A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw, November 6, 2015 sees the release of the first solo album, “Perfectamundo”, by the quintessential connoisseur of guitars, custom hot rods and all things Blues & Rock, Billy F. Gibbons. Billy Gibbons is joined by an all-star ensemble of supremely talented musicians under the moniker of Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s. Mr. Gibbons steps outside the box that is his main gig as Frontman and Guitarist for the legendary ZZ Top & explores the musical flavors of Tejano, Mexicano, Caribbean and Afro-Cuban.
I’m going to veer off course a bit for some “Story Time with Crash”! The Reverend Willy G. has always been the epitome of cool in my mind since I was a little kid witnessing ZZ Top’s revolutionary videos on MTV in the mid-1980’s. It was in the mid 1990’s when I started exploring the greats of the Blues after reading about them from interviews with the likes of Mr. Gibbons, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and others. Over the years I’d witnessed the spectacle that is ZZ Top. However, it wasn’t until September 26, 2008 that I was blessed to be in Mr. Gibbons presence thanks to my friend Brit Turner of Blackberry Smoke.
Brit and I met up before Blackberry Smoke’s gig with ZZ Top at Century II in Wichita, KS. As we were heading to the backstage area, out stepped the one-and-only Mr. Billy F. Gibbons from catering. He quickly struck up a conversation with Brit who in turn introduced me and my ex-girlfriend to Billy. I had brought with me my copy of Billy’s book “Rock + Roll Gearhead” on the off chance I got to meet him.
My then girlfriend is a professional photographer so she had her gear with her to shoot the bands. After fifteen minutes of conversation, Mr. Gibbons had disarmed us so much by being very down-to-earth that not only did my ex never get pictures with all of us but I never even thought to ask Mr. Gibbons to sign my book. I still kick myself that I didn’t get a photo or my book signed but I’ll always have the memories of the hilarious stories he told, his invitation to help ourselves at catering and just the overall cool vibe of the visit. Time to get back to the task at hand, this review…..
The album kicks off with a cover of Slim Harpo’s “Got Love If You Want It”. The fuzzy opening riff leaves no doubt who is handling the six string duties while the Latin flavored percussion sets it apart from the original. Billy’s solo weaves in nicely with the percussion before the angelic sounds of a B3 takes the tune to the next level. Up next is the debut single and video, another cover, this time of Houston legend Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right”. The keys remind me of the band Spookie Daly Pride while the rest of those involved take a minimalist approach to their instruments. “You’re What’s Happenin’, Baby” had me from opening licks of the resonator guitar. The mix of Latin flavors, B3 and the hip-hop courtesy of Alx Guitarzza is a unique combination to say the least.
“Sal Y Pimiento” has the vocal vibe that Billy used on the 2003 ZZ Top tune “Mescalero”. Digg the simple approach with the piano and keyboards. Ohhhh, there’s a sultry funkiness from the B3 on “Pickin’ Up Chicks On Dowling Street” and the B3 solo spot is just too sweet. That’s some fat tone you have on the solo there Rev! “Hombre Sin Nombre” is loaded with auto-tune which I usually despise but it adds a cool texture to the track as it is one of the more up-tempo cuts on this disc. “Quiero Mas Dinero” is a universal message we can all relate to. This has a nice blues feel to it combined with another helping of hip-hop.
Track #8 gave me a feeling of “Ahhh no, not this damn song” when I saw it on the back cover but I’m glad I just didn’t skip over it. The B3 and Percussion give “Baby Please Don’t Go” a unique spin. It has to be the most covered Blues song of all-time so I really wasn’t expecting much here but what a pleasant surprise. “Piedras Negras” has that classic ZZ Top vibe to it but Billy’s supporting cast sets it apart. More auto-tune and hip-hop are found within “Perfectamundo” but the heavy fuzz of Billy’s guitars save me from skipping over it. Thankfully, the usage of auto-tune acts as an enhancer and not a crutch! *cough* Pop Music & Bro Country! *cough* The disc ends with the mostly instrumental “Q-Vo” and lets you know that what’s up is we are nearing the end of the disc. A mellower showcase for some more B3 and smooth bluesy guitar is a nice end to the album.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not at all versed in Latin music but the melding of it with the B3, Keys, dashes of hip-hop, Greg Morrow’s phenomenal drumming and Billy’s swagger behind the mic & on the guitar won me over. Billy & Joe did a wonderful job on the production. Joe’s mix is as close as perfection as one can get. His work on recordings by ZZ Top, Jeff Healey, Joe Bonamassa’s Bloodline, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Cody Canada & The Departed and Laidlaw are some of my favorites.
This album sounds fantastic through ear buds, on the home stereo or in the car. Be careful driving though because you’ll catch yourself goin’ all Shakira behind the wheel. I can’t wait to catch Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s live as it will be an educational musical experience.
Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s – Perfectamundo
Release Date – November 6, 2015 via Concord Music Group
01. Got Love If You Want It
02. Treat Her Right
03. You’re What’s Happenin’, Baby
04. Sal Y Pimiento
05. Pickin’ Up Chicks On Dowling Street
06. Hombre Sin Nombre
07. Quiero Mas Dinero
08. Baby Please Don’t Go
09. Piedras Negras
Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s:
Billy Gibbons – Guitars, Bass Guitar, B3, Piano & Vocals
Alx “Guitarzza” Garza – Vocals & Bass Guitar
Mike Flanigin – B3
Martine “G.G.” GuiGui – Piano & B3
Greg Morrow – Drums
Cubano Nationale Beat Generator – friends & followers with the foreign funk
Joe Hardy – Additional Guitar, Keyboards, Bass Guitar & Vocals
Gary “G.L. G-Mane” Moon – Additional Guitars
Billy Gibbons & Joe Hardy
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Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s “Treat Her Right” (Official Music Video)
Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s “Piedras Negras” (Official Audio)