To create a more informed list of the best ZZ Top Frank Beard songs, we decided to reach out to someone who knows first-hand how important the drummer's style and skill has been to the "Little 'Ol Band from Texas" over the decades. So we traded some e-mails with Matt Jones, a.k.a. Franks Weird, the drummer for the ZZ Tops, a U.K.-based tribute band described by none other than ZZ Top bandleader Billy Gibbons as the closest he's seen to the real thing. Weird was extremely generous with his time and knowledge, and we think everyone from casual to hardcore ZZ Top fans will gain some new perspective into Beard's contributions to the band's music with this list of the Top 10 ZZ Top Frank Beard songs.
'La Grange'From: 'Tres Hombres' (1973)
We kick off this list with what just might be ZZ Top's most popular song of all-time. The two main things non-drummers might notice about this ode to a real-life brothel are the grizzled vocals and dynamic soft/loud guitar work of Beard's bandmate Billy Gibbons. But as Weird says, "This song sings Frank Beard to me. It's somehow straight and shuffled at the same time, with great fills and triplets and a fantastic swinging groove!"
'Tush'From: 'Fandango!' (1975)
While bassist Dusty Hill sings the praises of the female backside, Weird testifies on behalf of Dusty's rhythm section partner. "In my opinion no one holds down a cut shuffle better than Frank Beard. His ghost notes and accents blend seamlessly to form the nicest feel. Frank's drumming is all about the feel and the groove! He can hold down a groove and swing the tempo just so, to give a song that famous ZZ Top feel."
'Arrested for Driving While Blind'From: 'Tejas' (1976)
Weird kept this one short: "Another example of the master of the cut shuffle at work! It builds, it drops and Goddamn it rocks!" We spent some time trying to add to his words, then realized everything that needed to be said was already there!
'A Fool for Your Stockings'From: 'Deguello' (1979)
Is it possible that 'Legs' isn't ZZ Top's best song about legs? Sounds like Weird might agree with us that 'A Fool for Your Stockings' takes the prize instead. "This is one of my all-time favorite ZZ Top songs. It's held together so nicely by Frank. The way he holds back and lays it down all at just the right points with finesse and snappy drive is simply awesome!"
'El Diablo'From: 'Tejas' (1976)
If you're going to write a song about a murderous Mexican criminal with the balls to name himself after the Devil, you better make sure you set it to a suitably sinister beat. Well, mission accomplished, according to Weird! "Awesome groove, great accents on the hi-hat and back beats on the snare give the song a great feel."
'Just Got Paid'From: 'Rio Grande Mud' (1972)
We were counting on Weird to do all of our work for us on this list, but his direct, true and entirely too short comments about 'Just Got Paid' ("Speaks for itself!") dashed that dream. To be fair, he does also point out that this riff-tastic and highly propulsive number has been covered recently by several artists, most notably Joe Bonamassa. But as he concludes -- and we fully agree -- "none give it the feel Frank did!"
'Cheap Sunglasses'From: 'Deguello' (1979)
This one wanders about as close to progressive rock as you can get while maintaining what Weird praises as Beard's famous "laid back and easy groove." 'Cheap Sunglasses' finds Gibbons and Hill roaming into some very trippy instrumental territory, confident in the knowledge that Beard's going to keep everything connected and rolling along nicely.
'Heard It on the X'From: 'Fandango!' (1975)
According to Weird, this probably shouldn't be the first ZZ Top song you try to learn to play. "The feel of this song is harder than it sounds to re-create," he explains. "It's an awesome creative beat with accents in all the right places. Listen to how the bass and guitar seem to be in a nice relaxed groove... but add Frank's beat and it gives the song a nice, snappy feel. Swung just right, this is Frank Beard at his best!"
'Precious and Grace'From: 'Tres Hombres' (1973)
"Here is another example of Frank's creativity with the drums," Weird raves. "I think this song has the best feel throughout because of the grooving, swinging beat Frank lays down. It's one of my favorites to play. There's also a cool cover by Queens of the Stone Age (featuring none other than Gibbons on vocals and guitar) that's worth a watch. They dig it!"
'Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings'From: 'Fandango!' (1975)
We're pretty proud of ourselves, because -- honest to goodness -- this impossibly groovy number would have topped our list of the best ZZ Top Frank Beard songs, too! Weird says this "hard hitting, down and dirty funky song" is all made possible by Beard's "grooving like a train" awesome drums. We would also like to add that the run-out groove which takes up the track's last 45 seconds should go on for at least 10 more minutes.