RAW, a new album from the original lineup of ZZ Top — Billy F Gibbons, Frank Beard, and Dusty Hill — created in a singular circumstance. The album, released through Shelter Records/BMG was recorded at Gruene Hall in Texas, in conjunction with the GRAMMY-nominated feature documentary ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas. The film’s director Sam Dunn sought a means to visually convey how the band made albums at its inception with all three members in the same room at the same time.
The classic honky-tonk setting of Gruene Hall established back in 1878, was chosen for an unfettered, roots-oriented recording session that is chronicled in the documentary. Released by Banger Films, the feature offers insight into the history of the band’s classic Gibbons/Beard/Hill incarnation.
The new album’s liner notes by Gibbons and Beard note of the RAW sessions, “..it was, in a very real way, a return to our roots. Just us and the music, no audience of thousands, no concession stands, no parking lot social hour, no phalanx of tour busses. Just us. We knew right then it was a very special circumstance, all of us in the same place at the same time, and what a time it most certainly was!”
Gibbons commented, “The Director suggested we find a way to illustrate the early style from the start of our five-plus decades run. Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas, was selected as a fitting backdrop to replicate the look of the band’s very beginnings. When we arrived, we were surprised to see that all our gear had been transported there so, as cameras rolled, we picked up the instruments and commenced an unplanned jam session. Fortunately, our stage engineers were on hand with tape machines in place to capture the performances that went down. That became, in essence, the soundtrack to the film and now it’s also an audio document of ZZ Top’s early beginnings. Still going strong today.”
Gibbons continues, “Our director suggested going back to what it was like when we first started recording in our early days: the band in the studio together in a mostly unfettered way. We were quite comfortable in the room as heard on the tracks, with that level of branded intimacy.”
RAW’s 12 tracks include “Certified Blues” which was originally heard on ZZ Top’s First Album as well as “La Grange,” the band’s 1973 breakthrough, and “Tush,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Legs” and other eternal ZZ Top song catalog standouts. The album was captured in one day, keeping the whole process simple and straightforward. A nod to the band’s early days. Billy F Gibbons served as producer, with engineering by Jake Mann and G.L. G-Mane Moon; RAW was mixed by Ryan Hewitt. It is available on 180-gram vinyl, CD, and digital platforms.
RAW Track Listing:
Just Got Paid
Heard It On The X
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
Gimme All Your Lovin’
Blue Jean Blues
Certified Blue Jeans
Tube Snake Boogie
The release of the RAW album is supported by ZZ Top’s ongoing RAW WHISKY TOUR which, when all is said and done, will have consisted of more than 100 dates across North America. The tour’s title is a hat tip to both the forthcoming album as well as the recent release of ZZ Top Tres Hombres whisky from Balcones Distilling of Waco, TX, a flavorful 100-proof mash bill of roasted blue corn, malted barley and rye.