ZZ Top ~ Rio Grande Mud
Released in 1972 by London Records
Genre: Southern Rock / Blues-Rock Personnel:
• Billy Gibbons – guitar, lead vocals, harmonica
• Dusty Hill – bass, vocals
• Frank Beard – drums, percussion
• Pete Tickle – acoustic guitar (on "Mushmouth Shoutin'")
• Bill Ham – production
• Robin Brian – engineering
1. "Francine" (Billy Gibbons, Kenny Cordray, Steve Perron) – 3:33
2. "Just Got Paid" (Gibbons, Bill Ham) – 3:49
3. "Mushmouth Shoutin'" (Gibbons, Ham) – 3:41
4. "Ko Ko Blue" (Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard) – 4:56
5. "Chevrolet" (Gibbons) – 3:47
6. "Apologies to Pearly" (Gibbons, Hill, Beard, Ham) – 2:39
7. "Bar-B-Q" (Gibbons, Ham) – 3:34
8. "Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell" (Gibbons) – 6:49
9. "Whiskey'n Mama" (Gibbons, Hill, Beard, Ham) – 3:20
10. "Down Brownie" (Gibbons) – 2:53 The Album:
ZZ Top released their second album, “Rio Grande Mud” in 1972, and the trio had never began a nationwide concert tour. In fact, they had not even travelled more than a few hundred miles from their home of Houston, TX. They never took to the road until 1973, when they opened for The Rolling Stones in Hawaii, and from that time on they have never stopped entertaining audiences.
“Rio Grande Mud” is very reminiscent of British electric blues and sizzling with boogie and blues-rock. Nine of the songs on this album were written completely by the band members, with producer Bill Ham adding his help on 5 songs. The opening song on the album, “Francine”, was written with the assistance of Kenny Cordray and Steve Perron, both of whom are the embodiment of deep southern blues and excellent song writers. “Francine” was the only single to be released from this album, and managed to reach #69 on the pop charts, making this song ZZ Top’s first hit. Pretty impressive for a band that was still unknown throughout the USA.
“Rio Grande Mud” sticks to the dirty southern blues style, but has been tweaked just a tad over the debut album. This album has heavier and more powerful guitar playing ,with some incredible slide work on “Just Got Paid” and “Apologies to Pearly”, both songs are candy to my ears. For the most part, the song writing on “Rio Grande Mud” sticks to the old blues style riffs but no one can deliver those riffs like Gibbons. This album is another forgotten album by ZZ Top, but I highly recommend it to anybody who likes some good ole southern boogie and blues-rock. If you can get your hands on the vinyl, that would be your best bet, because the remixed CD version is a totally different listening experience. The Music ”Francine”
~This song was the first pop hit from ZZ Top and rightfully so….it has a very catchy and addictive riff. The song itself isn’t blues-rock but still has a very cool boogie vibe. Dusty Hill sings lead on this song, and does a good job. This song is just a simple rock song with a nice addictive riff that is very pleasurable to listen to. ”Just Got Paid”
~Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about, some heavy, gritty southern boogie! This song has an awesome solo with some mean slide work. This song really shows off a strong rhythm section and hard hitting riffs and chops. One of the better songs on the album. ”Mushmouth Shoutin”
~This song is another goodie. Funky with some great harmonica solo’s. Gibbon’s slur-style vocals are fantastic. The pace of the song is very slow, almost too slow, and the guitars take second seat to the harmonica, which is ok, if you like the harmonica like I do. Definitely a swamp blues song, which shows where the band’s musical talents are rooted. ”Ko Ko Blue”
~This song has spunk, but not one of my favorites. There is a harmonica solo, which isn’t all that impressive. There is some unusual and interesting guitar parts, which make the song unique. This song lacks the gritty south sound that is so typical of ZZ Top. ”Chevrolet”
~Another song where the lead singer is Dusty Hill. The opening riff is very unusual, but catchy. The solo in this song is sleazy and gritty; some great stuff. ”Apologies to Pearly”
~An instrumental where the focal point is the guitars…..and they are oh so sweet! The slide work is fantastic. Gibbons doesn’t show off his slide skills that often, but this song will prove he definitely has the skill. ”Bar–B-Q”
~This song definitely sets the guitars on fire. A hot riff and an equally smokin’ solo make this song a great blues-rocker. ”Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell”
~Let’s slow things down and cool off. This is a nice ballad, in a southern blues style. This song has a pretty amazing slow, haunting solo. This song would make a good song to grab your sweetie pie and shuffle around the dance floor. ”Whiskey’n Mama”
~A simple but decent riff, one that is used through the whole song. The lyrics are a bit cliché’, but I didn’t mind. The solo is different, and I found the solo didn’t fit the song. Eh, not a bad song, but not the greatest. ”Down Brownie”
~A nice closing to the album. A groovy and gritty southern blues-rock song. The lyrics are funny, “eating red beans and rice with the right sauce is nice, or anything you wanna try”, completely nonsensical lyrics. The melody on this song is fairly catchy, not a bad little closing song.
I find “Rio Grande Mud” to be an essential to my ZZ Top album collection because it is the last time you will hear the raw sounds of the band. From this point on, ZZ Top began trying some new sound and recording techniques. I also feel this album has some of the greatest slide guitar you will ever hear coming from Billy Gibbons.
My overall rating for listening pleasure 4/5.