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Various Artists

Sharp Dressed Men: A Tribute to ZZ Top – 2002 (RCA)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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A country tribute to ZZ Top is a great idea, and there are some first rate performances in here. But after listening to it a few times, one has to wonder: who's the audience for it?

Hardcore ZZ Top fans are not likely to be curious about hearing the raunchy desert blues of That Little Ol' Band from Texas reinvented by country artists, and fans of the country artists involved are not likely to be all that interested in the work of Frank and Dusty and Billy. The biggest problem is the way that some of the tributers sanded off the Top's rough edges; Lonestar's sanitized and harmonized "Gimme All Your Lovin'" is indicative of that circumstance. Sometimes it works, though, particularly on Brad Paisley's razor-crease take on "Sharp Dressed Man," Montgomery Gentry's straight up version of "Just Got Paid" and Hank III's searing "Fearless Boogie."

A little more grit and the compilers would have had a rocking ZZ Top tribute. Of course, a little more honky tonk and hillbilly (like Alan Jackson throws down at the break in "Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell"), and they would have had a country tribute to ZZ Top.