we are not dreaming so much that this disc lets glimpse what could have become the Top if he had not lost himself in a musical labyrinth of bad taste since « Antenna ». It's just great! There is only to enjoy this modern blues just hoping that our Billy will take his two buddies in this return to the roots for the next record of ZZ Top. My head's in Mississippi!

Olivier Aubry

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