Rio Grande Mud is ZZ Top’s second album, and to this day is one of three of their early albums that are yet to be released digitally in their original mix. In the mid-80s when bands were transferring their back catalogues onto CD, somebody at ZZ Top headquarters decided to take the opportunity to tinker with the recordings. The currently available version of this, ZZ Top’s First Album and Tejas feature a very 80s drum sound over the top of the original recordings made back in the day. So if you want to listen to any of those three albums in their original form, you have a choice – vinyl or cassette. They’re probably available on 8-track too. Thankfully I own all their 70s output on vinyl, but it would be nice to be able to listen to this digitally.
You can see Rio Grande Mud as a clear stepping stone for the band between their very bluesy first album, and the all-conquering third album Tres Hombres. This one is still steeped in the blues, but it shows the direction that the band was moving towards – what we would now call classic rock.
Francine may have been the big hit, and attracted listeners of the pop charts to the band, but it’s very throwaway. Just Got Paid is a well-overlooked rock riff, and for me the highlight of this album.
Hidden Gem: Just Got Paid