You’d hardly be blamed if you questioned why, after 45 years, Billy Gibbons felt the need to make a solo album. After all, he’s one third of ZZ Top and from all accounts, the one largely responsible for writing the material and singing the songs. Backed by a handpicked group of musicians dubbed The BFG’s adds another level to his penchant for blues, boogie and bluster
That said, Perfectamundo’s stylistic mesh of blues, rock, rap, Latin and hip-hop often falls beyond ZZ Top’s stylistic parameters, with the inevitable result that it will catch many of the band’s fans by surprise. While several songs don’t stray far from Gibbons’ usual template — the blues standards “Got Love If You Want It,” “Baby Please Don’t Go” and the simple shuffle “Treat Her Right” would fit just fine on any ZZ Top LP released during those past five decades — the fascination with Latin rhythms reflected on “Hombre Sun Nombre”,” “Piedras Negras” and “Quiero Mas Dinero” will likely give devotees pause. Gibbons studied Cuban music as a kid, so it’s really not surprising that he’d relish those roots, but the combination of songs sung in Spanish and their south of the border rhythms suggests that it’s more than a passing fancy. As for the rap interludes that punctuate “Sally Pimiento” and the aforementioned “Hombre Sin Nombre,” the less said the better.
If one were trying to nail down a concise description, the comparison that immediately comes to mind is Santana, given that the two guitarist are treading the same terrain. However Carlos has followed this tack since the beginning and Gibbons’ belated entry suggests a left turn. Still, that’s what solo albums are meant for after all, offering opportunities to explore avenues not pursued in the day job. Perfectamundo? Not quite. But it’s an interesting diversion just the same.