ZZ Top front man Billy F. Gibbons is set to release his sophomore solo album The Big Bad Blues next month via Concord Records. A little more than three years will have passed between the release of his debut solo record Perfectamundo and The Big Bad Blues when the latter is released. The 11-song collection of originals and covers is a welcome new offering from Gibbons. That is evidenced in part through the original composition ‘Let The Left Hand Know…’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘My Baby She Rocks’ is another of the album’s entries that supports that statement. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Hollywood 151,’ yet another of Gibbons’ originals included in this album, is still more support for the noted statement. When it is considered alongside the other noted songs and those not noted here, the whole of The Big Bad Blues proves to be a bad record in the best way possible.
Billy Gibbons’ sophomore solo album The Big Bad Blues is a bad record in the best way possible for those who understand the terminology. It is a work that will appeal easily to fans of Gibbons’ work with ZZ Top and his own solo work as well as to blues purists. That is saying a lot. This is proven in part through the song ‘Let The Left Hand Know…’ The song, which comes almost midway through the record, is one of a handful of Gibbons’ original works included in the record. In regards to its musical arrangement, it is a gritty, Texas style 12-bar blues work that moves so smoothly and creates a certain happiness in any listener. It almost instantly conjures thoughts, again, of Gibbons’ work with ZZ Top while also lending itself to comparisons to some of the best works from Stevie Ray Vaughan. That is even with the addition of the harmonica line. Lyrically, it is just as upbeat, as it obviously centers on a man trying to get a woman to dance with him. The man sings to the woman, “Just ease across the floor/Do it a little more/Let the left hand know where the right hand goes.” He goes on to sing, “Just when you think you know/When everything gets a little slow/Gotta take a trip/Gotta shake that hip for sure/Just ease to the floor/And do a little more/Let the left hand know where the right hand goes.” Plain and simple, this is a man trying to be smooth and get a lady to the dance floor. Later in the song, the man even gets so bold as to say, “I wanna be your man/You know I can, for sure/Just ease across the floor/Just slid a little more/Let the left hand know where the right hand goes.” Again, this is a guy who wants to dance with a woman and show her what he’s got, talent-wise. It’s a quite relatable scenario…maybe less so today because courtship methods seem to be so different today than in the past, but still at least somewhat relatable. That accessibility, in terms of the song’s lyrics, coupled with the upbeat, feel good musical arrangement makes this song easily one of the record’s best entries and one of the best of Gibbons’ originals included in the record. That being the case, the song proves to be just one example of why the Big Bad Blues is such a good record. Earlier in the record’s run, another similar lyrically formatted original titled ‘My Baby, She Rocks’ also serves to support that statement.
‘My Baby She Rocks’ is another work that instantly conjures thoughts of Stevie Ray Vaughan just by its title alone. That’s because of its close similarity to SRV’s ‘Pride and Joy.’ Musically speaking, it does bear some semblance to said song, too, though maybe only loosely. If anything, its arrangement is more akin to that of ‘Let The Left Hand Know…’ than ‘Pride and Joy’ thanks to its gritty, mid-tempo vibe. Lyrically, it is far more akin to ‘Pride and Joy’ as Gibbons sings, ‘My baby she rocks/My baby she rocks/My baby she/My baby she rocks/My baby she rocks right to me/Rocks me all night long.” He goes on to sing, “My baby she shakes/My baby she shakes/My baby she rocks/My baby she shakes/My baby shakes/Shakes me all night long.” No explanation is needed here if any at all. This is a man who is proud of his woman and is making it clear in no uncertain terms. What’s really interesting here is that laid back vibe presented in the song’s musical arrangement as he sings the noted lines. This is some one who’s secure in his relationship with his woman and is totally content. Again, this is a fully relatable scenario. That ability of listeners to relate to the song’s lyrics and to feel so good in the process makes this song stand on its own merits just as much as ‘Let The Left Hand Know…’ Keeping that in mind, ‘My Baby She Rocks’ is yet another example of what makes The Big Bad Blues such a big “Bad” record. It still isn’t the last example of what makes this album stand out. ‘Hollywood 151’ is yet another example of what makes Gibbons’ latest solo record work so well.
Whereas the previously discussed songs were slower in their arrangements, ‘Hollywood 151’ is a more upbeat song. What’s more even with its familiar 12-bar blues approach, it doesn’t try to repeat the arrangements already performed in the other noted compositions. It’s just a fun, feel good work. As with the other songs, this is another one centered on a man who’s crazy for a woman. This time, it’s a guy telling a woman that he’ll do this and that for a woman on Hollywood 151, including taking her around the world, etc. He sings, “I’m all about you/Having fun/I’m gonna take you/With my gun/I’m gonna follow you out of town/I’m gonna get you upside down…you know you got me/Left and right/You know me/Clear out of sight/You got me girl/I know you know it…cause you’re Hollywood 151.” It’s doubtful there’s any ill intent in the mention of the gun, so that should not be taken verbatim. It likely has another meaning, especially considering everything else noted in this song. That’s the case considering he sings about buying the woman a big new Cadillac and taking her around the world. This is just a man who wants to woo a woman and win her over, once again. The song’s musical arrangement does a good job of illustrating the positive energy being exuded by the man as he tries to win her over, too. That understanding adds so much to the song. When one keeps that in mind in considering this song and the enjoyment raised through the other songs (and those not noted here) the whole of the record’s songs makes the album in whole one “bad” blues rock record and a strong second solo effort from Gibbons.
Billy Gibbons’ sophomore solo record The Big Bad Blues is a “bad” album that blues purists and ZZ Top fans alike will appreciate. It is chock full of arrangements and lyrics that will put a smile on the faces of any of the noted audiences. That is evidenced in part through the easygoing, blues-rock of ‘Let The Left Hand Know…’ and its lyrical content. The same can be said of ‘My Baby She Rocks’ and even ‘Hollywood 151.’ Between those songs and the others included in the record, but not noted here, the whole of this record proves to be a fun record for a wide range of audiences. That includes, again, fans of ZZ Top and blues purists alike. The album will be available September 21 via Concord Records. More information on The Big Bad Blues is available online now along with all of Billy Gibbons’ latest news and more at:
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