Friday, June 28, 2013

Two Versions of ZZ Top's La Grange

ZZ Top is an underrated, three piece power band.  Led by stud guitarist Billy Gibbons, the band has been cranking it out since their formation in 1969.  The result?  11 gold records, 7 platinum,  and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For me, their best song is the monster La Grange.  Off of Tres Hombres, their break through, it captures ZZ Top at their best - gut bucket vocals, masterful guitar work, and impeccable beat by drummer Frank Beard.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, somebody somewhere decided to go back and remaster the drum track.  And for me, it just ruins the song.

The drum track is most noticeable at about the :35 mark, which is the brief drum solo that kicks off the song:


Now compare that to the remastered version below:

To my ear, the difference is night and day.  And it ticks me off so much that when I'm listening to an oldies station and they play the song, if it's the remastered version I change the channel.  

So why change (some would argue, ruin) such an awesome song?  Perhaps it was the band's popularity in the late 80's with a more updated sound that they felt it necessary to go back into their catalog to update things and sell more records.  Personally, I'm not sure.  

But what I am sure of is that the first version - raw, clear, driving, and tight - is hands down the better version.  

But maybe I'm just old school.


  1. Hey YDP. Being a drummer for the majority of my life and having a lot of studio as well as live experience I have a little insight into the Remastering nonsense that labels tend to do on classic albums. There are several reasons as to why this is done and most do not involve the band at all. If a band is signed to a multi disc deal and are still obligated to release material, a label may remaster a "greatest hits" disc, live disc, live disc with remastered live tracks, etc. so sometimes it's to fulfill a contract and milk some more cash out of the band. Other times, it's to revive a older, stagnant act to appeal to a younger crowd. Data actually shows that the younger generation is more apt to pick up older material if it sounds fresher. Whatever the reason, I agree with you. The raw, underproduced, minimal track recordings just have a better feel. And it showcases the unmistakable talent of the musicians. Rock.

  2. Great expert insight, Scott. Thanks for posting up.

  3. I completely agree and have deleted any and all copies from my library that have what I call the 'bogus' drum track.


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