Top Gibbons, full of soul
William Frederick Gibbons, better known as Billy Gibbons, the frontman from one of America’s most bad-ass rock and roll bands named ZZ Top, has released his third solo album titled Hardware. The 12-track album comes three years after Gibbons’ previous solo album, The Big Bad Blues. Just like in The Big Bad Blues, Gibbons is joined by Guns N’ Roses’ drummer Matt Sorum and Alabamian guitarist Austin Hanks.
Hardware was recorded in Escape, California, which is why the desert vibes are infused in every note of the album. Gibbons’ raspy deep voice and ZZ Top’s trademark blues-rock style shine through this perfect assemble of original tracks that are fit for everyone’s enjoyment. The album begins with a slow start through the sound of some soft cymbals and rhythmic guitar in the opening track, “My Lucky Card.” The slow start gives the listener a perfect sense of anticipation of what is to come in this rock and roll album with a touch of soulful blues. The guitar riff is so catchy it would not be a surprise if this track ends up in a film or on a TV commercial.
The album turns a bit grim—similar to Rob Zombie’s The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy—in the third track titled “More-More-More.” The track opens with a country-blues guitar note and a whispering voice counting when it suddenly hits with a heavy rock beat. This rocking beat perfectly matches Gibbons’ attitude illustrated in his slightly distorted raspy vocals. Gibbons introduces a bit of jazz in the album as well in “Shuffle, Step & Slide.” This track gives fans a glimpse of Gibbons’ creative mind and fun side, as this song seems to be a simple jamming session turned into a possible hit song.
“West Coast Junkie” time travels to the ’70s groovy surf music. This track stands out as it has the most dance rhythm and is the only track to not illustrate a desert but rather the California beaches. “Stackin’ Bones” features rising country stars Larkin Poe in backing vocals, providing a great pairing with Gibbons’ growling vocals—literally growling in this track. Hardware features a cover from Texas Tornados titled “Hey Baby, Que Paso.” The original track is a mix of norteño and Tejano music, but Gibbons turns this track to a ZZ Top-esque blues-rock. Gibbons’ rendition of the track gives it a completely different life through his raspy vocals and killer blues guitar riffs.
Gibbons brings this album as a gift for fans and new listeners willing to embark on a journey of blues-rock and many other genres that makes this album difficult to place in a single category. Hardware showcases all of Gibbons’s best musical talents and highlights his legendary rough voice.