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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Live - Greatest Hits From Around The World'
Artist - ZZ Top

ZZ Top - Live: Greatest Hits From Around The World really tells it like it is from the off, especially given that this official 15-track live album is their first ever! Recorded over several tours, in 13 cities around the world, and even featuring a stellar cameo by Jeff Beck on two songs, Live is as good as it gets for the fans who might have missed the Texan Trio on their recent tour.

I mean, what you see is what you get with these guys, always has been. So, that sound that remains in your head from their many 80's videos on MTV is the same jarringly guitar-orientated live sound you can expect to hear on this brand new 15 track album. Representing the overall sound of the trio at a live show just perfectly, it's one guitar, one bass, one set of drums, and one loud, excited set of fans becoming their backing band each and every time.

Dusty, Billy and Frank sound great. They have done for years, haven't they. I mean, has there ever been a time when they didn't sound good, whether it be via a new release on love on stage? I honestly cannot recall a time when either was brought to the fore as a "bad day" in the ZZ Top camp so this new live CD just goes to prove that the best always remains the best.

Taking radio play hits singles and even some deep cuts from some of their most famous, and beloved albums, we kick off in fine style with 'Got Me Under Pressure' (New York City), which is backed perfectly with the trio of 'Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers' (Las Vegas), 'Cheap Sunglasses' (Paris), and then 'Waitin' For The Bus (Nashville).

With seven countries in three continents represented here on Live: Greatest Hits From Around The World, each track sounds like the guys are having great fun still. It's not overproduced, it hasn't been sythersized, it hasn't been doctored in the studio, nope, this is as raw as you can hope for when it comes to a live album. Not exactly bootleg quality, agreed, but darn close to that with an upgrade, fo' sho'!

Next up is a stunning 'Jesus Just left Chicago' which is backed by both 'Legs' (Sao Paolo) and a rousing 'Sharp Dressed Man' (Los Angeles), but it's the laid back, smooth styling of 'Rough Boy' featuring the monumental guitar work of Jeff Beck (London) that makes this album for me. Man, the licks this guy can lay down alongside Dusty and Billy is out of control, and as it's also one of my favorite ZZ Top songs, in general, well, they make it a little something (birthday) special here on their London date.

Just so you are fully aware, the 15 songs were actually recorded over several tours in those aforementioned 13 cities around the world, and yes, I'm sure the best versions of each track were chosen for this live compilation, but that said, and going back to my earlier point, when have they ever recorded anything of a lesser quality. That's just not in their DNA, which is proved with tracks such as the highly underrated 'Pincushion' (Berlin), 'La Grange' (Dallas), and both 'I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide' (Vancouver) and 'Tube Snake Boogie' (Rome).

The guys then continue the classic trip down memory lane, and (sadly) bring the live album experience to a close, with their thunderous 'Gimmie All Your Lovin' (Houston), a pulsating 'Tush' (Chicago), and then end with a cover of the Tennessee Ernie Ford folk standard 'Sixteen Tons' (London). Again featuring the immense guitar work of Jeff Beck, it is such a fitting way to end the album, and given that it was Beck's birthday that night, well, what great company to spend it with.

"We spend the biggest stretch of every year out on the road, whippin' wire, poundin' skin, and rockin' it way up," Billy F. Gibbons himself has said. "This is the true document of life de la ZZ. In an abstract surrealism style, this collection is a definitive chronicle of the band hangin' together for four plus deluxe decades, getting down to do what we get to do. Enjoy and listen to loudness!" Mission accomplished, Billy. Mission accomplished.