What does it sound like?:
The first five Top albums are given a vinyl reissue in this five lp box set, all in their original sleeves too.
This is the band from their roots, in the days before they discovered synthesisers and drum machines, and is all the better for it.
The first album starts off as they meant to carry on, setting out their stall with gritty bluesy rock. It’s reasonable enough as an opening effort, without there really being any particular standouts – Shaking Your Tree and Brown Sugar are maybe the best tracks. A promising debut nevertheless.
The follow up, Rio Grande Mud, followed twelve months later in April 1972. This set refined their formula somewhat into more memorable rhythms, producing a hit US single with Francine, plus live favourite Just Got Paid. The band are still finding their feet – and their sound – though.
The big commercial breakthrough came with their third album, 1973’s Tres Hombres. They’d now settled on a template that was to bring them great success in the ensuing years. If you’re not familiar with this album, check out Jesus Just Left Chicago, La Grange, Waiting For The Bus and Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers. This is a top notch album and no mistake, and remains one of their very best right up to the present day – the pick of the bunch.
Lengthy spells on the road meant there wasn’t another album until 1975’s Fandango, and even that was half live, with only the second side being new studio material. To be honest, the live side does rather drag a little at times, but the studio side redeems the situation somewhat, including their classics Tush and Heard It On The X. Patchy.
Finally we reach 1976’s Tejas, which is something of a mixed bag really. The blues sound has been subdued a little in favour of more radio friendly tunes like opener It’s Only Love. However, order is restored with the grittier Arrested While Driving Blind. Good in parts, but maybe not that much progress made.
What does it all *mean*?
Overall, this is a well presented set showcasing something of a mixed bag of albums, from the formative first couple of albums, through the excellent Tres Hombres, and the patchier Fandango and Tejas. However, note that there’s nothing new here in the way of bonus material – this is just the five albums as they were originally issued.
Goes well with…
Beer Drinking and hell raising.
Might suit people who like…
Seventies style southern bluesy boogie and rock.