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Billy F. Gibbons – The Big Bad Blues

Aug. 19, 2018

(Blues)

I have never made it any secret that my favorite blues rock group in the world has been the world famous ZZ Top; so, it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me and my musical tastes that I would be totally ecstatic when I learned that the group’s lead guitarist and vocalist Billy Gibbons (aka Billy F. Gibbons, aka BFG, aka the Rev. Willie G, and — on an occasion or two–the Rev. Billy G.) was kickin’ out his solo blues monster album called The Big Bad Blues. If you are a blues or blues rock fan, you’ve gotta sit down and let me tell you about this killer.

An awful lot of electric blues is really great stuff — and then there’s some blues that just blows out the windows and the roof – not so much from the volume but from the soul-deep intensity. That’s what you have here. In addition to high-powered and searing guitar and down and dirty harmonica work from Gibbons, the guitarist offers up his gravely vocals to etch the feeling in stone. Oh, and let me not forget that he tosses in a little of that famous pinch harmonics technique he’s so noted for – not as much as with his ZZ Top work, but it shows up).

The gritty substance of this record, the follow-up to The Rev’s 2015 Afro-Cuban flavored solo album Perfectamundo, is almost too moving for words and clearly speaks firmly to his affinity for the blues as he cites the likes of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and the King brothers as some of his major loves and influences. In fact, the album contains some covers of a few of these heavyweights (check out his solid versions of Waters’ “Standing Around Crying” and “Rolling and Tumbling” and Diddley’s “Crackin’ Up” and “Bring It to Jerome”).

Never mind that this cat, a best bud of the late great Jimi Hendrix, made his mark over decades as the top-tier blues rock guitar master with ZZ Top or that he’s a 2004 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Never mind that, as Concord Records president John Burk says, “Billy has an incredibly deep knowledge of the great blues tradition and has carried that tradition forward in his music throughout his incredible career.” This cat is the blues. His blood may as well run blue. He simply has to be in any blues tribute lineup anywhere and everywhere. This stuff is phat, pointed, and packs a huge wallop. Blues lovers: You want this one. Period. – Ronald Jackson