ZZ Top – Deguello

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  • A STUNNING early pressing of Deguello with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear Cheap Sunglasses sounding big, bold and lively, this is the copy for you
  • A surprisingly good recording – here is exactly the kind of hard-rockin’ energy you want from these three guys
  • Excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses (an all-time classic), She Loves My Automobile, and more
  • 4 1/2 stars: “ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres… The trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time.”

The sound is big and full-bodied with excellent separation and real punch down low. You get real clarity and impressive immediacy. Turn this one up and let ‘er loose!

It’s not easy to find great sounding pressings for this band, which is why so few have ever made it to the site with Hot Stamper sound.

It’s a great album for these three guys, with excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses, She Loves My Automobile and more. We aren’t going to claim to be the world’s foremost ZZ Top experts, but we know a great sounding rock record when we hear one, and this one impressed the heck outta us.

What the best sides of Deguello have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Size

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the size of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “Big and Bold” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

What We’re Listening For on Deguello

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Terry Manning in this case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Thank You
She Loves My Automobile
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
A Fool for Your Stockings
Manic Mechanic

Side Two

Dust My Broom
Low Down in the Street
Hi Fi Mama
Cheap Sunglasses
Esther Be the One

AMG  Review

ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres. During their time off, ZZ Top didn’t change much — hell, their sound never really changed during their entire career — but it did harden, in a way. The grooves became harder, sleeker, and their off-kilter sensibility and humor began to dominate, as “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Fool for Your Stockings” illustrate. Ironically, this, their wildest album lyrically, doesn’t have the unhinged rawness of their early blooze rockers, but the streamlined production makes it feel sleazier all the same, since its slickness lets the perversity slide forth. And, forget not, the trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time. Undoubtedly one of their strong suits.

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