Billy Gibbons, ‘Perfectamundo': Album Review
Billy Gibbons' Perfectamundo contains just about everything you could hope for in the first-ever solo album from ZZ Top's frontman.
Instead of treading on his main band's well-established (and, judging from 2012's La Futura, still quite fertile) territory, the album casts Gibbons' formidable guitar, vocal and songwriting skills against a bracingly fresh Afro-Cuban backdrop.
The backing band featured on Perfectamundo, the BFG's, is about twice as big as Gibbons' usual trio. But even with all of the additional Latin percussion, piano and B3 organ, the overall sound is lighter, looser and more spacious than ZZ Top's dense, fuzzy ruckus -- a result of the genres explored here. It's a re-illuminating delight to hear his inventive, tasteful guitar solos in this new setting, and it happens quite a bit throughout the album's 11 songs.
After establishing the record's general sensibility with a pair of Cubanized covers of familiar songs (Slim Harpo's "Got Love If You Want It" and Roy Head's "Treat Her Right"), Gibbons starts to experiment in even more distinctive and creative ways with original material such as the slow-burning "You're What's Happenin’, Baby" and the percussion-heavy "Sal Y Pimiento."
As Perfectamundo progresses, vocals switch between English, Spanish and what Gibbons refers to as "Slanguish," and an auto-tuner is even amusingly brought into the proceedings several times. (One sour note, there's about 60 seconds of dated, mediocre rap mixed in across the album's 39-minute running time. Fortunately, it passes quickly in each instance.)
The penultimate, hard-hitting title track wanders closest to the ZZ Top orbit, followed by the largely vocal-free and "Green Onions"-styled "Q-Vo," which makes you wish Gibbons would do an entire instrumental album next. Oh, and there's still the little matter of the partially completed La Futura follow-up. Now we're getting greedy. Okay, first things first, we can't wait to hear these songs live ...
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