Released: 2011, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Another ZZ Top tribute you say? It's another to make you stroke your fictitious beard with tempered enthusiasm.
A closer examination of the calibre of stars, as diverse as Steven Tyler, Duff McKagan, Wyclef Jean and Mastodon, putting their stamp on that 'little old band come major institute from Texas' should be enough to put your mind at ease. For the most part the songs are fairly faithful representations, without sounding dated, or worse, trying too hard to capture that ZZ Top easy swagger. To their credit, each artist sounds like they're genuinely enjoying themselves, leaving me to suspect that very little arm-twisting was required to get them on board.
In terms of the tracks that made it to the final cut, it's not too difficult to figure out that these include many of ZZ Top's biggest and best-known hits. Ok, so it's nothing you haven't heard before, but these individual personalities lend songs that have been doing the rounds for so long they've been trademarked on far distant planets a touch of modern strut. From one powerhouse to another, kicking things off is an all-star hat-tip in the form of 'Sharp Dressed Man' by The M.O.B. - a coming together of major names Mick Fleetwood, Jonny Lang, John McVie and the inimitable Steven Tyler, in what sounds like the easy flow of the tightest possible jamming session. Elsewhere, 'Tush' gets a feminine make-over, but still seems plausible in the mouth of Grace Potter, whilst other big-hitter 'La Grange' almost seems written for country singer Jamey Johnson. Even Nickelback's take on 'Legs' is enjoyable although she sounds more bar-room-rough-and-ready than her classier counterpart. Personally, some of the biggest notable differences is US rockers Filter's deeper darker version of 'Gimme All Your Lovin'', and Wyclef Jean's relaxed hip-hop reimagining of 'Rough Boy', which feel like they could have come straight off the presses - yet both retain their original essence.
If nothing else, 'A Tribute To Friends' will have you dusting the desert sand off your cowboy hat and strapping on a guitar, but more than that it will have you re-appreciate a band whose continuing legacy lies in the simplicity of just a few chords, and an ear for a good song.
Review By Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs