Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Well-known Location

Song 366: This week the playlist comes around to La Grange by ZZ Top, written by Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard. To quote one of the lines from last week’s track, “We’d put on ZZ Top and turn ’em up real loud" and now here we are, visiting a place that would be memorialized in the late 1970s by a Broadway play called The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Around the time that this hit reached its peak in the summer of 1974, I read a Larry King article in Playboy about the place, and realized the connection to this recording, though Billy, Dusty and Frank had to have a prior source for their info, since the cut appears on the Tres Hombres LP that the trio released a year earlier. I liked it from the first time I heard it, but I also thought that it borrowed heavily from a Canned Heat groove. Actually, the boogie blues rhythm that it rides evidently owes its inspiration to much older sides by John Lee Hooker and Slim Harpo, with a failed lawsuit concluding that the rhythm was in public domain by the time ZZ Top put it down. One of my musician friends remarked that the singer on this mix doesn’t really sing, to which I replied that I thought he handled the vocal just fine, and I didn’t feel the need to nitpick technicalities when listening to it. In fact, I hear it’s fine if you got the time.

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