ZZ Top – Rio Grande Mud

Back before the two front men in ZZ Top had massive beards and kicked their space shuttle into autopilot, the Texas trio really rocked. Need evidence? The band’s second album, Rio Grande Mud, is a blues-rock powerhouse. Bassist Dusty Hill’s rendition of “Francine” sounds like Ted Nugent turned up to 12, and guitarist Billy Gibbons demonstrates serious grit.

Unfortunately, this record is flat. While the sticker on the cover talks about all the care that went into the pressing, the highs are muffled and shallow. It sounds like the LP was transferred from a cassette tape, not a master tape. If the label read “Friday Music,” I wouldn’t be so surprised, but given that Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman did the work and claims an excellent track record, I’m reserving judgment until another copy is procured. -Jeff Dorgay

Rhino, 180g LP