Kiran Acharya , September 14th, 2016 08:38
As ZZ Top take their live greatest hits album on tour, their lead singer and guitarist Billy Gibbons talks Kiran Acharya through his top 13 LPs, setting aside some of his more well-worn classics in favour of recent favourites
Photograph courtesy of Phil Sharp
When you meet Billy Gibbons you ought to wear a good jacket and inexpensive shades as a way of letting him know that you know more than you’re letting on. While ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ and ‘Gimme All Your Lovin” spring immediately and unavoidably to mind, Gibbons’ 45-year history with ZZ Top grants an unparalleled overview of rock & roll while also sustaining an appetite for new music that takes his Baker’s Dozen off in some surprising directions.
“It’s prudent to precede my list with a disclaimer,” he says. “My choices are a little more recent than what might have been anticipated. People often ask about Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters or even Howlin’ Wolf, but it’s safe to say that the list of great bluesmen, and the beautiful period of recording between 1949 and 1959, is already on the books.”
As he describes his selection he gives the sense of a man who has seen worlds, from the earliest days of rock, the psychedelic ‘70s or the stadium-sized corporate successes of the ‘80s. Yet he remains on a quest as both a musician and listener, collaborating with everyone from Queens Of The Stone Age to Jeff Beck, who appears on Greatest Hits Live with a cover of the old American working-man’s classic ‘Sixteen Tons’. He even recently crossed paths with old friend Al Jourgensen, of industrial metal forefathers Ministry.
“I recorded a slide solo with Al,” he says. “He was at the Sonic Ranch studio in El Paso, Texas. And he was doing the most… intriguing version of ‘Sharp Dressed Man’. You could add that to my list of favourite ZZ Top interpretations.”
Live! Greatest Hits From Around The World is out now on Suretone. ZZ Top play Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, NC tonight before touring; for full details and tickets, head here.
CLICK HERE to see Billy’s choices, which run in no particular order