ZZ Top – Goin’ Down To Mexico. Singing the Same Old Song
A band I knew from their “what’s wrong with being sexy” period in the eighties – Legs, Gimme Some Loving, Sharp Dressed Man. They were supposed to have had a credible early career in the seventies doing a unique mix of rock and blues with a Tex-Mex flavour. So that’s where I’m digging in now. Their most popular pre-Eliminator songs being La Grange, about a whorehouse, and Tush, about bottoms, I looked for a song that might be less pre-feminist.
A quick initial review – Goin’ Down to Mexico starts well with a nice guitar riff and tight drumming. Vocals – not particularly inspired. Let’s get back to those drums and guitars – two of them, it sounds like. And the bass that joins in. Some nice riffing – repeating, then pausing for another round of singing, about something or other. then it all just stops.
I think I’d like this song if there were no words, or if they were better, or not sung in a rather thin, reedy voice. The music itself has promise.The rhythm and lead guitars get into a good groove with the swinging drums. Like a lot of rock music, I can’t really hear the bass underneath all that – I guess it’s shadowing the lower notes of the rhythm guitar.
That is until about 1.20 into the song when the singing lets up. Then you can hear the bass as an equal player with the other instruments. It’s the best bit of the song. Really grooves. fast paced, driving drums, dynamic. The lead guitar leads the ear on a merry little chase, with the rhythm guitar pushing from behind. And just before the vocals come back in, there’s a neat little change of pace.
I’ve never been to Mexico, though I have been to New Mexico. A road trip from Philadelphia, it was the end of many long days behind the wheel, as the landscapes and vegetation slowly turned from green to brown. Santa Fe, my final destination was an attractive town with a Georgia O’Keefe museum, a lot of adobe buildings and a lot of modern artists . A vry civilized place for hipsters, I would have thought, if hipsters had been a word I knew in the mid-90s. Alternative bourgeois was probably what occured to me then – and I felt right at home, though without the money to match the lifestyle.
‘Dust on my boots’ is about as close a link I can feel to this song, from that experience. I feel I’m rambling, rather like Dusty Hill in his singing. Time to call a halt, to this blog and to this alphabetical series of unknown songs. I’ll fill up the rest of this month with oddities and other suggestions.