November 04, 2011

Album Review: Various Artists - ZZ Top: A Tribute From Friends

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.