Live From Texas (Eagle)
The bright blue digi CD version of the celebrated and deservedly best-selling DVD is welcome around these parts, but for most fans, if you have the DVD, this is unnecessary. First off, the booklet is the same - good, but the same, with a Tom Vickers essay and some gorgeous and colourful photos. Set-wise, the CD subtracts 'Pin Cushion' and the damn highlight of the DVD, 'Heard It On The X' - an upscale, heavy, semi-obscure classic in an unbelievably greasy version. Anyway, the sound is sort of nicely muddy (water turn to wine) and warm here, the crowd loud, as the band offers nothing newer than 1983's Eliminator! Still, 'Waitin' For The Bus' is highly charged, 'Pearl Necklace' chunkified over the austere studio arrangement, and 'Just Got Paid' is a monster unbelievably monsterfied, fired up and re-fried. I still think they blow a shift on 'La Grange' though, the song threatening to fall apart. The inter-song raps are short and hilariously inscrutable, if you buy Billy's shtick, which I most certainly do, hook, line and sinker. My slightly casual grade reflects the fact that this set benefits greatly from the visuals - there are none more stone cold cool than ZZ Top.
Quiet Earth (Metal Blade)
This BC band (which actually had to do that stupid Bison B.C. thing because, presumably, another Bison out there) does the ol' Kittens, Sons Of Otis, Eyehategod and Melvins meets stoner rock meets shouty bands like Artimus Pyledriver meets trendy drone... (whew!) thing. Throw in a few Trouble riffs, and manhandled twin leads and then bury the beard-pullin' vocals behind coagulated guitars and savaged drum madness and you get that drowning in sound feeling. But there's a ton of entertaining riffs here and the attention-keeping rawk keeps coming beer belly after beer bong. So yeah, it's sludge, and the recording is a bit hardcore, but the change-ups come often and ferociously. Plus you sorta feel vital and part of the scene again, 'cos you know this whole retro thing is trendy, that vibe reinforced by the absurd cover graphic of a buffalo god floating his boat full of dope smoke.