The album opens with The M.O.B. performing Sharp Dressed Man. You may be asking yourself, or you may not and I'm gonna tell ya anyways, who is this band? The members are Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Jonny Lang (Jonn Lang), and John McVie (Fleetwood Mac). There's also a guy by the name of Brett Tuggle playing the Wurlitzer. This is a fantastic interpretation of this song. The instrumentation is done differently to create the same sound and song.
There is no question that this song is Sharp Dressed Man. Not for one second. However, Tyler's Vocals and Harmonica add a fantastic dynamic that isn't found in the original. It keeps it Blues, but a different type of Blues. What can I say about the others. You have Fleetwood Mac covering the rhythm section, so that's beyond solid and well played, and Jonny Lang was a Blues Guitar prodigy pretty much. This is the type of cover I love. Done their way, but done right.
When I saw that Filter was performing Gimme All Your Lovin' I was really excited to hear what they did with the song. I figured it would be different, but cool. I was let down. This is the weakest song on the album. I don't dislike the song, it's okay. I just expected so much more, and it seems so tame and mellow for Filter. If you've read my review for Rancho Texicano, you'll know that I think ZZ Top can easily be covered by any Blues, Country, or Rock band. That being said... Grace Potter & The Nocturnals are completely new to me, but based on the performance of their chosen song I'm going to say they are a Country/Blues band.
This band performs the classic and trademark song Tush. Now let me be very clear, not only did this rendition pay an impressive homage to ZZ Top, they took Tush and made it totally sexy from a Country girl's point of view. I can so picture Grace Potter cruisin' the strip looking for some tush. Probably standing up in the back of a pick up, while holding her cowboy hat on her head, and being all girl rowdy. This is just as fun as the original.
The next ZZ Top standard to get a slightly variated rendition is Legs. Within the first three notes of the song you instantly know it's Nickelback performing the song. You don't even have to read the song listing on the back. You don't have to do that to know what song it is either. This is the song that Nickelback was meant to do, and they do it well. But really, what do you expect, it's Nickelback doing Legs.
Now, just as much as Nickelback was the band that had to do Legs, Wolfmother had to do Cheap Sunglasses. My review for the original song read "...it's clear at this point that ZZ Top, were trying to mix something different in there. It still sounds like the Texas Blues band, but it's like they got into the Pink Floyd's catalogue or something. I don't want to say they were using acid, but I think they were using acid. Well, I think peyote is more likely. Does that mean this is bad? Hell no. I love Cheap Sunglasses. I'm sure you do too, because the song is just cool." If you know anything about Wolfmother you would know they are the new Pink Floyd. So you can see where I'm going with this.
So, this song musically sounds pretty much just like the original. The only problem anyone will have is the vocals. I personally like Andrew Stockdale's voice. It's cool and different from the rest. I also know people that hate how whiny it sounds too. That is the only hit or miss about this song. They were the perfect newer band to cover this specifc song.
Got Me Under Pressure is one of those songs that I love, but am not in love with. So, when Duff McKagan's Loaded decided to kind of Punk out the song I didn't get upset. Punk is not the right description either, but that's the best way to describe Duff's vocal delivery. Which will be hit and miss from person to person. Musically the song is delivered in a straight up rock approach. I like this rendition, it's not as good as the original, but how often is a cover.
I know Coheed and Cambria well enough to say they are the new Rush, and that is one hell of a compliment. I don't personally own any of their albums, but that's just due to my not buying one yet. However, they are good. A little crazy in the Progverse at times, but good all the same.
Now when I read they were doing Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers I just about shit myself. I could see Rush on a really weird day jamming this one out, and that's what I was expecting from this cover. Instead what I got was a complete surprise. Vocally it sounds like Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley trading back and forth, and I mean that as a huge compliment. Musically this is the classic ZZ Top song. I didn't notice anything except Texas Blues Rock, not an ounce of Prog. Which impressed me, based on the whole new depth I discovered to this band. In fact when Drew (a big Coheed and Cambria fan) and I threw this on for the first listen we didn't even relize it was them at first.
If that was a surprise, Mastadon's cover was a complete mindfuck. Let me start with Mastadon is not a clever name. That's what these guys sound like. They are a heavy metal mastadon, right down to the beastly vocals. Which brings me to I picked up ZZ Top - A Tribute From Friends at the exact same time I picked up ZZ Top - Rancho Texicano The Very Best Of ZZ Top, and I had never heard Just Got Paid before.
Because of those things, it took until the chorus before I turned to Drew and went, "This is the Mastadon cover!" I was in shock and awe, because I was exepecting Mastadon. Instead I got some band that sounded like they were a Texas Blues band. For the first time ever, this beast of a Metal band impressed me. I love this cover and think it's one of the best on the album.
I don't like the original version of Rough Boy. I like the Wyclef Jean version just about the same. Wyclef breaks out a slightly different flavour on the song while staying true to the original. Drew said he liked the cover better, and I can see why. I think the song sucks the whole way around, and look forward to one day maybe finding a version I do like. I'm not holding my breath though.
All I know about Daughtry is that the name of the band comes from the lead vocalist that was on American Idol. Normally that alone might cause me to dislike him. After listening to Waitin' For The Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago I will apologize to him for having any type of presumptions about him. I don't know if I'm going to look into any of his music, but I might youtube a couple songs in the future, and see where that goes.
La Grange finishes off the album. This is listed as performed by Jamey Johnson, and if you read the liner notes you'll see a bunch of names, but specifically Billy F Gibbons. So, you can rest easy in knowing that this song was not screwed up. In fact I love that it sounds like this great extended jam on a fantastic song. This is the type of cover I would expect to have heard on a Blues album version, so it is perfect to me.
All in all I think this is a great album. The only let down was Filter's Gimme All Your Lovin', and I normally don't like Rough Boy so that was a lose lose no matter what. However, other songs impressed me so much that I have a new respect for the bands covering them that I never had before. If you like really like ZZ Top this is an album to check out. I am beyond happy with the fact I took the risk on it.
8/10 - content
9/10 - production
9/10 - personal bias